The Bhagavad Gita (13.9) extols evenness of mind as a sign of spiritual
knowledge. Evenness of mind is a sterling spiritual quality that helps us
to acquire inner balance, a strong and mature character, concentration of
mind, the capacity to make right decisions, and the ability to remain
unfazed amid the uncertainties and dualities of life.
The undisciplined mind is compared to a restless monkey that is drunk
with wine, then stung by a scorpion, and finally possessed by a demon. The
mind swings to extremes of moods: happiness to misery, clarity to
confusion, calmness to agitation. We experience these alternating moods
because we remain identified with our mind. But Vedanta teaches that we
are essentially divine and different from our mind and body. Evenness
means an inner balance that keeps us undisturbed by changes in the mind.
Strong and mature character
Our thoughts and actions leave impressions in our mind, and they define
our character. These impressions explain why different people face the
same situation in different ways. As long as the mind remains
undisciplined, our re-actions will be impulsive, immature, and dictated by
external events and our attachments and aversions.
Evenness of mind implies a mature character born of a strong and
one-pointed will. When we develop a strong and mature character, we become
dispassionate, and our actions are measured and deliberate. For example,
we will not be rude to others even when they are rude to us; we will not
reject a good idea because we do not like its source.
Concentration of mind
An untrained mind is by nature attached to the senses and their
objects. Such a mind dissipates a person’s energy and makes concentration
on anything difficult. Swami Vivekananda describes our predicament: "Free!
We who cannot for a moment govern our own minds, nay, cannot hold our
minds on a subject, focus it on a point to the exclusion of everything
else for a moment! Yet we call ourselves free. Think of it! We cannot do
as we know we ought to do even for a very short space of time. Some
sense-desire will crop up, and immediately we obey it. Our conscience
smites us for such weakness, but again and again we do it, we are always
doing it. We cannot live up to a high standard of life, try as we will."
Swami Vivekananda says that concentration of mind is the core of
education and the sole means to attain knowledge: "If I had to do my
education over again, and had any voice in the matter, I would not study
facts at all. I would develop the power of concentration and detachment,
and then with a perfect instrument I could collect facts at will." This
"perfect instrument" is developed by evenness of mind. Evenness prevents
the mind from being swayed by emotions and helps us remain focused at all
times. The Bhagavad Gita says, "This evenness is called yoga." (2.48)
Capacity to make right decisions
A vacillating mind is habitually indecisive. It weakens us and clouds
our perception. Far from helping us to solve problems, such a mind gets
flustered in the face of problems and robs us of any initiative. Problems
only get complicated if we do not face them boldly. With evenness of mind
we can see a problem in its true perspective, analyze possible
solutions, decide on the proper course of action, and follow it undeterred
by any obstacle.