Why is it that people, who can handle complex issues at work, become extremely agitated on simple matters in personal life? Why is that we refuse to see the limitations or blemishes in one situation, when we can accept the same or look over them as acceptable or inevitable in other situations? Why is it that one can guide and counsel total strangers, but find it difficult to provide the same support for their children? These are among the scores of such situations, all of which are real. Are they all situations that require reflecting on the principle: When “mind “is intimately tied to the “matter” the mind goes through perturbations, just as the material objects change with time and circumstances? Instead can we manage the “mind” as a purveyor of the “matter” – (i.e.) mind over matter?
The matter is any and all that is known through the mind. Anything that exists, that which can be perceived, experienced, understood or reflected upon are all parts of the Matter (Prakrithi). That which resides in the matter, leading to actions (of the body), emotions (or feelings) and thoughts (intellect) is the Mind (Purusha, Self or consciousness). The Self or the mind ( I ) cannot be perceived devoid of the matter (the universe). Yet, the mind (I – the Self or consciousness) is the means to perceive any and all aspects of the “Universe”.
This mind/matter interconnectedness is illustrated through many analogies: The flame that illuminates (the mind) does not exist without the torch (matter). The flame connected to the fire appears to be unique (just as the mind, connected with each of us gives us the sense of identity as individuals). Yet, illumination (property of the mind) is inherent in every object that functions as a torch (matter enlightened by the mind). Light (the mind) illuminates the dark space (matter, without light of its own). Without darkness (matter) light (the mind) is not visible.
Here are a few quotes from Uddhava Gita:
7. 47. Just as fire manifests differently in pieces of wood of different sizes and qualities, the Self or consciousness, having entered the bodies in all forms, appears to assume the identity of each.
7. 48. The various phases of one’s material life, beginning with birth and culminating in death, are all properties of the body and do not affect the soul, just as the apparent waxing and waning of the moon does not affect the moon itself. Such changes are enforced by the imperceptible movements of time.
7. 49. The flames of a fire appear and disappear at every moment, and yet this creation and destruction is not noticed by the ordinary observer. Similarly, the mighty waves of time flow constantly, like the powerful currents of a river, and imperceptibly cause the birth, growth and death of innumerable material bodies. And yet the soul, which appears to be constantly forced to change with time, does not perceive the actions of time.
When the mind perceives nothing then nothing exists! In this state – when the mind exists without any connection to the matter- all dualities (love/hate, life/death, joy/sorrow, respect/disrespect, friend/foe, praise/criticism, relative/not-related, ……) cease to exist. It is this state of calm contemplation that we seek when we meditate. It is this state of mind that leads to the highest level of objectivity. This is the state of mind of a devotee, when he/she worships the Lord in total surrender, without any thoughts or connections. This is the state of mind of a spiritually evolved person: One of calm contemplation, independent of the situation and circumstances.
7. 50. Just as the sun evaporates large quantities of water by its potent rays and later the water returns to the earth in the form of rain, similarly, a spiritually evolved person accepts all material objects, and at the appropriate time, when the proper person has approached him to request them, he returns such material objects. Thus, both in accepting and giving up the objects, he is not entangled nor in-separably attached to all such objects.
7.51. Even when reflected in various objects, the sun is never divided, nor does it merge into its reflection. Only those with limited in their reasoning would consider the sun as divided and merged into its many reflections. Similarly, although the Selfl is reflected through different material bodies, the Selfl remains undivided and nonmaterial.
As we have stated in the earlier post Many Gita these writings are not to be studied as cursory reading materials. We should read the above verses not as abstract statements adding to our confusion! Instead they are powerful means to explore the perturbations in our mind and how to return the mind to a calm and tranquil state.
One will begin to see the above universal principles, only when every aspect of life is understood as something external and does not belong to the “Self”. In that frame of awareness or consciousness (state of mind) the field of activity (the matter) becomes irrelevant. With this frame of mind – with mind over matter – the deep and subtle principles enunciated in the scriptures – of every religion or philosophy – come to the foreground, leaving the pleasant and unpleasant details of the text in the background. In that frame of mind one becomes equipoised and not affected by the ebb and flow of the life experiences. Perceived differences in race, religion, culture, ethnicity, personal connections, etc. all give way to a larger universal principle: Thath Thwam Asi (You and the universe are integral in each other). In this state of mind over matter, the writings in Gita and all other scriptures become more relevant and purposeful.
Here are few more verses to further illuminate the concept of “Mind over matter”:
Neither people, the presiding deities (God), my body, nor the planets, past actions or time are responsible for my joys or sorrows. The learned men proclaim that the mind alone is the cause which sets the wheel of worldly experiences (dualities as mentioned above) in motion. Bhikshu Gita Verse 43
The mind alone indeed creates the powerful sense of objects (matter or the universe as we know of it) and thereafter proceeds to create the connections through the three connectors (Guna) – knowledge, bias and ignorance- which in turn result in all our perceptions or experiences. Bhikshu Gita Verse 44
The Self or consciousness is action-less, even though co-existing with the mind, which is always active. The Self or consciousness, when it is conditioned by the mind, gets also attached to its connectors – Guna – and hence becomes attached or bound to the ebb and flow of the associated experiences. Bhikshu Gita Verse 45.
Indeed the mind is mightier than the mighty! He, who brings the mind under control, is indeed the God of all Gods!! Bhikshu Gita Verse 48.
Those who have not conquered their mind, which is indeed difficult to conquer, of irresistible speed and which inflicts pain where it truly hurts, create false divisions of friend and foe amongst people. Bhikshu Gita Verse 49
Holding on to this body, which is only perceived through the mind, one becomes blinded by the notions of “I” and “my”; in this endless darkness they roam around with the delusion of “this is me” and “this is the other”. Bhikshu Gita Verse 50
The dualities (love/hate, life/death, joy/sorrow, respect/disrespect, friend/foe, praise/criticism, relative/not-related, ..) are self-inflicted through the mind. If sometimes a man unwittingly bites his own tongue, with his own teeth, then with whom can he get angry for that pain? Other than one’s own self, no one can give us joy or sorrow. Bhikshu Gita Verse 51.
Oh son, Therefore by all means restrain the mind with right understanding. This is the essence of Yoga. Bhikshu Gita Verse 61.