Slide background

DECODING THE MIND

The mind is the most amazing and technically challenging machine ever known to man. Harnessing its power and enabling it to achieve an aim - spiritual or material, has always been a huge inspiration for mankind to explore a myriad methods to unravel everything about it .

Scientists and new age thinkers have been trying ever harder to understand the working of the mind but with little success. How do we decode working of the mind? What is the solution that helps overcome the vagaries of the mind? What is its relevance to people who come from any walk of life and possess little or very high intelligence? How can we utilize the power of ‘mind engineering’ technology to experience fulfillment, happiness and satisfaction in our lives and raise our lives to sublime heights.?

The world around us is the phenomenal world the physical world of matter space forces and energy. And the technology that we all study and acquire relates to this phenomenal world, the material world. However, the Vedas informs us that there is another world where our technology does not reach and this world is yet very relevant to all of us. This is the world within you, the world of your own mind.

How can that be? We have never known or thought about it. There is and it is a very huge world we experience in our dreams. When we sleep, the intellect rests and this the time when we start dreaming. When the mind also rests, we fall into deep sleep. There are no dreams. But in that dream state we see, talk, hear, touch, etc. How do we do all this? Our five working senses and five knowledge scenes are on the bed under the comforter?

Your eyes are closed. Which pair of eyes are you using to see in that dream? This is our inner world. You are experiencing the world within you. In that world, its possible sometimes you travel half way across world, from USA to India, to Hong Kong, Africa, even the moon! You start flying like a bird. There is a huge deep world within us.

This world is created by ourselves. The external world is created by whatever you believed – The Big bang or the creator or whatever, but this external world is one. If there is a book, it remains a book for all of us. But the internal world varies in all of us.

 

Let us consider a technologist who has made a new discovery. He is exceedingly pleased with his work while his colleague is  green with envy! He thinks, “I wish I had been smart enough to get this idea.” The same technology gives happiness to one and misery to another. So the technology relates to the external world. It is a reality and it is one. But the internal sentiment of happiness and misery that each person developed was their own internal world which is different for all. So, in our internal world reside our sentiments, attachments, love, hate, envy, tension, anxiety, values and emotions.

This is the mind, the creator of our inner world.

 

This internal world is very important for all of us. The technology that we all learn and acquire in schools will help us harness the forces of external nature and help us utilize these things for the comforts of the body. However, the experience of fulfillment happiness and satisfaction is not dependent upon the external objects, but the state of our own mind.

 

John Milton the western philosopher had said the mind is a place of its own and in itself can make heaven out of hell and hell out of heaven. The mind is so powerful that sitting in heaven, it can make you experience hell. Sitting in hell, it can make you experience heaven. So technology will make the objects of happiness available to you. But the experience of happiness will come from the mind. Our ability to utilize our academic knowledge to achieve success in the material world is directly related to the state of our mind.

We are cultivating the mind through acquired scientific knowledge, but we also need to learn how to manage that mind.  In this case, even the most advanced and cutting edge scientific technology does not help. Albert Einstein aptly quipped in the last century, “science has succeeded in denaturing the plutonium atom but it cannot denature the evil in man’s heart. Science does not reach there”.

 

From the perspective of Vedic philosophy, there has never been any conflict between the external science and the world within. Chapter 12, Shlok 35 of the Muṇḍakopanishad says, there are two kinds of technologies. One technology related to the phenomenal world outside and one technology related to your own internal world. Both these are essential parts of the human experience. There is no need to deny or contradict them. And they also say that if somebody neglects the inner technology that person will attain darkness. If the spiritual technologist neglects the external technology he will attain greater darkness. So, man needs to learn to utilize both these technologies to reach that final goal.

 

Since the days of the Greek civilization, the western world has focused on the external world understanding it and developing technologies to harness it. The eastern hemisphere has inclined towards the inner technology. And there have been innumerable great sages, spiritual technologists who made this the focus of their study, experiment and practice. They unraveled,  with tremendous realization, the powerful mind for all of us. For achieving that fulfillment satisfaction and happiness that we all seek that we cannot get merely through physical sciences.

 

If we can make a graphic of 3 things – Mind, Intellect and Ego it would be fantastic!

 

This inner world has got various segments. We have the mind and then there is the intellect. The mind and the brain are different. The brain is the hardware, however the mind is something subtle. Popular science is primitive in its current state to understand the distinction between the brain and the mind. The picture not very clear.

 

The spiritual scientists – the inner technologist tells us that the mind is a subtle machine inside us that constantly generating thoughts, creating desires. And the intellect is the faculty of discrimination fixed into the same system. The intellect makes the decision and the mind creates desires. In this system, the intellect has the ability to control the mind, although it does not seem so.

 

We often say or feel, my mind is not under control. This happens because we wish to focus it elsewhere, and the mind runs in a different direction. This is the case with a mind whose intellect is not well trained or firm.

 

All of us have this ability that if our intellect could firmly decide, the mind would immediately come under focus. For example, do people like working in the office? Very rarely. Most people do it because they have to. That is why Friday evening is one of the best times of the week! There is a feeling of euphoria and liberation! Monday morning is the time for depression!

 

In other words, people do not like to work and yet everybody sits in their office and ‘applies the mind’ to work. How did that mind come under control? Because the intellect decided this is necessary. “If I do not do it, I will lose my job. If you want to feed yourself and the family, you better do this.” When the intellect decided the absolute necessity of it, the mind came under focus. We are doing this throughout the day. The mind says, “It is 8pm, time for football on TV!” The intellect says, “tomorrow is your final exam, you better sit and study.” So the intellect controls the mind and you sit and study. The fact that millions of students have made it to the top of the academic stairway is an indication of the extent to which they have exercised the power of the intellect over the mind to dedicate themselves to studies and excelling them.

 

But the fact is that every student does it. A student might neglect studies all year long and may also have difficulties in concentration. The mind of such a student might be unfocussed. That is the nature of his mind. And the same student, when he sits in the examination hall to answer the question paper for three hours, brings his mind into complete focus. Look at the amount of concentration that the student developed. How did this happen when his mind was so unfocused? That was the power of the intellect. The discrimination of the intellect realized that these 3 hours are a vital importance. If he manages to develop that kind of focus, throughout the year he or she would have topped the school. But throughout the year, the intellect said, ” Study is important, but not for me for my parents. Football is more important for me!” When the decision of intellect is otherwise, there is no question of controlling the mind. Hence, the power that the intellect holds over the mind is quite clear. This nascent power is not being utilized in our daily lives. To utilize that power, we need a little bit of knowledge and then the implementation. So what is this knowledge?

The mind that we wish to control, direct and channelize to attain our ultimate goal constantly creates a number of desires. This is its inherent nature, something like a default setting. Some of these desires are beneficial and some detrimental to us. Some of them elevate us, some degrade our state. A variety of desires are thrown up by the mind and we all experience it. And it is in our best interest to reduce the lower grade desires and enhance the upper level desires. The Vedic scriptures, the text books for the inner technology, divided these desires into 3 categories; The mode of goodness or sattva guṇa, The mode of passion or rajo guṇa, the mode of ignorance or tamo guṇa. When the mode of ignorance dominates a person’s personality, he experiences the desire for violence, anger, intoxication, laziness, sleep, indolence, etc. These are the general traits of the mode of ignorance.

 

When the mode of passion predominates it leads to intense desire for the objects of the senses, intense ambition for worldly enhancement, prestige and for attainment of worldly objects. When the mode of goodness predominates, its leads to peace of mind, the desire to cultivate knowledge, the desire for compassion for service, etc. These are the symptoms of the mode of goodness.

 

We all have our natural disposition of our mind as it is characterized by these 3 modes and like to eliminate the lower desires to enhance or develop the higher desires. Given a choice, you would rather have a burning passion for knowledge then an urge for ice creams. Because you know it would lead to the problems of obesity, etc. So these desires get us into trouble and we wish to reduce them. Then there are desires we would like to be friends with – desires that elevate our life and raises it to sublime heights. But how to do this is a constant struggle. Inner technologists give us a wonderful understanding of how the system works.

 

Vedic philosophy perfectly describes the functioning of the inner systems. Desires can have two ends. Either they will be fulfilled or they will be unfulfilled. If the desires are not fulfilled, what happens? It leads to anger. Let us say the husband decided that he wants to really indulge today and have his favorite ice-cream. He goes to the market and fetches 5 kgs of ice-cream, places it in the refrigerator and goes for his walk by the river side to work up an appetite. But after 1 hour, when he returns and opens the fridge, he finds no ice-cream. He gets infuriated. He asks his wife, “Where is my ice cream?” The wife said, “My dear husband, didn’t the doctor tell you about your cholesterol? I have thrown it into the garbage.” We can only imagine how angry the husband could be.

 

What was the cause of this anger? A desire was created and there was an obstruction in the fulfillment of that desire, leading to anger.

 

Anger never arises by itself. Desire is the cause. If there is a child, there must be a mother somewhere. If you experience anger it means there is desire. If that desire is not fulfilled, it leads to anger. What happens if it gets fulfilled?

Let us now say that the husband did find the ice-cream and he did indulges in it. He has five large scoops, Is he satisfied? “No. I want more!” Alright, let us have some more, give him another five scoops. Yet, he wants more. After 25 scoops or at some point, he has to say, “Enough for today, but I want more ice cream tomorrow.”

So the Vedas say, the nature of desire is such that, if you fulfill them, they will diminish or extinguish for a while but only come back stronger with twice the intensity. In other words, it leads to greed. The Bhagwatam states,

 

na jātu kāmaḥ kāmānāmupabhogena śāmyati,
haviṣā kṛṣṇavartmeva bhūya evābhivardhate.

(Śhrīmad  Bhāgavatam 9.19.14)

Desires can never be purged through continued enjoyment. As pouring ghee into fire, it will grow more and more.

 

Even The Buddha made desire the entire focus of his analysis. He explained it as the cause of misery. The Bhagwatam verse states that if you try an extinguish fire by pouring clarified butter on it, for a moment it will extinguish, but after that it will burn even more. Such is the nature of this desire. That is why Vedic literature has gone to the extent of saying that if someone is fortunate enough to find a spiritual scientist, that soul can totally eliminates desire. That person is lightened, like God. (The Sanskrit verse)

 

The 55th Shlok of the 32nd Chapter of Kaṭhopaniṣhad says, that the person who has give up desires becomes like God. So these desires have two consequences. On fulfillment they lead to greed and unfulfilled desires lead to anger. What is the cause of desire?

We all have different desires. One can dream of a pizza sitting in a lecture; another’s mind wanders to the football game and so on. What is the cause of these desires? The Bhagavad Gita says,

dhyāyato viṣhayān puṁsaḥ saṅgas teṣhūpajāyate

saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ kāmāt krodho ‘bhijāyate

(Bhagavad Gita 2.62)

While contemplating on the objects of the senses, one develops attachment to them. Attachment leads to desire, and from desire arises anger.

 

The cause of desire is the attachment of your mind. When the mind is attached to any object or person, the mind repeatedly experiences the desire for that object or person.

 

For example, consider alcohol. It is an obnoxious thing by itself, foul smelling. But ask an alcoholic and you will hear, “Who says it stinks, you must be crazy. I go by the pub and I get a whiff of whisky, I start swooning from side to side!” Because of the attachment of the mind, the alcoholic is experiencing the desire.

 

Let us use another example. You hold your child. You smell your child you place your nose on child’s cheek, head and you feel great joy from the child’s bodily smell. Suppose you were told hold your nose on your neighbor’s body for 10 minutes. Could you do it? That would be an obnoxious idea!

 

Your mind regurgitates at the very idea of smell of smelling your neighbor but it does not get the obnoxious smell from your child. It should, but it does not get it. Don’t know why?

 

Your mind is attached. In that attachment, even a foul smell has become a wonderful aroma.

 

Here is a another example from the philosophical archives. A mother loses her son in a village fair.  She goes to the police station and says I have lost my child. The policeman says they have 5 lost children brings them to her. The mother frantically looks but none of them is her child. The policeman asks, “How does your child look like? She says, “Well he is blind in one eye, slightly paralyzed, his face is contorted on one side and his hands are also affected by paralysis.  He walks with the limp.” The policeman says, “You saw such wonderful looking children, why don’t you just take any of them, hug them and experience your motherly affection. Why do you desire this contorted ugly child of yours? The mother says, “Mr. Policeman you will never understand a mother’s heart. I will only be able to sleep after I see that ugly contorted child of mine.”

 

The mother does not want just beauty, she wants ‘her’ child in which ‘her’ mind is attached.

Wherever your mind is attached, that is the desire that you experience again and again.  And when the desire is created the two consequences fulfillment will lead to greed Un fulfillment will lead to anger and The Bhagavad Gita goes beyond.

krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ sammohāt smṛiti-vibhramaḥ

smṛiti-bhranśhād buddhi-nāśho buddhi-nāśhāt praṇaśhyati

(Bhagavad Gita 2.63)

Anger leads to clouding of judgment, which results in bewilderment of the memory. When the memory is bewildered, the intellect gets destroyed; and when the intellect is destroyed, one is ruined.

 

So all this has stemmed from attachment. What then is the cause of attachment? Everybody is attached to the different things. Somebody is attached to corporate success to the extent that they ignore family life. Somebody is so dearly attached to his wife or husband that corporate success is insignificant. Somebody is attached to games while for another its money money money all day long.

 

What is the cause of attachment?

 

The cause of attachment is really very simple. When we repeatedly contemplate that there is happiness in an object or a person, it leads to attachment.

 

How did a person get attached to a cigarette? That person contemplated and thought about happiness in that pipe which creates smoke. It may sound such a ridiculous thing, but he contemplated happiness in it. He tried it out, it was a terrible experience. He coughed, his eyes watered, it was foul smelling but then he kept repeating this thought there is happiness. “My friends get happiness, I will also get it.” That repeated contemplation is what created the attachment. First it was one a day,  hiding under the staircase, in the rest room and from the parents. Before he knows it, he is fully attached. This was created by his own repeated contemplation.

 

The whole chain of thought and action becomes clear. If we repeatedly think there is happiness somewhere, it will lead to attachment. From attachment arises desire and desire come greed and anger? Why do we repeatedly contemplate that there is happiness in some place, person or thing? Why does this contemplation take place?

The Vedas say that it is our inherent nature to desire, it is an intrinsic part of our being. We all have emanated from an ocean of bliss. That supreme divine entity that we call God, Lord, Allah, Ram, Shyam, Bhagwan is an infinity ocean of bliss. We have been created from that infinity ocean of bliss and our very nature is to seek bliss. A little part is naturally drawn to the whole, that is the law of gravitation. Like the earth pulled the apple that fell on Newton’s head, the ocean of bliss is pulling us. We are tiny fragments of that ocean and are naturally experiencing this urge of bliss. That is an irrevocable aspect of our personality. Nothing or nobody can remove that urge. There is spiritual practice, science or technology that will enable you to do away with this urge to experience bliss and happiness.

 

Depending on the environment we are in, we develop our tendencies towards the source of happiness. And once we have begun that contemplation, the whole chain becomes irrevocable. It will lead to attachment and then desire which will to either lead anger or greed. So when this urge for happiness is intrinsic to our being, how then do we then tackle this process and utilize it for our benefit? Only when we have understood the sequence it can be put to our use. Without understanding the sequence, people endeavor to give up anger.

 

The answer to this conundrum lies in the vast treasure house of the divine Vedas. A great spiritual technologist, the most prolific writer in the Vedic tradition, the great sage Ved Vyas amazingly describes the whole technique of inner transformation in the (Śhrīmad  Bhāgavatam 11.14.27).

 

He says, “You repeatedly thought there is happiness in these objects of the senses in worldly things. You developed attachment for them. Now you repeatedly think there is happiness in the place where you wish to channelize your desire.”

 

Ved Vyas, of course is referring to God himself. He says repeatedly contemplate there is happiness in God and when you do that again and again, it will lead to attachment in God. When you develop attachment for God, it will lead to desire for God. If you have developed attachment for knowledge, your intellect has repeatedly contemplated that knowledge is the highest thing. Service to society is the highest thing. Contemplate over this sufficiently and convince your intellect, and it will automatically lead to attachment in these sublime things.

 

That attachment will lead to these higher desires and those higher desires will not down grade you. They will uplift you. So to desire is not wrong. To desire the right thing is the secret. These great sages who are respected world over as great prophets, sages and saints – what was common to all of them? an intense desire for the sublime, for the supreme, for divine love, for divine knowledge, for detachment from mundane things. They had this faculty of desire which was millions of times greater and developed than ours. But they had channelized it in the right manner.

 

So in the system of decoding the secrets your mind, you decide to focus and analyze what it is that you cherish in life. What do you wish to become, what is that you hold in highest steam, in your intellectual value system? Contemplate sufficiently over it. That contemplation will naturally result in everything else that will ensue.

 

The Vedas give this formula for motivation. They say when you have intense desire, you will make a determined resolve. When you have a determined resolve, you will put an intense effort. When you make an intense effort, that is what you will become.

 

The problem is that without understanding this system, we allowed our intellect to wander away unguided. If we can guide the intellect and through the intellect guide the mind, our goal is not too far.

 

The Kathopanishad co-relates the relationship between the mind, intellect, body and soul in the most magnificent fashion using the analogy of a chariot, the horses, the reigns, the charioteer and a lone passenger. Read more.

 

It is due to the presence of the soul that we are ‘alive’. A prominent scientist and noble prize winner Albert Szent-Györgyi said, “In my search for life, I ended up with electrons and protons. Somewhere down the line consciousness slipped out of my hands/ In my old age I am tracing my steps backward. What is the basis of consciousness?”

 

The scientific community is still puzzled by this riddle. Is consciousness created merely from combination of electrons, protons and neutrons? It doesn’t seem to be a comprehensive answer. The Vedas say that there is the source of consciousness – The soul which is the real ‘you’ seated inside. That is energizing this whole system.

 

When that ‘consciousness’ or soul leaves, the whole system is insentient. When it is present, there is sentience everywhere. The mind, intellect and whole body is energized by the presence of that seat of consciousness, the soul. But the problem is that the soul is sleeping.

 

Real ‘mind engineering’ is to use that soul power, wake up to your inner potential and illuminate the intellect by bringing it under control through sublime knowledge, elevated thoughts, the divine truth and then utilize the enlightened intellect to control the mind. By repeatedly contemplating about the source of happiness which you cherish,  and then utilize the mind to reign in the five  horses (the senses).

 

A true conqueror of the mind is the one who can use this magnificent machine to cross over this vast material ocean to reach his final goal, which is God, The Supreme Lord himself.