Question 159: What is Mind?

mirror illusionThe young Rama has questions about the nature of the mind and asks for an explanation in detail. The sage calmly replies about those who view the world as real and the suffering this brings about. No one is born tabula rasa – with a blank slate. We are all born with impressions and illusions. Keep in mind that the mind accompanies the soul to the new body.

chitta: chitta San. noun. the mind (the seat of understanding and awareness, of intellect and will); memory, thought, reflection; the soul, heart. It is the individual consciousness, composed of intelligence and intellect (buddhi), ego (ahamkara) and mind (manas). In Vedanta, chitta is one aspect of Universal Consciousness (chit). The world hangs on the thread of consciousness – without consciousness, there is no world.

jiva: individual soul embodied as a person. Soul with a body.

sankalpa: ideation; modification of chitta or consciousness; idea, resolve, volition (will);

vikalpa mental agitations; errors; illusions;

jivanmukta: permanently self-realised (or God-realised) person who no longer has any indentification whatsoever with his or her body.

vairagya: detachment


Question 159: Sir, what is mind? Kindly explain in detail.

Answer: Ramji, when chitta arising in Pure Consciousness becomes impure and oblivious of its true state by association with ideations and illusions (sankalpa-vikalpa), it is called mind. On account of its impurities and ideations the mind gets the manifest universe. When the ideation of chitta is directed outwards and is identified with the manifest universe, it is called jiva.

Ramji, nothing but bones, flesh and blood are found in a body on dissection. It proves that the mind only is jiva. It is the mind that remains in bondage, or interacts as jivanmukta. Creations are experienced according to the vasana in the mind. When the mind is tranquil, all its ideations and desires vanish. You should, therefore, attempt desirelessness in the mind. When the mind becomes pure with right practice and vairagya (detachment), it acquires the spiritual state.

Ramji, the seer (jiva) and the sight (universe), that are so perceived are unreal and to identify with them is what is said to be the mind. Objects non-existent before and after, but cognised only in between, should be considered to be unreal; and this is the universe.

Due to their ignorance, those who assume the universe to be real, undergo extreme sufferings. These sufferings do not end until the jiva attains to the Atmic state. But the same sorrowful universe brings salvation when it is viewed spiritually. An ignorant person perceives difference in water and waves, but to a wise person both are the same entity. Likewise, to a wise person the universe is an aspect of Atma. Being free from duality, he always enjoys peace within.


world is illusion


World problems are now assuming stranger forms and larger proportions. They are no longer individual or local. They are global, affecting all mankind. On one side, science and technology are advancing with cosmic developments. Through plastics, electronics and computer technologies, the wonder has reached even greater heights. On the other side, mankind is afflicted with recurring political and economic crises, national, provincial, religious, racial and caste rivalries, narrow loyalties and outbursts of disturbance in student campuses. These have spread indiscipline and licentiousness all over the world.

This is an unbalanced and mutually contradictory situation. What really is the cause for this? Does it lie in the frightening decline that religion and morals have sustained in the human mind? Mankind has within its reach many means and methods through which it can earn wisdom and peace! It can secure invaluable guidance from the Vedas and the Sastras, the Brahma Sutra, the Bible, the Quran, the Zend Avesta, the Guru Granth Sahib and other holy texts whose number exceeds a thousand. There is no dearth in this land (India) of heads of monasteries and religious orders, exponents of spiritual doctrines and disciplines, scholars and venerable elders. They too are propagating and publishing on a massive scale. Nevertheless, man’s mind is degenerating in the ethical, spiritual and religious fields of life, continuously and with great speed. What is the reason for this downfall?

Men have now become more vicious than ever. They utilise, much more than in past ages, their intelligence and skill to indulge in cruelty. Men relish and revel in inflicting pain on others, so much so that, as history reveals, 15,000 wars have been waged during the last 5,500 years. There are no signs yet that this horrid pastime will terminate! The impending atomic war threatens to destroy the entire human race. What exactly is the cause of all this anxiety and fear? It is clear that the beast in man is still predominant. It has not yet been overcome. Only when this is achieved can we, our country and the world, attain peace and joy.

Hatred, envy, greed, desire for pompous display and for comparison and competition with others – these evil traits have to be uprooted. These traits are vitiating not only the generality of men but even ascetics, monks, heads of religious institutions, and pundits. Among these, envy and greed have grown wild. When these masters and preceptors, who project themselves as embodiments of ideals, exhibit such low qualities, how can they set right the world? They can only intensify the pollution.

What the world needs today is neither a new order, a new education, a new system, a new society nor a new religion. The remedy lies in a mind, in a heart filled with holiness. Holiness must take root and grow in the minds and hearts of youth everywhere, of boys and girls and of children. The good and godly must endeavour to promote this task as the one great spiritual activity which they have to undertake.

Success in this task can be achieved only through spiritual attainment, knowledge of Brahman. But man today has deep faith only in acquisition and accumulation. He cannot give up or renounce. He has no faith in Truth. He is attracted by falsehood; he finds Truth to be an obstacle. Therefore, he is unable to realise that death is the happy consummation of a glorious life. He dies in anxiety and misery. People are pronouncing ceaselessly, parrot-like, the words, Truth, Non-violence, Righteousness and Love. They proclaim that there is no religion higher than Truth. But the wonder is that the one thing man has no desire to possess is Truth!


Hamsa Gayatri
Om Hamsaaya Vidmahe
Paramahamsaya Dheemahi
Tanno Hamsa Prachodayat

“May we realise Hamsa that is our own Self as the Swan. Let us meditate on that Paramahamsa, the Supreme Self. May Hamsa illumine us.”