The Nature of Mind
To recognize and acknowledge the nature of the mind as Swami explains it. Let’s begin with a short story:
Two men were arguing about a flag flapping in the wind. “It’s the wind that is really moving,” stated the first one. “No, it is the flag that is moving,” contended the second. A Zen master, who happened to be walking by, overheard the debate and interrupted them. “Neither the flag nor the wind is moving,” he said, “It is MIND that moves.”
MIND moves….yes, we have all certainly experienced that, but do we fully comprehend that that movement is the mind’s very nature? Swami tells us that the nature of the mind is to dwell upon things; its natural tendency is to be occupied. So, rather than condemning the mind as a “monkey” as we often say, we must instead accept our responsibility for directing the mind’s activity judiciously. Let’s read what Swami has said:
Do not condemn the mind as a monkey, etc. It is a fine instrument with which you can win either liberation or bondage. It all depends on how you manipulate it. (SSS VOL II p207)
The nature of the mind is to be occupied. Even when still, like the feathers on a peacock, there is a shimmering, an apparent movement in the mind. Like the aspen tree, even on a still morning, it’s leaves seem to tremble and move. It is the nature of the mind to dwell upon things. So, the proper method to deal with the mind is to direct the mind’s activity towards good deeds, good thoughts, repetition of the name of the Lord, and not allow it to be at aimed at harmful objects, harmful thoughts and deeds. In that way, the mind’s natural tendency to be occupied will be fulfilled and yet it will keep out of mischief. (CWSSB p56)
Human existence can become meaningful only when man, at the very outset, recognizes the nature of the mind and bases his actions on that understanding. The mind is extremely powerful; it runs at great speed. It is subtler than the sky and even more subtle than electricity..…Hence, the first requisite is to strive for the proper use of the powers of the mind. The mind of man today is that of an intoxicated person because his mind is giving free rein to the senses. (SS June 1994 p147)
Questions for Discussion:
Quote #1: Swami says that the mind is a fine instrument. If your mind were a flute, how would you describe the music that would be blowing through it?
Quote #2: Swami says that even when the mind is still, it still shimmers like the feathers of a peacock or trembles like the leaves of an aspen tree. Do these images increase your insight into the nature of the mind?
Quote #3: Swami compares the mind of man today to that of an intoxicated person, whose mind gives free rein to the senses. How intoxicated might you be?
During the week, recognize that it is the nature of the mind to be occupied and to dwell upon things. Your job, though, is to direct the mind’s activity. When you catch yourself thinking about something that is potentially harmful for you, interrupt your mental ‘conversation’ and say “These thoughts are of no benefit to me. I am changing the topic to ________”. (something positive) and then let the mind dwell upon that.
(key to citations: SSS-Sathya Sai Speaks, CWSSB-Conversations with Sathya Sai Baba, SS-Sanathana Sarathi)