The Soul and the Mind

Mind and Soul

by Jayaram V

To remain the same under all circumstances is an important virtue we can cultivate for inner happiness, peace and abundance. By abundance, I mean fulfillment, the feeling of completeness or being able to be what one wants to be. Equanimity is also an important precondition on the path of liberation.

The human mind rarely rests in peace. It has a tendency to go out and reach out to things and objects it likes or withdraw and move away from things it dislikes. It also has the tendency to evaluate and judge things, events and situations it encounters, using such means as analysis, comparison and imagination. Most importantly it also has a tendency to evaluate and react to events and situations either positively or negatively according to its evaluation, resulting in positive or negative states of mind.

These particular abilities of our minds are very useful in dealing with the day to problems of our lives. But if we want to move away from our material pursuits and turn to spiritual life, they become a hindrance. We need to rely less upon our senses and mental consciousness and turn inward to awaken our hidden potentialities and better means of knowing and being.

The secret to peace and inner happiness is to know the distinction between the mind and the soul. The human mind has the natural and instinctive tendency to react. The soul, on the other hand, has the tendency to understand, to be aware and know by itself without the need for the intervention of the sense organs. Our reacting nature is responsible for our emotional states, which are referred in some scriptures as mental afflictions.

In soul there are no afflictions, but pure awareness that is tainted neither by the impurities of egoism and ignorance nor by attachment and desires. We should therefore stop reacting mentally to events and situations in our lives and learn to understand, in a very detached manner, what is happening within ourselves and outside and how and why we tend to react to different events and situations. In that awareness we will be able to transcend our limitations and experience the "truth hidden behind the golden lid."

To achieve this, we have to become soul centric by rooting ourselves in our witness consciousness and in the present moment. We have to learn to stand apart from our ordinary selves and look at the objective world with a detached mind. One simple technique to start with is to become aware of our regular breathing and learn to breath slowly.

We also have to train our four bodies (annamaha, pranamaya, manomaya and vijnanamaya kosas) and align them properly around our inner most self. We can do this through various techniques. We can align the physical or gross body through yoga asanas, yamas and niyamas as specified in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the breath body through pranayama or breath control, the mental body through meditation and contemplation and the intelligence body by cultivating divine qualities as enumerated in the Bhagavadgita which would lead to purity of thought, intention and purpose.

The human mind is the most wonderful creation of nature. It sets us apart from the rest of the living creatures upon earth and helps us greatly to cope with day to day problems. But it is also subject to several limitations, which are responsible for our ignorance and bondage. If we want to overcome these limitations, we have to develop other means of knowing and awareness. It becomes possible when we begin to identify ourselves with our inmost self and integrate the various aspects of our being around it.

Suggestions for Further Reading

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