Category Archives: Vedic Psychology

Interactions between the Ātmā and the Mind

Question: Who feels pain and pleasure in the conditioned stage? Is it the soul or the mind?

Answer: The mind feels it.

Question: From where does viveka or the faculty to choose between wrong and right come? Does it come from the buddhi or ātmā?

Answer: It comes from buddhi.

Question: Does the soul have intrinsic mind, intelligence and ego?

Answer: No it doesn’t. 

Question: Does the soul act only as a source of consciousness (e.g. battery power for a car), while always needing the external mind, intelligence and ego? Is this true even in the spiritual world?

Answer: Yes. 

Question: Why can the soul not enjoy and experience pleasure as it is itself conscious?

Answer: It has no senses to enjoy.

Question: By doing sādhana, it is said that the citta gets purified. Then how are the bhajana memories transferred to the spiritual world with the soul as the citta is material?

Answer: They do not get transferred. Only the bhāva goes along with the ātmā. 

Question: Do the current material mind and ego get spiritualized and transferred into the spiritual world?

Answer: No. 

Question: As the soul does not have intrinsic mind, intelligence and false ego, why is it said that we have to watch all unwanted desires like lust, as a witness only and not entertain them? It is also said that we should think that we are totally different from the mind. Then how can a soul without intrinsic mind feel/realize that it is a soul, that it is spiritual and totally different from the material mind?

Answer: Everything is experienced only through the internal senses. There is no experience without them. In Gītā 6.12, Kṛṣṇa says that the happiness that is beyond the reach of the external senses can be comprehended only through the intellect, buddhi-grāhyam.

In Gītā 6.20, Kṛṣṇa says that when the mind, controlled by the practice of meditation, becomes still, one sees the ātmā through the ātmā (the internal sense):

yatroparamate cittaṁ niruddhaṁ yoga-sevayā
yatra caivātmanātmānaṁ paśyann ātmani tuṣyati
 

“When the mind, controlled by the practice of meditation becomes still, one rejoices only in the self and sees the self by the purified mind.”

Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravartī makes it clear that the word “ātmanā” here means internal sense, antaḥkaraṇa.

Question: Then how is the soul responsible for controlling the mind, choosing the right desire of the mind and acting accordingly, since buddhi, the decision making faculty, is also material and different from the soul?

Answer: Because ātmā is identifying with it. The problem is the identification. Mind, intellect and ahaṅkāra function because they are empowered by the ātmā. Ātmā does nothing by itself.

Question: Kṛṣṇa advises Arjuna in Gītā 18.65: “Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.” So for whom is this advice given and who listens? For the soul, the mind or the intelligence?

Answer: For all three of them, because the soul identifies with the mind and intelligence. You are posing these questions with the understanding that the ātmā and the mind or intelligence are functioning independently as two separate units. The fact, however, is that in the conditioned state, the ātmā is never free of the conditioned material mind.

Question: If the advice is given to the mind, intelligence and false ego, then how is the soul responsible to accept the instruction and to act accordingly since it is different from buddhi, mind and false ego? Please explain how the soul takes this instruction.

Answer: The soul is not taking any instruction. At present, it is identifying with the mind and the instruction is for the complete unit.

Question: If buddhi controls the mind, then how is the soul responsible to get karma-phala for its next birth?

Answer: Because of the soul’s identification with the mind. 

Question: SB 11.11.29 (also quoted in CC, Madhya 22.78-80) says:

kṛpālur akṛta-drohas titikṣuḥ sarva-dehinām
satya-sāro ‘navadyātmā samaḥ sarvopakārakaḥ 

“A saintly person is merciful and never injures others. He is tolerant and forgiving, truthful, free from all envy and jealousy, and magnanimous by doing welfare to others.”

If all these transcendental qualities are the characteristics of pure Vaiṣṇavas, do they belong to the ātmā or to the mind? If they belong to the mind, then do they come under the mode of goodness?

Answer: For a devotee, the qualities manifest from bhakti

Question: When we listen to siddhānta or pastimes, how do they affect the ātmā? Or do they only affect our material mind, intelligence and ego?

Answer: There is no effect on the ātmā 

Question: Then how and when does the ātmā experience the bhajana-sukha?

Answer: All experience happens in the mind. 

Question: How do the soul and intelligence interact with each other?

Answer: There is no real interaction except that the soul makes the intelligence conscious. 

Question: If an accident happens to a jīvan-mukta, does he feel pain and pleasure? How does this feeling of pain and pleasure differ from that of a person in conditioned stage?

Answer: He feels it but is not influenced by it like a conditioned being.  

Question: In the verse: mayā-mātram idaṁ jñātvā, jñānaṁ ca mayi sannyaset, (“Understanding this to be māyā, one should surrender unto Me both that knowledge and the means by which he achieved it,” SB 11.19.1)—which knowledge has to be surrendered?

Answer: Knowledge of oneness with Brahman. 

 

How to Overcome Jealousy and Envy

Question: An ordinary person has jealousy—how to overcome this problem?

Answer: Jealousy comes because of ignorance and attachment to your own self or body. First, you should understand what jealousy is. These two words in English, envy and jealousy, have similar meanings but with subtle differences. Envy means that someone has more than you and you want what the other person has. You therefore feel envious of that person. Jealousy is when your possession of something or somebody seems threatened by another person. Ultimately, the root cause of both is ignorance of one’s own self. Everyone is different and unique; people have different karmas and capabilities. Some people may have more than you; others may have less. There are many factors in our lives which are not under our control. If things are not under our control, then it is wise to accept that instead of getting upset, envious, or jealous.

Jealousy arises when you want to possess someone exclusively, like your partner, a close friend, or even your spiritual teacher. This is due to material attachment. Actually, we don’t possess anything, not even this body. No one asked you, “Do you want a body like this? Do you want a male or female body?” You didn’t choose it; you just got it. Now you may become depressed, “Why did I get a body like this? Actually, I wanted to be taller or stronger or thinner!” In this way, you remain miserable unnecessarily. If you can understand that these things are a result of your past karma, then you may accept it. Then you won’t become disturbed, envious, or jealous.

Ultimately, jealousy, and envy create disturbances not only for our own mind but also for others. What is the use of creating suffering for myself and others? I can avoid this needless suffering with proper understanding about the purpose of life and about my own situation. We should ask ourselves: “Why am I jealous and envious? What do I gain from this jealously and envy?”

Loving someone also does not mean that we own him or her. The object of our love has his/her own thoughts and preferences. But in the name of love, we want to turn our object of love into an inert object that we want to possess and control. Just like the father who treats his baby like a toy. He may throw the baby up in the air and then catch and thus enjoy without concern how the baby feels. But this is not love. Love does not mean control or possession; love means that we desire to please and serve the object of our affection.

Due to jealousy, we generally treat our partners or loved ones like pet dogs. You may say that you love your dog but then you put a leash or chain around its neck and restrict its freedom. In the name of love, you chain your dog. This is not love. We similarly subdue and restrict our so-called loved ones and expect them to dance to our tune and jump at our command. However, human relations don’t work like this. People have their own likes, desires, and needs. Invariably, such possessive relationships disintegrate into tension, disagreements, bitterness, and finally separation.

Jealousy and envy are mental states that can be resolved by proper understanding. Just as our bodies may be diseased, our minds may also be diseased. However, bodily diseases are easier to cure than subtle, mental diseases, which are subtler. Additionally, we require the use of our minds to address our mental difficulties. How can a diseased mind diagnose and treat one’s own mental difficulties? Therefore, we need to take help from others for an effective cure.

Question: What is the word for “jealousy” in Sanskrit?

Answer: Jealousy is asūyā in Sanskrit. Have you heard the name Anasūyā? Anasūyā was the wife of the sage Atri. Anasūyā means “one who is not jealous or envious.” And –tri in “Atri” refers to sattva, rajas, and tamas while a- means “not,” so Atri Muni was free from the three guṇas. Atri and Anasūyā give birth to Dattātreya, Durvāsā and Soma. So if you want to have God as your child, you have to be anasūya because God does not manifest wherever there is jealousy.

Krishna and Gopis (Jiva)

You’ve seen paintings of Kṛṣṇa with the gopīs. Kṛṣṇa is there with many gopīs. The gopīs are not jealous of each other; this is why Kṛṣṇa is dancing with them. In the material world, if two women like the same man, they become very jealous of each other. In previous times, kings had many wives, and the wives hated each other. The gopīs, however, are an example of women who are free from jealousy; therefore, Kṛṣṇa is dancing and singing with them. If our hearts are full of jealousy, God will disappear from there, because He does not like the smell of jealousy.

Emotions are related to fragrances. Aroma therapy works on that principle. A fragrance incites a specific emotion in your mind. The perfume industry also works on the same science. Their business is to combine essential oils to create perfumes that incite passion in you. However, God is not interested in that kind of perfume. He prefers the fragrance of prema, which is free from jealousy and envy. He does not like kāma, which is the source of jealousy and envy. To be a servant of God, you have to be free from jealousy. When you harbor jealousy in your heart, God is not happy because the object of your jealousy also belongs to Him. It’s like a father with two children, one of whom hates the other. So, if you want to serve God, and for Him to accept your service, you should let go of envy and jealousy.

 

Attachments at the Time of Death

Question: You said that at the time of death, we remember important saskāras from our life. Why is this?   

Answer: We have certain attachments in our life. We work and survive because of these attachments. Without attachments, you would feel completely blank. Attachments are of different grades and shades. Some are strong, some are weak and some are of medium strength. Some are positive and some are negative. Your thought process and your emotions are primarily guided by these attachments. When you are not occupied by something external, then these attachments get an opportunity to manifest. Sometimes you may have an intense loving relationship, and that is a very great attachment and your mind is drawn to that. But if you are busy outside because of some work, then you cannot put your mind to that. Yet there may be an undercurrent of that thought, and as soon as you are free from your work, then you immediately start thinking of that. Or when you go to bed and sleep at night, these attachments can come up. As such, one way to study your mind is to study your dreams.

We fear death, because fear is the feeling that you are going to lose something. Whenever you get an idea that you may lose your job, or your husband or boyfriend / girlfriend, you may become fearful. So if you lose your life, you are losing everything: your job, your boyfriend, etc. It is a complete loss; therefore there is complete fear. When you are in that fearful situation, then your natural attachment, meaning the most intense attachment, manifests in your mind. Because attachment is your life and you are now losing it, so you naturally try to hang on to it. If a child is in fear, where does she go? She runs to the mom, because that is her greatest attachment. Similarly, when you are dying, your greatest attachment will manifest in your mind and that will carry you to your next life. This is because that is where you want to be; that is what you are clinging unto. So that is where you go. The story of Ajamila is an example of this.

Question: How do we know where we will be going because of our attachments?

Answer: You can study your own mind. 

Question:  You mean our attachments? 

Answer: The mind is the receptacle of  all attachments. This is the real study – studying yourself – which you may not do even if you go to university or college. If you can study that, your education is complete even if you have not been to college. But if you have not studied that, then your education is incomplete even if you have ten degrees.

 

 

 

Dealing with Traumatic Situations

Question: How can uncovering repressed traumatic memories benefit a person?

Answer:  Our neurological and psychological systems have natural mechanisms to suppress and forget a traumatic situation to thereby avoid unbearable mental pain. Our body also goes into coma or faints when there is too much physical pain. These are mechanisms for survival which may give temporary relief but do not solve the problem. It is like ignoring a disease, a debt, or a house on fire. You can try to forget, but forgetting the disease, debt, or fire does not solve the problem at hand. Similarly, people may take to drinking or drug use to relieve themselves of stressful situations. While alcohol and drug use provide temporarily relief, they do not eliminate the cause of stress.

Rather, by uncovering, recognizing, and dissolving your traumatic experience, you resolve the issue at the root. This will give you renewed energy for your life’s work. Keeping traumatic experiences repressed requires tremendous mental energy. A person cannot experience the goodness of life; he cannot bloom in his life; his intelligence does not function properly. One thus afflicted may not be able to make beneficial life decisions.

Question: Why do some memories become repressed and others not? What purpose might repression serve?

Answer:  As said above, the purpose of repression is to relieve you from the immediate suffering. The traumas that one cannot assimilate or digest, tend to be repressed. The ones that you can tolerate or digest are not repressed. Not everything is repressed. Repression is a survival mechanism. Although it may not be a solution, it still brings some relief when one does not have the ability to deal with the situation. It is like a child that feels afraid at night and hides underneath a sheet to feel safe.

Question: How would I know if I have repressed memories/trauma?

Answer:  One indication is that you may be not making good decisions in life under certain specific conditions. You may have fear, feelings of insecurity, codependent behavior etc. under such circumstances. Some people have phobias or other idiosyncrasies. There may be even physical ailments, such a skin rashes, constipation, or IBS (Irritated Bowel Syndrome) due to repressed memories. 

Question:  Some persons say that they “blacked out” and don’t remember inflicting violence (rape, murder, etc.) on a victim. The perpetrators return to normal consciousness after the violent act. What is going on here? Assuming that the offender is speaking truthfully, is it repressed memory or is there demoniac possession taking place? 

Answer:When a person is driven by very strong emotions, he or she may act mechanically or impulsively, without conscious awareness. Then the person may not remember the act. Remembrance is possible when an act is done with awareness. The memory of acts done without conscious awareness is stored in the chitta, but it is not easy to pull such memories into the mind. We do many things in our daily lives without conscious awareness and may not remember them. For example, a person walking on the road, absorbed in deep thought, plucks a flower, then throws it away. He may not even remember that he plucked the flower.

 

 

Brain and Mind / Progress in Bhakti

Relation of Brain and Mind

Question: What is the role of the brain in Vedic Psychology and what is the relationship between mind and brain?

Answer: The sense (indriya) and is organ (golaka) are two different things. For example, there is a sense of seeing and there are two physical eyes, which are the golakas for this sense. The senses are part of the subtle body and the organs are in the physical body. The senses perceive or act through the organs—the sense of hearing or seeing works through the visible eyes or ears. What you call the mind (manas) in Vedic psychology is part of the subtle body and the brain is the organ through which it works.

Question: Modern doctors think that psychological illness is due to some disturbance in the chemical composition in the brain, but the Vedas say that it is due to the mind and the disturbance in doṣas. Then why do allopathy and homeopathy work for mental illness to some extent?

Answer: The subtle and gross bodies are interconnected and therefore they influence each other. This is the reason why allopathy and homeopathy can influence the mind. Not to speak of medicine, even food has an influence on the mind, because it is made of food. Anything you eat, whether food or medicine, has an influence on the mind. It is for this reason that certain items are forbidden for spiritual seekers. They may be good for the physical body, but they have an adverse effect on the mind.

Moreover, as you say, Vedic scriptures say that psychological illness is due to a disturbance in the mind and the doṣas and a disturbance of the doṣas is part of the physical body, which includes the brain. Therefore, as in allopathy or homeopathy, Ayurveda also prescribes medicines to cure the imbalance in the doṣas and strengthen the mind. The chemical imbalance in the brain is an outcome of a doṣa-imbalance.

Question: What is the mechanism behind mental, auditory and visual hallucinations? How are these hallucinations related to the brain and the kapha, vāta and pitta doṣas?

Answer: They happen because of a change of chemicals in the brain caused by the imbalance of the doṣas. As said above, the brain is the organ of the mind and the mind is the internal sense through which we perceived the external world with the help of the external senses. The external senses send data to the mind, which originate in the organs, but the same effect can also be produced by a change in the chemicals in the brain. So the mind does not differentiate whether the data came from the external world or whether it originated in the brain, just as when you dream at night, you do not know that this is just a dream and not real. Hallucinations can also give the same effect.

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Progress in Bhakti

Question: Unless a person has a firm conviction, he or she will not take interesting in doing an activity, whether material or spiritual. We may know that we are soul, not the body, but what is the use of knowing it theoretically? Unless we understand and experience it by taking shelter of a realized guru, how can we move forward?

Answer: There are many things about which we have no experience but we still believe in them. And we act on the basis of our belief. No one has the experience that this is the only life we live, or that there is no rebirth, but many believe there is only one life and act accordingly. Similarly, you can act on the belief that there is a law of karma and rebirth. Most of the things we do in our life are based on belief and not on experience. Therefore, if you believe that we are not the body but ātmā and the material body is the conditioning for the ātmā resulting in suffering in the form of birth, death, disease and old age, then you can try to find a solution for this suffering. If you believe that ātmā never dies and reincarnates, carryings its karma from the past, then you can be mindful of your actions so that you don’t create bad karma. Otherwise, why would you even approach a realized guru? The belief comes from good association.

Question: What is the fault of those who are materially attached and thus forced by the modes of nature to do sins like murder, illicit sex, cow killing etc.?

Answer: Nobody likes to suffer except a masochist. So a non-masochist should not cause suffering to others. So their fault is that they cause suffering to others although they would not like the same treatment for themselves. The general principle is that you should not do unto others what you would not like to be done to yourself. This does not require any belief in God or ātmā. This is common sense, and a good one, because it will help to keep sanity in the society.

Question: If you say that they are humans so they should discriminate between right and wrong and thus must be punished for their severe crime/offenses, then this discriminative knowledge is like the dry theoretical knowledge that we are not the body but the soul.

Answer: So why do you not cross the road when a speeding car is coming? Have you been hit by a speeding car? I sure hope not. You should cross the road even when cars are speeding by until you get hit and learn by your own experience. Human beings learn not only from their own experience but also from others. Is this very difficult to understand? Am I asking for too much if I ask you to learn from others’ experience? Otherwise, what is the difference between a human being and an animal?

Question: I think that one has to first realize the scripture. Even senior devotees know that criticizing Vaiṣṇavas is an offense, still they do it and do not show respect to other Vaiṣṇavas if they are not in their sampradāya.

Answer: Yes, the purpose of our practice is to get realization. I think every practitioner knows this and desires to have an experience.

 

 

 

New Publication: Daily Deliberations Workbook

Jiva Institute just released Daily Deliberations for Peace of Mind and Healthy Relations. It is an introspection workbook that one can use to stay connected to Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa’s wisdom daily and to apply it to one’s own life. It includes 30 inspirational quotes from Babaji, one for each day. Each day of this workbook includes his analysis of the quote, combined with introspective questions and writing space to journal. Through journaling, sincere seekers can look into their own mind and make a positive change. The workbook is designed to help you to become peaceful irrespective of the external situation. The introspection workbook is now available at the Jiva online store.

Daily Deliberations Workbook

Importance of Introspection

Our time is limited and we want to maximize our peace and happiness and have loving relations. We cannot be experimenting with these things in ignorance. Besides learning from our own experience, we can also take help from the wisdom of scriptures and from the experience of wise persons. To achieve success, peace, and happiness, it is very important to understand the characteristics and functioning of the mind. When we don’t understand it, we are at the mercy of our own mind and the mind of the people with whom we deal. And, as we may have already experienced, this does not lead us to our goal but puts us in trouble.

Deliberation and introspection are crucial for your spiritual progress. In this way, you can become conscious of your personal obstacles on the path of bhakti. These obstacles will inevitably appear when you turn to the spiritual path and become aware of your material attachments. The first chapter of Bhagavad Gītā illustrates this phenomenon. In this section, Kṛṣṇa showed Arjuna his opponents on the battlefield of Kurukṣetra. Since Arjuna identified with them, seeing them as his relatives, this attachment made him weak-hearted and dejected. In addition, he rationalized his inability to fight for the right cause as righteousness.

The Daily Deliberations Workbook is designed to help shed light on your faulty thoughts, which are connected to unhealthy feelings and get to know your own blockages and enemies so that you can fight them effectively.

These deliberations, along with their introspective process, will help you to get out of your dysfunctional behavior and become peaceful, happy, and successful.

Organization of the Introspection Workbook

This workbook guides you through different areas of your life where you could make a positive change. The daily introspection exercises are organized in the following way:

  1. Quote: a part of Babaji Satyanarayana Dasa’s wisdom
  2. Analysis: an explanation of the quote
  3. Questions: multiple entry points for introspection and deliberation by yourself
  4. Insight: a space to write your thoughts, feelings, and behavior
  5. Positive Change: practical application to your life, based on your introspection

We highly recommend that every sincere seeker use this book because personal growth can only be accomplished by taking an honest look at yourself. No one else can do this work for you. This process may be emotionally painful at times since growth can involve pain. But if you take this opportunity seriously, you will experience spiritual progress.

Vedic Psychology – OFFENSIVE DEVOTEE

QUESTION:

I am having a very hard time processing feelings of anger and disgust toward a fellow devotee. I have been in the company of this person for many years due to unchangeable circumstances and have witnessed them verbally abusing, insulting, harshly criticising and speaking in very confronting and disturbing ways, These actions have caused many devotees to leave my association (as I am in vicinity to this person) and some have perhaps even given up their spiritual practices due to this behaviour. A few years ago after an incident I formally confronted this person, with the help of some other people. The person in question took it well and acknowledged all that we said, and has since made strong efforts to rectify the worst of it. However, by nature this person is domineering, over-confident and sharply critical, so even without the major offensive behavior, I still find them very difficult to be around. But now, my mind replays episodes of their old behaviour and continues to harbour feelings of disgust and anger, usually in a sort of mental rampage, and I find it impossible to reign it in.
angry womanMy question is: how can I cultivate some tolerance? how can I stop my mind from entering into these rampages, or how can I reign it in once it has started? It seems apparent to me that this is a matter of my karma and that I must change my own attitude somewhat in order to deal with this, but I am currently finding it very difficult. I try very hard not to ‘fan the flames’ of my anger by keeping my distance, but sometimes I am provoked by even a tiny trigger and I my mind cascades down into tamo-guna. Then my sadhana and natural enthusiasm for spiritual life become nil and I become very depressed. I will be very very grateful for your guidance on this matter as it has been going on for many years and I desperately need to move on from it.

 

ANSWER:

It is very good that this situation has caused you to become aware of your emotions. You also made an astute observation about the nature of the mind, and how difficult it is to control when it becomes disturbed. That takes humility, honesty, and sincerity to admit these things and ask for help. You have already taken a very important first step – especially for anyone who aspires to maintain a healthy, peaceful mind. The majority of people are not aware of their emotions at all. In fact, they do not acknowledge their feelings, which causes them to come forth uncontrollably sometimes. In the case of anger, it can be expressed explosively, or it can be turned inward and cause physical or mental disease such as heart problems, or depression. As you mentioned that sometimes when you get triggered, you become very depressed and your, “natural enthusiasm for spiritual life becomes nil.” That means that on these occasions you have let the thing that disturbs you take your mind away from Krishna. In these instances, your mind has gone to its lower nature, which is to have dislike, and then become angry.

Therefore, just acknowledging your feelings is not enough to control the volatile mind, which is why you still have experienced your mind going on a rampage at times even when you recognized the emotions. The mind cannot be controlled without using the buddhi, your intelligence, which requires understanding of how the unconscious mind works in order to take control. Once you have this understanding, you will be able to apply this wisdom, using it as the reigns to control the wild mind.

Using the Jiva Vedic Psychology approach, we search for the root cause of the problem, which is never what it seems to be at first glance. In other words, the root cause of your problem is not this disturbing devotee with whom you are in association. The root cause of your problem is two fold:

  1. First, the mental disturbance lies inside of you, inside of your chitta (unconscious mind). In fact, the problem has been there a lot longer than this devotee has been in your life. Your chitta is the storehouse of all of your past experiences—filed away as memories, with the corresponding emotions attached. Our memories that were created in the first 10 years of our life are generally the most emotionally potent ones, as we did not have the buddhi power to comprehend many situations that were painful. So, the memories lie there in our chitta, with those painful undigested feelings attached to them, and then they get triggered in adulthood. In your case, when you are feeling angry at the devote, the anger is actually originating from painful feelings from the past. These feelings come flooding back and overwhelm us. The confusing part is because these memories and associated emotions are in our unconscious mind, we are completely unaware of them. We have no idea that is what is happening to us when it happens. That is why we blame the person who is disturbing us. It is like if we didn’t know of the concept of a mirror, and then we looked in the mirror and saw some food stuck on our face, and we got upset at the mirror and tried to get the food off of the mirror instead of off our face. This is similar to what happens when we get angry at another person. So another way you can view this devotee who is disturbing your mind, is perhaps as a window into your chitta, which you would not otherwise be able to see what is lying in your unconscious mind so clearly. It is only when a person experiences emotional discomfort that maybe—just maybe—they are willing to finally look inside themselves. So you have come across a good fortune if you are willing to take it in that way.
  2. Second, your mind is not fixed on Krishna. If your mind was fixed on Krishna, then it does not have any space for anything else other than love for Him. As Krishna states in the Bhagavad Gita, “Fix your mind on Me, become My devotee, worship Me, and offer obeisance’s to Me. Uniting the self with Me in this manner and being intently devoted to Me, you will attain me alone.” (9.34). In thinking about Krishna’s words, He has made it clear how to attain Him. It is also said that whatever you are thinking of at the time of death, you will attain that. So, it is good to remember this each time you let your thoughts slip to this devotee who angers you. One thing for sure is that if you would like to see this devotee again and again, lifetime after lifetime, then you should keep becoming disturbed and angry with him because this will ensure continued relation and karma with this person. If you would like to be united with Krishna eternally, then meditate on His words.

PRACTICAL EXERCISE

We know, however, that fixing your mind on Krishna is not so easy, otherwise, we all would have done it by now. Here are some steps you can take to help clear and calm your mind so it can be easier to fix it on Sri Krishna.

  1. Identify Your Feelings. The first step is what you have already successfully done—recognizing your feelings and specifically identifying what feelings are there. You had mentioned anger and disgust. Write those feelings down, and then try to describe what about that person makes you feel those feelings. In this specific case, it seems that when the person criticizes others and speaks in harsh ways, you find it intolerable. In your writing, elaborate on these feelings.
  1. Try to Find a Match from Childhood Experience. Realizing that the problem does not have to do with the other person, but what is inside your chitta, try to find what the current person that is troubling you has in common with some people in your childhood (usually authority figures—mom, dad, older brother, teacher), and how they treated you and made you feel. For example, was your father critical of you, domineering, overly-confident, or harsh to you in some way as a child? Continue to dig and ask yourself, what is the root of this feeling of anger and disgust? It is important to understand that if you did not have a childhood experience of the feelings similar to the feelings triggered by how this devotee is treating you, then you would not be so disturbed by this devotee.
  1. Take Responsibility for your Emotions, Don’t Blame Others and Try to Get Them to Change. Once you realize the samskara (memory) that has been activated by this current situation with the critical devotee, then you have to take responsibility for it completely. This means that you do not ask the devotee to change, just to make your mind feel less disturbed. That only works short-term. As you can see from your own example, your mind is still disturbed, even though you asked the devotee to change and he did change somewhat. Actually, even if the devotee changed completely just for your sake, your problem would not go away. What will happen if another new devotee comes into your association whom you can’t escape, who is even more domineering, and critical? You will never gain control over your emotions if you try to get others to change. You will only feel exhausted, frustrated, irritated, and depressed.
  1. Process Your Feelings. Acknowledge these old feelings from childhood and let yourself cry, scream, or whatever you need to do to express and process those feelings that have been pent up inside of you. You may need to speak with a psychotherapist who is skilled and can help you to process these old feelings.
  1. Use your Awareness. The next time you start having those feelings of anger and disgust about this devotee, catch yourself at the very onset of the feelings. Tell yourself that 90% of the intense feelings you are feeling now have nothing to do with this devotee, and everything to do with the childhood samskara that got triggered. Tell yourself that you are not going to let an old painful memory overwhelm you and control your mind.
  1. Direct your mind back to Sri Krishna. Tell yourself that you have the choice to fix your heart on Him or on the devotee who disturbs your mind. You can control your mind and you can make a wise decision. If your anger is too strong, and you are not able to fix your mind on Krishna, then at least share your heart with Krishna. Tell Him what is bothering you. Ask for His advice and for Him to stay close to you during this turbulent time. Don’t only come to Him when you think you are perfect. Show Him your blemishes too. In true love you share everything. Share it all with Him. You can also ask yourself one question: Why would you choose to fix your mind away from Krishna? For each time you let the anger control your mind, you are turning your back to the source of eternal love.