Friday, February 26, 2016

Mind - its Features, Nature and Conquest - by Swami Sivananda

Mind - its Features, Nature and Conquest
by Swami Sivananda  

Mind is made up of subtle matter. It is through mind that God manifests as the universe. Mind is a subtle force. Prana vibrates on mind and mind generates thoughts. Mind is a bundle of impressions, thoughts, Vasanas (desires) and cravings. The seed of mind is egoism.

Mind can do five functions of the five senses of perception or knowledge (Jnana Indriyas). There are three Gunas or qualities, viz., Sattva, Rajas and Tamas in the mind. Lust, anger, greed, jealousy, pride, delusion, egoism, likes and dislikes are waves in the mind. The ever-restless mind becomes quiescent when all desires perish. The mind is purified by the practice of selfless service, Japa, Tapas, right conduct or practice of Yama (self-restraint) and meditation. The mind filled with Sattva is Suddha Manas or pure mind. The mind filled with Rajas and Tamas is Asuddha Manas or impure mind. Relaxation of mind, Japa, prayer, meditation, cheerfulness, Sattvic food, study of religious books, are necessary for keeping up mental health.

The mind assumes the form of any object it intensely thinks of. If it thinks of an apple, it assumes the form of an apple. If it thinks of the form of Lord Jesus, it assumes the form of Lord Jesus. As you think, so you become. This is an immutable psychological law.

In waking state mind has its abode in the brain. In dream state it has its abode in the throat. In deep sleep it rests in the heart.

Prana is the connecting link between body and mind. If you control Prana or sex-energy, you can control the mind. If you can control the mind, you can control Prana also. Through control of breath you can control the mind.

Cosmic mind is the universal mind of the Lord. It is superconscious mind. Conscious mind operates through the brain in the waking state. Subconscious mind is Chitta. All impressions are imbedded in the subconscious mind. Practice of Pranayama helps to attain mental equipoise. It can hear and see at the same time.

Mind is the dividing wall between soul and body. Mind is the commander-in-chief. The senses are the soldiers. Egoism, greed, jealousy, vanity, etc., are the attendants of the mind. Man says, - My mind was elsewhere; I did not see. My mind was elsewhere; I did not hear. Man sees with his mind and hears with his mind. Steadying or fixing the mind in one point is called Abhyasa.


You can control the mind through Abhyasa or practice and Vairagya (dispassion). You can be established in Samadhi or superconscious state only by long practice, with zeal and faith. Without dispassion or non-attachment or indifference to sensual enjoyments no spiritual progress is possible.

Annihilate the impure mind or the lower mind with the help of the pure or the higher mind and transcend the higher mind also.

The senses cannot do anything without the cooperation of the mind.

Do not try to drive away impure thoughts. The more you try, the more they will return. Fill the mind with divine thoughts. The impure thoughts will gradually vanish by themselves. Do not try to control the mind through violent methods. You will miserably and hopelessly fall. Use the approved and intelligent methods. You can control the mind easily.


The mind is at the root of Samsara or world-process. Desire is the fuel. Thought is the fire. Withdraw the fuel of desire, the fire of thought will be extinguished. Mind is like an ocean; thoughts are the waves. Mind is the organ of sensation and thoughts. Mind thinks, intellect determines, egoism self-arrogates, subconscious mind memories. When the mind is Sattvic, calm and pure, you will get glimpses or flashes of intuition.

Mind and Prana are interdependent. Prana is the overcoat of the mind. Wherever there is Prana, there is mind; wherever there is mind, there is Prana.

Waking state, dream state and deep sleep state are the three states of the mind.

Mental actions are the real actions. Thought is the real action.

A Rajasic mind wants variety and new sensations. It gets disgusted with monotony. Change of work is change for the mind.

Mind is a gatekeeper. It allows only one thought at a time to enter the mental factory or the mental palace.

Various methods to control the mind

1. Τhe mind can be controlled by Abhyasa and Vairagya.
Abhyasa is constant effort to fix the mind on God or Atman.
Vairagya is dispassion or non-attachment to sensual objects.

2. Enquire “Who am I?” Do Vichara.

3. Do mental Japa of Om and meditate on Atman. All thoughts will die by themselves. You will rest in Sat-Chit-Ananda Atman.

Japa of any Mantra and Upasana (worship of God) destroy the impurities of the mind, makes the mind inwards, induce Vairagya, help concentration and eventually lead to control of mind and attainment of God-consciousness.
“In this Kali Yuga the easiest way for controlling the mind and attaining Moksha is Kirtan or singing the Name of the Lord.”

4. Sit alone and watch the thought-waves (Vrittis) of the mind. Be indifferent. Remain as a witness (Sakshi ).
Don’t identify yourself with the thought-waves. The mind will then be under your control.
Don’t wrestle or struggle with the mind. Be regular in your concentration and meditation.
5. Destroy the fuel of desire(1), and the fire of thought will be extinguished. With the annihilation of Sankalpa, the reality of Brahman will shine.
Destroy the vicious desires(2) through virtuous desires and destroy the virtuous desires also through one strong desire for liberation. Don’t try to fulfil your desires (3). Do a thing which the mind does not want to do. Don’t do a thing which the mind wants to do.

6. Cultivate divine qualities such as friendliness, mercy, gladness and indifference towards happiness, pain, virtue and vice. You will get peace of mind. Destroy evil habits by establishing new good habits. Control the lower instinctive mind through the higher Sattvic mind.

7. Live in the solid present. Don’t think of the past. Don’t plan for the future. Don’t allow the mind to build images. Don’t hope. Don’t expect anything.

8. Practice of Pranayama destroys Rajas and Tamas, makes the mind steady and one-pointed.

9. Study of religious books, Tapas, charity and Satsanga with Mahatmas, Sadhus and Sannyasins overhaul worldly vicious Samskaras (latent impressions) and pave a long way in the control of mind.

10. Food has influence over the mind. Sattvic food (milk, fruits, etc.) calms the mind. Rajasic food (meat, alcohol, etc.) excites the mind. Take Sattvic food; have Mitahara (moderation in diet).

11. Constant selfless service with Atma-Bhava is highly efficacious in purifying and controlling the mind.


Mind is a bundle of Vasanas (desires) and Sankalpas (thoughts, imagination). Mind is a bundle of Raga-Dvesha (likes and dislikes). Annihilation of mind is Mano-Nasa.
Manolaya is temporary absorption of the mind. This cannot give Liberation (Moksha). The mind can come back again and wander in sensual objects. Manonasa alone can give release or Moksha.


How is the mind purified, brought under control and how are its activities stopped, and how is it annihilated? Here are some useful and practical points. Mind can be controlled and annihilated by Vichara or enquiry of ‘WHO AM I?'. This is the best and most effective method. This will annihilate the mind. This is the Vedantic method. Realise the unreality of the mind through philosophical thinking.


Eradicate the feeling of egoism. Ego is the seed of the tree of mind. - I thought is the source of all thoughts. All thoughts are centred on the little - I. Find out what the little - I is. This little - I will dwindle into airy nothing. It will be absorbed in the Infinite - I or Para Brahman, the source for the little - I or Ahamkara (egoism).

The Sun of Self-realisation is fully seen when the cloud of ego disappears.
III. BY VAIRAGYA - Dispassion

Vairagya (dispassion) is another method for annihilating the mind. It is distaste for objects of sense-pleasures by finding out the defects in the sensual life. Objects are perishable. Sensual pleasure is momentary and illusory.


Abhyasa or practice is another method. Concentrate the mind by fixing it on Brahman. Make it steady. Abhyasa is ceaseless meditation. This leads to Samadhi.


Asanga or non-attachment is a sword to destroy the mind. Take the mind away from objects. Detach Attach. Detach it from the objects and attach it to the Lord. Do this again and again. The essence of the seed of the sprout of world-experience, which is desire, can be destroyed by the fire of non-attachment.
VI. BY VASANAKSHAYA  (Annihilation of subtle desires)

Vasanakshaya is another method. Vasana is desire. Renunciation of desires leads to
annihilation of subtle desires, (Vasanakshaya). This will lead to annihilation of mind (manonasa). Desire for objects of pleasures is bondage; giving it up is emancipation. Desire is the most essential nature of the mind. Mind and egoism are synonymous.


Vibration of Prana causes movement of the mind. It gives life to the mind. Pranayama or control of Prana will stop the activities of the mind. But it cannot destroy the mind to its roots like Vichara.


Control the Sankalpas (
thoughts, imaginations). Avoid imagination or day-dreaming. The mind will be annihilated. Extinction of Sankalpas alone is Moksha, or release. The mind is destroyed when there is no imagination. The experience of the world illusion is due to your imagination. It vanishes away when imagination is completely stopped.


Mental renunciation of possessions is another method. The absolute experience can also be realised if you learn to be in a state of thought-suspending Samadhi.

Attainment of equanimity is another method. Be balanced in pain and pleasure, heat and cold, etc.

Japa, Kirtan, prayer, devotion, service of Guru and study are also means to annihilate the mind.

He alone experiences everlasting peace and Eternal Bliss who has transcended the mind and rests in his own Satchidananda Atman.