The secret of success in life lies in keeping the head above the storms of the heart. – Chinmaya
The head, or the intellect, is the faculty which takes decisions based on the righteous ways of living. Its decisions are based on the scriptural teachings and on the wisdom of the saints and sages of the past. Thus intellect always takes us in the right direction.
The mind (or the heart in this context) is the faculty which takes decisions compelled by the impulses and instincts, likes and dislikes, emotions and sentiments, amidst doubts and confusions.
Make your wise intellect the captain of your life, and not your confused mind, says the quote.
At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady. She started screaming out of fear. With a panic-stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach. Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky. The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but …it landed on another lady in the group.
Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama. The waiter rushed forward to their rescue. In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter. The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behaviour of the cockroach on his shirt. When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.
Was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behaviour? If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed? He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos. It is not the cockroach, but the inability of the ladies to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach that disturbed the ladies.
We become incapable of handling the outer disturbances when we operate through our mind rather than through our intellect. When we allow the storms of the heart to rule over us, we blindly react. When we allow the wise intellect to take charge, we intelligently respond.
A great poet once got lost in the forest. For three days he could not find the way out. Hungry, tired and worried about wild animals the whole night, sitting on the trees, and the whole day stumbling, trying to find some human being… But for three days he could not meet anyone to show him the way. The third night was a full-moon night.
He was sitting on a tree, utterly exhausted. He looked at the moon, and suddenly he laughed. He laughed because he had written so many poems about the moon and he has read so many poems about the moon. The moon is such a romantic phenomenon that no poet of any standing can leave it out, no painter can leave it out. Its impact is deep, its beauty is great. So why did he laugh? He laughed because when he looked at the moon, he didn’t see all those romantic things that he was talking of in his poems. He only saw a round loaf of bread, floating in the sky!!
He said, “My God! What has happened to me?” He laughed at himself, and for the first time he understood that what he had been saying about the moon had nothing to do with the moon; it had something to do with himself.
Everything you see is interpreted by what rules over you – head or heart.
Two friends went out for a camping trip. In the night they set up a tent in the open and fell asleep. In the middle of the night, one of them woke up the other and asked, “Look up at the sky and tell me what you see.”
The other replied, “I see millions of stars.”
The first one asked, “What does that tell you?”
The other pondered for a while and then answered, “Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past two. Spiritually, it’s evident the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?”
The first one remained silent for a moment and then replied, “Practically… Someone has stolen our tent…”
It is said that common sense is the most uncommon thing in the world!
In the Bhagavad Geeta, the Lord gives three examples of how the storms of the heart can paralyse the thinking capacity of the intellect.
धूमेनाव्रियते वह्नि: यथादर्शो मलेन च । यथोल्बेनावृतो गर्भ: तथा तेनेदमावृतम् ||
(Just like the smoke covers the fire, the dust covers the mirror, or the womb covers the fetus, so too the passions of the heart cover the intellect and force one to sin.)
Three examples are given to show how the intellect is rendered ineffective by the inner passions. When our mind is sattvic, winning over the desires is as easy as blowing away the smoke from the fire. When the mind is rajasic, the process is a little difficult, like wiping away the dust from a mirror. But when the mind is tamasic, the covering is as thick as the womb covering the fetus and then winning over the inner storms becomes almost impossible.
One can handle these inner storms only if the intellect is made very powerful. The intellect is strengthened by cultivating right understanding about life. This is done through regular study of the scriptures, listening to satsangs, and through deep contemplation and meditation. Once the intellect is strengthened, it can easily handle the deceptive mind and pull it out of all channels of dissipation. Then alone all thought-storms of the heart can be subdued once and for all.
Socrates, the great Greek philosopher, was sitting, surrounded by his disciples in the prison. Socrates had been awarded capital punishment, and had been given poison (hemlock). But he was busy discussing spiritual matters with his disciples in such a manner as if he was not in the prison at all! While discussing the highest spiritual Truth with the disciples, Socrates noticed that the sentry wanted to say something. He asked one of his disciples to go and see what the sentry wanted to say.
“Talking too much increases the blood temperature in a person and under such circumstances, the poison given to a prisoner becomes less effective. I am afraid, if he continues thus, I shall have to give him another cup of poison,” informed the sentry.
The disciple returned and informed Socrates what the sentry had said. But Socrates remained unaffected. He told his disciple to tell the sentry to prepare another hemlock for him. “Discussing knowledge alone, for me, is the most important.”
Saying this he once again became busy discussing philosophy without a tinge of fear in his heart.
Know for sure that success is near, when the heart is pure and the head is clear.
O M T A T S A T