How hard is it to control the mind?! Well it has been compared to the maddened monkey. There was a monkey, restless by his own nature, as all monkeys are. As if that were not enough, someone made him drink plenty of wine, so that he became still more restless. Then a scorpion stung him. When a man is stung by a scorpion, he jumps about for a whole day; so the poor monkey found his condition worse than ever. To complete his misery, a demon entered into him.
What language can describe the uncontrollable restlessness of that monkey?
The human mind is like that monkey, incessantly active by its own nature. It is said that our brain takes in about eleven million bits of information every second, but, fortunately for us, it is aware of only about forty! Moreover, those forty bits of information comprises of multiple subjects and their multiple thoughts.
Then it becomes drunk with the wine of desire, thus increasing its turbulence. This desire makes us more restless and until we fulfill that desire we will not be at peace. Desire provokes us into activity to fulfill it and when we come across obstacles in its fulfillment, it leads to anger, which further agitates the mind.
After desire takes possession, comes the sting of the scorpion of jealousy at the success of others. When someone is happy or seems to be happy, we become sad. We may think the person is happy or seems to be happy because he or she has what we want, but the person may not be happy at all. Perhaps this person bought the house we wanted buy, married the person we wanted to marry got the promotion we were after. If another person has anything that we value, which we ourselves don’t have, it can create jealousy in us. Seeing someone’s achievement, someone’s success, we can be afflicted with a particular type of thinking, jealousy, an emotion that makes us sad.
When someone is happy why can’t I be happy? It costs me nothing. Instead, however, there can be unhappiness called jealousy, which is the most illegitimate of the six-fold afflictions of the mind, including kaama (desire), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (delusion), mada (vanity, arrogance) and maatsarya (jealousy).
Last of all the demon of vanity, pride or arrogance enters the mind, making it think itself of all importance. Vanity occurs when a person does not believe in his or her own capacity. Most people have an underlying sense that they are useless based on the humiliation they have experienced. “I am incompetent” is the original problem of everyone. If someone compliments us, we are very happy, taking it to be some grace we have received, because we think of ourselves as incompetent.
When a person who thinks this way happens to accomplish something, vanity, pride or arrogance may be the result, which is nothing but another form of inferiority complex. Since I can’t stand incompetence, I have to pump myself up with a certain type of thinking or boasting. This vanity or arrogance is understandable given that people take themselves to be generally incompetent.
How hard is it to control such a mind?
The first lesson, then, is to sit for some time and let the mind run on….Until we know what the mind is doing we cannot control it. Give it the rein; many hideous thoughts may come into it; we will be astonished that it was possible for us to even think such thoughts. But we will find that each day the mind’s vagaries are becoming less and less violent, that each day it is becoming calmer…..we must patiently practise every day…..It is a tremendous work, not to be done in a day. Only after a patient, continuous struggle for years can we succeed.
At any given moment our mind entertains multiple subjects and their multiple thoughts. So we must first of all settle down the tumultuous waves. This is done through awareness. First of all we narrow down the subject to only one, though with multiple thoughts. Then we further narrow it down to one subject and one thought. This is followed by being aware of one object, symbol and process of thought or even respiration or pulse. This takes long hours of practice, but eventually it is possible to focus the awareness on one thing to the exclusion of all others. This one-pointed attention allows the awareness to pierce and enter the various depths of the mind.
The mind has a tendency to dwell in the past or wander into the future. The mind forges a chain to bind itself to the dead past or to an uncertain future, constantly avoiding the present.