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Viveka Is Possible Only When The Mind Is Calm

Two classes of people generally fail to discern: First, those who do not know what is good and what is bad, who cannot tell one from the other. Infants, the mentally retarded, and people under the influence of drugs or liquor fall under this category. Their activities may largely be guided by instincts. Proper availability of knowledge and training offsets this deficiency. Second, there are people who know what good and bad or right and wrong are, but are not able to act accordingly. We may recall Duryodhana’s famous statement in this context: ‘I know what righteousness is, yet I cannot get myself to follow it! I know what unrighteousness is, yet I cannot retire from it! ’ Even Arjuna echoes the same feeling before Sri Krishna: ‘Prompted by what does a person indulge in sin, even against one’s wish, being forced as it were? ’This calls for radical treatment. Sri Krishna answers that it is desire in the form of lust that clouds knowledge and prompts us to sin. Therefore, we should check it by controlling the senses by means of the knowledge that the inner Self is far superior to our senses, mind, and intellect and also by practicing yoga, the discipline for controlling the mind and senses (Bhagavad Gita 3.32–43, 6.5–6).

Viveka is possible only when the mind is calm, is fully in control of its emotions, and has weighed all the available options carefully. That desire clouds our discernment and makes us yield to emotions and impulses is vouched for even by behaviorists.

There are innumerable mental and psychological characteristics that go into the formation of our personality. Mixed in endless ways, these traits — all of which are embedded within our brains — make each human being unique. The experiences we undergo during our childhood are very important in the formation of our character, for it is at this time that brain networks develop fast. Different aspects of our personality take shape in our brains as we grow. These characteristics are likely to stay with us for the rest of our lives. That is the reason why values picked up during childhood have a major influence on our personal and social life.