Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Nature of the Mind

Excerpt from the Book: 
Be As You Are: 
The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi

Q: What is the nature of the mind?

A: The mind is nothing other than the ‘I’-thought. The mind
and the ego are one and the same. The other mental faculties such
as the intellect and the memory are only this. Mind [manas],
intellect [buddhi], the storehouse of mental tendencies [chittam],
and ego [ahamkara1 ; all these are only the one mind itself. This is
like different names being given to a man according to his
different functions. The individual soul [jiva] is nothing but this
soul or ego.

Q: How shall we discover the nature of the mind, that is, its ultimate
cause, or the noumenon of which it is a manifestation?

A: Arranging thoughts in the order of value, the 'I'-thought is
the all-important thought. Personality-idea or thought is also the
root or the stem of all other thoughts, since each idea or thought
arises only as someone's thought and is not known to exist
independently of the ego. The ego therefore exhibits thought activity.

The second and the third persons [he, you, that, etc.] do
not appear except to the first person [I] . Therefore they arise only
after the first person appears, so all the three persons seem to rise
and sink together. Trace, then, the ultimate cause of 'I' or

From where does this 'I' arise? Seek for it within; it then
vanishes. This is the pursuit of wisdom. When the mind
unceasingly investigates its own nature, it transpires that there is
no such thing as mind. This is the direct path for all. The mind is
merely thoughts . Of all thoughts the thought 'I' is the root.
Therefore the mind is only the thought 'I'.

The birth of the 'I'-thought is one's own birth, its death is the
person's death. After the 'I'-thought has arisen, the wrong identity
with the body arises. Get rid of the 'I, -thought. So long as 'I' is
alive there is grief. When 'I' ceases to exist there is no grief.

Q: Yes, but when I take to the 'I'-thought, other thoughts arise
and disturb me.

A: See whose thoughts they are. They will vanish. They have
their root in the single 'I' -thought. Hold it and they will

Q: How can any enquiry initiated by the ego reveal its own

A: The ego's phenomenal existence is transcended when you
dive into the source from where the 'I' -thought rises.

Q: But is not the aham-vritti only one of the three forms in
which the ego manifests itself. Yoga Vasishtha and other ancient
texts describe the ego as having a threefold form.

A: It is so. The ego is described as having three bodies, the
gross, the subtle and the causal, but that is only for the purpose of
analytical exposition. If the method of enquiry were to depend on
the ego's form, you may take it that any enquiry would become
altogether impossible, because the forms the ego may assume are
legion. Therefore, for the purposes of self-enquiry you have to
proceed on the basis that the ego has but one form, namely that of

Q: But it may prove inadequate for realising jnana.

A: Self-enquiry by following the clue of aham-vritti is just like
the dog tracing his master by his scent. The master may be at
some distant unknown place, but that does not stand in the way
of the dog tracing him. The master's scent is an infallible clue for
the animal, and nothing else, such as the dress he wears, or his
build and stature, etc., counts. To that scent the dog holds on
undistractedly while searching for him, and finally it succeeds in
tracing him.


Book: Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi

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