Problem with having a mind
Why does my mind just continue to think? This happens 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 individualized 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 centered 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 color 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. Kshipta. 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 or limb of Yoga, you curb and overcome one of these characteristics, namely, the outgoing tendency of the mind. Through Pratyahara you 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 an airplane 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.