Keep the Mind Steady in God
It is not right to say that the body is an impediment in our way to God. There is not much substance in arguing either that it assists or hinders spiritual exercise. We should first introspect and see where the mind gets attached. Suppose a person proposes to spend his day in praying to God. Some friends come to him and ask him to join in their game of, say, cards; he agrees to do so, just not to displease or disappoint them. How can a person who allows his mind to be thus distracted from God become a devotee?
A mother may have brought up her son at great personal sacrifice. The son, who loved her dearly till he married, thereafter considers her a great nuisance and an obstruction in the way of his sensuous enjoyment. Here it is the mental outlook that has changed, not the physique of either mother or son. What can be done if a person prefers worldly attachment to God?
Although we know that worldly life offers neither undiluted happiness nor sorrow, we exercise our imagination and decide what will make us happy, without positive basis for such decision. This is sheer idle fancy. When we think that a certain person is out to give us trouble, half of it is a figment of our imagination. Regarding the remaining half, if we take the attitude of conniving at it, the matter ends there, does it not?
Our mind is fickle, constantly changing; so is the world. It is therefore incorrect to feel that certain circumstances cause us pleasure, certain others pain; for pleasure and pain are both mercurial in nature. The rules prescribed by the shastras are intended to stabilize the mind. Bhajan, reading religious books, raising temples, etc., should be undertaken to stabilize our thoughts; if this goal is ignored, these things may either become pastimes or bigotry, and may not be useful at all. The railway train runs to Kashi every day, but the merit goes to the credit of the pilgrims that use it, not to the train. Similarly, daily reading etc. undertaken as a mere routine does not uplift people spiritually. What is required is stabilizing the mind in God. For this purpose we can remember His name persistently, though we cannot thus maintain a vision of His form.
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