One day, many years ago, I was standing in line at a grocery store. Some politician was on a television screen saying things that disturbed my mind. And then I thought, “Well, why am I listening to it? I’m standing here watching! It’s my own fault.” There’s a song lyric that says, “I don’t know what you expect, staring into the TV set.” The channel we watch is always our choice.
Deliberately find out how to change the channel. Or, cut the cord–just be sure to unplug it first. You’ll notice that your whole life suddenly becomes different because you’ve chosen a particular channel. The idea is, “I don’t want to blindly follow somebody else’s programming. I’m going to make my own.” That’s our freedom, to change the channel at any time. You don’t have to subject yourself to anything, whatever it may be. The main consideration when changing the subject is: “What am I listening to? What am I allowing to go into my ears?”
Whatever we take in from the environment gets registered within a very subtle substance called citta, or the subconscious mind. When the impression goes in there, it echoes. Imagine you come to a fork in the road, and there’s a question of whether you want to go to a spiritual discussion, or to the cinema. And then there’s an echo in your mind, “Go to the cinema.” Or, you’ve just had an uplifting conversation about last week’s spiritual discussion, so you hear that echo and you go there instead. The kinds of impulses we’re getting from our own subconscious mind are coming from our previous associations. We’re pushed to go in a certain direction.
We are containers, among other things, and the kind of content we let go into our mind and heart will develop and determine our level of contentment. Just notice that the word content and content are the same spelling. It’s just a different way to enunciate it. That’s what determines how we see the world and how we feel about ourselves, and how we’re positioned in this life: what we’re taking in, especially through our ears. The bhakti scriptures make this suggestion: If you don’t like what you’re being subjected to, then change the subject.