The Best Way to Attain Moksha in Hinduism
Question: Is there a simple way to achieve liberation? There are so many yogas, paths, teacher traditions, scriptures and teachings, it is very confusing for many people.
The answer is simple. If you know how to silence your mind and keep it still, you are almost there. Of course, to find this gem of wisdom you have to dig through a lot of noise.
In Hinduism, there are no definite paths to liberation. The scriptures affirm that the paths are many, but they all lead to the same goal, which is liberation or oneness with God. To a novice, this is confusing, because it seem to offer him a wide choice from an assortment of practices and traditions about which he may not have much knowledge.
In the Bhagavadgita you will find many yogas. Although outwardly they may appear to be different, they are not different yogas but form part of the Moksha Yoga or the Yoga of liberation in which Jnana, Karma, Sanyasa and Bhakti (knowledge, sacrificial actions, renunciation and devotion) play an important role. Other yogas such as Buddhi Yoga or Atma Samyama Yoga contribute to purification and perfection in their practice. What should be renounced are desires and attachment. All the different types of yogas are meant to prepare the mind and body for the final journey.
Even in the classical yoga, the eight limbs are complimentary and serve the same purpose. They are meant to purify and silence the mind and the senses which are crucial to experience self-absorption or oneness with the Self. People may follow different methods or yogas to silence their minds according to their beliefs and teacher traditions, but their ultimate goal is the same, self-absorption (samadhi) or union with the Self.
Thus, in Hindu spiritual practice, the emphasis is upon silencing the mind and the senses with suitable techniques. They have to fall asleep for the hidden Self to emerge from the darkness of the mind and appear in its true splendor. For that all thoughts must subside in the ocean of silence.
The scriptures clearly state that there is no possibility of liberation as long as the mind is active and produces or harbors thoughts and mental modifications. One should therefore, focus upon silencing the mind and the senses by cleansing them with the help of yoga techniques such as concentration (Dharana), meditation (dhyana) and self-control (samyama).
The Maitri Upanishad sums up the idea very well by suggesting that true liberation is having your mind and thoughts under your firm control. It states (6.34) that one’s own thought is Samsara or bondage (chittam eva hi samsaram). Hence, a yogi should cleanse his thoughts. What he thinks so he becomes. From thought only both good and bad karma manifest and by the serenity of the mind they are destroyed.
Therefore, by dwelling upon the Self, with a serene mind one attains supreme happiness. If the mind is fixed upon Brahman as naturally as it dwells upon the things of the world, who will not attain liberation?
The Upanishad further states that for human beings the mind is the cause of both bondage and liberation (mana eva manusyanam Karanam bandha moksayoh). It is in bondage when the mind is bound to thoughts and desires and liberated when it is free from them. The mind is also of two types, pure and impure. It is impure when it is ridden with desires and pure when it is freed from them.
Therefore, in spiritual practice your focus should be upon cleansing your mind to make it still. Everything else is ancillary. When the mind is freed from instability and distraction and made motionless or fixed (nischalam), then it is the highest state (paramam padam).
Restraining the mind within the heart as long as possible, one attains knowledge and liberation. All else is mere continuation of the knots that bind us to the mortal life. The state of the happiness of the mind which is freed from all impurities by concentration and which has settled in the Self is indescribable.
Thus, according to the Upanishad the key to liberation is concentration and purification of the mind and body. Supreme happiness is attained when the mind is silenced by freeing it from desires, impurities and distractions and stabilized it in the self with concentration, until all thoughts and movements of the mind disappear and one remains absorbed in the Self. When the mind is attached to objects, it is bondage (bandha). When it is freed from them, it is liberation (moksha).
You can see from the above that the simplest way to achieve liberation is by knowing how to silence your mind and remain focused on the Self. You may use any number of techniques and yogas to accomplish it. Your aim should be how to become totally silent, free from desires and distractions and remain absorbed in the contemplation of the Self. If you can enter that state, then everything falls in place.
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Introduction to Hinduism
The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
The Chandogya Upanishad