The mind is neither diseased nor healthy, the mind itself is a disease. To say that the mind is silent at times and not at other times is incorrect. The mind is never silent because mind itself is equal to noise. Some say that the mind becomes ‘mad’ at times, but that is not possible because the mind itself is madness. It will remain chaotic because that is its nature. Therefore, never attempt to silence the mind.
Mind can never become silent
Silence of the mind is an empty set, a delusion. The mind can become subtle; it can become powerful, but never silent. As long as the mind exists, there will be noise. Silence is not a state of the mind. It is the absence of the mind. It is disassociation from the mind. Transcending the mind alone will bring silence.
A renowned Zen monk Rinzai lived in his Guru’s ashram, struggling for years to silence his mind. The mind, being the mind, did not become silent, on the contrary, it became stronger. He attained many psychic powers and his fame spread far and wide but he was not able to silence his mind.
Once as he was meditating, his Guru sat down beside him, noisily rubbing a brick against a rock. Thinking that this was a test, he decided to remain unperturbed and steadfast in his effort to meditate. The Guru too, carried on his chore for the whole day. Finally, Rinzai could not bear the noise any longer. He opened his eyes and asked, “What are you doing?” “I am trying to make a mirror out of a brick by polishing it with this stone”, came the prompt reply. Amused, Rinzai stated that it was an impossible task. The Guru responded knowingly, “Just as it is impossible to make a mirror by polishing a brick against a rock, the mind cannot be silenced by fidgeting with it. The brick may become smooth, but never a mirror. Similarly, disciplining it may make the mind subtle, but not silent.” Silence manifests only on leaving the mind, by taking away the controls from the mind.
How does one become free from the mind?
Transcending the mind is not possible so long as one identifies with it. Therefore, to sever the identification, keep witnessing the drama of the mind. Neither fear the mind, nor fight with it. Neither listen to it, nor try to make it understand you. Just observing the play of the mind will reduce its fluctuations.
Do not be influenced by the mind. Do not dance to its tunes. Do not try to stop it. Do not even guide it. Keep watching its manoeuvres. Just observing the vagaries of the mind will reduce its oscillations: Its vacillations will diminish and the mind itself will begin to dissolve.
Once you reach a point where you pay no heed to the mind, it will start giving up its unsteadiness. But as long as there is even a speck of hope in the mind that you will pay attention to it and do its bidding, it will attempt to trap you. It will play many tricks in its fight for survival.
The mind is cunning
Battling the age-old identification with the mind, the aspirant bravely sets out to overcome it. He challenges the mind saying, ‘If you think you can shake me, if that gives you pleasure, then by all means try, but I will remain steadfast in my goal and persevere diligently.’
Even after giving this ultimatum to the mind, it will use various ways and means to trap you. When you feel you are truly ready, the mind will lay its trump cards on the table. It will give rise to greed, ‘Oh, you could have gained so much happiness from the world, which you are now giving up – Why are you doing that? The world has such an abundance to offer and you were almost there. Now look where you are heading. Your goal was not very far; you were all set to achieve success. Why turn towards the Pure Self now? All your hard work will be in vain. It’s just a little more effort to actualising all the dreams you have cherished. Don’t stop now,’ and so forth.
Alternatively, the mind will create fear, ‘Can you really live without me? Where will you go if I am not with you? Won’t you need me at every step of the way? What if you don’t get what you are looking for? What if you waste this life and don’t achieve success? Why trust the unknown and unfamiliar? What if you have to return empty-handed? What if you are abandoned? Why do you want to make your life difficult and painful? Why are you moving towards your own death?’ and so forth.
If you get entrapped in this game of the mind, then your instincts of greed and fear will prompt you to follow it, reducing your strength to work towards liberation. Your thoughts will turn in the direction of continuing to live as you have been living for so long. You will decide against penance and renunciation. Beware, these are the pitfalls of listening to the mind and they will arrest your efforts towards liberation. The mind presents myriad arguments, and if you get convinced by any of them, that spells disaster.
Why fret over the insane?
Recognise the mind. It is crazy. When you come across a mad man on the road, you may see him prattling to himself or even abusing you. This will cause you to lose your temper or even fight with him only so long as you are unaware of his mental state. The moment you realise he is mad, though you may have proceeded to beat him, you will abandon the attempt with the thought, ‘If he is not aware of what he is doing, there is no point in getting angry.’ Then, even if he praises you, it would not bring joy, as you know he is insane and not aware of what he is speaking. The Wise Ones say that once you recognise the insanity of the mind, you will not listen to it. And once the mind understands that you are not going to listen, then it will let go.
You tend to like the mind’s advice, as you do a friend’s, because it will speak about enhancing your happiness and getting rid of unhappiness. With that, the mind will motivate you and present a pretty picture of the future, but this is not the truth. It will try with all its might to delude you. For want of strength, if you stop, that is, listen to the mind and act accordingly, then you will miss the opportunity. But if you can remain strong and refuse to budge, if you can remain uninfluenced you can transcend it.
Be a witness
You have two choices. Either listen to the mind or just remain a witness. Whether you agree or disagree with the mind, you are still listening to the mind. In either case, you are making your identification with it stronger. Therefore, the mystics do not advice you even to fight with the mind. They only ask you not to pay heed to the mind. Neither guide the mind nor be guided by the mind.
If the mind feels that you will soon return to it, that you are gullible and can be induced with greed or fear, it will remain active and not get dissolved. But if you remain steadfast in this practice of witnessing the mind, then the mind will realise that you have broken all relationship with it, and throwing tantrums will not help. Because there is no one to listen to the mind, the mind becomes inactive.
A wondrous divine state
A sincere aspirant remains steadfast and advances towards transcending the mind. With a firm resolve, he puts in efforts towards this. At first, he tries to understand the mind, by analysing the thoughts and then he only observes the gimmicks of the mind with alertness. He remains apart and unaffected by them. In this way, he progresses in the practice of separating himself from the mind and goes beyond it.
Going beyond the mind, one experiences a wondrous state of being. A state where there is the experience of light. A profound silence, an incredible intoxication, unfathomable peace and supreme tranquility Divinity manifests in the aspirant. The notion of ‘I’ dissolves. The droplet merges with the ocean. Supreme awareness remains