The Mind – Vimala Thakar

As we are meeting in the morning, let us hope that all of us are more fresh, alert, and attentive perhaps than yesterday. We shall go together into an issue that is very subtle and very complex. We shall go together into the issue of what brain is, the mind is, and how the mind functions – to go into the anatomy of mind, the whole mechanism.

It is going to be difficult because you do not see your own mind. You see your body, the hands, the feet, the eyes. You can touch them. You can look at them if you sit before a mirror. But mind is that part of our body which is invisible and intangible. It is material all the same. Mind is matter. Though it is invisible and intangible, it is a part of the physical body, a very subtle part. It is one of our sense organs, like the senses that we have – the smelling, the hearing, the seeing, the touching. In the same way, brain is a sense organ located in the head, connected with the whole body, with sensory and motor nerves, and the most important part of the physical body, if you go into it really.

So what you call the mind or the brain is a part of the physical structure. It is a material structure, and one who has not looked at mind as a sense organ, one who has not looked at the brain as a part of the physical structure, does not realize that mind being matter has a kind of energy. In the physical structure, you have the glandular energy, you have the muscular energy, you have the nervous or the neurological energy. In the same way, the brain has a kind of energy which we are going to go into this morning.

When you talk about the hands, the feet, the optical nerves, the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear, it is easy to communicate, to respond to what someone says unto you. But mind being invisible, to talk about the content of that invisible organ, intangible sense organ gets very difficult. So we will need all our attention this morning.

The mind, the brain is located in the human head, connected with the whole body. And as you see with the eyes and you hear with the ears, with the brain you catch ideas. There is an involuntary activity going on in our body. Whether you want it or not, the eyes see things; you cannot prevent the seeing of the eyes as long as they are open. A living human being sees thing around him. He hears the sounds around him. Whether he wants to listen to them or not is different. But the seeing is an involuntary activity of the optical nerves, the retina receiving impressions. The activity of seeing goes on. The activity of hearing goes on, not voluntarily, not out of your effort, not out of your motivation, but it is there. You do not breathe consciously with an effort all the time. You are born with a breathing process. The inhaling and the exhaling of breath is something with which you are born. It’s one of the involuntary activities. In the same way, the brain, the cerebral organ has got an involuntary activity of moving and catching ideas, catching thoughts, registering the name, the color, the kind, the shape, the size of the objects that you touch with your eyes or ears. The brain registers, goes on registering, recording, and whatever has been cognized or registered or recorded gets transferred to memory.

This goes on. You do not have to make a conscious effort for it. If there is no physical disability, and if there is no psychological inhibition, then this cerebral activity of receiving impressions, interpreting them, judging them, transferring them into memory – that goes on in your waking hours.

So mind is a sense organ, the brain, a very subtle one. Now this sense organ has been trained and educated by the human race through untold centuries. We were talking yesterday that the content of culture is patterns of behavior – physical behavior, and psychological behavior. There are patterns of cooking meals, having meals, the kind of food, the quality of food. There are patterns of going through exercises, patterns of having your clothes, houses, furniture. There are patterns of behavior, talking, shouting, crying, laughing, smiling. When does a person smile? How does he smile? The patterns of reactions and activities. This is the content of culture, conditioning for the physical, the verbal, and the mental. And there are beautiful designs in these conditionings, innumerable variety of designs and patterns.

These patterns of behavior and their code words, their symbols, their measurements, their evaluations, priorities are all contained in the brain. As the feet are taught to move on the Earth when a child grows (you teach him how to respond to the law of gravity contained in the Earth) so the movement in the feet and the law of gravity in the Earth – there is a responsive cooperation between the two, and therefore you can walk, run, climb upon the Earth. The child has to be taught how to stand up and cooperate with the Earth, and how to run, to climb. It falters, it falls down, and the mother, the father, the teacher help the child to stand up again, to feel the Earth. How much pressure to put upon the Earth when you walk, the soft earth, the hard earth, the stony surface. All this education has been given. You do not realize it today when you walk because it has become a substance of your being.

The child has been educated and trained to discriminate sounds. The noise, the sound, and organized sound that is music. The child is trained, educated to discriminate the sound of a crow from a swallow, from that of a nightingale, the note of a cuckoo bird. The child gets education in this auditory discrimination, optical discrimination. This is green color. This is blue. This is red. This is yellow, and all the nuances and various shades of colors. This is all part of conditioning. As the ears, the eyes, the nose, they are educated, this so-called mind, the brain, has been trained and educated to receive thought, to interpret it, to evaluate it, to compare it with others, to judge it, and then to put it in memory under different categories. And this process goes on today with an electromagnetic speed. You are not even conscious how such a subtle and complex process is going on every fraction of a second in your and my brain. It goes so quick. The more educated and more cultured you are, the quicker is the process of this cerebration.

You see a thing, compare it, evaluate it, judge it, reduce it to an idea, put it in your memory. It gets registered as a like. It gets registered as a dislike, as a preference, as a prejudice, as an idea, as something to be criticized, condemned, to be given up. You know, all these things go on quickly.  So the brain involuntarily registers and records the name, the shape, the color, the kind, and the more educated you are, the more refined becomes the process of discrimination, and the faster goes the process of naming, registering, recording. We have to remember this.

Now this brain has been nourished on thought. It has been nourished on symbols, ideas, and therefore we, the human beings living in this twentieth century, we live in a world of symbols. When you see an object, you cannot keep the object all the time with you whether it is a thing or a being, an animal, a bird, a human being, or a thing, you cannot keep that object with you. But the idea about the object, manufactured by the brain, is stored in the bank of memory. So the ideas and symbols are the things that become the content of the brain. As the ear has the auditory power, or the eyes together with the optical nerves have the optical powers, the power of the brain consists in the ideas, the thoughts, the symbols, the values, the likes, the dislikes, the prejudices, preferences, all contained in it. Systematically fed into the brain by different cultures, different countries, by different contexts of life.

So brain functions through the symbol, though the idea, through thought, through an emotion, a feeling, sentiment. These are all the cerebral ways of behavior. As the physical structure outwardly has a way of behavior, you know, sitting down, getting up, moving; there are ways. In the same way, the brain has ways of moving. Where it moves into relationship it has certain ways, and the eyes look at you in a certain way. That is to say, the optical instrument in the action of relationship has ways of behavior. So the brain has ways of behavior, what you call your feelings, and sentiments, the angers, the jealousies, the greed, the violence. That is a cerebellar way taught to the human brain, through untold centuries, by different cultures, religions, metaphysicians, occultists, physical scientists, economical political leaders. All of these go on feeding systematically into the brain.

Thoughts and emotions, so as the feet walk and run, the brain thinks and feels. Mind you, it is connected with the whole body, so as soon as the brain moves, the whole body moves. The brain thinks a thought, and the whole neurological system becomes tense. Brain touches an emotion or a feeling, and the whole chemical system, the liver, the spleen, the kidneys, the pancreas gland, the intestines, they respond to that emotion, and a chemical change takes place in the body. So the movement of the brain is interwoven with the whole body. When the brain moves, the body moves.

Now, we said the content of the brain is all these symbols, these thoughts, these ideas, and man lives in this ideational, conceptual world much more than the physical world. The more sophisticated, the more cultured a person is, he lives much more in the conceptual world, in the world of ideas, concepts, theories, beliefs, judgements, confusions. He lives there much more than with his senses. A primitive person who has not dealt much with the cerebration lives more with his senses. And the so-called educated person, intellectually advanced person, lives most of the time in this conceptual world. The concepts, the ideas have their own beauty. The symbols and the world of symbols have their own beauty, but one has to look at the mind, get acquainted with its anatomy, and see how we live in the world of symbols and ideas. We have to see it.

For example, all of us talk in terms of time. We measure life by time. Time is a measurement, a yardstick created by man to measure infinity. As he wanted to measure the Earth, the Space, and he made a kilometer, a mile; that’s a measurement.  There are no miles and kilometers as far as the globe is concerned. It is the invention of the human mind. When he wanted to make arrangements for collective living, he started measuring. The very idea of measuring is the creation of the human mind.  So, whether you measure a cloth by a yard or a meter, centimeter, whether you measure the Earth into kilometers, whether you measure infinity into years, and months, and days, and centuries, and hours and minutes, time is a symbol. All the measurements are symbols. You must have noticed this. The numbers with which you measure, like one, two, three, four, up to nine, which is the perfect number, the whole number. One to nine, these are the inventions of human mind. And the relationship between one and two, and two and five, and five and nine, all this is arbitrarily arrived at by the ancient man on which not only mathematics but even astronomy, astrology is based. So man having this brain, started playing around with it, and he created symbols.

We have to look at the symbols and see them for what they are. So I wonder if we look at time and see it as a symbol created by the human mind? Beautiful. You measure it, a second and 60 seconds into a minute, and sixty minutes into an hour, and 24 hours into a day. You go on measuring that, but there are no days, and hours, and minutes, and seconds in life. Life is a whole. Wherever it moves, it moves in its totality. It moves as a whole. Man cannot keep in touch with the movement of totality which is mind so he fragments it, measures it, and finds out ways of being with a fragment, with the particular. And we have become so used to this language of time, we feel that life is equal to time. We forget that it is a symbol. The yesterday, the today, the tomorrow, these are concepts. The sunset, the sunrise, it’s a poetical language. The sun never rises, never does it set. The sun is there but due to the movement of the Earth, the whole globe in relation to the sun and the whole solar system, the sun, the moon, the planets, when you see the sun, you call it the sunrise, the midday, the evening. The Earth in relation to the Sun and the movement of the Earth. But in reality, there is nothing like sunset or sunrise.

So life is timelessness. Time is a creation of the human mind, and one has to see the beauty of this creation so that one can use it efficiently wherever the use is warranted, but does not get obsessed with the idea of time. If the idea of tomorrow obsesses a person, and a person obsessed with the idea of tomorrow, the fear and anxiety of tomorrow, misses the today, then he will never live because to live is to be with what is before you here and now. If the memory of the past keeps you away from this eternity that presents itself to you in what you call the present moment, in what you call the now, in what you call the here, you meet that eternity now at this moment, or never. Eternity cannot be met with in tomorrows. What I am trying to say, my friends, is, there are very many symbols, I have taken only one, of the time. So time has to be understood as a measurement, as a symbol, beautifully, poetically, aesthetically created and cherished by the human race.

I for one have nothing against the conditions of man. The conditions are not the bondage. To mistake the conditionings for the reality of life, leads towards bondage. To see the falsity of the false thing is the beginning of seeing what is true, what is real. So the conditionings are bound to be there. They are part of our inner being. They are the content of consciousness. You cannot run away from them. You cannot deny them. You cannot wish them away. The brain, the mind, contains all these.

We have touched only one symbol, the symbol of time and around it is woven the whole structure of psychological time. And collective relationships are arranged, managed on the basis of this. If you say the life is timelessness, therefore I don’t care for the time, then there will be chaos in collective relationships. In collective relationships and living together, we have to use symbols as the children use toys and play with them. So that we meet here exactly at 10:30 or quarter past 11, knowing full well that there is nothing like quarter past 11, or 12, in life and reality. We meet here at that time. So living together, human transactions, communications, require these toys of ideas and symbols. As I said, the mathematical figures, numbers — beautiful things — if you start counting the totality of life into one or two, the God, the divine into one and two, then you are mistaking the symbol for the real.

There are the seven basic notes of music and you organize them — permutations, combinations of those notes and their arrangement — you arrive at music. But those seven basic notes, with which are associated now feelings, sentiments, emotions. If you play Symphony No. 2 of Beethoven, you get into one kind of feeling, and if you play Symphony No. 5, or Symphony No. 9, or Bach, or Schubert, or Mozart, that communion with that music stimulates certain chemical responses in you because certain note in relation to certain other has been associated with certain feelings. Or if you travel to the Orient, the ragas, the melodies, the ragas of the morning before the sunrise, after the sunrise, the mid-morning, the end of the morning, the midday and so on, for 24 hours, different ragas, different melodies. These seven notes, they are the creation and the music is the creation of human mind. But all these notes and sounds are born of that infinite substance of silence, the soundlessness of life. As time is born of the timelessness of life — and it’s only a measure, to measure the infinity — the sound is a measurement. Man tried to measure the infinity of silence, and he arrived at sound. He arrived at speech.

So the brain contains a great variety of symbols, in art, in sculpture, in music, in literature. You take a point, and with that point you get the whole science of geometry, trigonometry, engineering. You have to postulate and presume that point, having no length and no breadth. If you put a point on paper, it has both, length and breadth. But the definition, the presumption of the point is having no length and breadth. You have to presume, and on that presumption, you start. All the beautiful angles, and triangles, and circles, octaves, so many things you get out of that. You play with that.

The content of culture is this wealth of conditionings, is this wealth of symbols. If a man does not recognize them as symbols, then he becomes a prisoner of the symbols. It is the lack of acquaintance with these conditionings that puts you in bondage. If you see them, look at them in a friendly way and discover what they are, and use them in the relative field of utility. They enrich the life. You cannot strip the whole life of all the content of brain, all the content of your psyche.

So the brain, the mind, the consciousness contains all this and because of this, there is a movement going on, the thought energy, the energy of the emotions, the sentiments, the feeling, the energy of anger, energy of lust, of passion, you know. So the mind moves with the energy of all these. The meaning attached to anger, to jealousy, to greed, to lust, to sexual instinct, the meaning attached to all these by man gives the energy.  So the mind, the brain, containing all these is moving involuntarily.

There cannot be matter without motion. Wherever there is matter there is energy —energy being the property of that matter — and wherever there is energy (energy is never idle) it moves. So the mind is moving. Please do not look upon the incessant movement of mind as a problem otherwise we will create a problem out of a simple fact of life. The mind moves. When you sit down quietly winding up all your sensual activities, you notice the movement of mind. When you are busy the whole day, physically acting or reacting, then you do not notice the velocity with which the mind moves. But when you sit quietly, the first encounter is with your own mind and its movement. Then you find out in how many directions the mind moves, hops from one point to the other. Now it is with one thought and it hops over to another emotion and there, after a fraction of a second, it hops over and jumps to another thought.

The whole movement of mind, the variety of directions in which the mind tries to run simultaneously, all this you will notice. It is vitally important to look at the mind, to be with it, and to observe the movement of the mind as it goes on, without wanting to change the movement, without wanting to stop it. Without wanting to do anything about it, to look at the mind because this is only information. As I go on speaking, though I may be speaking about the facts as I have seen them, when you receive it through the brain, it becomes information for you. It will be [an] information or an idea for you until you experiment with observation.

If you just store it in memory then it will be there as a piece of information with which you agree or you disagree, which you accept or you reject. It has no value. The brain has already too much information, undigested, incoherent, unrelated to your daily living, and that undigested, unorganized, chaotic information creates mental problems. It keeps the nerves shaking all the time, that chaotic, anarchic, unorganized or disorganized information, undigested. The information remains as an idea as long as you and I do not discover the validity thereof by experimenting.

That is why a religious life is a life of constant discovery. Every minute you live, you move, you act, and through the action you discover a new ounce of life, some subtle meaning of life which you had not noticed before. And life being infinite, there is no end to this discovery. That’s why it is worth living. If you discover the whole meaning of life by the age of 25, 30, 50, life won’t be worth living at all. Life is living. Living is learning. Learning is growing, discovering. And the authenticity of personal discovery gives the vitality and passion. Information and ideas never give you passion. They can’t give you a non-cerebral energy. Knowledge gives you energy born of thought. But discovery and understanding, a personal encounter and understanding, give you a non-cerebral energy about which we shall talk later on. But this morning, let us be busy, let us investigate how the brain functions. The brain functions involuntarily, and when you add a voluntary effort to it, by providing a motive, a purpose, an intention, then you increase the velocity of that movement.

It is such a fascinating subject, you know — this mystery of mind — if you can go into it. So whether you want it or not, the brain moves. It has a momentum of millions of years behind it. The thoughts, the ideas that you and I have, are not all our creation. A tiny bit of it may be acquired by you and me since our childhood, but much of it is inherited, from the parents, from the family, from the community into which you are born, the culture of the country, the context of the life, and then also the total human race. This tiny little brain of man, this mysterious sense organ that you and I have, contains in its chemicals the total human experience and knowledge. And please, this is not a tall claim. This is a simple fact that you and I contain the knowledge and experience of the total humanity, total human race. Knowledge and experience. Because the knowledge and the experience are constantly getting converted into chemicals stored in brain cells. It is possible to extract that knowledge and memory from a brain cell and inject it into another brain.

So, in our biological and psychological inheritance, we have got it, the knowledge, the experience, and it has its momentum. You need not give it a momentum. Even without you, or in spite of you, it moves. And with the motivations that you acquire in this life, you add to the velocity already existing. Or if you try to resist the movement of the mind then also you add velocity. Every resistance increases the speed of what is contained inside. The more you try to resist it, the more you try to suppress and repress it, the more it gets motion. The momentum, the speed, the velocity increases with your every resistance. I am not a student of science so if the expressions velocity or momentum or movement, if they are not very apt expressions, please forgive me. It is not easy for me to get apt words in your language, I mean in English language. If it were Sanskrit, then there would be much more accuracy and precision. It’s difficult for me, even to satisfy myself, then I have to communicate in English language.

So the brain moves, the mind moves. The content of the consciousness is all these symbols, ideas, and thoughts. The variety of them is not a problem unless you create a problem out of it. It is there; it is the inheritance. Now, how do I see it for myself? You may say, “Alright, you have talked about it. How do I see it, and how can I get into a direct, simple, immediate encounter with my own brain?” That is a very important question. We are not taught to do that. Since childhood, we are trained to use the brain. Ideas are fed into it. Patterns of behavior are fed into it. But nobody educates us to look at the mind, its mechanism, its movement, the kind of energy that mind generates, and so on. So as enquirers, we will have to educate ourselves in looking at the movement of mind.

What does this imply? Who will look? And what is looking? What is observing? First of all, we use the word “I”, don’t we? You are listening to me, and you are aware that you are listening. This is not a simple activity of listening. But you listen, you understand, you agree or you do not agree with it, and at the same time you are aware that you are listening.

You like certain things and you are aware that you like [it] them. This human consciousness is a complex consciousness. It can move backward and forward, upward and downward, in all directions simultaneously. Inward and outward. So, a person can think and be aware that he is thinking. He can act and be aware that he is acting. If he is sensitive, why he is acting, and how he is acting, and so on. So human psyche, or consciousness, is a very much evolved consciousness and a very complex one. So “I” the experiencer, “I” the doer, sit down to observe or look at my own mind.

At present, the energy at the level of the mind, of the brain, is divided, is it not? You are listening, and at the same time, you are aware that you are listening. You are dividing it into two and using it in that duality. Every activity requires the duality.

So, I sit down to look at myself. I am using the “I”, the “me”, the “self”, the ego. Where does the ego come from? What is the “I-consciousness”? We shall go into it later on. But it is not a problem for any one of us. We always use the term “I”, the “me”. I do it. I experience it. I hate it. I like it. The same “I”, the same ego is now going to look at itself, as you look at yourself into the mirror.

Into the mirror you see a person, but that person is your own reflection. You are looking at yourself. In the same way, you are going to look at yourself, not physically, not at the tangible and physical level, but at the invisible level. But where is the mirror? The mirror is the state of observation. I sit down. Whether I sit down, or I stand up, or I walk around, it is immaterial. This is only a way of communicating, otherwise, you might think, “Oh, it is necessary to sit down.” I am not implying that way. But you have to use words. So I say you sit down. You are not looking at objects, you are not hearing sounds or listening to them, but you begin to watch the movement of the mind. You notice, you begin to notice, when there is nothing to be done, there is nothing to be acquired or obtained. The outgoing activities are all gathered unto yourself. The looking, the listening, the doing, the reacting. There is no necessity; they are not warranted. So, all the senses are gathered unto the “I”, the “me”, the “self’. They are not moving outward. So with all the faculties intact, now you remain, and you see the mind moving. Thought is a movement of mind. An emotion is a movement of mind. So when you sit quietly there comes up a thought. There comes up an idea. There comes up an emotion. Not stimulated by external objects because you are not sitting there in relation to the objects around you. You are sitting in relation to yourself, with yourself. So the ideas, the thoughts, the feelings, and their movement is felt.

What happens is, as soon as you feel the movement of the thought or the emotion, you react to it. We have been trained to feel feelings or to think thoughts, either stimulated by external objects, and immediately react accordingly, or we are educated to react to the thoughts and feelings that come from within. But this business of reacting goes on. We react so quickly, unawares, unknowingly, unconsciously. The reaction goes on, of judging it, of evaluating it, of reducing what is seen, what is felt to a conclusion, to a theory.

So when you sit down and you begin to notice the movement of mind, the first pitfall is reacting to what is being observed. You will notice it very quickly if and when you experiment with this observation. You will notice that one is not educated to remain in the state of pure and simple observation, non-reactional attention. One is not educated to be in that state of bare cognition, pure attention. That state is not sustained. The moment you are there, the reaction comes in, and the state of observation gets contaminated, gets polluted.

So when you begin to sit down and watch the movement of mind, the first thing you notice is, “I cannot observe. I cannot remain steadily in the state of non-reactional attention.” That’s a great discovery if one can arrive at that. Not as a fear, but how the human race, advanced in intellectual activity, of grasping, or acquiring ideas, interpreting, judging, and storing them in memory, has grown lobsidedly. It has lost the simplicity of remaining in the state of simple, innocent observation. Simple innocent look. A glance. We have lost that elegance of innocency. We are so busy, something seen, heard, felt, reacted, judged, compared, and put it into like or dislike, good or bad, like a business man. To be with something, just in the simplicity of being, to be with it. So one realizes that one does not know how to observe.

An encounter with the movement of mind can teach us a lot. You know, life is a teacher, and with every discovery of the factual reality, you learn something. If one has the humility to learn, the master, the teacher, this whole life is around you and within you, eager to teach you, eager to open you. So I say, “Goodness me, I don’t know how to observe. The moment I observe the reaction comes up so how do I learn to observe?”

One has to learn to observe, that is to say, to sustain the state of simple cognition, the state of non-reactional attention. When you sit in silence, you see that the mind is moving and you say, “Well I was sitting in silence and the mind was moving. There were so many thoughts.”  Obviously, there were thoughts. But when you went into silence at least you could notice. Noticing the subtle movement of mind by itself is a great act of learning.

So you sit down and watch and observe. The observation slips out of you, and you notice the state of inattention. You notice that you are in the state of inattention. You are not attentive. If you get angry with yourself and say, “Well, I sat down for observing and I can’t observe. I sat down for observing, and suddenly I lapsed into my reaction.” If you try to condemn yourself, criticize yourself, or if you give yourself a timetable that the observation much be learned within one minute or one year. If you try to imprison the growth into your schedules, your timetables, your ambitions, your comparisons with other people — the other person learned in one minute and I can’t do it — if you are comparing, if you are measuring then the growth cannot take place.

Religion is a question of total growth. It is only total growth that transforms the quality of your being, not petty little changes that we bring about intellectually or emotionally. The changes in behavior outward, they do not result in the growth of total being. When I observe and I notice in that moment of observation that the state of observation is not steady — it is shaky. And a fraction of a second, I am there / I am not there, then let me notice that I am not there. Being aware of the inner tension is itself a kind of attentiveness. But one has an image of oneself. I am very sensitive. I am very attentive. I am very quick. One has an image of oneself. And when he sits down to observe and discovers that he cannot, then the image is shattered.

You know, we all have our own images. So I have an image. “I will do things quickly. What is there in observation? I sat down. I’ll get it very quickly.” We feel as if it is something to be grasped, to be grabbed. And you know, life is something that can never be grabbed, never be grasped, never be imprisoned into your framework of experiences, cannot be imprisoned in concepts and ideas. It can enter into an idea apart and go out, like the breathing in and breathing out. You cannot arrest life. You cannot imprison life.

So when you sit there, and when you notice that you do not know how to observe, you become impatient. If your image is shattered, if you feel humiliated, if you feel self-pity, “I have lived 60 years in life and I don’t know how to observe.  Goodness me. Now what am I going to do?” “Will I be there in liberation or nirvana before I die or not?” You know, all such crazy things come up, and that builds a resistance. So when I notice that I am inattentive, that I was in the state of inattention or non-attention, let me not resist that state of non-attention. Let me not create a problem out of that momentary inattentiveness, because if I resist it, if I grudge it, if I get annoyed with it, I am complicating the matter.

It was very simple that due to a deep-rooted habit of reacting the state of observation was not sustained. When you learn to drive a car or to pilot an aeroplane, the balance is precarious in the beginning. When you learn to swim, in the same way, every learning and every growth is painful because one moment you feel you have got it and the other moment it slips. The nerves, the control about the nerves, right from your toe to the crown of your head, it doesn’t come quickly. The sensual system, the physical structure requires time for education. Not the understanding.  Understanding is not of time. But for the response to come out of your whole being, and for the sensual, the physical, to keep pace with the quickness of your understanding, that requires education.

So when you have understood what is observation, and you sit down to observe, not to experience, not to analyze, not to judge, then you sit down, you have understood what is observation, and yet when the observation takes place, it slips. So one has to be very pliable. Be in the state of observation and also go with the state of inattention without resistance, without complicating the state of non-attention any further. Then the moment you become aware that you were not attentive, the attentiveness comes back. The moment you become aware that you were not observing, you were not in the state of observation, that very recognition brings you back to the state of observation.

So one has to work upon oneself seriously, and seriousness does not mean stiffness or rigidity. It does not mean dogmatism. It does not mean becoming fanatic about it. Seriousness has its own relaxation. I say seriousness in order to remind ourselves that our impatience, our ambitions cannot affect the growth any way. It cannot escalate the speed. It is only the intensity of inquiry that can accelerate the speed. Nothing else. The heat of that intensity. The depth of the passion. That can bring about the growth quicker but not the impatience, the annoyance, the irritation, the resistance, the comparison, the self-pity. On the other hand, they create obstructions, and they slow down the pace of growth.

So I sit down to observe, observation being non-reactional attention. As I am not educated in it, and I started at the age of 15 or 20 or 50, the whole system does not cooperate. So on one hand, through proper diet and exercises, and sleep and so on, what we have talked about yesterday, by creating an inner order on the physical structure, I make the physical structure more and more sensitive. I educate it in sensitivity and that sensitivity cooperates with me when I learn observation. Spiritual life is a realm of self-education at all levels, in all fields. Dehypnotizing ourselves that we know what religion is, or spirituality is.

So now I think the time is over. So I cannot proceed any further. This morning we went into the issue of mind. The mind, the brain, including all the faculties of the brain. The faculty of imagination. The faculty of memory. The faculty of retaining ideas in memory, and so on. The brain, the mind is a sense organ located in the head, connected with the whole body, interwoven into the body.

And before I conclude, may I just remind you that this brain is interwoven very closely and intimately with all the organs contained in the stomach, the pituitary gland connected with the whole of your stomach. The slightest movement in the brain, and the liver, the kidneys, the spleen, the pancreas gland, the intestines big and small, you know, they get affected. Attention is generated in the stomach. If there is something wrong in the stomach, if the digestive process is not functioning properly, it affects the nerves in the brain. It affects the optical nerve, the auditory nerves, the points of pleasure, the point of pain located in the brain. It affects the movement of all the brain cells, the blood circulation in the brain. That is why one pays so much attention to the exercise, to the diet, and to the other parts of the physical life. The navel point and the brain located in the head, these two, unless they are balanced properly, are in a proper balance, the physical and the mental health is not easy to come by. It is only in the balance of the two that the radiance of health can be there.

So we were talking this morning about this beautiful and complex, very sensitive sense organ. It functions through symbols, ideas, thoughts, confusions, theories. It cannot function without a thought, without an emotion, without an idea, without a word, the brain doesn’t function. For the fun of it, you can find out what the movement of the brain implies — some idea, some thought, some concept, some imagination, some memory, the manipulation of knowledge, the manipulation of experiences, and so on.

Now all these are the inheritance that we have, and we have no control over the velocity, the momentum, of the inheritance. The biological and the psychological, they have their tremendous momentum. So on the conscious level, on the surface level, you have the knowledge and experience that you acquire in this life, and deeper down, what you call the subconscious or the unconscious, is contained the total inheritance.

So there are two energies moving. At the conscious level, the energy of your acquired total experience, and at the sub or unconscious level — these are not compartments, please — it is difficult for me to indicate the words. The words can give wrong ideas. Consciousness is one pole. But the subtlest movement that we are aware of in waking hours has one kind of energy and one kind of motion. That motion or energy of other theories, other values is much slower, very much slower than the motion of subconscious or unconscious. Shall I put it this way? The motion of the inheritance is much more than the movement or the momentum of what you acquired since childhood. There are two motions, two different energies, working parallel, and unless there is a harmony in these two, there is no peace. We talked about the content of the psyche, the two different momentums contained in the psyche, and we proceeded to find out how we can become aware of them.

And the last point, we saw that for a personal discovery, a direct encounter with the mind is inevitable. A direct encounter with the mind implies being with oneself, and observing the movement of the mind as it takes place, not with an idea but just as it takes place to watch it. When we went into this issue we found out, that we don’t know how to observe. We don’t know how to look. That is why education becomes necessary. Throughout the day, educate the physical being to be more sensitive, and when you spend some time with yourself to observe, not to be impatient or not to be in a hurry. But to observe and when you lapse into inobservation or inattention to go with that inattention, to go with that non-observation. And the moment you recognize it, the moment you become aware of it, you are back in the state of observation. […]

If some of you find it difficult, I am really helpless because I don’t think I could put it in simpler words, or that I could make it more easy. With consciousness is a very difficult thing to deal with through words. So we have had enough for the morning, haven’t we?

At the end of the talk, Vimala recited a mantra from the Yajurveda, Wakeup Mantra.

-Vimala Thakar

From The Mind, A talk given by Vimala Thakkar in 1974

Here you can listen to Vimala Thakar’s The Mind.

For more posts on Vimala Thakar look here.

3 thoughts on “The Mind – Vimala Thakar”

    1. Hi Paras,

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      I hope this will help.

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      Like

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