The Mind (1981)

The ancient sages looked at people and saw them being pulled every which way by their minds, and they said, "These people are suffering due to this lack of control. The mind, like any beast of burden, like any servant, like any useful vehicle, must have some yoke to it. The meaning of the word "yoga" is "to yoke"; to yoke the mind, to restrain and control it, for the sake of reaching our goal in this life.

The mind has always been the subject of intense scrutiny in Eastern Philosophy. In all of the early Indian scriptures (the Vedas) the mind, not God, is discussed. We feel happy or sad because of our mind, we think an event is good or not good because of our mind. It is due to our mind that we have either a very positive or a not so positive experience in this life.

The scriptures say that man exists because of the mind, and that when the mind is stilled, man becomes God. Swami Nityananda would say, "As long as a person has a fickle mind, then he is still a person. But a person who attains a steady mind becomes like God."

In the Shiva Sutras it is said that mind-born knowledge is the source of bondage. This means that it is our attachment to facts, and our involvement in our own ideas and concepts, which limit us and cause us suffering in this life. It is our continual grasping with the mind at information, facts, figures and objects of every kind which ultimately causes us dissatisfaction. It is our attempt to be happy by accumulating intellectual knowledge that ultimately lets us down. When we transcend this mind-born knowledge, and we still the mind, then this bondage is dissolved. We see that what at one time was bondage has become a source of great enjoyment for us. Because we are no longer attached to the rising and falling waves of thoughts and feelings that move across this ocean of consciousness, then we no longer have either the expectation of success or the disappointment of failure. Because our mind becomes calm and still, through meditation, we see the activity of life unfolding itself as a drama or play, and we can appreciate it.

Kashmir Shaivism states that the essence of a human being is nothing but pure consciousness, and the mind is merely one of the forms this consciousness takes. It also says that this mind is located in the heart. Most people don't understand this; they think the mind is located between the ears, in the brain. But Shaivism says the mind is located in the heart, and that because the various nerves that support our physical life merge in the heart and rise up from there to the head, we experience these thoughts and mental activity in the brain. Nevertheless, the mind resides in the heart, and the heart is said to be like a lotus.

Bee on lotusIn one of the beautiful Shaivite texts, the Maharthamanjari, the mind is analogous to a bee, moving from the various petals of the lotus, or the flower in our heart. It moves through the senses, to the different objects that populate our life, and back again. It constantly moves through the senses, back and forth, back and forth, for the sake of the continual re-creation of life, and also for the enjoyment, beauty and fragrance of this lotus in the heart.

In meditation, we gain this understanding and knowledge. When we become quiet in our mind, and we go deeply into our heart, we begin to know and experience what is called matrashakti-the pulsation of our vital energy, which manifests itself as the mind. (The creative energy of a person-the very basic power of consciousness within a person-is called shakti. When it expresses itself in the form of thoughts and concepts, and ultimately as letters, words and sounds, then it is called matrashakti.) This energy of matrashakti is constantly pulsating in our hearts, giving rise to our thoughts and feelings, and giving form to those thoughts and feelings. In a sense, this causes us to classify various objects as good or bad. The important determining factor is the level of purity we have within ourselves.

This matrashakti is constantly pulsating in our hearts, constantly throbbing. When we experience this throbbing, when we can see it clearly, then we understand ourselves completely, because we know the fundamental inner workings of our minds.

This is not an experience in which we can conceptualize the mind, or have some intellectual structure into which the mind fits; it is very difficult to put a wave in a box-yet in its own environment a wave is a very beautiful thing and provokes enjoyment. It is beautiful to experience within ourselves these waves of conscious energy, pulsating as the very essence of us, and manifesting as our mind.

In observing this process, through our meditation and study, our mind becomes perfectly still, and we begin to know what is called the inner Self, the fundamental substance of our life. The mind, instead of being like a veil, or like static electricity which constantly puts ideas in front of us, obscuring our vision of our nature and preventing our experience of complete happiness, dissolves into the inner Self. We become perfectly happy and joyful, completely detached from the external results of our life. We no longer need a reward for doing good work; we do it simply for the joy of doing, out of the joy of our inner Self. It is this inner joy which motivates us to do. It is our joyous gratitude for life itself that motivates and propels us in the physical world.

Then, nothing that happens disturbs us. Whether life goes up or down, we remain constantly one with that witness of our mind. We witness the pulsation within ourself. It expresses itself first as letters, and then as concepts, thoughts, sounds, and communications with others. It becomes like a great play, in which we find tremendous fascination and joy, even though we don't exactly know its outcome. But, we're not attached to the outcome. It is not important, because we have within ourselves the profound experience of simple happiness; we know the outcome is perfect.

Many people want to know about suffering. It is because of the mind that we suffer. It is because of our need to make things one way or another, to make things different than they are. It is our trying to impose our will upon reality that constantly disrupts our capacity to be attuned to, in harmony with, and quiet in the fullness of the moment.

The profound significance of meditation is that it is through meditation, not through thinking, that one knows one's mind. By quieting our mind, by understanding it, through meditation, we become established in that state in which every situation represents an opportunity to unfold a new chapter in this fascinating drama of life. It is only your mind that constantly obscures that possibility, by trying to make life one way or another.

When we turn inside, then, from the core of our being, from our inner Self, unlimited knowledge arises. Understanding which is beyond thought, words, letters or concepts, emerges; it illuminates every corner, every aspect of the mind. It transforms our thinking and goes out into our life like a great light, uplifting others in simple ways, uplifting those with whom we're involved. We don't have to try to convert or change people, but only to love them and have good understanding. If we can do this, we will see life change around us. It is a very simple, natural thing. This knowledge which arises within us gives us a very real, pragmatic, profound, and yet completely spiritual understanding of life.

Another of the Shiva Sutras says that the realizations experienced or attained by a person who meditates, or practices yoga, are marvelous. These realizations are just like that; life becomes like a marvel. It is amazing. Our experience of life is transformed. No longer are we limited in any respect by our mundane understanding; there is no more mundane understanding. No longer are we limited by our short-sightedness, because that also is dissolved.

Because this knowledge has arisen within us, we become both wise and skillful--skillful in our worldly activities, and wise in our detachment from them-so that we constantly reside in ourselves in a place of perfect balance and complete happiness. Because we turn the mind in upon itself, it becomes dissolved; and in its stead this perfect, pure consciousness, pure awareness, unfolds and expresses itself in every direction as wisdom and skill. Then life becomes something beautiful, even in the face of adversity, and suffering comes completely to an end.