How I can deal with old Samskaras better? When Babaji was in Germany, I had asked him what I should do when while chanting old thoughts and feelings come up, and he said I should continue to concentrate on chanting the Holy Name and not get into it. Unfortunately, I do not succeed when quite old feelings come up, which I can not classify. What can I do to get rid of them? From the bodywork I know that one should feel it in the body, as long as it is over? But then I dedicate my attention to the feeling and get in? I ask for your help on how to deal with it.
Your observations of your own mind are very clear, which is a good starting point. You are noticing that when you chant, old feelings arise that you cannot “get rid of.” You are not alone in this. Welcome to the club. This is the nature of the mind. Not only yours, but all conditioned humans. It is a pity that they do not teach in our schools the nature of our mind and how the samskaras operate, because if we could learn this, then we would not feel so agitated, frustrated, or surprised when we notice it in our very own mind. Can you imagine what it would be like if we were not educated on our urinary system? What if we did not realize that we were supposed to urinate? Then, each time we felt the urge to urinate, and we urinated all over ourselves, we would feel so upset about this weird frequently occurring problem in which our body “malfunctions.” We would think we have some problem that we have to get rid of. But, then someone explains to us that this is a normal function of the body, and that we cannot change how the body functions. But we can control it. We would be taught that we can learn and accept the nature of our urinary tract system – that every few hours, it releases liquids and that is a healthy function of our body. We would learn how to control our bladder, so we do not urinate all over ourselves, and how to hold the urine until we are able to use a bathroom. Then, when we feel the urge to go use the toilet, we notice the urge, but remain stable in our mind. We do not become upset or anxious when we feel the urge to urinate. We just peacefully acknowledge the urge, and then make a plan to go to the toilet. And then we continue on with our daily activities.
Just like you have managed to successfully control your urinary tract system, you can also do so with your mind. Here are some practical steps:
1. Understand the nature of your mind. Your mind will continue to serve up samskaras, whether you are sitting and chanting or not. Sometimes the samskaras are easier to see when you are chanting because there is no external trigger, but they are there either way nevertheless.
2. Accept the nature of your mind. Just like you accept that your urinary system builds up urine in your bladder, and then gives you the urge to release the urine, the mind also has its function. It continues to serve up samskaras as a purification process while you are chanting. Consider each samskara as a great blessing because each one that you become aware of enables you to know yourself better, which is the key to spiritual progress.
3. Remain balanced in your mind. Once you understand and accept that this is just how the mind works, then it becomes easier to not get so caught up with wanting to “get rid of” your samskaras. Just observe your samskara. Name the feelings. Acknowledge them as something that happened in the past, and that is not happening now. Do not become involved with their story line. You are not your samskara. Just watch it come up, name it, and notice how strong the emotional pull is. Just notice. And then re-focus your attention on chanting the Holy Name.
4. Take control and make a decision. It is up to you if you decide to get caught up in your samskara or in the Holy Name. No one can make that decision for you. You have to use the strength of your own mind to choose, and to stay fixed on the Holy Name or on the samskara. Each time you make that choice, you strengthen the one you feed.
QUESTION: Then one may ask, what does the mantra do to the chanter? Is he just there to display your samskara in youR mind? Since you are the one who has to control your own mind, one may argue, you are doing the work anyhow. So how does the mantra really affect us? Could you elaborate on this?
ANSWER: Mantra cleans the undesirable samskara, as said by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu–ceto-darpana-marjanam.
But you need to chant with mindfulness. If you are not mindful, then it will take much much longer.
Display of samskaras is the cleansing process. As far as your question about how the mantra really affects us, how will you control the mind without chanting mantra? Mantra will help to control the mind and also clean it. What is being prescribed is that you need to pay attention to mantra. Chanting without attention, or not chanting, both are not recommended.
The mind cannot be controlled without some alambana, support. Moreover, even if the mind is controlled, somehow you still need to clean the samskaras and create new samskaras. That is done by chanting.