What is the mind? Sanskrit and Pali have the same word for mind: mana. Mana comes from the root verb man, which means “to think.” However, mind takes in more territory than the intellect; it includes the senses and the emotions.
A clear understanding of the important concepts regarding yoga meditation is important to all yoga practitioners. The Sanskrit language is rich in concise terminology about the philosophy and psychology of yoga, and the Atma Jyoti Website has compiled a useful collection of these terms in “A Brief Sanskrit Glossary.”
Two things are needed for the ending of mental modifications (vrittis). One is abhyasa–sustained spiritual practice. This is why Krishna speaks of abhyasa yoga. The other is purely psychological: vairagya: “Non-attachment; detachment; dispassion; absence of desire; disinterest; or indifference. Indifference towards and disgust for all worldly things and enjoyments.”
This is imperative for us to comprehend: Action is not the determining factor in our life–Mind is. And mind alone. This why in the seventeenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita Krishna describes how bad people do good in a bad way and thus accrue more misery to themselves.
Q: When reincarnated do we retain our current memories and interests, or what it is that makes us feel “ourselves”?
All the memories of our past lives remain in the subconscious mind in the forms of impressions in the mind-substance (chitta) which is a field of magnetic energy. They sort of float around, vibrating individually as samskaras, but those of similar magnetism become attracted to one another and become bundles of samskaras called vasanas. Because of their combined force the vasanas are experienced as impulses, attractions and aversions in the mind.
Thus we enter each life with a definite personality that has the potential of unfoldment and expression in response to the experiences we undergo in that life. However, the responsiveness depends on the evolutionary level of the individual and the character of the experiences.
Evolution and the subconscious
The more evolved a person is, the greater is the level of sensitivity and response. In those of lower evolution the subconscious is truly “buried,” whereas in those of higher development the subconscious and conscious minds influence and interact with one another.
“Thinking about sense-objects will attach you to sense-objects; grow attached, and you become addicted; thwart your addiction, it turns to anger; be angry, and you confuse your mind; confuse your mind, you forget the lesson of experience; forget experience, you lose discrimination; lose discrimination, and you miss life’s only purpose.”
–Bhagavad Gita 2:62, 63
It is true that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. In these two verses Krishna has described the entire journey, beginning with thought and ending in total loss. Each step should be considered well.
Thought is power–magnetic power, particularly. That is, thought can draw or repel whatever is thought about, depending upon the polarity of the individual mind. Many times we see that people bring to themselves the things they continually think about, but we also see that thinking about something can repel it from the person.
For example, the Franciscan Order is almost obsessed with the idea of poverty, yet it is one of the wealthiest institutions in the world. Thinking about poverty brought them wealth! This is not said in jest. I have seen people draw to themselves the things they detested, and seen others drive out of their lives the things they yearned for. As already pointed out, it is a matter of the polarity of the thought force, of magnetic energy.
As a rule, though, thought brings to us what we think about. Even if we begin by disliking or opposing the object of thought, in time we become attached to it, either by coming to like it (whether or not we admit the liking) or becoming unable to dispel it from our minds. We see this in the lives of many crusaders. They become what they oppose. In fact, they often oppose something to cover up their secret attraction to it.
It has long been known that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Krishna is aware of this, and is counseling Arjuna to simply ignore that which he does not wish to become involved with. That is why in meditation we ignore any distractions and just keep relaxed in the awareness of the process of meditation–and nothing else. If we do this, in time the distractions will dissolve, and in the meantime, being ignored, they will not be distractions, practically speaking.
So if we will not obsess on a subject, it will not touch or capture us. This is a major point of spiritual life.
“Thinking about sense-objects will attach you to sense-objects.”
The word translated “attach” is sangas, which means attachment. However, sangas has both an internal and an external meaning–both of which apply in this instance.
Attachment means having an affinity for something, or having some feeling of desire to be aware of it or have it present. It has a definite emotional connotation. It also means to feel some kind of kinship with an object, or to feel a need for it–even a dependency.
Though originally published on our Blog almost 10 years ago, spiritual articles never lose their relevance, so we are re-pubishing this today.
From the first time I ever heard it until today, “everybody does it” seems to me one of the most moronic and irrelevant–not to say almost always untrue–things anyone can say, especially if it is meant to justify some thought or action. So when I came across a similar section to this in one of the Pali sutras, I commented to other members of our ashram that it might be good to recite it every day to remind us that running with the herd is not an option for those seeking higher consciousness.
Happy indeed we live who are free from hatred among those who still hate. In the midst of hate-filled men, we live free from hatred” (Dhammapada 197). Thanissaro Bhikkhu: “How very happily we live, free from hostility among those who are hostile. Among hostile people, free from hostility we dwell.”
The world seems to run on hate and anger–all we need do is look at history and see that humanity is a bundle of conflicts. That is the way things are, and we should accept it but not approve of it. Rather than waiting for a “better day” when hatred will be abolished–something that absolutely will never happen–we should determine to live ourselves without hatred or hostility, even when encountering those who do hate, and who may hate us for not hating.
Sutras 16 through 22 of Book Two of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Sutra 2:16. The misery which is not yet come can and is to be avoided. This is an extremely important sutra because it is implying that all karma can be expunged and never … Continue reading
Sutras 47 and 48 of Book One of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 47. On attaining the utmost purity of the Nirvichara stage (of Samadhi) there is the dawning of the spiritual light [adhyatma prasadah]. In contrast to the samadhi spoken of in the prior … Continue reading
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