We are going through a global crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic. To deal with it, we have introduced new disciplines and practices in our life such as quarantine, social distancing, lock-down, etc. So, let us take inspiration from the COVID crisis to fight our mental crisis as well. There are four principles as explained by Shri Ashutosh Maharaj Ji, that we must internalize and make part of our lives urgently. The first principle is discussed.
First, we must immerse ourselves in sadhna (meditation): Just as a COVID infected person is put under quarantine we must put our infected mind into a mental quarantine. The way to do this is to immerse ourselves in sadhna that will enable us to eradicate all our vices. It is true that since the lock-down came into effect, disciples have increased the time spent in sadhna. However, with increased sadhna, the machinations of the mind have also increased manifold. It has become more fickle and more anxious. One often wonders that since he is not able to concentrate there is no point in sitting in sadhna. So, should you discontinue your practice?
No! When your mind makes you anxious, you must remember what Thakur Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa told his disciple Swami Brahmananda, who became a true manifestation of his Guru. Swami Brahmananda also faced a time in his life when he was unable to concentrate in meditation and thought that he should give up on the practice. He thus stopped doing meditation. When Thakur saw this, he demanded to know why he had abandoned his practice. Rakhal (the pre-monistic name or Swami Brahmananda) responded that since he was unable to fix his mind at one point, and was overcome with distractions, he thought it better to give up. At this, Thakur reprimanded him, by pointing out that those who are farmers by birth and occupation, they do not abandon farming for the fear of failure and the lack of a successful harvest. Thakur said that in the same way, you cannot give up your practice of sadhna. Those who are born as seekers and are selected for the path of sadhna, they too cannot abandon the practice, no matter what. If they abandon their practice, then they will be uprooted from the path which they are meant to tread.
But what about the flickering unstable mind? For this, Goswami Tulsidas has provided a timeless lesson. Once Goswami Ji saw some rice being boiled in a pot. He observed that the grains of rice were bouncing with high energy as they were nearing the stage of becoming ripe. If the pot is removed from the fire at this point, no doubt the bouncing of the rice will stop but the grains would remain uncooked. However, if the pot continues to be on the fire, then after some time, the rice would get cooked and would also stop bouncing. This is the lesson – if the mind is galloping and jumping around, enhance your meditation. Intensify the flame of sadhna so that this jumping and galloping mind becomes ripe and stabilizes. But along with this, we have to remember this advice of Shri Ashutosh Maharaj Ji, that sadhna is not just sitting with eyes closed, but:
- Sadhna is purifying/controlling your speech
- Sadhna is purifying/regulating your behavior
- Sadhna is refining your conduct
Thus, with meditation, there should be self-assessment. There should be self-discipline as well. One's actions or karmas should also be like sadhna. Mind and words should also be like sadhna. Not only senses should be in control, but noble conduct should also be aimed at. Our existence, our conduct, and our thoughts should become pure. Auspiciousness should be emulated. Along with meditation, there should be a self-audit as well. Therefore, one has to monitor his daily conduct and strengthen it through the ideals of his Guru. To be continued...