Radhanath Swami: Yoga is often misunderstood as merely breath control, asanas or exercises; for some it is about practising some rules and regulations based on morality and for others it is cultivation of scriputral knowledge. But the real purpose of Yoga is to fix our mind on the Supreme.
According to Bhagavad-gita, yoga can not be practiced unless we practice mind control. An uncontrolled mind restricts the soul from reaching its natural blissful state, which a practioner is trying to acheive through yoga.
Our mind works like a television set. A television set is just some plastic, metal, and glass fitted with circuits inside. This box can tune into waves of energy transmitted by a satellite to produce images and sounds.
The pleasure that we are looking for in this world is compared to the energy emitted by the satellite. Satellites can transmit energy that can be received through millions of televison sets, but not every television is tuned into same channel. For human beings, the senses are just like an antenna, receiving whatever station the tuning device chooses. The tuning device is the mind. We tune into what our mind focuses on, and what we are tuned into is what affects us and our life.
People are affected by watching advertisements. They tune into the product, get attracted to it and then buy it. Similalry, we will be affected by whatever we tune into. This is the law of nature – “We become like whatever we associate with”. For example, if we put an iron rod in fire, it becomes red hot like fire. If we put that same iron rod in ice, due to its association with ice, it becomes as cold as ice. So, yoga simply means tuning our mind into a spiritual channel.
In Bhagavad-gita [BG 2.62], it is mentioned that while contemplating the objects of the senses, one developes attachment. Contemplation is the mind’s way of tuning in. Our whole direction in life is based on what we contemplate, or what station or channel we choose to tune our mind into. The mind contemplates and then activates the senses. The most beautiful sense object may be kept right next to us, but if our mind is absorbed somewhere else and we don’t even look at it, we will not be affected. Therefore Bhagvad-gita states, “For one who controls the mind, the mind is the best of the friends, but for one who is unable to control the mind, the mind is the worst enemy.” The only enemy a person can have is his or her own uncontrolled mind. If our mind is controlled, there are no enemies outside.
We should try to avoid tuning in to negative forces because everytime we do, our receptivity to positive forces reduces. If we avoid all these other stations, and we tune into the channel of Supreme power then our receptivity for spirituality becomes much deeper.