Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 6, Verse 6

बन्धुरात्मात्मनस्तस्य येनात्मैवात्मना जित: |
अनात्मनस्तु शत्रुत्वे वर्ते तात्मैव शत्रुवत् || 6||

bandhur ātmātmanas tasya yenātmaivātmanā jitaḥ
anātmanas tu śhatrutve vartetātmaiva śhatru-vat

bandhuḥfriend; ātmāthe mind; ātmanaḥfor the person; tasyaof him; yenaby whom; ātmāthe mind; evacertainly; ātmanāfor the person; jitaḥconquered; anātmanaḥof those with unconquered mind; tubut; śhatrutvefor an enemy; vartetaremains; ātmāthe mind; evaas; śhatru-vatlike an enemy

Translation

BG 6.6: For those who have conquered the mind, it is their friend. For those who have failed to do so, the mind works like an enemy.

Commentary

We dissipate a large portion of our thought power and energy in combating people whom we perceive as enemies and potentially harmful to us. The Vedic scriptures say the biggest enemies—lust, anger, greed, envy, illusion, etc.—reside in our own mind. These internal enemies are even more pernicious than the outer ones. The external demons may injure us for some time, but the demons sitting within our own mind have the ability to make us live in constant wretchedness. We all know people who had everything favorable in the world, but lived miserable lives because their own mind tormented them incessantly through depression, hatred, tension, anxiety, and stress.

The Vedic philosophy lays great emphasis on the ramification of thoughts. Illness is not only caused by viruses and bacteria, but also by the negativities we harbor in the mind. If someone accidentally throws a stone at you, it may hurt for a few minutes, but by the next day, you will probably have forgotten about it. However, if someone says something unpleasant, it may continue to agitate your mind for years. This is the immense power of the thoughts. In the Buddhist scripture, the Dhammapada (1.3), the Buddha also expresses this truth vividly:

“I have been insulted! I have been hurt! I have been beaten! I have been robbed! Misery does not cease in those who harbor such thoughts.

When we nourish hatred in our mind, our negative thoughts do more damage to us than the object of our hatred. It has been very sagaciously stated: “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping that the other person dies.” The problem is that most people do not even realize that their own uncontrolled mind is causing them so much harm. Hence, Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj advises:

mana ko māno śhatru usakī sunahu jani kachhu pyāre (Sādhan Bhakti Tattva)[v1]

“Dear spiritual aspirant, look on your uncontrolled mind as your enemy. Do not come under its sway.”

So, through spiritual practice, if we bring the mind under the control of the intellect, it has the potential to become our best friend. The more powerful an entity is, the greater is the danger of its misuse, and also the greater is the scope for its utilization. Since the mind is such a powerful machine fitted into our bodies, it can work as a two-edged sword. Thus, those who slide to demoniac levels do so because of their own mind while those who attain sublime heights also do so because of their purified minds. Accordingly, Winston Churchill, the successful British Prime Minister during the Second World War, said: “The price of greatness is the responsibility over your every thought.” In this verse, Shree Krishna enlightens Arjun about the potential harm and benefits our mind can bestow upon us. In the following three verses, Shree Krishna describes the symptoms of one who is yog-ārūḍha (advanced in Yog).