Distinguishing Paramatma and the Mind.
Question: What is the difference between the dictation of the Paramatma and the mind? How can one tell if the mind or Paramatma is speaking to us?
Romapada Swami: In BG 2.22’s purport, Srila Prabhupada gives the example of two birds sitting on a tree. One bird (Jiva-atma) is eating the fruits of the tree while the other bird (Paramatma) is simply watching His friend. If the Paramatma is just watching, how can the Parmatma dictate the soul? Can you please help me with this confusion? Please help me understand this by some other citations in the BG.
In Bhagavad-gita Chapter 6, Krishna talks about the importance of controlling the mind. In particular, with regard to your above questions, verses 5 and 6 of Chapter 6 give us a good understanding of the interaction of the mind with the living entity.
Krishna tells Arjuna:
Verse 5: 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.
Verse 6: For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy.
The main point is that one must renounce the desire for sense gratification, or else his mind will degrade, not elevate him. Unless one develops a higher taste (spiritual taste, or bhakti), this becomes impossible. Within the purport to Verse 5, Srila Prabhupada emphasizes controlling the mind:
“It is stressed herein that the mind must be so trained that it can deliver the conditioned soul from the mire of nescience. In material existence one is subjected to the influence of the mind and the senses. In fact, the pure soul is entangled in the material world because the mind is involved with the false ego, which desires to lord it over material nature. Therefore, the mind should be trained so that it will not be attracted by the glitter of material nature, and in this way the conditioned soul may be saved. One should not degrade oneself by attraction to sense objects. The more one is attracted by sense objects, the more one becomes entangled in material existence. The best way to disentangle oneself is to always engage the mind in Krishna consciousness. The word hi is used for emphasizing this point, i.e., that one must do this.”
From this purport we can understand that the mind’s dictations when not under the control of bhakti will gyrate towards sense gratification and will lead one to further entanglement with the material nature. Srila Prabhupada then explains in the purport to Verse 6:
“Unless the mind is controlled, the practice of yoga (for show) is simply a waste of time. One who cannot control his mind lives always with the greatest enemy, and thus his life and its mission are spoiled. The constitutional position of the living entity is to carry out the order of the superior. As long as one’s mind remains an unconquered enemy, one has to serve the dictations of lust, anger, avarice, illusion, etc. But when the mind is conquered, one voluntarily agrees to abide by the dictation of the Personality of Godhead, who is situated within the heart of everyone as Paramatma. Real yoga practice entails meeting the Paramatma within the heart and then following His dictation. For one who takes to Krishna consciousness directly, perfect surrender to the dictation of the Lord follows automatically.”
In the book Dharma: The Way of Transcendence, Srila Prabhupada writes:
“By serving the guru and inquiring from him, we can come to the point where Krishna will enlighten us from within. Krishna, the supreme guru, first imparted knowledge into the heart of Brahma, the original person in the universe (tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye [SB 1.1.1]). Krishna is situated in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul, and as you become purified He speaks to you from within. Actually, He is always speaking to us, but in our impure condition we cannot hear Him. In the Bhagavad-gita (15.15) Krishna confirms that He is the source of our knowledge:sarvasya caha hrdi sannivisto mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca. “I am situated within the heart of everyone, and from Me come all remembrance, knowledge, and forgetfulness.” So as Paramatma, the Supersoul, Krishna is always prepared to help every one of us, provided we serve Him and take His instruction. He says in the Bhagavad-gita (10.10),
tesam satata-yuktanam bhajatam priti-purvakam
dadami buddhi-yogam tam yena mam upayanti te
“To those who are always engaged in serving Me with great love and devotion, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.”
If we want to know the Absolute Truth, we have to follow the proper process, and that process is simply to engage oneself in the loving service of the Lord. That will enable us one day to directly perceive the Absolute Truth. With our present blunt material senses we cannot perceive the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. For example, with a blunt knife you cannot cut anything. You must sharpen it first; then it cuts very nicely. Similarly, to understand the Absolute Truth you must sharpen and purify your senses by engaging them in the service of the Lord. Now you cannot see God, or Krishna. But if you purify your eyes and your other senses, you will be able to see God, to hear God, to talk with God—everything. That is possible by the process of bhakti.
So Srila Prabhupada’s point is very clear – unless we perform devotional service it is not possible for us to speak to the Paramatma or listen to His instructions in our hearts. In fact when we do not heed Him, then He simply fulfills our desires to enjoy based on our karma. And He simply witnesses our foolishness. Due to the minute free will of the living entities, the Paramatma does not interfere with their choices until they take up devotional service. Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport to BG 2.22 thus:
“Although the two birds are in the same tree, the eating bird is fully engrossed with anxiety and moroseness as the enjoyer of the fruits of the tree. But if in some way or other he turns his face to his friend who is the Lord and knows His glories—at once the suffering bird becomes free from all anxieties.”
When the living entity becomes slightly devotional the Paramatma ‘speaks’ to him through the scriptures, through his guru, through the devotees or through certain actions or behaviors of others. By heeding such indicators, the living entity makes progress to performing pure devotional service where the Lord may personally speak to him.
In conclusion, the dictations of the Paramatma are only understood through devotional practices which includes guru, sadhu, and sastra whereas the dictations of the uncontrolled mind are directed at sense gratifications.
Finally there is a story regarding this which happened a few years ago in San Diego. A devotee was actively involved in Facebook. So somehow or other, he got involved with an under-aged girl on Facebook. After some time, the girl invited him to her place. He accepted the offer and went driving there. While driving there he got lost several times and many times he felt he should just give up and go back to the temple, but in his mind he wanted to meet the girl. Finally after several hours of driving and losing directions he somehow got to the destination. He knocked on the door and was invited inside. Once inside, the police immediately arrested him for under-aged child sex exploitation etc. He went to prison. The devotee later realized and understood that when he wanted to go there, there were so many signs and indications from the Lord that he should not go there but because of lust, his mind was uncontrolled, he did not heed the instructions of the Paramatma.
In all aspects of life, we really must distinguish the difference between the mind’s dictation and the indications of Paramatma!