by Swami Sivananda
Commentary by Swami Krishnananda
1. The Guru said: The Mind has the power of creating or undoing the whole universe in the twinkling of an eye. Slay this mind through Vichara (enquiry), destruction of Vasanas and control of its fluctuation.
The power of the mind is indescribable and unimaginable. The greatest Siddhis and Riddhis are all the effects of the working of the highly purified mind. Terrific powers and psychic abilities are the expressions of the mind when it nears the All-powerful Consciousness which is the very existence of Power itself. There are beautiful stories in the Yogavasishtha which illustrate the existence of the dreadful powers of the mind. Mind is a crude form of the Chit aspect of the Reality. The Chit-Shakti of Brahman alone appears as the mind. The purified mind has all the powers of Iccha, Jnana and Kriya which are the three aspects of the Supreme Shakti. The mind is more powerful than all the weapons of the world put together; it can do and undo things in a moment, for it is consciousness in its essence. All Yogic powers are due to the expansion of the mind in the higher and subtler regions which are swayed over by it by being included within the domain of its activities. When the mind reaches the highest state of conscious expansion or the Brahmakara-Vritti, then the goal of thought is near the reach. That is the glory of the majesty of the Self!
This Supreme State is reached through Vichara or enquiry and control of the fluctuations of the mind. Vichara or investigation into the reality behind the universe is the second stage in the development of spiritual consciousness. Such a thorough research into the hidden mystery lying as the back-ground of the universe compels the mind to desist from its terrible expansion into the Vishayakara-Vritti which beholds the external world with its innumerable functions. The hydra-hooded dragon of the mind flaps its mighty wings of lust and hatred, emits the fire of craving to protect its ego, beats the tail of self-assertion and devours the knowledge of the Truth. It can be shot dead by the gun of penetrating discrimination loaded with the explodent of burning dispassion for the three worlds. Protracted Sadhana alone can slay the evil mind and make the Jiva regain its lost Independence.
2, 3. Mind is a bundle of Vasanas (subtle desires). Through Vasanas bondage is caused. Destruction of Vasanas will bring freedom. The mind will attain quiescence like a gheeless lamp if the Vasanas are destroyed.
The mind is not an impartite substance. Just as cloth is nothing but a bundle of threads, the mind is nothing but a cluster of Vasanas or past impressions and subtle desires that persistently lurk within the sub-conscience. When the threads are pulled out one by one, where is cloth at all? When the Vasanas are burnt with their seeds the mind vanishes into the Immortal Seat of Brahman. The Upanishad says, "when the senses do not work and stand together with the mind, and when the intellect is still, that, they say is the Highest State". The daily selfish actions of the Jiva add to the stock of these Vasanas and thus the embodied existence becomes unbroken, and the wheel of birth and death rolls on ceaselessly. The emptying of these Vasanas demands a twofold counter-activity by the Jiva. The first one is to stop the adding of newer Vasanas and the second is the destruction of the existing ones.
The first purpose is served by beholding the Self in all beings, by rendering selfless service to other fellow beings, by devotion to the Deity and by severe concentration of the mind. The second one is effected when the mind is completely thinned out and when the Self is realised.
When the threads of Vasanas are destroyed the cloth of the mind also disappears from existence. The Ambrosia of Brahman is drunk deep. The soul is drowned in the ocean of joy. The Wisdom-sun rises and the Immortal Life is lived. The Divine Existence, the Almighty Satchidananda is attained.
In this state supreme silence alone is. The mind becomes quiescent due to the exhaustion of Prarabdhas even as a lamp unfed by oil gets naturally extinguished. The zenith of being is the cessation of thought, change and action. It is a getting of everything at once, the living of the infinite life, the highest freedom, the most supreme blessing, the greatest happiness and limitlessness of Knowledge which is not a possession but an existence, not a means of Knowing but the very being of Knowledge-Absolute.
4. Just as a silk-worm is caught in its own cocoon, so also man is caught in this vast net of Samsara by his own Sankalpas and Vasanas.
The conception that the prison of life of the individual is self-built is brought out by the example of the self-imprisoning of the silkworm with its cocoon which it itself winds around its body. Further escape from the jail becomes difficult.
The Jiva winds round itself the cocoon of love for separation from the Eternal Truth through the positive act of being untrue to itself. It is a self-deception, a self-blasphemy, a self-slaughter that is done by allowing oneself to fall into lower Yonis or degraded conditions of existence. It is real suicide, because it is killing the consciousness of the true Self. Negation of Truth is the faithfulness towards something other than Truth, and that something is obviously untruth. He who catches the unreal by discarding the Real is involved in the horrifying wheel of Samsara and once the Jiva is caught within the clutches of this turning wheel there is no easy hope of its near freedom.
The net of Samsara is knit together with the strings of Sankalpas. He cannot become a Yogi who has not renounced Sankalpas or the act of imagining. Sankalpa is a creative determination to carry out a certain effect in the realm of relative life by relating the self to objective selves which are taken for granted to be independent and real by themselves. This creative affirmation deposits the psychic objective tendencies in the core of the being of the Jiva and these tendencies assert themselves whenever they find suitable conditions for that purpose. The moral sense of the intellect suppresses the lower appetites and the base cravings during the waking experience but the moment this ethical sense is overshadowed by the Tamas that manifests itself in the dreaming and the deep sleep states, the physical propensities which mar the consciousness of the Self express themselves and demand wish-fulfilment. At this time, the discriminative faculty is held in check and the dance of the senses to the tune of the Vasanas becomes the main feature of the Jiva's life. The material greed ejects its venom of earthly passion for the possession of and the rejoicing with spatial objects. This is how the Vasanas manage to maintain individuality and activity, and make the Jiva suffer the illness of life as a localised body. It is not merely the suppression but the complete frying of the Sankalpa-bhavana that can liberate the Jiva from the thraldom of the earth.
5. The enemy of the Atma is the fluctuating mind only. The mind through its power of fluctuation generates countless Vasanas and Sankalpas. Destroy this fluctuating power of the mind through constant Brahma-Vichara.
The Atma or the immortal Self is enveloped by the veil of mentation. The vibration of the mind generates fresh Vasanas and Sankalpas by its forward urge to expand itself info the world of nature. Every thought sends forth such currents of creative influence of the strength proportionate to the intensity of the original affirmation, and these creative urges touch the mental being of the other bodies of the universe in various degrees in accordance with their power of receptivity based on their own categories in the stages of their spiritual evolution. When the mental activity is able to affect even bodies completely separated from its own, it goes without saying that its immediate body is tremendously influenced by it.
The condition of physical health, mental peace, nervous equilibrium, harmonised flow of blood in the body are all dependent on the tranquillity of the inner organ. Every harmful thought poisons the blood of the individual, disturbs the nerves and wrecks the general health. All the diseases of the body are mainly rooted in sin and passion which work the destruction of harmony and purity with enormous vigour. All thoughts of the individual are generally directed to external acquirements or positive injury to other beings or to inordinate affections for objects of love. Such thoughts are against the real good and the growth of the spiritual consciousness and hence they spoil the career of the Jiva by drowning it in the pains of the three kinds of evil influences originating from the self and fattened by the similar actions on it of the rest of the beings of the universe and also the reactions from the heavenly bodies.
Brahmavichara is the remedy for this affliction. It is also called Brahmabhyasa which consists in thinking of Brahman, talking about Brahman, reminding one another of Brahman and resting completely in Brahman throughout. Such kinds of Sadhana for Brahma-Sakshatkara alone can free the Jiva from all sorrow and death.
6. Brahman will not shine when the dualities of the mind are not destroyed. Destroy the dualities. Brahman will shine in its pristine glory.
It is impossible to have the vision of Brahman as long as there is faith in dual existence. The Light of the Self cannot be seen by one who is fast bound to plural and dual life. Even intellectual life cannot make one behold the glorious Brahman, for the intellect functions only on a dual basis. The intellect cannot work with a feeling of total Unity, for thereby, it is trying to arrive at self-destruction. What is inclusive of the cogniser himself cannot be seen by the cognising subject. It would be just like attempting to climb on one's own shoulders. Every method of cognition requires a process of knowing besides the knower and the known. The intellect itself is one of the senses through which the internal psychic organ manifests itself. The fact that intellectuality is excluded from immorality does not refrain it from its being included among the organs of perception.
The highest power of knowing by the individual is in its intellect and that being a slave of the dual reality, it is implied, therefore, that the Jiva, as it is, cannot realise Brahman. It has to divest itself of the clogging psychic becomings and stand up bold and unaided by the senses. When the waves, ripples and bubbles, the rays and the ramifications are embraced as one being, the world becomes no world, the body is no body, relations are no relations and qualities are no qualities.
Since duality is not of the nature of Brahman, it will not shine where there is duality. Dual perception is a refusal to perceive Brahman which is Oneness and since two contradictions cannot exist in the same nature, the experience of Brahman becomes impossible in the pluralistic world. When the sense of two-ness in being is overcome the perceiver and the perceived fuse into a single Unit and that is the realization of Brahman. Even in deep sleep duality does not appear but since duality is in a potential state there and is not destroyed, Brahman cannot be realised in the deep sleep state. Unity attended with Consciousness is the Reality. Glimpses of this state are experienced in selfless contemplation and activity of pure and spiritual determination. The joy of self-abandonment cannot be compared with any joy derived from egoistic enjoyments.
7. Ahamkara which is the source of all troubles has its seat in the mind. Annihilation of egoism will bring about destruction of the mind and annihilation of the mind will cause destruction of egoism.
Ahamkara or egoism is the main sense of the Jiva. It is the master-manipulator of diverse life. The ego is the hardening or the concretising of the universal consciousness at a point in space. It is formed of the stuff of arrogating itself and excluding all else from being. Ahamkara need not necessarily be taken to mean pride merely, but it is essentially the feeling of "I am" or self-awareness. This self-consciousness is the pivot of the rotation of the incessant revelation and the withdrawal of self-asserting forces thrown out by the ego by its powerful spells of thought. The whole universe is in fact this magical incantation of the sense of the ego which has at its background the ocean of the mind.
The ego is a monad in absolute consciousness. It strongly desires to express itself and this power of expression creates the appearance of space, time, sound, touch, colour, taste and smell in limitless being. The origin of the world is the desire to egotise in opposition to the Self. The grosser the ego-manifestation, the more real appears the world and the farther is the Jiva from the reality.
The ego or the individuality does not consist in being a simple spiritual entity or a soul but in being a mind which is a peculiar mode of the Supreme Brahman determined by a special movement or will. This self-same ego is called by various names when it performs different functions. Buddhi, Ahamkara, Chitta, Manas, Karma, Vasana. Sankalpa, Kalpana, Bhavana, Prakriti, Shakti, are all the appearances of the different forces which manifest themselves from the root of individuality in order to fulfil certain particularised conditions of self-existence.
The ego and the mind are related to one another as the source and the root. They are in a sense the same power viewed from different points of view. This power is like a wave in the Ocean of the Absolute. It is the impulse to create that causes the appearance of the ego and this will to manifest forms is cast all over in all egos each of which in its own way takes part in the scheme of creation. This creative impulse should be checked and turned inward to effect Self-Illumination or Realization of Brahman.
8. The ideas of 'mine' and 'thine' are only the creation of the mind. If the mind is destroyed through Vichara, these ideas will vanish. Destruction of the mind alone is Moksha.
"I", "Mine", "Thine", and such other ideas are based on the belief in a multiple universe. The intensity of these ideas differs in the various degrees of ignorance and knowledge that characterise the individuals. There are seven grades of ignorance and seven grades of knowledge. These fourteen stages of evolution are dominated by fourteen degrees of nescience which hide the Reality little by little increasing as the darkness becomes thicker and the intelligence more obscured. The Sadhana that is practised to remove this ignorance should consist in a gradual unveiling of the Self through systematic self-restraint and abstraction. The ideas which reign over the mind are its own offshoots which later on gain independence over its natural quiescent state, and act like irremovable obstructions on the path.
The destruction of the ego is the destruction of the mind, and it is done through the practice of Yoga. Yoga is a process running along two lines, namely, the denial of individuality and the affirmation of the Self. The ego or the individuality does not consist only of intellect but also of feeling and activity. The practice of Yoga, therefore, is done through three aspects: Intellectual assertion and conviction of one's not being an ego but the Absolute Brahman, negation of desire, infatuation and attachment, etc., and practice in stopping the ceaseless functioning of the vital current or Prana which does the activity of life by its rising and setting. These methods bring moments of rest to the psychic activity which corresponds to the moment of rest in consciousness, however little it may be. This long practice brings permanent rest of mental activity and opens the door of intuition.
When Sadhana is practised – be it of any particular aspect of self-transformation – the one important point to be borne in mind is the negation of the ego. It is not formal practice of routines and traditional rules that can liberate the individual but methods to pacify the egoism through common-sense and understanding. Yoga is completely an inward process, for it is not the body that is the hindrance to Absolute Independence but the mind. Any physical practice done to achieve Spiritual Perfection should be coupled with inward detachment and love for the Eternal. The yearning to catch the Infinite Being directs all the emotions to the Fullness of Existence and thus undermines the flinty egoism.
9. Destruction of Sankalpas is really destruction of the mind. It is only Sankalpas destroyed beyond resurrection that constitute the ineffable, imperishable and effulgent Brahmic seat.
The Sankalpas should be destroyed beyond resurrection. The resuscitation of Vasanas allows the tree of Samsara to grow once again and therefore, the purpose of all methods of Yoga is the utter removal of all the possibilities of further appearance of the mind. Calm, sure and steady should be the way of approach to Self-realization. There is no other way to attain Liberation than the Knowledge of what really exists, for the bondage consists in the forgetfulness of the Absolute which is here and now. Liberation cannot be attained by mere living in a forest and practising self-mortification. It is not even the renunciation of Karma that is required for the purpose of Self-realization. It is Knowledge that is wanted and nothing short of it. Knowledge consists in the conviction that Brahman is the only reality, that everything is Brahman, that nothing other than Brahman can exist, that Brahman is the very Self of all.
Jnana is a means for Self-realization and not merely an intellectual conviction. Scriptural study may help further Knowledge but by itself it is only in the realm of Maya. Jnana is not a philosophical creed but an intuitional comprehension of the entire being. The individual should expand into the Absolute and should live as the Absolute. Actual living in the Experience of Brahman, the Divine Being, is what is indicated by true Jnana.
The eradication of the mental function is not done in a moment like a magical trick. The attachment of the Jiva to its finitude has come since aeons. A mere intellectual grasping may make one believe in the illusory nature of the world, yet, the illusion does not thereby stop tormenting the individual. The cessation of Samsara takes place only through the actualisation of the undying Knowledge and practice of Yoga. Yoga should be a discipline neglecting no aspect of life. The physical, mental and spiritual aspects must be touched by every true method of Yoga for Self- realization. A one-sided development leaves the other sides as they were and Truth-experience becomes impossible.
10. Just as gold is purified by heating it on the fire, so also mind is purified by the fire of meditation.
Yoga is in its strictest sense Meditation on the Absolute Reality. The way to such a meditation lies through suffering and pain. The road to bliss always passes through self-sacrifice and self-purification. Gold becomes lustrous when it is purged of all dross and the self shines in its own Nature when it is disciplined through meditation. Spiritual meditation is practised through constant affirmation of one's being identical with Brahman. Thereby the mind returns to Peace. When the Self is asserted to be in tune with the Great Expanse of the Reality the mind which is a shadow of the Self turns back to its substance, the Self. The mind being annihilated, the vital currents or the Pranas stop their activity, because the Prana is only an appearance of the power of the mind. The practice of deep affirmation of the Supreme Tattwa subordinates all other spiritual endeavours to reach Brahman.
One must continuously meditate on the truth that he is non-different from Brahman and thus direct all his activities, thoughts and emotions towards this end, affirming without break that he is the One Brahman himself. This method is the most difficult one, because one has to feel here the whole universe as the one essence of Akhanda-Satchidananda. By constantly brooding over the absolute existence of Brahman, one becomes Brahman only due to the power of meditation. That person who affirms Brahman in this manner acquires all power and all knowledge, for, he affirms that which is everything. His Self becomes the Infinite Whole, Satyam, Jnanam and Anantam. The mind vanishes for want of objects of perception. When the One Brahman alone is seen everywhere, where is the occasion for the appearance of objects? The breath also stops thereby and the Absolute Experience shines alone.
The affirmation of Absoluteness is suited only for the highest class of aspirants whose minds are ready to receive the higher spiritual Light. When the Sadhaka practises such severe assertions the physical consciousness will try to revolt against all measures taken against its well-being. The general result of such affirmations by weak-minded aspirants is great fear and shock. The Divine Consciousness tries to manifest itself in the individual and shatters the ego like a mad elephant that has entered a small hut. This supreme meditation is called Brahmabhavana or Brahmabhyasa. The force of intense meditation lights up the entire materialised nature and at once liberates the soul like a sudden flash of lightning. At one stroke the universe dwindles into nothingness and the Majesty of Brahman is revealed. This is the Goal.