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Mind - Its Functions, Its Force, Its Facts

by Swami Sivananda


The fluctuating power of the mind is dubbed with several names such as Maya, the impure Vasanas, and so on. This fluctuating mind alone is this universe; devoid of this fluctuation, the mind ceases to exist. Differentiation is the inevitable aspect of the mind. The poisonous tree of Maya's illusion flourishes more and more out of the seeds of the mind's modifications in the soil of the variegated enjoyments of the world. Undisciplined mind is the cause of all sufferings. Control of mind is Yoga. Disciplined mind leads one to Self-knowledge. Every mind has two aspects - the lower and the higher. The lower mind is predominant in most of the people. It is rooted in impulse. Higher mind is guided by reason and discrimination. Lower mind is the destroyer, the higher mind the redeemer. The higher mind should be used to discipline the lower mind. Mind does the function of attention, selection and synthesising of sense-impressions. It is the seat of pleasure and pain. Mind is called Ahankara or egoism when conceptions 'I' and 'mine' assert themselves with the signs of anger, jealousy, likes and dislikes, etc. Mind is called Buddhi or intellect because of its faculty of reasoning and discernment.

Though intellect emotion, and will are separate functions, they are interconnected and interblended. The intellect is dependent on the Atman, or soul and cannot work without its help. The intellect is very near to Atman and reflects the intelligent quality of the Atman, just as a heated iron ball has got the burning and lustrous qualities of fire. Just as heat is inseparable from fire, fluctuation or oscillation is inseparable from mind.

Chitta-vritti can be subdued either by continuously thinking of one thing alone, or by trying not to think at all. In the former method, one should be careful that the mind does not fit to any second object, and the later, that it does not slump back torpor or inertia or unconsciousness.

Balance of mind is attained by cultivating an objective attitude, thinking of the imperishable Reality and of the impermanence of objects, discrimination, dispassion and other forms of spiritual disciplines.


Thoughts are dormant seeds of action. The mind's acts, and not the bodily acts, are alone true acts. It is the actions of the mind that are truly termed Karmas. Thought and act are interdependent. There is no such thing as mind apart from thought. Thoughts constitute the mind. Words are nothing but the outward expressions of thoughts which are imperceptible. Actions are caused by feelings of desire and aversion likes and dislikes). These feelings are caused by feelings of desire and aversion by the fact that you attribute a pleasurable or painful nature to objects. Thought is finite. It is inadequate to express even temporal processes, not to speak of the absolute which is inexplicable. The body with its organs is no other than the mind.

The thought that you hold, will manifest in your life. If you are courageous, cheerful, compassionate, tolerant and kind, then these qualities will manifest in your physical life. The only impurity of the mind is base thought and desire. Guard your good thoughts as an alert watchman guards the treasury. When there is not the 'I' thought then there will be no other thought. Life is an interplay of thoughts. Duality ceases when the mind stops its function. Thinking is bound by the time factor. Thinking must cease. Then alone you will attain the Timeless. Be still. Let all the waves of thought subside. In that stillness, when the mind melts, there shines the self-effulgent Atman, the pure consciousness. Watch the mind. Watch the thoughts. Pursue serenity. Make your heart a fitting abode for the Lord.

Your mind must be empty of worldly thoughts. It must be filled up with thoughts of God and with nothing else. Keep your mind filled with good, Divine, sublime, lofty thoughts so that there will be no room for evil thoughts. Never speak the unnecessary word. Never allow any unnecessary or vain thought to occupy your mind.


The expansion of the mind's thoughts towards the objects is bondage, while the abandoning of the Sankalpa (desire) is emancipation. Perception is the result of the conjunction of the organ of the sense and the object. The individual soul desires to see, makes an effort to see and immediately the vision is formed. The mind is made alert. The corresponding objects of all the senses are alerted. It is the mind alone which brings on pleasure and pain to itself and reaps them through its excessive inclination or aversion towards the objects. The Psychological tendencies are caused by your action in this and previous lives.

Mind is a feeling. That which makes you aware of pleasure and pain is mind. Just as a minister obeys a king, the five organs of the body act in accordance with the dictates of the mind. All that man pursues in this life has no existence except in his mind, not in reality. Separateness is an illusion caused by mind. Mind is like a mirror. It collects dust while it reflects. It must be cleansed by reciting the names of the Lord.

Find out the source of the mind and keep the mind there. The mind will perish (Manonasa). The mind becomes of the nature of Jnana or wisdom through effort in spiritual direction and also becomes of the nature of the world through Ajnana or ignorance. If the mind is divested of the thought of 'I' then through meditation on Atman, you can attain immortality and eternal bliss. If the lower mind is annihilated through the higher mind, then you will attain perennial bliss. All become subject to bondage through their own Sankalpas and Vasanas like a silk-worm in its cocoon.


Like a caged lion, mind is always restless. Know the Self. The restless mind will become peaceful. The mind attains, through discrimination the peace of the Eternal. If the mind turns its back upon discrimination, it entangles itself in the folds of Vasanas, or desires. Detach your mind from the world and attach it to the All-pervading Reality called Atman or the Supreme Self. If all doubts vanish through spiritual knowledge arising through meditation on Atman or the Supreme Self, then the mind ceases to exist as it does now. If all objects which have an enchanting appearance become eye-sores and present the very reverse of the former feelings, then mind ceases to exist. With the destruction of mind, all the three periods of time vanish into nothing. If the mind is purged of all its impurities, then it will become very calm and all delusion attendant with its birth and death will be destroyed.

Like one iron mould shaping another iron, the pure mind should correct and mould the impure mind. The sacred syllable Om is the bow. Brahman or the Absolute is the target. just as the arrow becomes one with the target, so also by the practice of meditation the mind becomes united with Brahman.

Meditation releases a great amount of spiritual power. By constant meditation on the Self, one attains liberation. Meditate upon purity, and other similar qualities associated with purity, qualities like simplicity, guilelessness, frankness, truthfulness, openheartedness, innocence, goodness, etc. Attune yourself with the Infinite by stilling the mind, by silencing the thoughts and emotions. Mind is the biggest radio. It is the receiving set. Attune it with the Infinite. Enjoy the supreme bliss or the Supreme Soul.

Meditate. Root yourself in Divinity. Shut down in meditation, the conscious mind, that part of your mind which thinks of the external world, your body, and its wants. Meditation on Brahman is the highest form of religion. You can realise Brahman when you have stillness or serenity of mind. O Ram! meditate regularly in the early hours of the morning. Let the mind taste the bliss of the Self. The meditative mood comes and goes. Restrain the senses. Be eternally vigilant.

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