Can the mind continue its process of evolution between lifetimes as well? Does it need a body and situations for its evolution?
Yes, it needs a body. That is why the human body is very precious.
You know, in day to day life, when you do things, sometimes you lose energy. When the energy goes down, the mind also goes down. Haven't you had this experience? (Audience say 'Yes')
Sometimes you wonder, why is my mind going down? Many people ask this question.
You think, 'I feel so depressed and down. Nothing feels interesting'. A sort of, (the mind) feeling down, happens to you.
This is because of a few reasons:
One of the reasons is Time. There is a particular time in everyone's life cycle, where for no particular reason the energy of the mind goes down.
The second reason is, too much thinking and too many desires. When the mind is clogged with too much ambition and too many desires, it will definitely give rise to depression.
The mind goes down because it loses all its energy in just thinking and thinking, and dreaming, and wishing for this and that.
So too many desires causes the mind to go down. That is why vairagya (dispassion) is essential to counter depression. If you have dispassion, you cannot be depressed. The lack of dispassion causes depression. So too much ambition and too many desires drains your mind of energy, and you feel depressed.
The third reason is when energy is low in the body; when the body is weak. When you do not have much energy, or when you are sick, then the mind goes down.
Associating with the body's vitality, energy and fluids, the mind becomes low. It can happen through some sickness, or because of a wrong diet.
Sometimes you eat some food that does not suit your system, or you eat too much, then also you feel depressed, and this is a vicious circle. People eat more because they are depressed, and then they get depressed because they ate too much.
So, if you feel a little low on energy, or depression, for a few days stop stuffing yourself with food. Eat some light food, or fruits, and suddenly you will feel your energy go up.
Don't fast too much, again that is not good. Fasting is good to a certain limit.
So, eating light food helps uplift mental energy.
You need to be aware of this. When you are feeling lonely or depressed, you have the tendency to stuff yourself with more food, and the more food you eat, the more depressed you get. Because you are depressed you keep eating, so you get caught up in a vicious circle.
If you pay attention to food, and eat the right amount of food, and the right type of food, at the right time, then the mind energy can go up. That is another way to counter depression.
The fourth reason is, total inactiveness. If you are too active, then you get depressed. Or if you are totally inactive, and don't do anything; or do things only for yourself without a mission or a vision to do something for others (lack of a seva attitude), definitely brings depression.
That is why in the ancient days, in the ashrams, people were always pushed to do some service. Go to the slums, sweep the floor, or water the plants, and keep things neat and tidy.
Keep yourself busy. If you keep yourself engaged in some activity, that is also another way to counter depression.
So, here, either someone who is too outgoing, or someone who does not do any work physically, and sits all the time engaging in mental circus, get depressed. So the middle path is the way to come out of it.
From time to time, go into deep meditation, and then come out and dynamically get involved in activity, without thinking 'what will I get from this'.
Whatever is necessary to be done in the world, do it. What the time and place requires you to do, doing that, is service. This will also help you to uplift your mental energy.
The fifth thing is, you are all singing, dancing, listening to the chanting, sitting for the Poojas, all this also uplifts your energy.
Now you cannot say, I only want to sit in the Pooja and go on chanting, and do only this. No, it is not going to work. Or, I will eat as much as I want, and then I will come and sit in the Pooja, that won't work.
If you say, 'I will sit and meditate the whole day, and do nothing else', then you are wasting your time, because your meditation is not going to go deeper. That is why, you all must always remember the verse from the Bhagavad Gita, 'Yuktahara-viharasya yukta-cestasya karmasu, Yukta-svapnavabodhasya yogo bhavati duhkha-ha'.
You must always have that balance between activity and rest.
The right amount of food, the right amount of activity, and the right amount of service (service is necessary) is essential. When you follow this, then all the sorrow runs away. When you follow these conditions, then you get united with the universal spirit (Yoga happens), and then sorrow runs away and you smile!