The Bhagavad-gita (06.05) enjoins that we elevate ourselves with our mind and not degrade ourselves with it. This intriguing verse indicates the volatile nature of our relationship with our mind. When we control our mind, our actions tend to be elevating. But when our mind controls us, our actions tend to be degrading.
How can we understand who is in charge: we or our mind?
One way is by introspectively examining our explanations of our actions. Sometimes, we may act in ways that are not in harmony with our words. When asked about the difference, we may explain, “I changed my mind.” This usage may represent our flexibility in the face of life’s changing situations, and flexibility does have a valid and valuable place in a principle-centered life. If our introspective examination reveals that our response was due to our flexibility, then we can infer that we were in charge of our mind.
However, sometimes after resolving to act according to scriptural principles, we act impulsively in the face of tempting or provoking situations. If our introspective examination reveals that our response was motivated by the desire for selfish pleasure or the desire to avoid personal inconvenience, then we can infer that our mind was in charge. On such occasions “I changed my mind” is a cover-up for the reality “My mind changed me.”
How can we make our control of our mind steady and strong? By strengthening ourselves spiritually through a deep connection with the supreme source of all strength, Krishna. This spiritual strength will gradually enable us to silence and subordinate our obstinate mind, and make it act in harmony with our long-term spiritual interests. Then the mind will no longer be able to change us, for we will have changed it permanently.
“One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.”