Have we ever stopped to think what our mind is? Or rather what our mind is made up of, though we engage it in various activities from dawn to dusk?
Our mind is made up of thoughts. Thoughts have different colors to it–good, bad, pleasant, unpleasant and so on. It could be surprising for some of us who have not been alert—our expectations, emotions, likes, dislikes, worries, joy etc. are all in the form of thoughts. We are habituated to travel with the endless train of thoughts throughout the day, day after day.
Modern psychologists suggest that an average person with an undisciplined mind has about 50,000 distinct thoughts everyday. Almost all of them are either negative thoughts or confrontational. Even people who are well-mannered and pleasant, who spend most of their times in the privacy of their thoughts pursue mean-spirited, angry or harmful thoughts. Every one of us experiences the same kinds of thoughts raging in our undisciplined minds unless we have a trained mind. What separates the spiritual leader (one who follows spiritual principles in his or her life) from the crowd is that he or she has learnt the art of controlling the mind and its raging thoughts.
We are led to think by our mind that it is beyond us to control the mind, so we give in to all its demands. In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna, the brave Pandava warrior, in the moment of utter crisis pleads to Lord Krishna, ‘Mind is so powerful that it just goes astray like a boat carried away by the wind.’ Lord Krishna provides good counsel to Arjuna when He says, ‘Mind is the friend of the one who has controlled it but is the enemy of one who hasn’t.’
How does a spiritual leader train the mind and discipline the train of thoughts and use it to his or her advantage? In this connection, Bhakti Tirtha Swami has shared something very interesting about the ‘power of thoughts’ in his book ‘Leadership for an Age of Higher Consciousness.’ He says, ‘Although invisible to the naked eye, thoughts are things. They are individual electrical entities that group themselves with similar energy to form clusters. They are real; they are substantive; and they are a force that everyone can learn to balance and control…Nothing exists unless it is sustained by thought. Therefore, the easiest way to control and manipulate energies is by thought processes. People can control their words and actions simply by changing the way they think.’
Spiritual leaders know that ones thoughts are not really ‘one’s own’! Just because thoughts appear or pass through the mind, it doesn’t mean one has to buy into them or identify with them or act upon them! They learn to simply let them pass by being an observer. This is how we as leaders in our own capacity can deal with all kinds of negative and unwanted thoughts that pass through our mind, i.e. by being an observer and not getting attached to the thought. Though it is not very easy in the beginning, with a little practice, we can apply it in almost every situation in our life successfully. Wrong thoughts are inside us just because we identify ourselves with these thoughts. If we identify with something else, immediately they have to leave us!
Prentice Mulford, in his famous book ‘Thoughts are things’ presents that there is a higher power who is the controller of all thoughts, and He lives within you and without. Prentice says if you can’t control your mind, don’t try; instead ask the Higher Power to change your mind for you. He concludes that all you need to do is to have faith in the Higher Power.
Radhanath Swami gives the most practical advice, ‘When negative thoughts and desires appear within our minds, we must neglect them by our intelligence, and we must choose to focus our mind on God. Then we can overcome those negative thoughts. And the easiest way to fix our mind on God whenever a bad thought comes, is to take shelter of God’s holy names.’Google+