Surrender – The True Means of Conquering The Mind
Out of all the concepts that have been explained so far, the main concepts to understand are that one who loves is the premi, or the lover, and the one who is loved is the premaspad, or the Beloved, and that only God and Saints can occupy the seat of the Beloved. The mistake we have made so far is in our understanding of the most important thing – whom the lover should accept as the Beloved. Since eternal time, we have heard and understood a lot, but on the practical level we always chose material personalities as our Beloved.
We must further understand who it is that has to practice devotion. In a general way it is said that the individual soul practices devotion. However, the soul is a non-doer. It does not perform any actions. The performer of each and every action is the mind. I have explained this hundreds of times to you, but you people forget. You have come here with the genuine desire to practice devotion, but you forget the main point that it is the mind which must be attached to God. Mere physical work of the senses will not do. Activities with the senses, like sankeertan, etc. are done to help you absorb the mind quickly in God. You might say something is better than nothing. However, Ved Vyas says that devotion practiced only with the senses is not devotion at all.
“Mind alone is the cause of bondage as well as liberation.” So if the question is asked as to who it is that has to love, the answer is “the mind”. When we say that someone loves, it means that he focuses his mind on the Beloved. In other words, we must fix the mind on God.
However, many people say that it is useless to fix the mind on God. There have come to this world many so-called learned people, who were in fact very ignorant. Just hear some of their theories. According to Sigmund Freud, it is an irrefutable law of nature that all human beings will always have a troubled mind. Therefore, he says that no one should hope for or try to attain peace and happiness. What a wonderful philosophy this is! Our world has produced such capable men! In the book titled “Sickness of Civilization,” Radhakamal Mukherjee of India has refuted Freud’s philosophy that everyone is doomed to remain distressed, restless, and unfulfilled, and that this is an inflexible law of nature.
Another very famous philosopher is Schopenhauer. He says that it is the fate of the human mind to sway in sorrow and restlessness, and that there is no cure for it. But, we have a cure here in India. These philosophers have accepted defeat because they have used their material intellect to reach the answer. Neither do they conduct spiritual research themselves, nor are they willing to accept the findings of the great Sages who have conducted such research. What knowledge can they acquire in this way? Whatever knowledge they possess, they present in a book which is then called a “philosophical treatise.” However, their philosophy contains only their own limited and material knowledge.
Another philosopher, Bertrand Russell, says that the dissatisfaction and troubles of the mind and its constant fluctuations have to be borne. There is no solution, but if a person immerses himself in work day and night, he can forget his miseries. This is his method. What he says is true to a great extent, because “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” So, the poor fellow has at least suggested a method of avoiding the problem. It is our tendency to engage in frivolous activities on our days off. People play cards, go to nightclubs, watch movies, gamble, go to restaurants, and visit friends to engage in idle gossip. In other words, when we have free time, our mind goes to where it has formed attachments. And even if we sit at home, relaxing in our easy chair, our mind engages in attachment and criticism of others. Russell’s method is somewhat effective for the common man, but it is certainly not a cure.
The hatha yogis recommend gaining control over the mind through sheer obstinacy. This is described in the darshan shastras as well. Pay close attention. This is spiritual philosophy, not material. In his Yog Darshan, Patanjali describes the method to gain control over the mind. You hear the word “yoga” these days; it is being practiced everywhere. The “yoga” of today is mere physical exercise. The true meaning of yog is disclosed by Patanjali in the aphorism “Yog means to control the waverings of the mind.” The path of yog does not constitute only postures; that is the physical part of yog. Real yog means to control the mind. For this, Patanjali has recommended many methods in his yog darshan. But, in the end he accepts defeat and says that the techniques he is suggesting are very difficult and even if someone masters them, there is still no guarantee that the mind will always remain in control. Things can go wrong. Therefore, in the end he has written an aphorism-“Surrender to God.” He says, “If you surrender to God, I can then guarantee that your mind will come under control permanently. Otherwise, it will behave well for a while and misbehave once again.”
The west has its share of hath yogis (advocates of forceful restraint of the mind on the strength of the will power) like Diogenes who used to beg before a stone figure for food and clothing. A companion of his asked him, “Are you insane? Why are you begging from a statue?” Diogenes answered, “I am doing this deliberately. I know very well that this statue will not give me anything. I am only practicing tolerance so that I may not feel badly if I speak to a person and he does not fulfill my request or even if he refuses to talk to me.” This was his method, but it will not take you to the goal. Swami Ram Teerth had a strong liking for apples. Everyone has his or her likes and preferences. It may be something small or big; something good or bad. Some like eggplant; others have a craze for rasgullas. Everyone has his own habit or weakness. Swami Ram Teerth’s weakness was for apples and he thought, “I try to take this mind to Shyamsundar, but it goes to apples instead.” So he sat in front of an apple and looked at it continuously. The entire day passed; then the night. Second day passed, then the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh. The apple rotted and became infested with worms. Addressing his mind, Swami Teerth said, “O mind! Do you still wish to eat this apple?” Why was he doing this? To control the mind, by not eating an apple put in front of it. This is not a solution, but excessive stubbornness. Today you win, and tomorrow, the apple may win. This method does not provide a permanent cure.
RamKrishna Paramhans would take a rupee in one hand and a lump of dirt in the other, and tossing them back and forth between the two hands, he would repeat “Taka (rupee)-Maati (dirt).” He did this the entire day. People would ask, “What are you doing, O Revered Swami Ji?” “I am practicing convincing the mind that money is dirt, so that greed may never arise in me.” Imagine! He is a devotee of the Divine Mother; he should meditate on Her rather than doing “taka-maati” all day long. I accept that such methods bring temporary relief; however, they do not result in gaining permanent control over the mind. You do not fall off a bicycle as long as it is moving. It may be moving forward, or turning right or left, you will not fall off. But as soon as you stop pedaling, you will fall. Likewise, our mind has to be moving constantly. It may be moving in the direction of the world or God. You cannot stop it from moving. God has given us such a machine that we cannot lock it up and put it away. Without the mind you cannot think, speak, walk or do anything else. Of course, one way to stop the mind from thinking is to smell chloroform and go into a state of deep sleep. Then you will not think, see or hear anything. However, you do not need chloroform to go off into a state of deep sleep. Right here there may be half a dozen dholaks being played in keertan, still some people manage to go off to sleep. (laughter) And if I tell them to stand up, they look behind them, as if I am addressing someone else. In other words, they think it is someone else who has been caught sleeping. (laughter) You see, the one who has been sleeping, does not realize he has been sleeping. When he opens his eyes, he thinks that he has been awake all along.
So you see, the mind stops functioning in deep sleep. At that time, you do not do anything at all. You do not speak, think or understand anything. Other than this, it is impossible to lock the mind away some place. Psychiatrists accept this fact as well. William James has created a formula, which is somewhat correct. He says that there are two things: desire and gain, or longing and attainment of worldly goods. If your desires reduce and your worldly goods increase, then you get more happiness. And if your desires are greater and your worldly gain is less, you experience unhappiness. So if you want happiness, reduce your desires; and if you want misery, increase your desires. If your desires come to zero, that is the biggest happiness; and if your worldly gain comes to zero, that is the biggest misery. What he is saying is not altogether wrong, but it is a theoretical philosophy. How do you practically bring your longings to zero? James does not answer this question in his book. How wonderful it would be if we could destroy desires by merely thinking, “I will no longer desire; I will no longer desire; I will no longer desire.” If this were possible then why would the greatest yogis and ascetics perform the difficult sadhanas that they do? James must have thought to himself, “Have I destroyed my own desires?” Then he must have thought, “No, but still I am going to write about it.”
You say that you can eliminate desires by merely thinking about eliminating them. But this is impossible. The mother of desire is maya. Unless God Himself gives a signal to maya to leave the individual alone, desires cannot come to an end. Great Sages, ascetics and yogis, who are capable of traveling through the sky at will, and who can acquire thousands of bodies simultaneously and who have many mystic powers, have not been able to do it. How can you? Just constantly pondering over and reflecting, “I should not increase desires,” as psychology says, is a very ineffective cure. Everyone, not only the psychiatrists, know that desires are undesirable, but merely knowing this will not benefit you.
Right from birth, a child hears from his parents that it is wrong to tell lies. The child grows up hearing this; he reads about it and later as an adult he lectures others about it, but still he cannot renounce the habit of lying. Why? Because it benefits him to tell lies. Because he is attached to material goods, he will do whatever he can to acquire them. So it does not help to merely know, hear and read about it. This is why even this theory is unacceptable to us. However, this method has been proven somewhat beneficial. A philosopher by the name of Charles Hume writes in his book that all the psychiatrists in the world using all medicines available cannot give the same relief to a patient, as a man following the most ordinary, basic religious principles. An ordinary believer, mind you. How much more can a great believer accomplish!
Thus, we see that there are many theories regarding the mind prevalent in the world, but none of these theories suggests any permanent cure. The first and most important problem is that you will not attain Divine Bliss by using these methods. The unlimited Divine happiness that the soul is seeking will not be attained by these cures, even if the impossible is achieved and you put an end to all desires. At the very most, even though this is absolutely impossible too, anger, lust, greed, infatuation, envy will come to an end. But you will still not attain Divine Bliss. The fact is that no one can bring these evil tendencies under control permanently. They become suppressed for some time for everyone. Right now, all of you are free from lust, anger, greed, and are listening attentively to what I am saying. Who can guess that you are afflicted by any of these maladies? But they are all within you. And, finding the right opportunity, they manifest themselves.
If someone pushes you, you flare up and say “Can’t you see where you are going?” See, anger has made its appearance. You see a 1000 rupee note and no one is around. You put it in your pocket. Greed has come. You do not announce among the satsangis, “Has anyone lost 1000 rupees? Now, if it was a 100 rupee note, it gets announced. One’s dignity is preserved and one is even termed “honest.”
So all bad qualities reside within us and finding the appropriate atmosphere, they manifest externally. It is not wise to try for temporary relief from these vices. If you are going to make an effort, make sure that the disease is destroyed at the root. I will not go into detail about the various remedies recommended by Meemansa, Nyaya, Vaisheshik, Yog of Patanjali, and the Advait Vedant of Shankaracharya. This is a very detailed topic. Understand in brief that the mind cannot be controlled, and that the diseases of maya will not leave you until you are free of maya. And how can we attain liberation from maya?
Shree Krishna says, “Only one who surrenders to Me can cross over maya.” Release from maya takes place only by His grace. It cannot take place on the strength of any spiritual discipline. The only spiritual discipline we have to perform is to surrender to God. That is all. What does it mean to surrender? To surrender means to accept our helpless state, “I cannot do anything on my own.” When the army of a nation surrenders to another, what does it do? It puts down its weapons and raises the white flag. If someone ever shows you a gun, and asks you to surrender, what should you do? You should immediately stop all work and put up your hands. Don’t do anything foolish, like putting your hands in your pockets. If you do, the attacker may kill you, thinking you are reaching for your gun. Just in case your parents did not tell you this, I am teaching you this survival skill. So, surrender means to do nothing. This is all we have to understand in order to attain God’s grace.
All the sadhana we have done for many ages is simply to bring us to the point of surrender. And, it is the mind that has to surrender. Since the mind has surrendered to the world in infinite past lives, it turns around and returns there. I had explained the science of the mind and intellect in detail earlier. Briefly, understand that the main worker is the mind. When you are working in the world, take special care to ensure that the mind does not become attached to the world. And when doing spiritual sadhana, do not forget that it is the mind alone that has to form an attachment to God. In the world, any attachment shown must be in acting. With God and Guru, the attachment should be a fact. An act is not rewarded. Fact is. If you act with God and Guru, your sadhana will not bear fruit. And if rather than acting in the world you become attached in fact, you will attain worldly results. Even in the world no one pays attention to an act. It is like the playful banter by the in-laws. It is like the joke played on Holi or on April Fools’ Day. Similarly, God places no value on external actions, but notes our inner attachments.
So, we have to remember that the actual “lover” is the mind of the individual. You can say the mind, or you can say the individual soul, plus the mind, plus the intellect, plus the senses, plus the body. The combination of all these constitutes a human being. And it is this combination that is the “lover.” But amongst all these, it is not the body, senses or the soul that perform any action. It is only the mind and intellect that are the workers. This is why we must focus on the mind and the intellect.
Now let us move on. We have understood that we must love God and His devotees, the Saints. We should also understand that there is a condition that has to be fulfilled in this love. Condition in love? Yes. What condition? The condition in love is that we must love. (Laughter). What does this mean, to love you have to love? Because you have never loved, you do not know how to love. “What are you saying? I have loved countless fathers, mothers, wives, and husbands in countless lives and you are saying that I do not know how to love?” That was all wrong. You can write it in golden letters that you have never loved anyone, ever. You may have been Laila-Majnu or Sheeri-Farhad, but you have never loved anyone. You have always loved yourself. Only yourself. Memorize this statement. I hope you have not forgotten what I have already explained to you in detail. Every soul loves another for his own self-interest, until the point that he attains God. Every action of his before God-realization is motivated by selfishness.
And what happens when one attains God? One’s aim of infinite, eternal happiness is attained. Now, there is no longer any selfish reason for any action. “Upon attaining God, the soul has no further work that remains to be done.” But we see God-realized Saints engaged in great works. Saints like Prahlad are ruling kingdoms, getting married and having children. They are fighting battles and killing others. 99.9 percent of Saints, like Hanuman, Bharat, Lakshman and Arjun, led very active lives. Why are they performing actions? Have they not attained Bliss, which is the ultimate motive behind every action? Yes, they have. Then logically, their actions should have come to an end. Let us understand this with an example. When you heat butter in a pan, it makes loud splattering sounds as it is being cooked. The impurities decrease and now the butter becomes quieter. And when the butter becomes pure ghee (clarified butter), it stops making even the slightest sound. Its work has now come to an end. It will not speak any longer. But if someone puts raw dough into the ghee, the ghee will speak once again. Why? In order to cook the raw dough and make it into a poori. The ghee does not speak for its own sake; it speaks for the sake of the poori. When the poori is cooked, the ghee becomes quiet once more. When more raw dough is put into the ghee, it speaks once again. Once the poori is cooked, the ghee becomes quiet once more. Likewise, God and the Saints, who are eternally gratified since they possess Divine Bliss, do work only for the benefit of others. They cannot do anything for themselves. Just as we cannot do anything for anyone else before God-realization, in the same way, they cannot do anything for themselves after God-realization. They are helpless in this regard. When there is nothing left for them to attain, what can these poor souls do!
They have no more personal motive to fulfill, and therefore, God and Saints descend to earth and mix with worldly people, encouraging and inspiring them to detach themselves from the world and follow the Godly path. They have to hide their true identity to mingle with their opponents (proponents of the worldly path), and bring them over to their side. The Saints meet with resistance from all corners. If one member of a family starts moving rapidly in the direction of God, the entire clan unites to try and prevent him from becoming a “renunciate.” “Who is this Saint who has come to destroy our family?” This is just like in politics where people unite to pull someone into their party. Now the poor Saint is alone on one side, and on the other side are millions of worldly people trying to pull down the soul who is starting his spiritual life. If the aspirant succumbs to weakness; if he becomes afraid of criticism, he will give up. But if he perseveres, he does not care about what others think, and he says: “Some call me characterless; some says I am from a good family, and some say that I am from a bad one. Some call me a beggar. I may be stigmatized by society and called unchaste. I am not concerned with this world or heaven or the family of my husband. I have chosen a path far removed from all these. I can give up my body, my mind, heavenly gods and reject the authority of my respectable seniors. But I can not stop glorifying Him. I sacrifice everything on the form of Shyamsundar of Vrindavan.”
“I give up my house, the forest, the city and all its inhabitants. I have no hesitation in renouncing Vanshivat. I can abandon my body, my home, but I cannot give up my Beloved. The world calls me mad but I do not argue with them. I say they are perfectly right. I have given up hearing and speaking. I have abandoned my father and brother, mother and everyone else, but I cannot give up my Shyamsundar.”
The few souls who are adamant, manage to escape from the madness of this world and get freed from the clutches of maya. They are so rare that we can count them on our fingertips. Some examples are Tulsi, Soor, Meera, Kabir, Nanak and Tukaram. They went over to God’s side, while the world looked on and commented, “Look, he is leaving us.” “Let him go. One person leaving will not affect us. But be careful that others do not escape.” (laughter) Yes, we make such efforts to stop a person from going towards God! God and Saints use Their unlimited power, but They have to accept defeat in front of us. The way we apply our intellect and question everything with our “buts” and “whys”, prevents us from surrendering to God and Guru. And without surrender, the greatest descensions of God and the foremost of Saints cannot give us anything. They are bound by the eternal law of gracing only surrendered souls. Therefore, though they have come to the world to distribute Divine gifts, they are forced to return with them. And, the souls who do surrender, do so only to some degree, while what is required is complete surrender.
The Vedas say that if there is a distance of a hair’s breadth, just a minuscule bit left in surrender, you will not attain the goal. Surrender must be total and complete. If you wrap the touchstone in a piece of cloth and then touch it to iron, the iron will not become gold. The touchstone and the iron have to make complete contact. Similarly, our surrender must be one hundred percent. This is the entire message of the Geeta. In the first chapter Arjun is saying, “I am your disciple, and I am surrendered to You.” Later, in the eighteenth chapter, God says, “Listen to some very confidential knowledge.” “What is it?” “Surrender to Me alone.” But, was not Arjun saying “I am surrendered to You” right at the beginning of the Geeta? No, no! First Arjun was surrendered to Shree Krishna as well as to dharm. Now, Shree Krishna is saying, “Surrender to Me alone.” This is the main problem. Partial surrender will not do. Shree Krishna wants complete, one hundred percent surrender.
This complete surrender means “to do nothing.” But, because since eternity we have practiced doing everything, there is a lot to be done to come to this state of “doing nothing.” This effort is known as sadhana. Saints have recommended many methods of doing sadhana, like chanting, singing bhajans and doing worship.
“The mind should be attached to Shree Krishna using any and every means.”
Thus, we must take the mind and focus it on the Beloved. But there is a condition to be fulfilled here also. The condition is that in love, we must truly love. Since we have never loved in the countless past lifetimes, we do not know how to love. The question is, “How can one love?” I will disclose the answer some other time.
All glories to the Lord of Vrindavan !