Q. Kindly define mind.

A. Mind-stuff is made of a highly rar­e­fied mat­ter or Satva sub­stance in the ele­ments. Gos­samer-like it spreads in the body with its ten­ta­cles deeply rooted in the senses, work­ing through sense organs. Its base also goes far above, rooted as it is in the uni­ver­sal or cos­mic mind chid-akash. It serves as a link between the mate­rial body and the con­scious spirit or soul in the body which is enliv­en­ing both the mind and the body. Like fire, it is a good ser­vant but a bad mas­ter.

Q. Where is the seat of the mind?

A. The seat of the mind in the body is in the eye focus as that of the soul, but slightly towards the right cor­ner of the left eye while that of the soul is slightly towards left cor­ner of the right eye.

Q. Is mind con­scious?

A. No, the mind by itself, is not con­scious. It is the con­scious­ness of the soul that the mind reflects.

Q. What are the attrib­utes of the mind?

A. Mind has four fac­ets or attrib­utes; to wit, (1) Chit. It may be lik­ened to a lake in which count­less streams of impres­sions are imper­cept­i­bly pour­ing in all the time.(2) Manas. It is the think­ing faculty of the mind which cog­i­tates over such impres­sions as rise on to the sur­face of the lake in the form of rip­ples and waves just as the breeze of con­scious­ness blows over the waters of the chit-lake and sets in motion an end­less chain of thoughts one after the other. (3) Budhi or intel­lect. It is the faculty of rea­son, ratioc­i­na­tion, dis­crim­i­na­tion and finally deci­sion, after con­sid­er­ing the pros and cons as pre­sented by the manas. It is the grand arbi­ter that tries to solve the prob­lems of life which come before it. (4) Ahankar or ego. It is the self-asser­tive faculty of the mind, for it likes to assume credit for all the acts done, and thus pre­pares a rich har­vest of kar­mas that keep one mov­ing up and down in giant wheel of life.

Q. Why is mind con­sid­ered a for­mid­a­ble bar­rier to spir­i­tual progress?

A. Mind in its present state is bur­dened with huge kar­mic load of past lives. It is enthralled by the out­go­ing facul­ties of senses and is thus driven help­lessly into the mire of sense-grat­i­fi­ca­tion. The alpha­bet of spir­i­tual progress com­mences with the con­trol of mind. It is said that unless mind is con­trolled, senses are dis­ci­plined, and intel­lect is stilled, we can­not have expe­ri­ence of self-real­i­za­tion. Human body is just like a char­iot wherein soul is the rider, mind is the driver, intel­lect is the reins and senses are the pow­er­ful steeds run­ning amuck in the mire of sen­su­ous grat­i­fi­ca­tion. It is for this rea­son that for hav­ing a retrace of the facts, the senses are to be dis­ci­plined, intel­lect stilled and mind con­trolled so that the inner expe­ri­ence of soul can be had. Mind is accus­tomed to roam about exter­nally through ages. Unless it is offered some­thing more joy­ous within, it can­not be con­trolled. The four main attrib­utes of mind as dis­cussed above have to be divi­nized before any per­cep­ti­ble right under­stand­ing of the sub­ject can be arrived at. Just as at present we are so greatly impressed by the facts of exter­nal­ity of life that we have lit­tle or no knowl­edge of the higher spir­i­tual truths full of Divine beau­ti­tude; which is gross ignor­ance, sim­i­larly unless we have firm con­vic­tion of the life of the beyond, there is no hope of our mind tak­ing the right turn. It is only in the pres­ence of the liv­ing Mas­ter, who has full com­mand and con­trol of His mind, that we find radi­ant reflec­tions of inner still­ness and equi­poise of the mind. A Saint has exclaimed aptly:

Gar tu dari dar dile khud azam-e-raf­tan suey dost; Yak qadam bar nafas-e-khud neh dee­gray dar kuey dost.

‘If you are firmly resolved to pro­ceed to the beloved Lord, you should put one foot on the mind and the other will ena­ble you to reach the alley of the friend.’

Self is the friend of self and self is the foe of self. The mind, act­ing as a slave to the senses, run­ning after the sense-objects, debases itself. As a reck­less sower of the kar­mic seeds, it has, per force, to reap and gar­ner an abun­dant har­vest, in life after life, in an end­less series. The poor soul in the light and life of rel­e­gated to the back­ground and the mind assumes the supreme com­mand of the cit­a­del of the body. What a pity! The prin­cess of the royal blood is swayed by the wiles of a trick­ster who him­self in being plea­sur­a­bly duped by the siren-songs of the senses and is unwit­tingly danc­ing to their tunes on the stage of mun­dane life. No won­der that it poses men­ace to the secur­ity and integ­rity of the soul, run­ning a hand­i­cap race with for­mid­a­ble and at times insur­mount­a­ble hur­dles in the way. We have, there­fore, to sub­due this invet­e­rate foe before we can smoothly tread the spir­i­tual path. To sub­due the mind by force is imprac­ti­ca­ble. It has to be won over stead­ily by per­sua­sion and by giv­ing it some fore­taste of the real hap­pi­ness which a Mas­ter Saint alone can do.

Q. Why does mind not rel­ish its spir­i­tual dis­ci­pline?

A. Human mind is so fash­ioned by prov­i­dence that it does not like to be cap­ti­vated. It is ever rest­less unless it reaches its true abode. It is an agent of the neg­a­tive power tied to each soul and will not allow the lat­ter to pro­ceed to the true home of the Father. The Mas­ters instruct us for tam­ing it for the higher pur­pose of spir­i­tual progress. As a mat­ter of fact mind is help­less against the onslaught of senses which are in their turn driven into the jun­gle of grat­i­fi­ca­tion. A care­ful anal­y­sis will show that the lower cat­e­go­ries of crea­tion who are endowed with one sense pre­vail­ing as upper­most are either done to death or live their whole life under cap­tiv­ity. For instance moth is over­whelm­ingly fond of light on account of its sense of sight, which takes its pre­cious life. A moth will never hes­i­tate to burn itself on the burn­ing can­dle. Flower-fly is fond of smell and outer fra­grance. It rushes on to the blos­som­ing flow­ers and pre­fers to die in it than to leave it. Fish is the fast­est crea­ture and enjoys its life in run­ning waters. It has the weak­ness of taste or lure of tongue. The fish­catch­ers put some eat­a­ble on the rod and the fish is caught help­lessly on the hook and serves as an eat­a­ble. Deer is one of the most nim­ble-footed ani­mals which can rarely be over­taken by a horse, but it has a weak­ness for hear­ing. The hunt­ers go to the wood and beat the drum in such an enchant­ing man­ner that una­ware the deer is irre­sis­ti­bly driven near, and places its head on the drum and loses its free­dom for life­time. Ele­phant is one of the might­i­est crea­tures but it has the weak­ness of lust which pro­vides for a not very dif­fi­cult way of cap­tur­ing it by dig­ging deep pits in the jun­gle and cov­er­ing them with grass and bushes. An arti­fi­cial she-ele­phant like a decoy is placed over it. The lust­ful ani­mal rushes towards it and is thrown into the deep well, where it is kept for sev­eral days hun­gry and thirsty. When it is taken out it is so weak and fee­ble that it is put under the iron goad for the entire life. From the above it is pretty clear that the souls which are con­sid­ered as bound in lower forms of crea­tion are so much over­pow­ered by one sense, where lies the safety of human souls who are end­lessly enticed by all the five pow­er­ful senses of sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. By sheer habit, it has become mured, roam­ing the world over like a wild ele­phant in a for­est. Feed­ing fat on the lusts of the flesh, from moment to moment, it had grown out of all pro­por­tions. The spir­i­tual dis­ci­plines are irk­some and gall­ing to it for they impose seri­ous restraints on its free move­ment. This is why the mind does not rel­ish any dis­ci­pline, and plays all kinds of tricks to evade them, pos­ing at times, as an hon­est bro­ker plead­ing on behalf of our friends and rela­tions and whis­per­ing ser­mons on our duties and obli­ga­tions towards the world on var­ied aspects of life. Unless one is very vig­i­lant and is equipped with a quick dis­cern­ment, one fails to see through its pranks and falls an easy prey to them.

It is the out­stretched gra­cious hand of the Mas­ter which helps us to wade through jun­gles of sen­su­ous wild­er­ness. Eth­i­cal dis­ci­pline if cul­ti­vated under the pro­tec­tive guid­ance of the Mas­ter is help­ful for spir­i­tual progress. Eth­ics and spir­i­tu­al­ity go hand in hand. The for­mer is the soil and lat­ter the seed which thrives and blooms in favour­a­ble cir­cum­stances.

Q. Is there any good or help­ful char­ac­ter­is­tic of mind?

A. Yes, mind like Janus, has another face as well. If it is trained prop­erly by gen­tle per­sua­sion and kindly words of advice, with a lit­tle pat­ting now and then, it can be con­verted from a for­mid­a­ble foe into a val­u­able friend and a help­ing hand to the soul in its search for truth. It is just a ques­tion of time and patience to bring about this con­ver­sion, and when it is done, one can have no bet­ter help-mate than the mind. It has the capac­ity, cha­me­leon-like, to take on the col­our of the ground where it squats and that indeed is a redeem­ing fea­ture. When liv­ing on the cir­cum­fer­ence of life, it expands out­wards, down­ward; but rooted as it is in the Gag­gan, it is not imper­vi­ous to the higher and holier influ­ences of the Mas­ter Soul to whom it responds and He chan­nel­izes it the other way about.

Like fire it is a very good ser­vant but a bad mas­ter. Mind has help­ful qual­ity of run­ning into the grooves of habit, and to rel­ish acts of repet­i­tive nature. We can ben­e­fit from this by induc­ing it towards good acts lead­ing to spir­i­tual dis­ci­pline and progress. A Saint has beau­ti­fully said:

Pag aagey aagey jat hai, man pee­chey jat hai

(My feet pro­ceed far­ther and far­ther; the mind fol­lows quite meekly and cheer­fully).

If by care­ful and steady striv­ing we could induce our mind to sit silently for med­i­ta­tions at the fixed time for a cer­tain num­ber of days, a good habit will be formed. It is a proven fact that when that hour of med­i­ta­tion will arrive, our atten­tion will be drawn towards it, and by degrees we shall begin to rel­ish to med­i­tate. Sim­i­lar is the case with attend­ing Sat­sang reg­u­larly. We can develop this habit by reg­u­larly going to see the Mas­ter and attend­ing His dis­courses that are full of Divine knowl­edge. It is often noticed that per­sons with very poor spir­i­tual back­ground tend to grow spir­i­tu­ally by ben­e­fit­ing from the radi­a­tion of the Mas­ter Power in the charged atmos­phere.

Q. How can the mind be stilled?

A. Mind is ena­moured of pleas­ures and runs after them when­ever they can be found. It is stilled in the phys­i­cal pres­ence of the Mas­ter. It is by His Divine radi­a­tion that the souls are attracted towards Him, and the mind which gets con­scious­ness from the soul is stilled for the time being. Tulsi Sahib says:

Surat sadh sang theh­rai – tau man thirta kichh pai.

(The atten­tion or the outer expres­sion of soul is con­trolled in the com­pany of the Sadh. It is only then that the mind attains some still­ness.)

But pleas­ures of the flesh are quite dif­fer­ent from true hap­pi­ness born of inner peace in the soul. If the mind is pro­vided with the appe­tency to rel­ish some­thing sub­lime and gets an oppor­tu­nity of doing so it knows the value of real hap­pi­ness with the result that the sense-pleas­ures lose all their charm, and there­af­ter seem insipid and val­ue­less. This is the way to still the mind and the way to con­trol the hydra-headed mon­ster by mak­ing man­i­fest in the body the dul­cet strains of the music of life, enliv­en­ing the entire crea­tion. We have an instance of it in the life of Lord Krishna, where it is alle­gor­i­cally explained how the Lord tamed the many headed cobra in the river Jumna (human body), by the mel­ody of His magic flute (aud­i­ble life stream).

Q. Can all actions under­taken at the level of mind and senses help spir­i­tual progress?

A. All actions per­formed at the level of mind and sense, how­ever good and vir­tu­ous in them­selves, can­not per se bring about spir­i­tual sal­va­tion. They are as bind­ing as evil actions. One is the chains of gold and the other of iron. To do good actions are bet­ter than to do bad ones, or inac­tion alto­gether, but beyond pre­par­ing a ground for spir­i­tual progress, do not by them­selves be of any avail to the spirit which lies far beyond and above the sense-plane. But once a per­son is put on the spir­i­tual path, then all his actions auto­mat­i­cally flow from him as from any agent work­ing for the prin­ci­pal and as such cease to have any bind­ing effect on him as he has lost all sense of doer­ship, ulti­mately mak­ing him neh-karma (action­less). To be neh-karma then should be our ideal in life and this means sal­va­tion.

Q. Does mind retain impres­sions of past karma?

A. Yes, mind is nothing but a storehouse of karmic impressions coming down from the beginning of time in an endless series of incarnations. The body cannot but perform karmas, and karmas fashion the body and all that is of the body and bodily relations. The entire world is a play of karmic impressions stored in the mind by the people of the world. This is why the world is termed as mano mai srishti or creation of the mind.

Q. How can the dross of mind be washed away?

A. The dross of mind can be washed clean. The sove­reign and the most potent rem­edy to wash the mind clean, say all the Mas­ters, is by com­mun­ion with the holy Word. The God-into-action Power creat­ing and sus­tain­ing all that is vis­i­ble and invis­i­ble. To be in tune with the music of the soul is to cut asun­der and to sun­der for ever the knots which at present bind the mate­rial body with the con­scious soul, impris­oned in the body with count­less fet­ters.

Guru Nanak says in Jap Ji:
When the hands, feet and the body are besmeared, they are washed with water; when the clothes get dirty and pol­luted, they are cleansed by soap; When one’s mind gets defiled by sin, it can be pur­i­fied only by com­mun­ion with the Word.