CHENNAI: Liberation from rebirths has been posited in the scriptures as the ultimate goal of human life. But in actual day-to-day life, in the case of the majority of people, the striving for the spiritual goal takes the backseat and the time and energy at one's disposal get dissipated in realising worldly ends.
While many do not give as much importance to spiritual life as they do to succeed in worldly life, in some extreme cases they even relinquish without any remorse the basic spiritual values to fulfil their material ambitions.
In his discourse, Sri Goda Venketeswara Sastri said it was important to understand how a spiritual seeker could remain determined in his pursuit of liberation amidst the pulls and pressures of daily life. For this it is necessary to remember that the Self (Atman) is unaffected by anything while the mind has the nature of getting influenced by whatever it comes into contact with. So the external circumstances easily distract a person from pursuing the spiritual goal. It is to circumvent this that cultivating the company of the devout is stressed in the spiritual tradition. Adi Sankara in his hymn Bhaja Govindam describes how good company can lead to liberation: "The company of the good weans one away from false attachments; when attachment is overcome, delusion ends; when delusion ends, the mind becomes unwavering; and a steady mind leads to liberation while living (Jivanmukti)."
Another quality of the mind is to look for a reason (logic) for everything because it is by reasoning that the intellect acquires knowledge. A person thus tries to justify his actions whereas truth (Reality) is beyond logic. It is for this reason that scriptures reiterate that spiritual knowledge cannot be gained like other disciplines. Self-knowledge dawns when delusion is overcome by disciplining the mind.
Control of the mind by not allowing it to engage in the pursuit of sensory pleasures is essential to spiritual progress. This may sound simple but in practice it is extremely difficult to be focussed on the spiritual goal unless one makes a conscious effort to do so. The mind should thus be diverted from its normal worldly engagement by making it dwell on the Self, which is of the nature of bliss, to get established in it.