By Swami Chidananda
Stones, trees, grass and sand, which might have been existing in a given geographical area for centuries, can know absolutely nothing about their physical environment, but the moment an intelligent man enters into the area, he gathers innumerable facts pertaining to the same. He correlates these facts and in this way acquires useful knowledge. He may, for instance, ascertain the composition of the soil, the elevation of the land, the quarter in which the sun rises, the direction in which the water flows and the wind blows. Stones and boulders are immobile and insentient. Vegetation is entirely unconscious of itself and its environment, knowing nothing about the soil in which it grows, about the winds blowing above it, about the water soaking it. In man alone, there is some miraculous factor which gives him an immediate perception of his surroundings, and simultaneously gives him the ability to develop knowledge out of which new ideas are created for himself. This phenomenon is the mystery of human life. It is the mystery of the mind.
If you are in possession of this amazing mental faculty, wherever you go, knowledge opens its doors to you; whereas, deprived of this faculty, you are just like a pebble or a stone or a cabbage. When you go into sleep, and as soon as the mind is absorbed, you ‘lose’ all practical knowledge. The very moment the mind withdraws – it does not even have to leave you – that very instant you become like a block of stone or a piece of wood. This occurs every time you lapse into that state termed ‘sleep’. The moment the mind starts its activity once again, the whole miraculous motion involved in life begins anew.
What precisely is this thing called mind whose function annuls him and makes him a non-entity? What is this mysterious thing that makes so much difference to our being by its activity and its non-activity, by its projection and its withdrawal? In five minutes man is able to reduce a whole mass of perception and observation into well-marshalled facts of information and, through the process of rationalization and co-ordination, he incorporates them into a comprehensive system of knowledge. By a no less astonishing process, man is able to walk and talk and execute various intricate movements, all impelled by the thoughts and ideas of the mind.
Man is all too unconscious and ignorant of this inner marvel of his own mind. Who gives thought to thought? Who turns the mind upon the mind and tries to know something about it? Rather, do you not take the mind for granted ? If you do notice it at all, it is only when it starts going haywire; and then you are horrified. What greater tragedy can strike a home or a family than the loss of mind of one of its members ? With the loss of the mind, a person no longer seems to be a person. Suddenly, then, you realize how utterly important the mind is, that its least upset causes life to go to pieces ! A total change is brought about in that personality in whom the mental functions goes out of order.
The faculty of the mind is the greatest gift that God has bestowed upon the individual soul. There is no gift greater than this. Human nature consists of the mind, but unfortunately, the mind can be the greatest single curse as well. This paradox is one of the greatest mysteries of life. Everyone knows from experience how the mind can plague man at the pinnacle of God’s creation and is indispensable to his life in this framework of earthly existence.
Now, we see that happiness or unhappiness is totally a question of the state of mind. Passion, unlimited desires and uncontrolled impulses are the unmaking of an individual. They lower the state of mind, and total loss of peace, terrific agitation and intense restlessness are the result. All this is experienced as pain, sorrow and suffering. Such mental experiences as these make man miserable no matter what other benefits God may have bestowed upon him. You may have family, friends and many possessions, but if your mind is disordered or disorganized by ungovernable desires, it can create hell out of even the best things which God has given you on earth. There is, therefore, a great and serious purpose in trying to understand the mind and in making proper use of it. The mind is designed as an instrument. Thought is, itself, your happiness and misery. Thought, itself, is your heaven or your hell. Thought can either make you or ruin you.
Now, mind and thought are not two different things. If a person is able to stop thought temporarily or permanently, then temporarily or permanently, mind ceases to be for him. If this were ever to happen by itself, the person would be ruined, but if it were done deliberately and scientifically, then he would become the master of the whole universe. He would control the whole universe, for he would have heaven at his command. Total and complete stoppage of all mental activity by complete mastery over the mind immediately gives man the experience of his True Being. When the mind is totally eradicated, then the experience of what you really are becomes your very own. You rest and have your existence in your Self or Being or Consciousness.
Man’s consciousness is never as it essentially is. The mind clouds it over, chokes it, and acts as the barrier, as the obstruction, to play of Pure Consciousness which is your true being. You should consider mind as an instrument, for when its behavior and its functions are understood, you can use it as the greatest power that God has given. When it is not properly understood, when nothing about its control is known, then you are just a plaything in the hands of the mind. You should recognize yourself as the master of the mind; otherwise you will fall into the error of regarding yourself as a thinking machine. You are not a thinking machine. You are the thinker – the independent director and controller of this thinking machine called Mind.Share