Verse 4.27: Others, who are interested in achieving self-realization through control of the mind and senses, offer the functions of all the senses, and of the life breath, as oblations into the fire of the controlled mind.
If you follow any major news outlet in North America, you've probably heard one name come up quite consistently in the past few weeks - Rob Ford. I bring up this personality today to use as a case study as to what could potentially happen when one does not control their mind and senses.
Mr. Ford, as many of you might know, is quite unbelievably still the mayor of Toronto. After repeated denials, he has finally admitted to binge drinking, smoking cocaine, buying illegal drugs and...well, I'll leave it at that as you can find out more by just Googling if you really want to.
One of the biggest lessons I've learned as an aspiring bhakti yoga practitioner is the fact that everything can serve as a lesson. In this instance, we can learn a great deal from the above-mentioned personality - specifically the consequences of leaving the mind and senses in charge.
One of the greatest benefits of practicing yoga, and specifically mantra yoga, is the increasing ability to control the mind, which is the leader of the senses. The mind, which is constantly accepting and rejecting ideas is perpetually active. That activity, however, needs to be harnessed. And that harnessing power can only come from the intelligence.
It's like a team. All members of a team may have great ideas and in their excitement may start talking over one another. But if the leader of the team is there to harness that energy and creativity, then great things can be accomplished. Without a capable leader, there is potential for frustration and disturbances to arise.
That's exactly what happens if the mind isn't controlled by the intelligence. It spins out of control. This is why discipline and regulation are foundational elements in the practice of yoga. They serve to keep us on track and when the mind starts to wander, the intelligence kicks in and reminds us of the greater goal - to truly connect with ourselves, each other and the Supreme.
For some of us, we've left the senses and mind play the leader for too long and neglected the intelligence. To reverse that situation takes great strength and determination. The key to keeping the inspiration to do so is not expecting results over night. Rather, by approaching every situation as an opportunity for practice, we start to become more aware of our habits and behaviour. It is that awareness that will help us put our intelligence back in control again.