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Thought for the Day..

When the Mind Becomes a Battlefield

Before embarking on the path of meditation, it is important for the seeker to ponder over the nature of the mind, says Swami Muktananda, the sage of Ganeshpuri. It is essential to grapple with questions like: What exactly is the mind? Of what substance is it made? How does it come into existence? How can it be subdued? Awareness of the nature of mind helps in making it calm and peaceful. Meditation comes easily to one who has true knowledge of the mind.
The Yoga Vasishtha says that the world is ‘manomatram’ or imagination. The throbbing of ‘prana’, the life-giving force, makes the mind move. The movement of mind in turn brings into being a wondrous universe with myriad names and forms. The creation of universe is due to the force of ‘vikshepa’ or movement of the mind. The ‘vikshepa’ force operates both in the waking and dream states of consciousness; therefore, the world appears in these states.
According to Swami Sivananda, the legerdemain of the world is enacted by the mind alone.
Like a dream generating another dream in it, the mind, having no concrete form, brings into being that which is non-existent. The perishable universe has no independent existence other than the mind. With annihilation of the mind, the subjective universe too comes to an end.
The mind borrows its light and intelligence from its source, Pure Consciousness, in the same way as an iron rod borrows its heat and effulgence from fire. A typical feature of the mind is that it is ‘chanchala’ or ever-fluctuating and keeps moving from one object to another at rapid pace. This is why it is often compared to a monkey that keeps jumping from one branch of tree to another. The mind is constantly drawn towards objects and creates countless worlds according to its own ‘sankalpas’ or thoughts.
The main reason why the mind is ever-fluctuating and restless is that it is under the constant sway of the three ‘gunas’ or qualities of prakriti, namely, ‘sattva’, purity and light, ‘rajas’, passion and activity and ‘tamas’, inertia and darkness. If ‘sattva’ dominates the mind, it becomes one-pointed and the seeker enters into a meditative mood spontaneously; if ‘tamas’ dominates, the mind is enveloped by darkness and loses its power of discrimination; and if ‘rajas’ holds sway, the mind hankers after power, position and prestige and becomes overambitious.
It is important for the seeker to remember two things: First, ‘sattva’ cannot exist in isolation; it is always mixed with ‘rajas’ and ‘tamas’. In order therefore to make progress on the path of meditation, the seeker should constantly endeavour to increase the ‘sattvic’ modifications of love, magnanimity, mercy and forgiveness in relation to the other two ‘gunas’ by taking recourse to light, ‘sattvic’ food and by moving in the company of wise people (satsang).
Second, the purpose of meditation is not to battle with the mind and to eradicate thoughts by force; it is to witness the mind from a distance. You should remain firmly anchored in the understanding that you are the witness, the Self, and not the fickle mind. If you meditate with this awareness, your mind will become calm very soon and you will be able to give it a new, inward direction. Swami Muktananda says: “No matter what thoughts and images arise in the mind, be aware that there is no concrete material from which they are being manifested. They are simply a phantasmagoria of Consciousness.”

Anup Taneja
Speaking Tree (TOI), Nov 13, 2014

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