Sri Sri Ravi Shankar lovingly called as Guruji, the founder of Art of Living Foundation through which He relieves the stress at individual levels, thus reducing violence, sufferings and conflicts and spreading the love, harmony, peace throughout the world in various societies.
Today, let us contemplate on the difference between Atma (the soul or the Self) and the mind.
The soul is unchanging, and it is the same at all times, but the mind keeps on changing from time to time. This is why our mind has been linked to the moon (referring to the different phases of the waxing and waning moon).
It is said, 'Chandrama manaso-jayate' (From the Purusha Sukta in Rig Veda; meaning: From His Cosmic Mind was born the Moon). There is a deep connection between the moon and the mind. Just as the moon waxes and wanes over the days, in the same way our mind also experiences ups and downs. Sometimes it expands, sometimes it contracts. Sometimes it is happy without any reason, and sometimes it is miserable without any reason.
This is why people through the ages have said, 'One who conquers the mind conquers the entire World'.
The mind alone is the reason behind bondage and liberation. Whether we experience some bondage or attachment, or whether we feel free, the reason for this is the mind. So we have to train the mind again and again.
It is said, ‘Manaiva manushyanaam karanam bandha-mokshayo’.
It means, the mind alone is the reason behind bondage and liberation. Whether we experience some bondage or attachment, or whether we feel free, the reason for this is the mind. So we have to train the mind again and again. This is the essence of knowledge.
As we go on practicing this regularly, we gradually attain the siddhi (extraordinary ability) to tame the mind, just as a person, after repeatedly going through problems in life gradually gains the ability to smile through them. Then a stage comes where he does not feel any misery in spite of a problem.
For example, if you scold a child once, he feels very sad. But if you scold the child every day, then he becomes so habituated to it that he feels nothing. Then the child thinks, 'Oh, I keep getting a scolding every now and then, it is nothing!' Then the child does not get troubled by it and just moves on.
In the same way, as we go through the experiences of life (whether pleasant or unpleasant), a stage comes when this realization dawns within us that 'Everything is nothing'. That is when we begin to get established in the Self. To be established in the Self means that regardless of the person, object or situation that comes before us, we do not lose our smile and equanimity even for a moment. Even if we do lose it, it is momentary and we instantly gain it back. Then we are strongly and firmly established in the Self.
We do not get disturbed by petty and trivial matters. And even if we do, then it does not stay for very long. Its effect lasts only as long as that of a line drawn on the surface of water. It does not become permanent like a line etched in stone. Then it is said that one has become a Siddha(a perfected one), that one has truly become established in the Self.
But for this to happen, we have to regularly train the mind. This is what is meant by conquering the mind, or ‘killing’ the mind, as some say.
You know, some people say you must conquer the mind, while some say you must kill the mind. Both are one and the same, just the way of saying it is different. Gaining victory over the mind or vanquishing the mind is the same thing.
Gaining victory over the mind or vanquishing the mind is the same thing. Now to achieve this, the Guru is the way. When the Guru appears, the mind disappears.
Why is it so? It is because of deep faith.
Now to achieve this, the Guru is the way.When the Guru appears, the mind disappears.
Why is this so? It is because of deep faith (when there is deep faith, then the mind is in a state of surrender).
The devotee has deep faith in the Guru, because he is aware of the nature of his mind. The mind is not dependable, it keeps oscillating from one thing to another. Sometimes it likes this, sometimes it likes that. Sometimes it says, 'Yes', and sometimes it says, 'No'.
It is only when one observes everything with Prajna (an awakened intellect or wisdom), then one is able to see things from both near (in the present) and far (in the future) with unwavering clarity.
Otherwise, if we perceive everything only through the mind, then we feel a sense of restlessness (as the mind keeps jumping from one thing to another).
That is why when children are making decisions regarding their career, they usually consult three or four wise people. Even if they have a strong desire to do something, they will put it aside for a while and consult someone experienced before actually doing it. Why? It is because we simply cannot rely on our mind which keeps moving from one thing to another.
The mind is fickle, sometimes it likes something, sometimes it dislikes something. The first thing that we cannot trust in the world is our own mind. Everyone and everything else comes second. It is our own mind that deludes us in the first place. Our mind is deceptive. This is why we must again and again strive to silence the mind, and be established in the Self.
Latch yourself firmly onto that (Self) which is eternal, unchanging, and unshakeable, that which neither expands nor contracts. That is what you are, that is what I am, and that is what God is.
We often think, 'Who is God? What does God look like? Where is He?'
I tell you, just have this deep unshakable faith that there is a supreme power which is making everything happen. That Supreme power belongs to you, and is within you. Just have this firm faith and repose in the Self. Then meditation happens effortlessly.
Today a scientist came to visit me. He is a practicing neurologist. He showed me a very nice presentation. What he told me was very interesting.
Purify your mind with knowledge again and again. Otherwise if we indulge the mind too much in just eating, drinking and other desires, it becomes dull and restless. Our intellect becomes unstable. So channel your mind one-pointedly towards knowledge at all times.
It is said that one attains a human birth after passing through 84 Lakh births (here meaning different types of bodies or forms of life). The scientist was correlating this fact with the evolution of the brain.
The lower part of our human brain - the Brain Stem is called the reptilian brain, and it is present in all other animals also. The layer above it (which controls more evolved life functions) is said to be present only in Mammals. It is said that the frontal lobe of our brain resembles that of the dolphin’s (regarded as a highly intelligent sea animal).
So the makeup of the brain has evolved and developed differently for different creatures. Just as we speak about the 84 Lakh births, the brain as an organ too has developed and evolved differently for different creatures and species.
The brain is very astonishing. When our ancient Rishis were recognizing and counting the different tattvas (fundamental elements or principles) in this creation, they counted the brain too as one of them.
We should take interest in our scriptures, in this knowledge. We should take some time out every day and listen to knowledge.
You should read Yoga Vashishtha (a sacred scripture containing the enlightening dialogue between Lord Rama and Sage Vashishtha). Read the Ashtavakra Gita again and again. Just reading once is not enough. Purify your mind with knowledge again and again. Otherwise if we indulge the mind too much in just eating, drinking and other desires, it becomes dull and restless. Our intellect becomes unstable. So channel your mind one-pointedly towards knowledge at all times. Keep practicing this regularly. By doing this, we gradually gain the siddhi to conquer the mind. Siddhi means perfection. It means we become skilful in conquering or vanquishing the restless mind. Attaining this skill is a great thing. And all of us are capable of doing this. It is not that only some of us can do this and others cannot. No, not at all. In fact, it is very simple and easy to attain.