The Mind

The mind is our central sense. Our senses of sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell constantly gather information and send it to the mind. Our mind sorts this information into two categories—agreeable or disagreeable—based on how we see the world and what our goals are. For example, if we see this world as meant for our enjoyment—as we tend to do—our mind will accept those things that give pleasure to our senses and reject anything that goes against that pleasure.

But this material world is an endless, unpredictable mix of pleasant and unpleasant circumstances that we can’t control. When we let our mind’s decisions—based on our desire for temporary pleasure—dictate our choices, our happiness isn’t guaranteed at all. A materially oriented mind can’t lead us to permanent fulfillment. For that, we need to train the mind to make judgments based on a more elevated worldview.

The system of yoga, as Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita, is meant to make our life peaceful by giving our mind a superior objective—specifically, meditating on the Supreme Person. Scriptures say that this, Krishna consciousness, is the perfection of all mental activity. When the mind is controlled in this way, it can be our best friend and help lead us to genuine happiness. Then we can be undisturbed by the temporary comings and goings of pleasure and pain in this world.

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Everything we do, and everything that happens to us as a result, is stored in our mind in the form of memory. The impressions made upon our mind influence how we see the world and how we behave. Our behavior, in turn, results in further impressions being made on our mind. This cycle of action and reaction, or karma, continues until we begin to act on higher authority than our mind’s materialistic pronouncements—such as God’s representatives and scripture.

Krishna says that controlling the mind isn’t easy, but it’s possible by practice and detachment. Our mind, like everything else, is ultimately part of the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Person, Krishna. So when we focus our mind on the Supreme, especially by hearing and chanting Krishna’s names and activities, our mind begins to act spiritually. It becomes habituated to accept things favorable for our spiritual progress and reject whatever isn’t. Then we can enjoy a peaceful existence—detached from material ideas of pleasure and attracted to the natural, eternal pleasures of the spirit self.

When we leave the material body, at the time commonly known as death, we go to our next destination based on the state of mind we’ve cultivated during our life. If our mind has been trained in Krishna consciousness, there’s every possibility of our being able to return to the spiritual world, also known as Vaikuntha, “the place of no anxiety,” where we find the lasting happiness this world can’t offer.