Chapter 16 —
The Inability to Control the Mind

Rama speaking:—

Our minds are infested with evil passions and faults, and fluctuate in their observance of duty and service to superiors, like the plumes of a peacock fluttering in a breeze. Minds eagerly and restlessly rove about at random from one place to another, like a poor village dog running far and wide in search of food. It seldom finds anything anywhere, and happening even to get a good store somewhere, it is as little content with it as a wicker vessel filled with water.

The vacant mind, O sage, is ever entrapped in its evil desires. It is never at rest with itself, but roams at large like a stray deer separated from its herd. The human mind, as light as the minutest particle, is like an unsteady wave. Therefore it can have no rest in spite of its nature. Disturbed by its thoughts, the mind is tossed in all directions, like the waters of the milk-white ocean when churned by Mandara Mountain. I can not curb my mind, resembling the vast ocean in its course, subject to huge surges of passions, with whirlpools of error, and beset by the whales of delusion.

O brahmin, our minds run afar after sensual enjoyments, like deer running towards tender blades of grass, unmindful of falling into hidden traps. The mind can never get rid of its wavering state owing to its nature of habitual fickleness, resembling the restlessness of the sea. 10 The mind with its natural fickleness and restless thoughts finds no repose at any place, like a lion in his cage. 11 The mind seated in the car of delusion absorbs the sweet, peaceful and undisturbed rest of the body, like a swan sucking up pure milk from amidst the water.

12 O chief of sages, I grieve much to find the faculties of the mind lying asleep upon a bed of imaginary delights, from which they are hard to awaken. 13 O brahmin, like a bird in a net, I am caught by the knots of my ego, and held fast by the thread of my greed. 14 Like dried hay on fire, the flame of my anxieties burns in my mind under the spreading fumes of my impatience. 15 Like a clod of cold meat, I am devoured by the cruelty and greed of my heart, like a carcass swallowed by a hungry dog and its greedy mate.

16 I am carried away, O sage, by the current of my heart, like a tree on the bank carried away by waters and waves beating upon it. 17 I am led afar by my mind, like straw carried off by a hurricane, either to flutter in the air or fall upon the ground. 18 My earthly mindedness has put a stop to my desire of crossing over the ocean of the world, as an embankment stops the course of a stream. 19 The baseness of my heart lifts me up and lets me down like a log of wood tied to a rope and dragged in and out of a well.

20 As a child is seized when his imagination thinks he sees a demon, so I find myself in the grasp of my wicked mind, representing falsities as true. 21 It is hard to repress the mind, which is hotter than fire, more inaccessible than a hill, and stronger than a thunderbolt. 22 The mind is attracted to its objects like a bird to its prey. It has not even a moment’s respite, like a boy and his play. 23 My mind resembles the sea both in its dullness and its restlessness, and in its extent and fullness with whirlpools and dragons that keep me from advancing.

24 It is more difficult to subdue the mind than to drink the ocean or upset Sumeru Mountain. It is harder than the hardest thing. 25 The mind is the cause of all exertions, and the source of all that senses the three worlds. Its weakness weakens all worldliness, and requires to be cured with care.

26 Our pains and pleasures arise by the hundreds from the mind, like woods growing in groups upon a hill, but no sooner is the scythe of reason applied to them, than they fall off one by one. 27 I am ready to subdue my mind, my greatest enemy in this world, for the purpose of mastering all the virtues, which the learned say depend upon it. My lack of desires has made me adverse to wealth and the gross pleasures it yields, which are like the tints of clouds tainting the moon.