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Mind is Not Atman

by Swami Sivananda

I
n the West, the psychologists make a serious mistake in saying that consciousness is a function and attribute of the mind. It is Chit or Atman only that is Pure Consciousness Itself. Mind borrows its light from time to time from its source-Atman, the Light of lights or the Sun of suns and glitters temporarily like consciousness, like the golden gilt in brass. Mind borrows its light and power from Brahman, the source (Yoni), just as the iron-rod borrows its heat and effulgence from fire. Mind is Jada or non-intelligent, but appears to be intelligent by borrowing light from Brahman, just as water exposed to the sun borrows heat from the sun.

Mind can do only one thing at a time. It is finite (Parichhinna). It is Jada. It is the effect (Karya) of Sattva Guna. It is Vinasi (perishable). It is Chanchala (ever-fluctuating). It is a bundle of ideas, Samskaras, habits, impulses and emotions. It borrows light from the Adhishthana (the underlying substratum), Brahman. You can control the mind. The thinker is different from thought. There is no functioning of the mind in deep sleep. You always say, "My mind", as if mind is one of your instruments just like your walking-stick or umbrella. Therefore, mind is not the self-shining Atman.

Even in cases of delirium or in cases where there is paralysis of the mental functions, where a man loses his memory and other faculties partly or wholly, 'He' remains. The 'I' exists (Aham Asmi). The mind seems to be as much your property and outside of you as the limbs, the dress worn or the building you dwell in. Therefore, mind is different from 'I'.

Mind gropes in darkness. It forgets every moment. It is changing every second. If food is withdrawn for a couple of days, it cannot think properly. There is no functioning of the mind during deep sleep. It is full of impurities, Vasanas and Trishnas (cravings). It gets puzzled during anger. In fear, it trembles. In shock, it sinks. How can you take the mind, then, as the pure Self?

Manas is an organ of sensation and thought. This instrument must be under the control of someone who uses it. The Jiva or human soul is not the director of the mind, because we see that ordinary men cannot control their minds. They are simply swayed hither and thither by petty Raga-Dvesha, emotion and fear. Therefore, there must exist some other Being, who is Director of the mind. Who is that Being? He is the Manasah pati (Lord of mind), Antaryamin, Kutastha Brahman.

Just as you see the tree in front of you, there must be somebody to see and know what is going on in the mind of Jivas. That somebody is Kutastha. Kutastha is Brahman Himself. There is a tumbler in front of you. It cannot see itself. An instrument, eye and a seer are needed. If you say that the tumbler can see itself, then there will be Karmakartritva-bhava-virodha. It is a logical absurdity. Therefore, you have to admit that there is a silent Sakshi of the mind, who is eternal, unchanging, eternal knower, always the knowing subject. He is witnessing the motives and modifications that arise in the minds of Jivas.

Isvara or Saguna Brahman (Personal God) has full consciousness of Nirguna Brahman. That is His Svarupa- Lakshana. At the same time, he has full cosmic consciousness. He knows what is going on in every mind.

Consciousness per se or the Absolute Consciousness is common in all. This pure consciousness is one. It is Kutastha Chaitanya. All the workings of the mind, all modifications that arise in the minds of all are presented to the one common consciousness which is the witness of the mental Vrittis. Even though consciousness is one, when Rama is stung by a scorpion, only Rama feels and not his friend Krishna who is standing near him. Antahkarana or mind is different in every individual. It is Antahkarana that limits a man who is, in reality, identical with the Brahman or Supreme Soul! This identity is realised when the Avarana or veil of ignorance is removed.

The mind is an object of perception for Brahman. Atman directly cognises all the phenomena of the mind, viz., desire, imagination, doubt, belief, disbelief, shame, intelligence, fear, etc. He remains Himself quite unattached and unaffected like the omnipresent ether, like the crystal which reflects different coloured objects, like the sun.

Atman - the Source For The Mind

Manas, which expands through Sankalpas and Vikalpas, is generated with Brahman as its cause. The form which the endless Atman (Supreme Spirit) assumes through Sankalpa is Manas (mind). It first turned its back to discrimination and hence entangled itself in the folds of Vasanas of objects. The underlying substratum, Adhishthana of the mind, the source or basis for mind is Atman or Brahman or Absolute Consciousness. The Power of powers who gives power to the mind, the Light of lights who sheds light on the mind, the Seer of seers who witnesses the motives of and movements in the mind, the Support of supports on which the mind rests in sleep is BRAHMAN.

"Om Keneshitam Patati Preshitam Manah-Willed and directed by whom does the mind go towards its desired objects?" (Kenopanishad). To that Power of powers I bow with folded hands. That Power of powers I am (Soham, Sivoham).

That Secondless Supreme Being who resides in the chambers of your hearts as Antaryamin or Inner Ruler or Controller or Sutradhara or Sakshi (silent Witness), Antaratman (Inner Self), who has no beginning, middle or end, who is the source of this world, the Vedas, body, mind, Indriyas and Prana, who is all-pervading, who is unchanging, who is One Homogeneous Essence (Ekarasa), who exists in the past, present and future, who is self-existent (Svayambhu), who is independent (Svatantra) and who is self-luminous (Svayam- jyotis) is God or Atman or Brahman or Purusha or Chaitanya or Bhagavan or Purushottama.

During dream, you are splendid, effulgent light. Where does it come from? From Atman. The light that is present in the dream clearly indicates that Atman is self-luminous (Svayamjyotis, Svaprakasha).

God is Truth. God is Love. God is Light of lights. God is Peace. God is Knowledge. God is the embodiment of Bliss. God is Sat-Chit-Ananda-Existence Absolute, Knowledge Absolute and Bliss Absolute. God is Eternity. God is Immortality. God is Infinity. God is Avinasi, Supreme Vastu. God is All-pervading Essence or Substance. God is the only Sara Vastu. God is Infinite Beauty.

Bhagavan is a synonymous term for God. He who has the six attributes, viz., Jnana (wisdom), Vairagya (dispassion), Yasas (fame), Aisvarya (divine powers), Sri (wealth) and Dharma (righteousness) in their fullest measure is Bhagavan.

According to Vayu Purana, "Omniscience, satisfaction, eternal knowledge, independence, constant presence of power, infinity of power-these six are said to be the aspects (Angas) of the Great Lord."

Sarvajnatva (omniscience, knowledge of all the worlds, their Jivas and their Karmas), Sarvesvaratva (supreme rulership of all, the power of dispensing the fruits of all Jivas), Sarvantaryamitva (inner control of all names and forms and all Indriyas and minds), Sarvakaranatva (causality for the creation, preservation and destruction of all), Sarvaniyantritva (doing everything without failure of Niyama), Sarvakartritva (the doing of all actions), Sarvasaktimatva (omnipotence), Svatantratva (absolute independence) are the eight attributes of God.

"Knowledge, desireless, power of control, purificatory action, truth, forgiveness, endurance, creation, the Knowledge of the Self, and being the substratum of all activities-these ten unchangeable (Avyaya) qualities always live in the Great Source of all Good."

Srishti (creation), Sthiti (preservation), Samhara (destruction), Tirodhana (veiling) and Anugraha (blessing) are the five kinds of action (Panchakrityas) of God.

God is the Niyamaka (ruler), Antaryamin (knower of the heart) and Preraka (prompter) also. He helps the Sadhakas in a variety of ways, viz., through dreams, the Inner Voice, by talking through the mouths of others in daily conversations and advice from friends.

Nitya Sukha (eternal bliss), Parama Santi (supreme peace), Nitya Tripti (eternal satisfaction), infinite happiness, Akhanda Sukha (unbroken joy) can be had only in God. Attain this God-consciousness or Self-realisation or Darshana of God through Ananya Bhakti or Vichara. This is the goal of life. This is your highest duty. All other duties are secondary.

The essence of Indriyas is the mind; the essence of mind is Buddhi; the essence of Buddhi is Ahankara; the essence of Ahankara is Jiva (the individual soul). Brahman or Suddha Chaitanya is the womb or Yoni or Adhishthana or substratum for everything. He is the Sakshi or witness of everything.

Atman is the proprietor of a big firm, this mental factory. Buddhi is the manager. Mind is the head clerk. The head clerk has got two functions to perform. He gets direct orders from the manager and he has to supervise the workmen also. Even so, the mind has got two functions. It has connections with the Buddhi, the manager and Karma-Indriyas, the workers.

Mind is more internal than speech. Buddhi (intellect) is more internal than the mind. Ahankara is more internal than Buddhi. Jiva Chaitanya (Abhasa, reflected intelligence) is more internal than Ahankara. Atman or Kutastha is more internal than the Jiva Chaitanya. There is nothing internal to Atman. It is Paripurna (All-Full).

When, by analysing your own mind, you come face to face with something which is never destroyed, something which is by its own nature eternally pure, perfect, self-luminous and unchanging, you will no longer be miserable, no more unhappy.

One Essence only exists. It is One without a second (Ekameva Advitiyam Brahma). It is Ananta, spotless, ever pure and Paripurna. Meditate upon It without fluctuation of mind and free yourself from all pains with true calmness of mind. Being quite unreal, Ahankara will perish through efforts.

Proof For The Existence Of Mind

What is the nature of the Atman or Brahman? It is Sat-Chit-Ananda. Atman is Vyapaka. Then, what is it that limits the individual soul's vision? It is only mind. This fact proves the existence of an internal instrument, the mind.

In the commentary on the Brihadaranyaka, Sri Sankara gives two proofs of the existence of Manas.

One is that it is Manas which renders all knowledge through senses possible. It is called Sarva Karma Vishaya Yoga. Sense-knowledge is the product of the connection between the mind and the sensory organs. That is why there is no simultaneity of the knowledge of the impressions received through the various sensory organs. People say, "My mind was elsewhere. I did not see that." The impossibility of this simultaneity of knowledge through various sensory organs is an indication of the existence of the mind.

The soul is a constant factor. Between the Atman and the organs of senses, a connecting link is necessary. We have to acknowledge the existence of an internal organ (Mind), through whose attention and non-attention, perception takes place. If we do not admit the internal organ, there would result either perpetual perception or perpetual non-perception-the former when there is a conjunction of Atman, the sense (Indriya) and the object (Vishaya), the three constituting the instruments of perception. If, on the conjunction of these three causes, the effect did not follow, there would take place perpetual non-perception. But, neither is the case. We have, therefore, to acknowledge the existence of an internal organ on whose attention (Avadhana) and non-attention (Anavadhana) perception and non-perception take place. This is the argument for the existence of Antahkarana or mind.

The other proof is the capacity for judgment which we possess. Somebody whom we cannot see touches us; and, we infer the person. Now, mere touch cannot make us aware of this fact. The faculty by which we make such an inference is Manas.


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