"It is what all great beings have done in the past, and it can be done again at any time by anyone who is ready to go into the deepest series of meditations." — The Aquarian Almanac

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January 30, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: Sama: Mastery of the Mind

” To observe morality is to attain mastery over our mind and our passions. So doing, we know ourselves.”

– M.K. Gandhi

” The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”

– Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Hi,

I am new here, so please forgive any formal confusion on the etiquette of the forums.

For many long years I have worked with arising thoughts of a difficult nature. Despite setbacks, I do agree with the theme presented. It is almost certain that mastery of the mind comes first in our quest for improvement in this world and possibly beyond. However, one concern is that some people have a much harder road to travel than others in this respect. Plato's charioteer is a convincing metaphor, but maybe we have very different horses to grapple with? 

Alex. 

Hello Alex:

Very nice to hear from you.

We all have "arising thoughts of a difficult nature" so don't feel alone.  You bring up a very valid point - we have very different horses, which we inherited from our past.  It seems that our job at this point is to get acquainted with their traits and eventually,  we can tame and train them so they can go in the direction where we want to go.

barbara

 

Presumably we have lived many many lives.  The Karma we experience in any one life is appropriate to the vehicles and conditions resulting from the past as Barb mentions.  The opportunity to work out karma, to purify the mind, is expedited by challenges that might appear unfair from the outside.  "What is night to the unenlightened, is as day to his gaze."  -The Gita Who is to say that the hardships of some are not golden opportunities from the point of view of the Wise?

Gandhi is saying there can be no moral reform without mental reform.  Is the converse true?  Can there be mental reform without moral reform?

Good question Tamiko.

Any reform is positive, however there is a process to this, we are told.  The moral character being far more subtler in nature than that of the mental character. 

Look to the Bhagavadgita, namely the fourteenth discourse.  Therein the Bhagavan speaks of the characteristic traits of the individual as designated and influenced by the three gunas, or qualities inherent in Nature.  One might make the effort to see the correlation between the moral self and that effected by the ever fluctuating arrangement of gunas.

The moral character effects essentially most of the inner equipment, which in turn has psychological effects on the mind of an individual.  To practice moral reform is to reform Nature and all the elementals and deities associated.

What is the relationship between mastery of the three gunas in the Gita and mastery of the mind?

Look to the fourteenth chapter, I'm certain you will be able to formulate a connection.

If you were forced to distill it down to one central point, what is the primary problem and challenge to gain a mastery over the mind?

Continuity.

Would you mind explaining this further?

"If you were forced to distill it down to one central point, what is the primary problem and challenge to gain a mastery over the mind?"

Kama.  

Desires create perpetual internal agitation and our mind is constantly being pulled hither and thither outwardly by all kinds of cravings.    It is very difficult to focus if our being is filled with wants and passions.  It is like a bird chained to the ground trying to fly.   This is one reason why the development of detachment is emphasized by many schools.  Kama always cause disturbance in the mind.  When passions are subsided, the turbulence naturally dissipate and the sense of tranquility emerge. This internal stillness is a suitable condition for the mind to contemplate. 

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Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on February 8, 2016 at 10:54am

I wonder if craving is a better word for Kama than desire?  I wonder if desire by its very nature indicates some form of separation between subject and object and to some degree is fabricated on a fundamental untruth?

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on February 8, 2016 at 12:42pm

Good point Gerry.

I had initially written a response but never sent it out.  

Desire, to me, seems to be very ambiguous and perhaps for good reasons.  I don't think desire should be simply associated with cravings of the lower self as typically understood.  We are aware of spiritual desires or spiritual cravings... Matter of fact, it seems wherever there is a sense of I,  there would be some sort of desire associated with it.  So one question might be asked- is desire inherent in the sense of agency? 

The question you asked was; "If you were forced to distill it down to one central point, what is the primary problem and challenge to gain a mastery over the mind?"

To me it is very difficult to distill this to a central point, as there are so many contributing factors that probably cannot be isolated from one another.  The mind is equated with the universe, as this is found in many doctrines.  The sense of agency or ego is, to some extent, an element found in the fabric of Nature, though in all actuality they appear to be co-dependent. 

Let us look to a ṛk sutra; (10.129.4)

कामस्तदग्रे समवर्तताधि मनसो रेतः प्रथमं यदासीत् । सतो बन्धुमसति निरविन्दहृदि प्रतीष्या कवयो मनीषा ।।४ ।। 
kāmastadagre samavartatādhi manaso retaḥ prathamaṃ yadāsīt  sato bandhumasati niravindahṛdi pratīṣyā kavayo manīṣā ।।4 ।। 

In the beginning there was desire, which was the first seed of mind; sages having meditated in their Hearts have discovered by Their wisdom the connection of the existent with the non-existent.

We are further told that because of this "flashing forth" all of creation becomes manifest simultaneously; i.e., as soon as association is established the universe unfolds from a state of dormancy/obscuration is a sudden flash as it were.  The SD speaks of this as well.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on February 14, 2016 at 5:42pm

Yes, more specifically, I was referring to desires (or cravings) for that which belong to the transitory world.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on February 2, 2016 at 10:36am

January 31, 2016 Theme for Contemplation: Sama: Mastery of the Mind

“Just as a fletcher straightens his arrow, so too the wise man straightens his mind, which, fickle and unsteady, is difficult to guard and restrain.“

— Buddha

“The eye must not wander from the target, for, if it does, the arrow will fly wide or fall short of its goal.”

— W.Q. Judge

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on February 5, 2016 at 8:48am

What might it mean to "straighten" the mind?

Permalink Reply by barbaram on February 6, 2016 at 1:34pm

“Just as a fletcher straightens his arrow, so too the wise man straightens his mind, which, fickle and unsteady, is difficult to guard and restrain.“

— Buddha

"What might it mean to "straighten" the mind?"

In this context, I would assume "straighten the mind" means keeping the mind steady and focused.

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on February 9, 2016 at 8:04am

Thank you I find that helpful and it also connects with Tamiko's continuity comment.  Keeping the mind steady and not allowing desires to drag it one direction and the next is indeed a challenge.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on February 2, 2016 at 10:37am

February 1, 2016 Theme for Contemplation: Sama: Master of the Mind

“Mind alone is samsara; purify it with diligence.”

— Maitrayana Upanishad

“The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts.”

— Charles Darwin

Permalink Reply by Alex Williams on February 3, 2016 at 2:03pm

TN,

Immanuel Kant noted that it is hard to act morally. I would add that if we find it easy to do the right thing we might be suspicious of our motivations. The idea of "diligence" seems to apply here?

Alex.  

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on February 3, 2016 at 3:12pm

Here is a favorite from Kant:

"May you live your life as if the maxim of your actions were to become universal law."

It seems to me that this quote is very theosophical.  You might draw an equivalence between Karma, universal Law and the law of our being......... which leads to a second great Kant quote:

"Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me."
Immanuel Kant

To live a human life based upon universal principle is indeed challenging and difficult.  It demands wisdom, a wisdom that most of us are sorely lacking.  But that is precisely the goal of the theosophical student.  To gain wisdom such that we might live a life a closely as we can to universal moral and ethical laws.

Theosophical teachers emphasize altruism to help us see the way.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on February 2, 2016 at 10:39am

February 2, 2016 Theme for Contemplation: Sama: Mastery of the Mind

“When the mind, after becoming fixed upon a single object, has ceased to be concerned in any thought about the condition, qualities or relations of the thing thought of, but is absolutely fastened upon the object itself, it is then said to be intent upon a single point – a state technically called ekagrata.”

— Patanjali

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on February 3, 2016 at 3:20pm

February 3, 2016 Theme for Contemplation: Sama: Mastery of the Mind

“Fix thy mind on Me, become my devotee, sacrifice unto Me, protrate before Me. Thus having Me as your supreme goal, and having yoked thyself, thou shalt surely come to Me.”

—Shri Krishna

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Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on February 4, 2016 at 10:33am

February 4, 2016 Theme for Contemplation: Sama : Mastery Of the Mind

” Guide your attention with minfulness,

Holding it within voidness and the manifest.”

— The VIIth Dalai Lama

” Concentration is the entire life-tendency to a given end.”

— H.P. Blavatsky

Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on February 5, 2016 at 1:19am

How would we define that "end" in theosophical terms?

Permalink Reply by barbaram on February 6, 2016 at 1:45pm

” Concentration is the entire life-tendency to a given end.”

— H.P. Blavatsky

"How would we define that "end" in theosophical terms?"

I think the answer is self-explanatory once we read the sentences before and after -

Spiritual culture is attained through concentration. It must be continued daily and every moment to be of use. Meditation has been defined as "the cessation of active external thought." Concentrationis the entire life-tendency to a given end. For example, a devoted mother is one who consults the interests of her children and all branches of their interest in and before all things; not one who sits down to think fixedly about one branch of their interests all the day.

Path, July 1889, page 111

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on February 5, 2016 at 4:24pm

February 5, 2016 Theme for Contemplation: Sama : Mastery of the Mind

“We should wish for our thoughts a directness such as belongs to the messengers of the gods, swift, beautiful, flashing presences bent on purposes well understood.”

— George William Russell

“My country is not yesterday. My country is tomorrow.”

— Romain Rolland