Those who have purified the mind by the practice of sannyas and yoga, and those who have come to understand the exact meaning of the spiritual science indicated in the Upanishad’s Vedant, they in the end become capable of attaining brahmalok – the world of brahman. And liberating themselves from everything, they strive to achieve immortality.
– Kaivalya Upanishad
The basic problem before a spiritual seeker is not how to know, but how to be. Knowing is not the problem, it is easy. The real problem is how to be, how the being should be strengthened. Knowing can grow easily; knowing has its own ways of growing. But knowing is a parasitic growth.
Knowing grows in the memory, and memory is just mechanical. That’s why we now have mechanical devices which can be fed with memory – we have computers, and a computer is more efficient than any human brain. A computer can do anything that a human brain can do – and a computer can do many more things which a human brain cannot do. Sooner or later, human memory is going to be replaced by mechanical devices. A mechanical device can do whatsoever your mind is doing, and more efficiently, and in less time. A computer can do a mathematical problem in seconds for which you would need an Einstein, or a person of the caliber of Einstein, to work on for at least three months.
Mind is just a mechanical device. It can grow – you go on feeding it with knowledge, with information, and it can grow. You may not be aware of it, but nothing comes out of your mind which has not been put in it before – nothing. Nothing comes out of your mind which is original. In that way, nothing is original as far as mind is concerned; everything is just repetition. Mind is the most repetitive mechanism. You have to feed it, give it something: it will reproduce it. Not a single thought comes to you which is your own – it has been given to you by society, by education, by study, but always it has been given to you. At the most you can make new combinations, that’s all. Nothing more can be done with the mind. This is one growth, a parasitic growth at the cost of your being. By being, I mean the consciousness with which you are born. And by mind, I mean all the accumulation that has come to your consciousness through society, through education, through culture. You are not born with a mind; you are born with a consciousness. Mind is a later growth. That’s why if a person is not taught, if a person is not educated, then he has a lesser mind, a poor mind. If no language is taught to you, you will know no language. If nothing is taught to you, you will know nothing. Mind is a social growth.
Consciousness is part of you, but mind is not part of you; mind is given to you. The whole process of social cultivation, of social imposition, is to produce a mind in you. That’s why a Christian mind is different from a Hindu mind – because a Hindu society is feeding something and a Christian society is feeding something else. A Mohammedan mind is totally different from a Hindu, or a Christian, or a Jaina mind. But a Hindu consciousness or a Mohammedan consciousness or a Christian consciousness, are not different.
Really, a consciousness cannot be called Christian or Hindu or Mohammedan – but minds are. So unless you go beyond your society – you are imprisoned in your upbringing. This mind, which the society gives to everyone . . . it is a necessity; a society has to give it to you. It is good as far as it goes, but it must not become an imprisonment. A moment must be attained where you are freed from your own mind. Then mind begins to work as a mechanical thing in you; you can use it but you are not identified with it.
Of course one has to use language, one has to use mathematics, one has to know history and geography and everything. But it must not be identified with your consciousness. You must remain a witness to it. You must remain separate, unidentified, different from your own mind. This is what meditation means: how to be not identified with the mind – how to create a space between yourself and your own mind. It is difficult because we never make any separation. We go on thinking in terms that the mind means me: mind and me are totally identified. If they are totally identified, then you will never be at peace; then you will never be able to enter the divine, because the divine can be entered only when the social has been left behind.
When whatsoever the society has given you has been renounced, only then you enter the divine, because only then, you enter pure consciousness. Mind is an overgrowth; it must be put aside. By renunciation, I mean renunciation of the social. And your mind is nothing but a social by-product, it depends on your society.
This mind can go on growing. Then you grow in knowledge; go on studying, go on learning new things, more things, and your mind goes on growing. And a mind is infinitely capable to grow; yet scientists cannot say to what extent this mind can grow. It can go on growing, the process seems infinite. It has so much potentiality – seventy million cells working in the mind, and a single cell can have millions of bits of information in it. A single cell of the mind can have so much information stored in it, and the mind has seventy million cells in it. We are not using even a single cell’s capacity – ordinarily, we are not using a single cell’s capacity – and we have seventy million cells. And each cell seems to be capable of infinite accumulation of information. The mind seems to be infinite in its own way – and it is not you! It is just something which has been given to you.
It is useful, it is utilitarian; that’s why we become identified with it. One has to use one’s mind constantly, and one has to use it so constantly that there is no gap. You don’t remember any moment when you were not your mind, that’s the problem: to remember it, and to create a space, a gap, when you are not your mind. You are yourself and mind is just a device which can be used or not used, and you are the master to choose whether to use it or not.
Ordinarily, the mind is the master and you have to follow it. The mind gives you something to think about and you have to think about it. The mind gives you some dream and you have to dream it. And the mind goes on . . . And sometimes even if you say to your mind, “Stop!” it is not going to stop, it is not going to listen to you at all. Because you have cooperated with it so much, and you have given it your energy and identification so much, that the mind doesn’t remember your mastery at all. You are just a slave.
Meditation means to create a gap so that you can become master, master of your own mind. And mastery means that you are not identified.
I can order my hand to do anything – to move or not to move. Why? – because I am not identified with the hand; otherwise, who is going to order and who is going to be ordered? I can order my hand to move; it moves. But if my hand begins to move and I say, “Stop!” and it is not stopping, what does it mean? It means only one thing: my order is impotent because of too much identification with the hand. The hand has become a master in its own right – it goes on moving. It says, “I am not going to follow your order at all.”
This has happened with the mind. The mind goes on working in its own way; no order can be given to it. There is no intrinsic impossibility – it is only because you have never ordered it, so it doesn’t know that you are the master. The master has remained so silent, has remained so hidden, that the slave has begun to feel himself the master.
If one goes on growing in this mind, one goes on more and more hidden deep down. And the mind becomes such a great thing, it is difficult to assert your consciousness. That’s why a very ordinary villager with a lesser mind, is with more consciousness. An ordinary person – not very educated, not knowing much – has always, of course, less mind but more consciousness. So sometimes a person who has more mind may behave very foolishly, because he has less consciousness. A person who has a developed mind can work very wisely, behave very wisely if the situation is such that the mind knows what to do and what not to do. Then he can behave, work, do anything very efficiently. But any new situation in which the mind is not aware, and he will be stupid, he will behave stupidly.
A villager — an uneducated person, a primitive, with less mind — will behave more consciously in a new situation, because for him new situations are occurring daily, every moment. With no developed mind, he has to work with his consciousness. That’s why the more the world has grown knowledgeable, the less wise it has become. It is difficult not to produce a Buddha, not because we are more ignorant, but because we know more. It is difficult to produce a Jesus, not because anything is lacking — on the contrary, something has grown too much. Knowledge has grown too much, and if knowledge grows too much, the being begins to feel poor.
We value a person because of what he has: knowledge, wealth, power. We never value a person for what he is. If I am a powerful man, then I am valued; if I am a wealthy man, then I am valued; if I am a man of knowledge, then I am valued – but never simply for what I am. If wealth is lost, then my influence will be lost; if knowledge is lost, the my influence will be lost; if power is lost, my influence will be lost, because I was never valued for what I am. Something which I have – having has become so important, and knowledge is a subtle having.
Being means: the purity of my inner existence, nothing added by the outside – neither wealth, nor knowledge, nor anything else – just my inner consciousness in its purity.
This is what I mean, what this Upanishad means by the growth of being. This being can be achieved only by two methods: renunciation – sannyas – and yoga, the science of positive growth. One must renounce identification: one must come to know that I am not the body, I am not the mind. One must renounce all that which is mind, but I am not. One must come to the center point which cannot be renounced.
A Western thinker, Rene Descartes, begins his theosophical speculation with doubt, and he goes on doubting. He goes on doubting everything that can be doubted. He was a very keen penetrating intellectual; really, he was the father of modern Western philosophy. He goes on doubting everything, he makes it a point that “I will not stop doubting unless a moment comes and I encounter something which cannot be doubted. If I can doubt, I will continue to doubt, unless I stumble upon some fact which is indubitable.” So God can be doubted very easily. It is difficult to have faith; it is very easy to doubt, because for doubt you have only to say no. Nothing else is needed.
“No” is a very non-involving word. If you say yes, you are committed. If I say “Yes, God is,” then I cannot remain the same. If I say, “No, God is not,” I will continue to be the same. “No” is the easiest word in a way: you say it, you are not involved, you remain outside. If you say yes, you are involved. You have come in; now you are committed. To say no to anything is very easy, because then you need not prove anything. If you say yes then you have to prove it – and proofs are, of course, very difficult. Even if things are, proofs are very difficult. Time is. We know time is, everyone feels time is – but can prove that time is?
Saint Augustine says, “Don’t ask about time, because when you don’t ask, I know it is. When you ask, I begin to hesitate – whether it is or not? And if you persist, I become doubtful.” Can we prove time? It is; everyone knows it is. We cannot prove it.
Can we prove love? Everyone knows it is. Even if one has not felt love, one has felt very deeply its absence. Love is felt – either as a presence of absence, but no one can prove it. So anyone can say, “Love is not,” and you cannot disprove their statement.
Descartes goes on denying, doubting: God is denied, then the world itself is denied – even the world which is here and now. You are here, but I can doubt; it may be just a dream to me. And how can I tell the difference whether it is a dream or not? – because sometimes I have dreamt about talking to people. And when I was dreaming and talking, those who were present were as real as you are – and really, in a way more real, because in a dream you cannot doubt. But if you are really present, I can doubt: it may be just a dream, you may not be there at all, but just a dream, a dream happening to me. And I am dreaming that you are, and I am talking to you, to my dream construct. How can I prove that you are really there? There is no way. There is no way to prove that you are. I can touch you . . . but I can touch someone in a dream, and even in dream I can feel someone’s body.
It is difficult – really, in a way, impossible to make a distinction between reality and dreaming. That’s why Berkeley says that this whole world is just a dream, or a Shankara says that this whole world is just a dream. They can say it and they cannot be disproved.
So Descartes says, “This world is not. It is only a thought, a dream. God is not.” Then he goes on denying everything. Ultimately, he comes to himself, and then he begins to thin “whether I am, or not.” Now there is a fact which cannot be denied, because even if all is dreaming, someone is needed to dream. Even if everything is dubitable, someone is needed to doubt. Even if Descartes says “I am not,” this statement has to be made by someone – even to doubt, he is needed. Then he says, “Now I have come upon a point which indubitable. I can doubt everything, but I cannot doubt myself. If I doubt, the doubt proves me. So he gives a very meaningful formula: He says, “Cogito ergo sum. I think – I doubt – therefore I am.”
This “I-am-ness” must be broken apart from mentation, from mind, one has to renounce all that can be renounced – just like Descartes who says, “I must doubt all that can be doubted, unless I come to a point which cannot be doubted.” Just in the same way, one has to continue renouncing – renouncing all that which can be renounced, unless you come to a point which cannot be renounced.
You cannot renounce your being; all else can be renounced. All else you can say, “This I-am.” All that you can say, “This is I,” you can renounce. You can say, “No, this is not I-am. This body, I am not; this world, I am not, this thought, I am not; this thinking, I am not.” Go on, go on denying. Then comes a moment when you cannot deny more. Simple “I-am-ness remains. Not even “I-am-ness,” but only “am-ness.” That “am-ness” is the existential jump.
This is the first part of the sutra: renunciation, sannyas.
So sannyas is a negative process. One has to go on eliminating: “This is I-am-not.” Go on – “This, that, I am not.” This is renouncing, a negative process, elimination. But this is only a part: you have renounced whatsoever you are not; then you have to grow that which you are – that is yoga; that needs the positive, of growth. That is yoga. Now you have to grow that which is in you. How to grow it? – we have been discussing that – by faith, by devotion, by meditation, by practices, bodily and other. That is yoga.
Sannyas plus yoga means religion. Renounce that which you are not, and grow in that, create in that, which you are. Only by such negative and positive processes in a deep harmony, the brahma, the ultimate, is achieved.
From That Art Thou, Discourse #21
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