Is The Mind Fickle?
Is there a path to calmness absolute?
Conditioned response gives no lasting joy.
Until one knows how the mind operates,
All efforts for peace are bound to fail!
Q.You said in your last talk that intoxicating drinks can give no peace. Instead, these weaken the sinews, cause increased excitation of the nerves, and destroy one’s memory and powers. Does that mean there is no way to attain peace of mind?
Ans. There is a remedy for every affliction. Although there are many obstacles in the path of mental peace, yet there is a way of achieving it. All the people who have hitherto experienced peace wholly or in part, must have had some technique. A condition which is attainable with the help of a technique, which has, indeed, been attained in the past, should also be undoubtedly attainable now. In my opinion, there is certainly a method of acquiring mental peace, and any man, if he works systematically, can achieve it.The first and foremost means is the right understanding of the mind-to comprehend it, to know it and to be acquainted with it. It is the first step on the journey to mental peace. Until our knowledge of the mind is perfect, all our attempts to attain peace and joy are condemned to failure. Because he who does not understand the mind, would seek peace in outward things. All pleasure emanating from material objects ultimately gives way to dissatisfaction. To remove that dissatisfaction, the mind turns to some other object and the cycle goes on. The irresistible longing for peace almost turns a man into an imbecile.
Man suffers the consequences of his mental approach, but knows little about his mind. And how will he who does not know his mind, ever come to know its movement, its restlessness and the extreme unrest flowing from it? And he who does not know the disturbance within, will not be able to find a remedy for it. In view of this, the man who aspires after mental peace must consider what the mind is. What is the essence of restlessness? Why does it exist? And what is disquiet and why it is there? And is it possible to eradicate it? Primarily, an enquiry into these problems is the most direct way to the attainment of mental peace.
Q.In the context of mental peace, you posed certain questions which must be first resolved. Will you kindly explain it a little more? What, in your opinion, is meant by the mind? What is the cause of its restlessness?
Ans. The mind is a stratum of consciousness. It is the originator of memory, imagination and thought. All these three are forms of restlessness. The mind is never stable. All its activity is fickle. Inconstancy is the essence of its being. That is why it has been said: the meditation of the present moment constitutes the mind. Outside this moment, before or after, the mind has no existence, the moment of its origin. is its whole existence. Consciousness is its conductor. Chitta, too, is a level of consciousness. The consciousness that is associated with the gross body is chitta. And an appliance of the chitta that works the brain, is the mind. As long as the mind is there, restlessness is bound to be there too. If the mind is stopped from coming into being, fickleness does not originate. But whenever the mind is activated, memories, imaginations and thoughts abound. And it is this abundance of memories, fictions and thoughts which produces disquiet. The only way to reduce mental agitation is to reduce restlessness. Memory, imagination and thought must be done away with—or there is no way to end the fickleness of the mind.
If, at this level of consciousness, the mind is the only controlling factor, it can lead to a great disorder. Because the entity of the mind is made up of memory, imagination and thought, and the mind cannot be expected to jeopardize its own existence by reducing_these. And the mind cannot accomplish it. If anything, the mind’s functioning only serves to increase the role of memory, imagination and thought. Thus, the mind cannot control them.
Another point to note in this connection is that the mind has nothing stable about it. It is a kind of flow. Procreation and dissolution is its destiny. The consciousness of chitta controls it. The chitta is a durable element. To comprehend its consciousness is to understand the movement of the mind. Within man mature results of past actions and tradition, and these serve to confuse the world of the mind. These are also the elements that create the complications of memory, imagination and thought. Thus, the secret of the mind’s fickleness is laid bare. Apart from this fickleness, there is no separate entity of the mind. Nor can the mind be rendered stable.
Q.What you have said about the mind, is an analysis of its philosophical basis. Generally, the mind is compared to an undisciplined horse as also in Preksha-Sangan:
How to rein in the mind, is the question.
This wayward horse that would. not stop!
The horse of the mind moves for ever in an adverse direction. How is then one to take hold of the reins and to turn it in the right direction?
Ans. The concept about the mind that the more you try to hold it, the more it wanders, is absolutely true. Those practicing meditation often come up against this problem-that the attempt to stabilize the mind makes it all the more restless. just as a wayward child, if scolded, becomes even more obstinate, similarly, the mind, if suppressed rigorously, becomes demoralized and divided. A restless and divided mind is not a disciplined mind, nor can it reach that point of self-observation, where memory, imagination and thought cease to be. To get hold of the rein of the mind means that one has learnt to utilize the consciousness of the chitta as a controlling device. To treat the mind and the chitta as synonyms, is a mistake. It is useless to try to do away with the fickleness of the mind. For unless the mind ceases to be, the fickleness is bound to be there. How does one go about remonstrating with the mind? For this, one must be acquainted with the method of bringing about a change in the maturing action. Through this method, it is possible to transform consciousness, too. The transformed consciousness can restrain the undesirable consequences of the mind’s fickleness. Not that the mind is wholly bad. If it is disciplined, it can yield very good results. In this context one must have full knowledge of the varying states of the mind. How diverse the mind is, can be understood through a symbol:
The mind is a poisonous creeper; also a ball of honey!
Naturally modest; at times most unruly!
On the one hand, the mind is destructive like a poisonous creeper, on the other hand, it also acts like nectar. At one moment, it is humility incarnate, while at other times, it is so impetuous as to create quite a problem. Victory over this: mind means its surcease..When the mind ceases to be, fickleness vanishes of itself. Thus, it is futile to try to remove the mind’s fickleness, because it is not that the mind is fickle, but fickleness itself is the mind.