Hearing a class by my spiritual master Srila Sankarshan Das Adhikari on SB 3.31.15, he made this statement “The mind is like a child, and the intelligence is like the mother of that child”.
When I first heard this many years ago, I was startled by the clarity of the example, especially when after some time, I observed my wife with our son.
Even though every child is unique in a way, children are also very similar to each other. They often have short attention spans, are easily distracted, can be either very easy to convince or stubbornly refuses to co-operate. Children are also extremely imaginative and inventive, and usually don’t bear grudges against the mother even though the mother may be strict.
When we compare our mind to a child, the comparison fits very nicely! So, for most people struggling to control the mind, look no further than the means adopted by an expert mother.
What does a mother do? The mother treats the child very lovingly. She coaxes, cajoles, and pleads with the child. But she is also firm with the child when it is time to be firm. She sometimes shouts at the child, she also sometimes yells and when it comes to it, offers correction in an appropriate way. It sometimes happens that the mother walks away from the child too and the child often suddenly complies with the wishes of the mother and follows along with her. Sometimes, others may see a mother as being harsh, but more often than not, she knows what she is doing!
The playful child, the whimsical child, the recalcitrant child, the stubborn child, the angry child, the sad child, the moody child, they all find their match in the same mother, behaving in specific different ways.
This is how intelligence is meant to be used, to act just as a mother.
The mind has three functions, thinking, willing, and feeling. And the mind is like a flip-flop switch – the same situations will cause it to react differently and keep changing around, often for no rhyme or reason. Sometimes the mind will think positive, sometimes it will act negative, sometime it will be cheerful, and sometimes it will be gloomy, sometimes it will be hardworking, sometimes it will be lazy. But just as a mother can get a child to act for his own welfare, similarly the intelligence is meant to perform that service.
Here are some examples, conversations between the intelligence and mind.
OK mind, so you want to do that? Why is that? Does it make sense? (the mind rambles on) “Hey look at this!” (intelligence distracts the mind)
Mind, mind, my dear mind, do you know what an amazing surprise I have for you today? (mind eagerly follows the intelligence waiting for the surprise).
Mind, if you continue to do this, I will have to take (names a privilege) away.
Mind, you can do whatever you want, but I’m not going there with you (mind follows).
OK, I cannot do justice to the nuances of the range and subtleties of the conversation between any mother and child in such an abbreviated manner, but I am hoping the examples point you in the right direction. On the spiritual path, the mind may present many such obstacles every moment, but we are meant to use our God-given intelligence properly.
It may take some time apparently (it does not have to, many have attained spiritual perfection in a moment, but that is rare), Sri Krishna instructs us in this encouraging way…
शनै: शनैरुपरमेद्बुद्ध्या धृतिगृहीतया ।
आत्मसंस्थं मन: कृत्वा न किञ्चिदपि चिन्तयेत् ॥ २५ ॥
śanaiḥ śanair uparamed
ātma-saṁsthaṁ manaḥ kṛtvā
na kiñcid api cintayet
Gradually, step by step, one should become situated in trance by means of intelligence sustained by full conviction, and thus the mind should be fixed on the Self alone and should think of nothing else.https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/6/25/
Krishna also says this, specifically…
यतो यतो निश्चलति मनश्चञ्चलमस्थिरम् ।
ततस्ततो नियम्यैतदात्मन्येव वशं नयेत् ॥ २६ ॥
yato yato niścalati
manaś cañcalam asthiram
tatas tato niyamyaitad
ātmany eva vaśaṁ nayet
From wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the Self.https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/6/26/
And how to make sure that our intelligence is being a “good mother” to the mind?
अध्येष्यते च य इमं धर्म्यं संवादमावयो: ।
ज्ञानयज्ञेन तेनाहमिष्ट: स्यामिति मे मति: ॥ ७० ॥
adhyeṣyate ca ya imaṁ
dharmyaṁ saṁvādam āvayoḥ
iṣṭaḥ syām iti me matiḥ
And I declare that he who studies this sacred conversation of ours worships Me by his intelligence.https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/18/70/
Study Bhagavad Gita daily. Try it!
With gratitude to my spiritual master, who mercifully came back to the material world just to save me, and many others like me. Dear Srila Gurudeva, I pray to assist you in your mission, moment after moment, day after day, and life after life, more and more and more eternally ever-increasingly.