How to Master the Mind
In the Bhagavad Gita - the Bible of the Hindus - human life is depicted, metaphorically and with eloquence, as a battle between the human mind and the Eternal Soul. The Gita is set on a battlefield and describes a historical, as well as mystical, event. This event actually took place at Kurukshetra, near present-day New Delhi. The metaphor for the battlefield at Kurukshetra is a battle inside the body between biological and spiritual forces - and the Soul's constant struggle to attain self-realization whilst in the human body. Whilst the Gita's depiction of human struggle from bondage is very creative in its metaphors, it is also very practical, by offering spiritual advice and strategies for the Eternal Soul to win the battle and regain the lost kingdom of joy, eternal peace and freedom from human bondage.
Human beings, by design, are naturally endowed with a mind that helps make sense of the world and allows the Soul to experience itself in the world of matter and duality. The mind controls and governs the five major senses: touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. Hence, the mind is the King of the senses. Just like a king needs to reign over his domain to establish supremacy, in similar metaphorical manner, the mind is preoccupied with gratifying the five senses in the daily experience of life. The key to moving beyond these physical limitations is found in following the breath. The mind might be king of the five senses, but the breath is the conqueror of the mind.
Even the ancient yogis discovered that the path to Self-Realisation and cosmic consciousness is intimately linked with mastering of the breath. We come into this life with our breath and we leave our body with our last breath.
The Bhagavad Gita offers a solution to this eternal struggle between the mind and the Soul by making several references to Kriya Yoga - the yoga of action. "Offering the inhaling breath into the exhaling breath, the yogi neutralizes both breaths; thus he releases prana from the heart and brings life force under his control". (Bhagavad Gita IV: 29) The interpretation is that the yogi arrests decay in the body by securing an additional supply of prana through quieting the action of the lungs and heart; he also arrests mutations of growth in the body by control of apana (eliminating current). Thus neutralising decay and growth, the yogi learns life-force control.
Paramahamsa Hariharananda, a Self-Realised yogi and Kriya master, describes the human brain as the Kingdom of God. The living human brain is the mightiest power in (temporal) creation. The life of every human being depends on it and is controlled by it. The "Cave of Brahman" is an etheric chamber where Brahman, the creative essence of the universal spirit, manifests itself and radiates pranic life to the twenty four gross body elements via the medulla, cerebellum and the spinal chord. The pituitary and pineal glands, at opposite ends of the cave, are the positive and negative poles of Self-knowledge: male-female, solar-lunar, night-day; the duality that we experience in the human form.
Kriya yoga is often referred to as "the science and practice of Self-Realisation" because it invigorates the brain and settles the mind, which has a calming effect on the whole nervous system. It regulates the positive and negative fluctuations in the nervous system by magnetizing the spine. This opens the sushumna channel (literally the "chimney inside our spine") that makes use of universal energy - life force - for biological functions of the body. This opening of the sushumna also produces tremendous calm as the spinal column becomes an open channel to experience more life force and divine vibration.
Kriya yoga meditation allows practitioners to become aware of their breath in a way that allows them to experience their true Self. From infancy until death, in every moment, all human beings are engrossed in activity according to their stage of life. In addition, the three qualities of nature known as tamas (dullness, inertia), rajas (extroversion, movement) and satva (essence, peace and calm) remain in the ida, pingala and sushumna channels respectively. Depending upon a person's stage of evolution, the prana will flow differently through these channels in the astral body. The force flowing in the ida leads people to idleness and gossip; in the pingala, leads to extreme activity, prosperity, worldly involvement and restlessness; in the sushumna leads people to Self-Realization, the ultimate goal of every human being. Because of gravity the currents of ida and pingala enmesh and cause agitation in the spine. After practicing the Kriya yoga breath technique, the flow is directed upward to the cranium and fontanel which magnetizes the spine and opens up the sushumna.
Chapter 2, verse 65 in the Bhagavad Gita translates as: "When you gain self-control and self awareness by mastering the breath with meditation, you will feel divine bliss and all your sorrows will perish". The minds and intellects of contented people are firmly established in the Self. With the help of Kriya yoga inhalation, by magnetizing the spine, one will discover the Self in the pituitary. The soul becomes the conductor of the mind and the senses - and life is established in wisdom, free from attachment and delusion.
Chapter 3, 33 translates as: "Human beings are under the control of eight aspects of the body nature: ether, air, light, water, earth, mind, intellect, and ego, by law of nature, human beings are always absorbed in the body consciousness and guided by their instincts. They do not see that the indwelling Self is working through them, because the soul nature has been absorbed into the body nature".
Attachment and aversion for objects of the senses abide in the senses. To clear the path to Self-Realization, these are the main obstacles to conquer. Our senses are gifts from God and, if used properly, will bring us joy.
The Bhagavad Gita describes life as a creative journey. People travel through it carrying the baggage of their karma, the seed impressions of all their previous activity, the total sum of all their pleasure and pain, and the results of all their interactions through time and space with other souls. Some may experience life as a pilgrimage; others see it as a vacation, yet its true purpose is to fulfill the cherished goal - Self-Realization.
When this goal is achieved, one has returned to where the journey began. Like a circle, the journey of life is complete only when it reaches its starting point. When we return to our Source, the Dao, the Brahman - the place from where all things come and must therefore return - then our Soul's purpose is fulfilled and we experience love, joy and bliss. We are always creating and re-creating moments of our existence on earth and, if we choose to wisely direct our innate powers of creation, we then co-create with the universe that which the soul desires and seeks to experience for its evolution on earth and the journey back home.
The Bhagavad Gita, In the Light of Kriya Yoga Book 1, by Paramahamsa Hariharananda Kriya Yoga Institute 2000