Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pivot of the Active Senses

Radha and Krishna“Mind or desire cannot be stopped, but to develop a desire to function for spiritual realization, the quality of engagement by the mind has to be changed. The mind is the pivot of the active sense organs, and as such if the quality of thinking, feeling and willing is changed, naturally the quality of actions by the instrumental senses will also change.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.1.17 Purport)

When you change the direction of the pivot, the instruments hooked up to it will yield a different output. The direction is towards a different area, though the work provided will be of the same variety. The pivot is like a director, or the person driving the car. Your automobile can take you to places that are good for your overall health or to a dangerous situation. The collection of objects used to run the car has no bearing on the decision, however. It is the pivot, the driver, who can operate off of rational thought and intelligence, that can determine what kind of fortunes one finds.

Delving further into the matter, it is the mind which directs all of the senses of the individual to act. Therefore, by changing the situation of the mind, one can shift from a miserable condition to a pleasurable one. This is the reverse of how we tend to operate. Generally, it is the exterior conditions themselves that are taken to be superior. Get more money, take a vacation to a foreign city, play a game, eat some nice food, or just do something that will bring excitement. Though there is external action involved here, it is really the situation of the mind that determines the pleasurable or miserable condition. That same mind can be positively situated without any external movement of the body.

How does this work exactly? Just think of thinking. Look at how remembering works. Find a pleasurable condition from your past and just relive it within the mind. You are transported to that place and time, but your body hasn’t moved. It is your mind that recreates the scene and goes through the experience again. You can do the same thing with the future, as the mind can create mock scenes of an event that has yet to come by using past experiences as reference points.

An easier way to find happiness is to use your thoughts to direct the senses towards positive behavior. As the mind is a product of consciousness, if our thoughts can be in contact with the supreme consciousness, there is a higher director to guide the pivot of the senses. That supreme consciousness belongs to the Supreme Controller, who has a place inside of everyone’s heart. He sits there as a neutral witness, distributing the rewards to action but not taking the initial impetus.

“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.61)

Krishna's lotus feetThe comparison to the navigation system available in a car is applicable here. Based on your location and the place you wish to go, the GPS device can tell you which turns to take and when. But when the machine is turned off or muted, it is of no use to the driver. The presence of the GPS device can’t be denied, but within the mind of the driver it’s as if it weren’t there.

The Supersoul within the heart has a similar ability to direct, but He is all-powerful. This means that He knows past, present, and future for every single living entity. Moreover, since the material nature is created through His will, only by His sanction can any visible result manifest. For instance, when we let go of an object from our hand it falls to the ground. We can predict the result based on our knowledge of the law of gravity, but the Supersoul is responsible for the law’s existence. Therefore He is the ultimate authority figure.

The mind can be trained to tap into the divine consciousness resting within through using the active senses. It is the hearing and seeing abilities of the driver that allow them to follow the instructions of the navigation system when it is turned on, and similarly all of the senses within can be used to tune into the divine instructions coming from the best well-wisher of the living entity, the Supersoul. He wishes only the best for us, despite the fact that sometimes it looks like we’re not getting what we want.

For instance, the mind might be accustomed to using its pivot to dive into activities like meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex, but the divine consciousness will recommend against these activities. Not knowing any better, the mind thinks that the direction is a sort of punishment, a pointless exercise that provides needless pain. Yet the higher authority that is the Supersoul knows the constitutional position of the individual and how it is to be in a pure consciousness, one that follows a mood of devotion.

Radha and KrishnaThat mood brings real happiness and not the temporary variety resulting from other engagements, those which occur through the pivot that is the deluded mind. The divine consciousness also directs the pivot of the senses to chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. The tongue and ears are two vital organs of the senses, and so they needn’t be ignored. The tongue has the ability to produce an audible representation of God’s personal aspect, and the ear has the ability to hear that powerful sound. That combination alone can bring the peaceful and pleasurable condition the mind is searching after.

The instructions of the divine consciousness are first received from the spiritual master, or guru. The guru is the external representation of the Supreme Lord’s wisdom, and through following that good advice, the mind learns to take direction from the Supersoul within. After all, the recommendation for chanting and avoiding the four pillars of sinful life comes from the Supersoul originally, but the mind is unwilling to take this direction. The spiritual master’s teaching can be likened to how the turn-by-turn directions of the navigation system are heard through the speaker of the device, while they actually originate from the processing component inside.

The spiritual master is the Supersoul’s mouthpiece, broadcasting the message of divine love to anyone who is willing to hear it. Shri Shri Nimai Nitai took that benevolence to another level by bringing the holy names to the public forum, giving everyone a chance to learn how to properly use the mind. Whether someone likes to hear about the need for devotional service or not should not influence the enthusiasm of the preacher, for the process of glorifying the Supreme Lord and the discipline that keeps one connected with Him is reward enough.

The guru directs the mind to think, feel and will in a different way. The Supersoul already delivered the results to action prior to connection with the divine consciousness, so for the devoted mind this process doesn’t change. What does differ, however, is that the Supersoul goes from being an impartial witness to directly intervening on behalf of the individual. God notices the sincere effort to connect with Him, so the nature of the results can change for the better. The mind still acts as the pivot of the active sense organs, but since the senses are directed towards devotional activities, the results fall under the Supreme Lord’s personal jurisdiction, where He directly influences outcomes.

Shri Shri Nimai NitaiSuch kind interference is absent in the pursuit of material sense gratification, where the laws sort of operate on their own, without personal preference. Two people may desire material opulence, but they are not both guaranteed to receive it. Karma, the system of action and reaction, takes effect, and based on the sum total of a person’s past deeds, they get the results they deserve, which may not match up directly with what they desire.

In the bhakti-yoga taught by the Vaishnava spiritual master, the desire is to stay connected with the divine consciousness, so all the behavior followed has the same outcome. One can be thinking of God in quiet meditation like Bharata, the son of King Dasharatha, and stay in bhakti-yoga. One can also be actively engaged in fighting and doing reconnaissance like Shri Hanuman and still receive the sweet fruit of a steady stream of thoughts directed to Bhagavan and His divine qualities. The gopis of Vrindavana carry out their routine work in the homes and community and they are considered the topmost yogis by Lord Chaitanya.

“A man must elevate himself by his own mind, not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 6.5)

For the devoted soul the exact use of the senses may not always be the same, but the end condition always is. The mind is very powerful, so one who can learn how to use it properly can find true wealth, namely daily inspiration to please the beloved origin of matter and spirit, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

In Closing:

So that from peaceful state you don’t deviate,

Think that influence of mind you can eliminate.

 

But know that mind always to operate,

Purify it to find perpetual pleasant state.

 

Pivot of the active senses is the mind,

Connect with God for divine pleasure to find.

 

Not to blame for the travel are the car’s parts,

Driver determines whether moves or stays parked.

 

Learn from spiritual master what is piety and what is sin,

From practicing bhakti, take guidance from God within.

Krishna's Mercy