What is mind? It is nothing but convolution of consciousness. Consciousness is always pure, whereas the mind is afflicted by perception. Mind goes after material things and thus is influenced by desires and attachments. When the mind is purged of all afflictions, as a natural process, one realizes the purest form of consciousness, which is nothing but Shiva. Mind always needs something to chew upon. If we fix our concentration on material world, mind remains in wilderness. The more and more we have desires and attachments, the mind tends to be more active, causing serious obstruction in realising consciousness, from which mind originated. Mind is like clouds, obstructing the clear sky above, which can be compared to consciousness. Mind by default is subject to discrimination. As we know, there are three stages of consciousness – active, dream and deep sleep stages. What we dream in our dream state no longer exists in our active state and during deep sleep state, the mind is annihilated and during deep sleep state, purest consciousness alone prevails. In a perfect meditation also, the mind is dissolved and purest form of consciousness is revealed and this is known as Self-realization. When the Self is veiled by the sheath māyā, it becomes self, like pure sky veiled by clouds. Vivekacūḍāmaṇi (167) calls this mental sheath. Mental sheath is explained as the combination of mind and organs of sensory knowledge (jñānendriya). Vivekacūḍāmaṇi (174) says, “Mind is the only cause that brings about man’s bondage or liberation. When the mind is devoid of rajas and tamas, it is liberation.” Therefore, liberation can be attained only by subduing the mind and there is no other way to attain liberation.
Mind only takes all decisions such as likes and dislikes, love and hatred, desire and satisfaction, etc. As the mind is afflicted by dyads like these, mind is affected by illusions and considers all objects as real (omnipresence of Brahman). As a result of these afflictions, mind develops likes and dislikes. Why mind should be kept as pure? It is said that mind is also the individual soul or the embodied soul known as puruṣa (mano hi puruṣaḥ smṛtaḥ). Therefore, the mind is the creator and not the actions we do. What we think we become, is a common quotation. An example is cited. A man embracing his wife and daughter are the same action, as the action is the same – embracing. But the mind of the man clearly distinguishes between these two embraces. Thus action is not the deciding factor, but only the mind is the deciding factor. Sage Vāsiṣṭha says to Rāma, “The mind goes into the state of bondage through desires and attains liberation as soon as the mind is freed from desires. Hence, get rid of all desires with the help of discernment (the mental ability to understand and discriminate; it is known as vicāra, the path of knowledge).”
Evil and passionate thoughts mar the mind, like clouds spoiling the beauty of the moon. How to get rid of these thoughts from the mind. One has to internalise instead of externalising the mind. This is done through various practices such as prāṇāyāma and meditation ultimately leading to nirvikalpa-samādhi. It is said that the mind gets dissolved only if it renounces everything, as everything is unreal. When the mind becomes calm after this realization, it is the state of dissolved mind, no afflictions whatsoever. The mind thus purified realises its origin, the consciousness and merges into that. As already discussed, the purest form of consciousness is Shiva. Even proper meditation is not possible without dissolving the mind. Meditation is not a daily ritual. Meditation is everything to do with dissolving the mind and merging it with consciousness. In other words, it is about dissolving individual self with the Supreme Self. Though both the selves are the same, it is due to mental afflictions, both are conceived as two different entities. In reality they are not. Vivekacūḍāmaṇi (169) beautifully explains this. “There is no ignorance (avidyā) outside the mind. The mind alone is ignorance, the cause of the bondage of transmigration. When that is destroyed, everything else is destroyed and when it is manifested, everything else is manifested.” Thus when the mind is devoid of expectations and anxieties, one is liberated as the pure mind automatically dissolves into consciousness.
Holy company, devoid of desires, adequate knowledge about spiritual path and prāṇāyāma are considered as the ways to purge the mind of all its impurities. Here, one’s Guru plays an important role. Guru is not just meant to initiate mantras. True Guru is the one, who takes his disciple in the right path to liberation. A purified mind affirms that I am the Self or I am Brahman by repeated contemplations. One fine morning, the mind is liberated and this is called Self-realization. When the mind is purified, all dyads and triads are dissolved. In that state, Brahman alone prevails. This state of mind is called Bliss and beyond any comparison. Perpetual Bliss can be experienced only by those who have dissolved their mind and they are also called Liberated souls.