“The one job of your five senses is to drag and enmesh you further and further in the morass of the world-process until you find no line of retreat and have to be going round in circles like an ox yoked to the treadmill for extracting oil (chekku-maadu). The senses, however, are only cat’s paws and it is the mind that is the villain of the piece. Ever on the prowl for pickings of immediate pleasure for which purpose the only known tools available to it are the innocent senses, the mind schemes and weaves out a network of rainbow-hues in anticipation, little aware of the pitfalls and gins that are the ground-realities. No wonder Thayumanavar was driven to describe the mind as ‘the goblin-monkey jumping about after being stung by a red-scorpion.’
“The problem for us is that we have to live with our mind since we cannot wish it away. It is surely not an enviable situation we find ourselves in, where we can neither subdue the mind nor acquiesce in its wayward activities. Are we to be helpless and hapless through life, slipping from one misery to another and always dreading what the next moment could have in store for us?
“You will agree that there is an imperative need to evolve a definitive system of Mind-culture that would enable and equip us to transact with the world-process without losing our inner poise and without having to harvest regret at the end of interaction. The obvious preliminary step is to get to know the anatomy of what you seek to discipline viz., the mind.
“In Yoga-Vaasishtam, Sage Vasishta likens the mind to a strange creature with multiple heads and arms and legs that is flagellating itself and crying out it is in misery all the time. In the absence of any spiritual training to start with, Vasishta admits he could not stop or control the strange creature with a view to ascertaining the cause for its masochistic obsession. Acquiring such a yogic training later (by the method of pratyagaram which consists of willful withdrawal of the mind every time it strays into world-activities and develops likes and dislikes) Vasishta could stop the creature in its tracks and inquire, ‘Who are you? Why are you putting yourself to so much needless suffering?’ On hearing these words of cold logic the creature flares up and screams, You are my enemy. You ask me ‘Who am I?’ and under your gaze I am wilting and wasting away!
“Sage Vasishta relates the experience to his star-disciple Rama: ‘Even as I was looking, the many heads and arms and legs of the strange being melted away. The creature sobbed over the loss, then it laughed as if in relief and again it wept. Ultimately in a long burst of joyous laughter the being vanished, leaving no trace behind. It was an eerie encounter proving that truth could at times be stranger than fiction.’
“This is a parable of deep import. The mind was the freak-creature and its several heads were its thoughts and desires, and the many arms were the doubts and fears with which it was torturing itself. When the mind was forced to raise the question ‘Who am I?’ it started to look for its own identity for the first time. That is, instead of projecting outward as hitherto, it was turned on itself, to find that it had no independent existence but was only a projection of the life-energy.
“Mind is aroopa (formless) by itself but it takes the shape and quality of any object it contemplates. On thinking of chocolate the mind becomes a three-dimensional candy-bar, and the sense-organ for taste viz., the tongue commences watering. By the same token, when placed on life-energy the mind becomes subtle as never before, for that is the anatomy of the basic energy-particle.
“In the process of seeking its own origin, all the doubts it had piled up through generations were dispelled rapidly and all its worldly desires were rendered redundant. However, prolonged association with doubts and desires had generated a sense of ownership for them in the mind and it grieved over their loss due to habit. But realising that the shedding of adjuncts (upadhis) was to its own good in that it was getting lightened, the mind exulted. As Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi used to say ‘desires are the food and fuel for the mind’; and once the mind is denuded of its raison d’etre, it simply ceases to exist and subsides in its source and origin like a river merging in the ocean in an irreversible confluence.
“By way of summarising what has been explained so far, I shall go to a few questions and answer them:
• What is Mind?
It is only a projection of your life-energy.
• Why is it in agitation most of the time?
Because it does not know itself or its own base and source. Ignorance is the root-cause of misery.
• How shall I quieten the mind?
By turning it 180° on its axis.
• Will it remain in the revised angle?
Initially it will not, because the torque will tend to deflect it back slowly to its habituated position.
• How shall I prevent the deflection?
By remaining vigilant and applying angle-correction (which is also course-correction) on a continuing basis.
• To sum up
A trained mind is your best Guru. Which means, you are your own Master.
I am only showing the Way; and remember, I may not be doing it for long.”