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    The Mental Menagerie Or The World Of The Inner Prakriti

    After having gained success in Pranayama, and after diligently trying to do your exercise of Pratyahara, you come to a stage when you feel that you can try to concentrate your mind. You tell yourself: “I have done Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama and Pratyahara. Okay. Now my mind must have reached a condition of fitness from all sides. I have turned away from the external objects of the senses, the outer world of names and forms that constitutes Prakriti. I have completely cut off that which is Prakriti. I have broken the link, the connection, between myself and Prakriti. So, now I must be able to go into Samadhi. I must be able to go into deep meditation, intense peaceful meditation”. And then comes the disillusionment and the realisation that something has gone wrong. For, the moment you try to sit and close your eyes and concentrate, you are faced with lots of difficulties and troubles; and concentration does not come. What is the reason? The whole thing seems rather unreasonable. It seems rather unkind that, having fulfilled all the preliminary, preparatory steps of the Yoga science, you are yet stumped as they say. You find yourself in an unenviable position, in a difficult position. What is the reason? Is it due to some mistake in all the previous practices?

    You must understand where you are and why things are as they are. It is here that the necessity arises to understand the actual nature of the mind and the laws that govern its behaviour. This necessity arises, because concentration is a mental discipline. Concentration is a process of trying to control the mind to reduce its activities, to curb its wanderings, and purposefully direct it in a certain desired direction which you have chosen for yourself, and move it in that direction, and keep on moving it in that direction continuously till it gets focussed and fixed in the object of concentration. It is just like catching a wild horse, or any other animal—sheep, goat, cow or buffalo—that is wandering about here and there, eating all sorts of things—grass, leaves, flower plants, garbage, sometimes even paper and cloth. You catch hold of the animal, tie a rope to its neck, drag it to the place where you want it to be and tie it to a peg so that it cannot go anywhere and eat anything. Now, whatever you give, only that it can eat. It cannot eat all sorts of things. Likewise, concentration is tying the mind to a single time-space context, a single place, so that its area of wandering becomes specific, restricted and preplanned. It is no more able to wander wildly according to its own whim and fancy. So, concentration is tying the mind, binding the mind, to some one place, one area, that is your Lakshya, that is the object of your concentration or meditation. So, it is a mental discipline. Unless you understand the nature of the mind and the laws and rules that govern the behaviour of the mind, you will not be able to deal with it properly. Because, the whole concentration process relates to the mind. Concentration is nothing but mind control, mind discipline, mind subdual. So, you must understand the nature of the mind.

    The Submerged Mental Contents in the Chitta

    Now, the very disturbing discovery regarding yourself that in spite of your having done all the preliminaries, the mind does not seem to come under control has a very valid, rational reason. When you sit for concentration, you no doubt disconnect yourself from the outer Prakriti. But then, within you there is a complete world, a duplicate world, the world of inner Prakriti in the form of countless submerged Vasanas, countless submerged Samskaras and countless memories in the Chitta. It is all there. Every day when you go to bed at night, every day when you go to sleep, you are completely cut off from the outer Prakriti; and yet, do you not see, in dream, that the inner Prakriti duplicates a complete world inside where you eat and drink and fight and quarrel and weep and do all sorts of things? You enjoy and suffer. You are in this city, you are in that city, you are with this person, you are with that person, you are in this activity and in that activity. Everything is vivid; everything is perfect in all detail. You are also duplicated there. Where does it all come from when you have completely disassociated yourself from the outer Prakriti? There is no time, no space, no objects other than you, for you have gone into sleep. The world vanishes, all people vanish, and yet, how come that there once again rises from within you a complete world? It is the very same source that now begins to become the problem of the meditator, the Yogi who is trying to do concentration. That same world which projects your dream experiences is now active. It has nothing to prevent it. And so, when you sit, close your eyes and try to concentrate the mind, disconnecting your mind from the whole outer world, the inner world projects itself before your mind’s eye and Vrittis start rising up in the mind. That is why, at the very outset, right at the very beginning of the expounding of the science of Yoga through his Sutras, Patanjali Maharshi says: “Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodhah”. Thoughts start coming up in the mind, various miscellaneous thoughts, not thoughts that you think afresh at the time, but thoughts arising by themselves spontaneously. And once they arise, you attach yourself to them and your concentration is left behind and you go along the current of thought that has arisen. You start thinking of those thoughts. And thus you are taken away from your concentration. Your body is sitting steady and the people who see you thus seated think, “Oh, he is meditating!”. But, in truth, you are not. You are not in your body at all... you may be in Bombay or in Bangalore; you may be in some restaurant; God knows where you are! Some thought has arisen in you, you have become associated with that thought and the thought-current has started to flow and with the thought-current you have also been swept away.

    So, this inner world of the inner Prakriti or the subtle Prakriti is there lying in the form of the submerged mental contents, in the form of Vasanas, Samskaras and memories, in the form of thoughts of anger and passion, of revenge, love and hate, of craving and desire. All these things are there. They serve as fuel to the process of thought combustion. The six enemies of man indicated by the ancient spiritual science—Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada and Matsarya—are all there. Hinting at them in his Vairagya Dindima, Adi Sankaracharya says: Kama Krodascha Lobhascha Dehe Thishtanthi Taskarah Jnana Ratno-paharaya Tasmat Jagrata Jagrata. Desire, anger, greed, attachment, pride, jealousy—these dacoits are residing within your own body. They are not outside. They are residing as fifth column enemies within you. And, why are they there? To loot you of the Jnana-Ratna, to rob you of the precious gem of spiritual wisdom or Atma-Jnana, to loot you and deprive you of the precious gem of Self-awareness and make you forget your Self and weep and wail and be in ignorance. In order to deprive you of this jewel of Atma-Jnana, they are there. Therefore, oh man, oh Sadhak, Jagrata, Jagrata. Beware, beware. In this way, from the submerged level of the Chitta or the deep within, various Samskaras and Vasanas are brought into activity.

    An Idle Mind is the Devil’s Workshop

    Here you may ask a question: “Why is it that only when I sit and try to close my eyes and concentrate, these submerged thoughts seem to be more vigorously acting? I am more or less in a good mood when I am studying or when I am doing other things, Puja or Japa or Karma Yoga, Kirtan or gardening, and at that time these thoughts do not bother, but why only when I am sitting for concentration, they arise?”. The answer is self-evident, because when you are engaged in something else in the outer plane or engaged in some process that requires attention, you mind is drawn out and fixed to that process. The attention of your mind gets engaged. And due to the fact that your mind is thus engaged, the inner process of Vasanas and Samskaras taking the form of Vrittis, the inner process of memories popping up on the surface of the mind, has no scope or has very restricted scope. Even if they pop up, your mind is otherwise engaged. So, it does not pay too much attention to them. It is not too much bothered, because it is already fixed. Whereas, now when you are sitting for Abhyasa on your Asana, all the other things which were engaging the attention of the mind and keeping it diverted, they are all at an end now. They are no longer operating and so you are thrown back upon yourself. The mind is without occupation and its attention is not fixed anywhere else. So, in that state, an emptiness or a vacuum is created in the mind by the cessation of all other involvements and engagements and that vacuum invites the inner Samskaras and Vasanas, and into that vacuum Vrittis rush in. All manner of un-thought-of Vrittis, miscellaneous thoughts, begin to rush in from all sides and occupy the mind. This is one of the reasons why there seems to be a greater difficulty, a greater disturbance, of miscellaneous thoughts precisely when you are trying to practise concentration and meditation than in your normal hours when you are engaged otherwise. This you must clearly understand. Because, when you start the practice of inner concentration, you are faced with the necessity to deal with the situation of numerous Vrittis arising not from without, but from within, from your own inner depths, where lie Samskaras, Vasanas, memories and seeds of unfulfilled desires.

    And there is also a very powerful aspect of the mind function, Sankalpa-Vikalpa, which is uncontrollable. That aspect is called Kalpana. In English, we call it imagination. Mind plays a great deal of havoc through the power of imagination. And so, before you know, in the twinkling of an eye, some thought comes up and immediately expands into a whole story before you. It becomes an entire picture as a result of imagination. And even as you concentrate, you may suddenly become transported to America and you may find yourself delivering a speech, or going and stopping war in some country, or going to the United Nations and addressing the U.N. Assembly, or being a great Yogi, immersed in Samadhi with the world coming and paying homage to you. Imagination has no limitation; the mind can imagine anything. Imagination projects into the future also. Thus, imagination plays havoc and poses a great vexing problem to the person who is trying to concentrate.

    Three Inveterate Tendencies of the Mind-principle or Manas Tattva

    Why do all these things happen? They happen due to the Vasanas, Samskaras and hidden memories. And these are stimulated by Raga-Dvesha and unfulfilled desires. And the rising of these Samskaras and Vasanas can be triggered off by anything. While you are concentrating, if you hear some slight sound from outside and that sound is a specific sound, a meaningful sound, immediately the mind runs away behind it and creates an entire world or a picture behind that one sound. Here it is necessary to note the basic nature of the mind—not the mind belonging to any particular person, not the individualised mind, but the mind-principle as such. It is called Manas. The individualised mind or the mind of each person has its own special peculiarities also. No person’s mind is hundred per cent normal. There is some little abnormality, some little peculiarity, in the mind of everyone. It is only the degree of a normality and the type of abnormality that vary, that are different. Here, however, we are not referring to the individualised mind, but to the mind-principle. According to Vedantic cosmology, according to the theory of evolution of the universe in the context of Indian philosophy, among the various categories or principles that manifested themselves and then went on to form this outer world, one is this mind-principle or Manas. So, there is this mind-principle created by the cosmic energy of the Divine, out of which all the countless billions of individual minds have formed since creation. So, this mind-principle or mind-stuff as such is, by its very inherent nature, qualified by certain special tendencies. One such tendency is that the mind-stuff, by its very nature, is outgoing. Secondly, the mind is, by its very nature, of the nature of objectification. That is to say, all the mental processes willy-nilly have to be centred around some name and form, around some object. The mind cannot think without grasping an object. It abhors, it cannot tolerate, anything abstract or abstruse. Even when compelled to think of something abstract, the mind tries to do so with the support of some analogy; it tries to get the support of some parallel existing in the objective world. The mind cannot think of pure abstract essence. Para Brahman is pure abstract essence having no name, no form, no shape, no colour. And space or Akasa, we know, has no particular dimension or form. So the mind tries to understand the ununderstandable or incomprehensible or ungraspable fact of Reality by trying to bring it closer through the support of some analogy, in this case, Akasa. So, the mind depends very heavily upon objectification. It can operate or function only in terms of some name, form, place, object. This is the second tendency of the mind-stuff as such. The mind was created in this way only by the Lord. And the third inveterate tendency of the mind is multifariousness. The mind may think of something for a little while, but for a little while only. After some time, it has to change the object of thought. The mind goes on frisking, frisking, frisking, jumping, jumping, always moving, always moving. So, it is unstable. It is fickle, Chanchala. The mind is always fickle, so much so, the Yogis have likened the mind to mercury or quicksilver. If you put some mercury in your palm and try to hold it there, it will roll off. At the slightest disturbance, one blob of mercury will scatter into many blobs. And then, if you are careless and drop it, it will scatter in a hundred directions and you cannot pick it up, unless, you get a pair of magnetic tongs or something.

    So, three characteristics qualify the mind-stuff. Firstly, the mind is outgoing. Secondly, it is objectifying in its nature; it functions through objectification. And thirdly, it has the nature of being always fickle, always in motion, always agitated, always restless. So, these three qualities characterise the Mano Tattva, which is your Antahkarana. And in the practice of Pratyahara, the fifth Anga of Yoga, you have tried to curb and overcome one of these characteristics, namely, the outgoing tendency of the mind. Through Pratyahara you have tried to curb and control and overcome the outgoing nature of the mind and make it ingoing or Antarmukha. But, then, what about the other two characteristics of the mind? They now constitute your problem in the process of Dharana or concentration. So, when you sit and try to concentrate, the mind begins to think of objects, some object or the other—it may be an egg or an omelette, it may be a Rasogolla, it may be an aeroplane or a scooter, it may be your money, it may be your friend, anything—and also it gives you no rest but goes on changing the object, changing the thought. Whereas, concentration is the process of binding the mind to one place, of making the mind think continuously in one particular direction, along one particular pattern, and simultaneously trying to see that no other contrary disturbing or distracting ideas come into the field of your consciousness, into the field of your mental awareness. And here, it is the third nature of the mind-stuff, namely, fickleness, that poses your great obstacle.

    The Working of the Law of Association

    As we saw earlier, the mind is governed by what is known as the Law of Association. If you try to sit and concentrate, and your mother or wife or someone is preparing coffee in the kitchen, and the aroma of coffee comes and enters through your nose, the idea of coffee gets into your brain. The moment the smell of coffee comes, you may suddenly remember some excellent cup of coffee you had sometime previously in Calcutta or in the India Coffee House in Delhi. From the India Coffee House in Delhi, your mind immediately jumps to the All India Coffee Board, and from the Coffee Board you may suddenly be taken to your class-room in your school days when you were taught geography. And you may recollect that Brazil is one of the important coffee-growing areas in the world. So, without ticket, without aeroplane, you enter Brazil. From Brazil you may think of nearby Cuba; you may think of Fidel Castro. In this way, by the action of the Law of Association of ideas, within half a minute, you are taken somewhere. From geography you can go to history, from history to the Mahabharata, and from the Mahabharata you can go to God-knows-where, within no time. The working of the Law of Association of ideas breaks down the barriers of time and distance. Time and distance are nullified. Thus the Law of Association of ideas takes you away from the object of your concentration, takes you far, far away. It is not only when you sit for concentration or meditation that this happens to the mind. It happens every day, all the time of your waking consciousness. For instance, you may be sitting in your office; you may be an officer in Government. And suddenly you may look outside when you are waiting for the next file to be brought by your peon. The moment you look outside, you may be in another world. You may see something outside; maybe, some procession is going in the street below. From the office window you may look at it, and at once you are flown away, and when the peon comes with the file, you are not there. Your body is there, but you are not there. Your mind is not there. This is how the Law of Association of ideas works. Thus, in the sixth Anga of Yoga, namely, Dharana or concentration, your problem is completely inside. Concentration is an inner problem, where the outer Prakriti has been completely shut off and the outgoing tendency of the mind has been overcome. In concentration, you are to deal with the world of the inner Prakriti, the Prakriti within. In concentration you have to deal with the objectifying tendency of the mind-principle as well as the fickleness or multifariousness of the mind-principle. The mind does not stop on one thing; it always wants to jump about. It is necessary therefore to adopt suitable methods to counter these various traits of the mind.

    Philosophy, Phychology and Practice of Yoga -- | Preface | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 |17 | 18 | 19

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