The young Rama asks “What form the mind takes?”. This leads to a terse reply from the Sage. There is more, when we unpack the terse reply and examine what is involved when the mind perceives illusion, maya.
Atma-satta The potency of Atma (the Soul).
bhava sagara Ocean of worldly existence.
maya: Hin., San. f. magical or supernatural power; illusion, the deluding power of God, the ‘divine hypnosis’ that deludes us into forgetfulness of our true nature, so that we believe we are separate individuals with the power to act. This illusion of separateness is the raison d’etre of our identity with ego. Maya works with two powers using the mind – one enables it to veil the truth, and the other to project an illusory image, whereby the unreal appears as the Real and unity appears as multiplicity; maya creates forms in the formless. ‘Understand that to be maya (illusion) which is devoid of any purpose, which is not to be found in the Self and which is unreal, like light and darkness.’
prakriti: primordial nature, disposition; root-matter, the original or natural form or condition of anything, matter, form.
vasana: tendencies or desires
Question 112: Sir, what is the form of the mind?
Answer: Ramji, Atma is infinite and omnipotent. The power of ideation or sankalpa arising in it is the mind. The other descriptions
of mind are :
- It is the integrated entity that permeates through the sentient and the insentient.
- It determines the reality and falsehood of experiential objects.
- It conceives itself as a jiva by associating itself with a body.
- It is always imagining and cannot but imagine.
I have explained to you the aspects or forms of the mind. It has many names and I shall mention only a few here, viz mind, intelligence, ego, karma, imagination, memory, vasana, ignorance, prakriti (nature) and maya. All these names arise naturally due to the ideation in the chitta (consciousness).
It is signal to recall the strophe, “O Mind, attach yourself to the feet of God, and so cross the ocean of bhava sagara“, the ocean of life, filled with fear and suffering. The ocean of life is perceived by the mind, and whatever attachments and vasana that have accompanied the atma to the new body. We might also recall that karman (action) has to be resolved in the new body as well. Bad things happen to good people, and bad people (seemingly) get away with their nefarious deeds. They are but living in illusion, maya. There is only one thing that can help the human cross the ocean of life, and that is continuous repetition of the name of God.
For, where your mind is at the moment of death determines the course of the soul beyond death. You go to what is on your mind. If God is on your mind, you go to God. If anything else is on your mind, you go to Chandra loka, the realm of the Moon – which appears like heaven (or hell, it is your making, your mind) – and when your good deeds are exhausted, you take up the next body.
Let’s talk about death for a moment. What the sage has said above is utterly relevant.
Many people, when they leave the body, for the first time in their current existence, experience themselves without a body. They become consciousness. Consciousness without a body. They panic, having this experience of not having the five senses, not having a sense of their form, their body, and in so doing, propel themselves towards Chandra loka and are devoid of self-awarness and void themselves of the opportunity to choose their destination, their existence beyond the body. What did the Sage tell young Rama?
It conceives itself as a jiva by associating itself with a body.
The sheer power of that association, and lack of self awareness, lack of cultivating conscious self-awareness in meditation, forces the atma-mind complex to the tunnel of light which takes them ultimately, to Chandra loka, where, when their time of good karma is exhausted, once again they take up the cycle of birth-death-and-birth-again.
This is one of the reasons why meditation is important. We need to cultivate the awareness that we are not the body, not the senses, not the mind, we are something else. We have always existed and always will exist until we are absorbed once again into involution, pralaya, when all of existence merges into the Source.
Virtues are the most effective means for purifying the inner consciousness of man, at all levels. For, they prompt the person to discover what to do and how to do. Only those who have earned good destiny can claim their excellence in discrimination. And, adherence to this determination is the raft which can take man across the ocean of flux and fear, the bhava sagara. The man of virtues has a place in the region of the liberated. Whatever the residual activity a person has perforce to engage himself in, the impact of that activity will not impinge on him, provided he is a man of virtue. He can merge in Brahman, the embodiment of Supreme Bliss.
A person might have performed a variety of Vedic rites and sacrifices; he might even be expounding the contents of a variety of sacred scriptures he has mastered; he might be a person endowed with prosperity, owning vast wealth and heaps of grain; he might teach the Vedas and their complementary disciplines with due exposition of meanings; but, if such people have no moral character, they have no place where Brahman is taught or learnt….
For, the stage of equanimity so essential for spiritual progress can be gained only when the intellect is cleansed of the blot of deluding attachments and involvements. Devoid of that serenity, the intellect or buddhi cannot proceed on the trail of Brahman. Why? The term virtue is only another name for the ‘intelligence’ that follows the promptings of the Atma, the Self which is our Reality. Only he who has such virtue can win the awareness of the Atma, the Truth. And, once that awareness is gained he can not more be caught in delusion or desire; they cannot touch him any longer.
Desire and bondage to the objects desired and the plans to secure them are the attributes of the individualised selves, not of the Self or Atma resident in the body. The sense of me and mine, and the emotions of lust and anger originate in the body-mind complex. Only when this complex is conquered and outgrown can true virtue emanate and manifest.
Om Hamsaaya Vidmahe
Tanno Hamsha Pracodayaat
“May we realise Hamsa that is our own Self as Swan. Let us meditate on that Paramahamsa, the Supreme Self. May Hamsa illumine us.”