The mind is one of the most mysterious entities known to mankind. Its mysteries have captivated scientists, spiritual seekers and even poets and novelists. Though we frequently use phrases such as “never mind” and “mind you”, most of us still only have a vague and ambiguous idea of what the mind really is. Most people though, are concerned with the influence the mind has on our daily experience of life, rather than the question of what it actually is.
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We experience the mind as a non-stop stream of thoughts, which are influenced by a complex web of our likes, dislikes, attitudes, habits, inhibitions, morals etc. This, often unconscious stream, determines how we interact and relate to the world around us, giving shape to our joys, grief, pleasure, and fears.
Very few have the perception and depth to see the invisible strings which bind our mind into a seemingly solid structure, let alone find ways to articulate it. In ‘Mind Is Your Business’, that is exactly what Sadhguru does. He explores the possibilities and pitfalls of the mind and tells us how it can be cultivated for inner peace, joy, and effectiveness.
Compiled from a variety of discourses, this book is a voyage of discovery. Sadhguru destroys overused cliches and goes beyond morality and impractical advice and lays bare the deceptive drama of the mind. At the end of the book, you will have all the tools required to shift from being a slave to the mind to having the mastery to use it at will. So if you’re ready, let’s dive in!
The Circus Of The Mind
Why do we refer to the mind as a circus? A circus is a highly coordinated activity deliberately made to look like a mess. And just like a circus, there is an extremely well coordinated play and dance of neurons in your brain, which is responsible for a billion things happening in your body right now. But unfortunately, in most people’s experience, the mind has become a mess because they don’t take charge and conduct the circus consciously.
Your mind – that which should have been a ladder to the divine – has unfortunately become a stairway to hell, simply because it is too identified with so many things. Once your intellect has become identified with something, your perception becomes distorted and this distortion permeates every aspect of your life.
For example, if a knife has to cut through anything effortlessly, it is important that whatever it cuts through does not stick to it. If the residue keeps sticking to the knife, then it becomes useless. But unfortunately, our ways of thinking and feeling are deeply identified with things we are associated with – our body, our parentage, our children, our wife, our home – with just about anything and everything. People have tried drugs, alcohol, and all kinds of things to stop this identification, but it cannot be stopped like that. It can stop only when you develop the ability to become involved with life, but not identified.
We even talk a lot about becoming ‘no-mind’, which is a very misunderstood concept. It took millions of years to evolve the mind. Why become ‘no-mind’ now? The mind becomes a tremendous possibility instead of a barrier if we understand its fundamental nature and handle it accordingly. Your mind doesn’t need to be controlled, it needs to be liberated.
One of the biggest problems we face is that, right from childhood, the concept of morality, or what is right and wrong has been imposed on us. You naturally get identified with what you consider good and repelled from what you consider bad. Having an aversion to something and an attraction towards something else is the basis of identification.
Detaching yourself from life is also not the answer. Life cannot be experienced unless there is involvement – the deeper the involvement, the deeper the experience of life. Entanglement has happened because your involvement is discriminatory in nature. It is coming from a certain involvement, such as ‘I am involved with this person because she is my wife or my daughter…’ etc. Involvement beyond identification can bring absolute joy to your life.
Involvement is not an act, it is a certain willingness towards the process of life. If you are selective in your involvement, you are committing suicide in installments. Whatever you do willingly, that becomes your heaven, whatever you do unwillingly becomes your hell. Even if you’re a hundred years old, your aliveness need not go down even though your physical capabilities do. If you are involved in all aspects of your life with the same passion, then your mind stops being a misery, it becomes a beautiful circus.
If you really want to unleash the mind, not control it, then fundamentally, your intellect should not be identified with anything. Then your perception gains such clarity that your mind naturally organises itself, no one has to do it for you. Once you are identified with something, your perception gets distorted.
From the day you were born, people have been campaigning to increase your sense of identity with them. Your parents have been campaigning to get you identified with your family, others have been campaigning to get you identified with this and that religion, caste, ideology etc. No one wants you to be a liberated human being because they are afraid of freedom. They are afraid that if someone is free, they’ll do irresponsible things. But people do irresponsible things only when they are not free, when they are identified only with themselves. That’s when they can harm others. But no harm can come out of a truly free person.
Just as your body is an accumulation of the food that you have eaten, what you call as your mind is also an accumulation of all the impressions that you have received through your sense organs. The system of yoga is not a teaching, a philosophy, a belief system, or a religion. It is a technology which allows you to go beyond your accumulations and experience a more fundamental dimension. It creates a separation between what is you and what is your body and mind. Once this space arises, the mind is no longer a mess. It is a tremendous possibility that can take you to amazing heights.
The Garbage Bin
This chapter has been structured as a series of questions posed by devotees, followed by Sadhguru’s answer.
- Questioner – “Are mind and brain the same thing?”
The brain is a physical thing. It is a part of the body. The mind is a consequence of the brain’s activities. It exists only because of this activity and is not a physical object. That is why you cannot find it and fix it. Every cell in your body has a mind. Your genes carry memory and act out that memory. Even that is a kind of a mind.
If you turn off the mind, it is not just off – it ceases to exist. If you turn it on, is there again, just like a cinema. It does not matter whether a war scene or a love scene is going on, if you turn off the power switch, the cinema is gone. The mind is just like that. A big drama is going on which seems extremely real. In your experience of life, what is going on in your mind is more important to you than what is going on outside of you. But if you turn it off, you are able to see the ridiculous nature of your mind.
If all the walls in your house are screens, and the same movie is playing all the time, you will go mad. It does not matter what kind of movie movie it is. But if you can turn it on and off when you want, then it becomes a wonderful movie. The same is true of the mind.
- Questioner – “Why are we so obsessed with sex?”
Most of us spend a lot of time and energy thinking about sexuality and the other sex. But this is an example of compulsive behaviour. Your intelligence gets hijacked by hormones. Living within the ambit of your body might bring you a little bit of pleasure but that’s it. No matter what you have or how much you have, you will still live an unfulfilled life.
As time passes, you realise that your body will eventually die, and if all you have ever known is your body, fear becomes the way to live. If you try to make the limited unlimited, you will suffer. Once you live a compulsive life, you are living the life of a slave. As people get older and richer, they start doing more desperate things to be happy. But if you have to take a tablet everyday to remain sane, that’s not joyfulness.
- Questioner – “How do we keep our thoughts pure?”
A thought is just a thought. It is neither pure nor dirty. Every thought you have is a result of the information that you have gathered, and the influences you have come under. No new thought is coming to you. Your mind is like society’s garbage bin. Everyone who comes your way throws something in and goes. You don’t have a choice what to receive and what not to receive.
But just because it’s like a garbage bin, it’s not useless. Your home could do without a television or a garage but it cannot do without a garbage bin. The quality of your house is dependent on the garbage bin. But that does not mean you need to sleep in it, which is what is happening right now. If you keep the garbage bin elsewhere, and use it when you have to, it’s a wonderful instrument. Similarly, there is nothing wrong with the content of your mind if you’re not identified with it.
If you stop paying attention to your thoughts, they will eventually die. But you can’t do that unless you see that your thoughts are quite petty and stupid compared to the rest of existence. If you become likes this, then once in a while when you consciously think, your mind will be crystal clear and will be like a knife which cuts through everything.
Don’t try to have pure thoughts. They are more dangerous because you get even more attached to them. If you can stop identifying with things and simply sit as a piece of life, not as a Hindu or Muslim, or an Indian or American, your mind will become still. If your body moved like your mind, then people would think you are crazy. They just can’t see how much your mind is running, but some people can if they watch closely enough.
- Questioner – ‘Whenever I try to meditate, my mind comes up with excuses and I’m not able to sit still’
If you keep the body still, the mind will also naturally become still. The mind knows that if this is allowed to happen, it will become enslaved. It comes up with a lot of tricks to prevent this, like telling you to do it tomorrow, making you remember seemingly important tasks, creating bodily itches etc. This is why in Yoga, so much emphasis is laid on asanas, which helps you keep your body still. There is so much unnecessary thought and activity with the body and if you keep still, your mind will start collapsing.
The final trick of the mind is to ask ‘What do I get out of it?’ If you stop worrying about ‘What can I get?”, 90% of the spiritual work is over. The rest 10% will take care of itself. You don’t have to get anything or benefit from it. The main aspect of meditation is, as you become more meditative, you become the boss, your mind becomes the slave, and this is how it should be. The mind is a terrible master but a wonderful slave.
A Ladder To The Divine
- Questioner – ‘What does it mean to be aware?’
Awareness does not mean mental alertness. Mental alertness helps you conduct your survival process in a superior manner. Awareness is not something you do. It is aliveness. You are alive only to the extent you are alive. And to what extent you are aware, only to that extent, something is in your experience.
Right now you are giving too much significance to what you think and feel. Your psychological process has become far more important than your life process. You can choose to fully be and still not think. The most beautiful moments in your life, moments of bliss, joy, ecstasy, and utter peace, are those moments when you were not thinking about anything but were just living.
You cannot experience life you are lost in thought. It is only through perception that you experience. Your psychological process is very small compared to your life process. Isn’t being alive more important than thinking. But if you trample on someone’s ideas, they are even willing to die for it. People die for their ideas. People die for their thought. People die for what they believe in.
The logical aspect of your mind should only be used to handle the material realities of life. Moments of extreme logic are moments of suicide, because if you look at your life logically, there is no meaning to it. There is really no reason to live. But if you look at one beautiful moment of your life’s experience, suddenly everything is sparked up and you want to live. If you look at life experientially, there is every reason to live.
In order to truly know the immensity of life, you need more than your thoughts, logic, or intellect. You will need to open up a dimension beyond these things. Otherwise you will know only the physicality of life, and you won’t penetrate anything deeper.
Because the world has given so much significance to Aristotle’s school of thought, all the sciences have developed in the physical dimension. Modern technology has brought many comforts and convenience to you, but ultimately it has not brought you any joy. No new dimension has opened to you because the instruments of exploration you are using are limited.
- Questioner – ‘How does a gnana yogi progress and attain on the path? Isn’t that path all about using the logical mind and dissecting things?
A gnana yogi is someone who uses his intellect to start with, and then moves on to use his intelligence. He understands that the logical intellect can never function without information, and information is something you gather from outside. The only means of gathering information is the five sense organs, and sense perception is not reliable.
You have been told that ‘seeing is believing’ but that’s not true. Everyone sees what they want to see. Your ideas of big and small, good and bad etc all depend on what you identify with. The world is not the way you think it is. This is not philosophy or mysticism, this is what neurologists say. They also say that if there is no past information in your mind, you cannot actually see anything.
Even though modern science collects and processes more information about the world and our existence than ever, we are not closer to knowing anything. In fact we are more bewildered than ever before. So much information has actually moved us away from knowing because that is the nature of existence. One day it will happen that every cell in our body will need a different doctor, because each cell is so complex that one man cannot grasp the whole of what the cell is.
Our logical intellect is like a scalpel. You can use it to cut things open and look inside. You will not know anything by cutting alone. You still have to look inside. To see, you need intelligence and intelligence is not logical. What you call is intelligence and what you call as Creator or God are the same. If you operate within the limits of your intellect, you will never know the Creator.
- Questioner – ‘Can you talk about the path of bhakti or devotion?’
Devotion is the quickest way to the truth. It has always been, and always will be. A devotee has no agenda other than dissolving into his object of devotion. To do that you have to uproot yourself, and brush aside your intellect. Only then will devotion work. But this is a difficult task in the modern world.
Devotion as a way of life is wonderful but you have to really examine if it works for you. Thinking people cannot be devout. Touching the feet of a guru is not a devotion. It’s a deal. You are seeking something for yourself like success in your business, good luck in relationships etc. If you really want to become a devotee, and attain to the Ultimate through devotion, then you should have no agenda for yourself.
- Questioner – ‘Why do human beings suffer more than animals?’
You think only human beings suffer, but the way human beings are living, we are making everything in existence suffer, including animals. Your suffering, your enjoyment, and your wellbeing are always from your perspective because your experience of life is through you. You see everything only from your context.
Animals suffer only physically, but human beings suffer more than other creatures because we have a discretionary intellect. Most of our suffering is self-created and purely mental in nature. Animals do not have these problems. Tigers don’t sit and worry about how to become a good tiger, or which university to go to. But to become a good human being, look at all the things you have to do. Only in comparison with someone else can you say, “I am a better man”, but by yourself, you do not know where you stand.
Nature has given us the freedom to choose what we want to become. It is not fixing our lives the way it has fixed the life of other creatures. But it is exactly this freedom which is causing all the pain and struggles of a human being. Human beings are not suffering their bondage, they are suffering their freedom and that is the biggest tragedy.
Freedom is only a problem when you are unaware. If you were aware, the same freedom would be your saviour. Meditation is given so much importance because it makes you as conscious as possible, allowing you to make use of your freedom to reach a higher dimension.
- Questioner – ‘How does one know whether they are hallucinating, or experiencing reality, especially when they are on the spiritual path?’
Reality can be much more unreal than hallucination. What neuroscientists and physicists talk about today is as outlandish as what the yogis used to talk about. They just used their perception and described what they saw. If you are genuinely hallucinating, they you are making things up so powerfully in your mind that they seem real. If you create it in your mind and empower it with your consciousness, it can become a live process.
The science of Tantra enables you to do just this. Tantra literally means ‘technology’ which lets you create what you want. Tantra does not believe in creating what you want in terms of the physical existence around you, but is focussed on creating forms and identities which will function way beyond your intelligence. It allows you to use your body, your mind, and your energies just as instruments of life, so that you become available to a much higher possibility.
Everything you get by doing physically, you can get by doing it mentally. This fundamentally involves two steps. One is to have the ability to vividly create every detail of what you want in your mind. The fundamental thing is to keep your personality out of your imagination. This takes a certain amount of training and dispassion about yourself. Then there is another step of empowering and infusing it with life energies so that it becomes a live process by itself.
Imagination can do incredible things. If you have enough control over your life energies and can empower your imagination, you can create whole new universes and dimensions. Modern physics tells us that there exist multiple dimensions of reality in the same place. We perceive this but are not able to compute it and make it into a sensible picture.
If one has the stability to remove his persona from the activity he does, then you can raise the pitch of your activity to a whole new dimension. If you operate as just life, and life alone, your capabilities are immense and is no longer limited to your physical form. They key is to be able to use your imagination consciously and empower it with your life energy. But if your imagination has gone berserk and you are no longer able to control it – that is hallucination.
- Questioner – ‘Through the process of yoga, how can one transcend the mind’
If your mind ceases to exist, then the past also ceases to exist. There will only be the present. The past exists only in our minds, and hence, mind is karma. If you transcend the mind, you transcend the karmic bondage. Your old stock of karma is not the problem. You should learn how to not create new stock. Then, leaving the old stock is very simple.
“To rise above the modification of your mind, when you cease your mind, when you cease to be a part of your mind, that is yoga.”
Once you learn how not to use the mind and simply look at life, then the Ultimate becomes available to you. Through the distortions of the mind, you cannot perceive anything. What does it mean to become a “Buddha”? Buddhi means intellect, so a Buddha is one who has risen above his intellect.
Someone who is in his intellect is constantly suffering, no matter how well they are placed in life. It is because people are unable to bear this torture that they have devised many ways to go below the mind. Excessive eating, drinking, sexual indulgence etc are all ways to go below the mind. It gives you a bit of relief for some time, but life always catches up with you with more intensity after it is over.
People usually understand ‘out of the mind’ as madness. But madness is of the mind. As long as you are in the mind, you cannot escape the madness. Some level of madness if going on in everyone. But if you are out of the circus of your mind, you will be 100% free of madness.
Isha Kriya is a simple yet potent meditative practice rooted in the timeless wisdom of yogic sciences. It is a 12 minute practice which helps an individual pursue immediate and ultimate well being and experience success in the social sphere, while nourishing the inner longing for the deeper dimensions of life. It is a powerful tool to cope with the hectic pace of daily life.
Sit facing east in a cross legged posture, with your spine comfortably erect. Keep your hands upon your thighs with the palms facing up. With your face slightly upturned and eyes closed, keep a mild focus between your eyebrows.
This happens in 3 stages
- Stage 1 – Inhale and exhale gently, slowly. With each inhalation, mentally say to yourself: “I am not the body.” The inhalation should last the whole duration of that thought. With each exhalation, mentally say to yourself: “I am not even the mind.” The exhalation should last for the whole duration of that thought. Repeat this for 7 to 11 minutes.
- Stage 2 – Utter a long “A” sound (as the “a” in father). The sound should come from just below the navel. You need not utter it very loud, but loud enough to feel the vibration. Utter the long “A” sound 7 times, exhaling fully into each sound.
- Stage 3 – Sit for 5 to 6 minutes with a slightly upturned face, and keep a mild focus between your eyebrows. The total time of this practice is between 12 to 18 min. You can sit longer if you want.
While you sit for the Isha Kriya, do not pay attention to the activity of the mind or body. Whatever is happening in your body or your mind, just ignore it and simply sit there. Do not take a break in between, as it will disturb the reorganization of energies that happens during the practice. Each time you do the kriya, you must do it for a minimum of 12 minutes, and twice a day for 48 days (considered as a full mandala or cycle), or once a day for 90 days. This is your commitment.
- Question – ‘ What can I gain out of this?’
Meditation gives you an experience, an inner space where what is you and what is yours is separated. It gives great clarity of perception and removes all distortions. People try to substitute this clarity with all kinds of things but it never works.
- Question – ‘Why should I keep my head upturned?’
You do this because your system becomes receptive when your head is upturned.
- Question – ‘What does this meditation do?’
This Kriya will create a space between you and your body, and you and your mind. If you meditate every day, a day will come when you open your eyes, and you can still experience that the mind is there and you are here. This is the end of suffering.
For different levels of thought and emotion that you go through, your breath takes on different types of patterns. Thus the science of pranayama and kriya is based on the fact that by consciously breathing in a particular way, the very way you think, feel, understand and experience life can be changed. Whichever way you breathe, that is the way you think. Whichever way you think, that is the way you breathe.
If you know the bliss of simply sitting here, the blissfulness of just being able to simply sit here, not think anything, not do anything, simply sit here, just being life, then life would be very different. Once simply sitting and breathing is such a great pleasure, you will become very genial, flexible, wonderful because all the time you are in a great state within yourself.
The mind is where your greatest successes and worst failures reside. It can be a wonderful slave but a terrible master. Learning to properly liberate and use your mind will separate you from most people and lead you down the path of success and happiness. Understanding the illusion of your identity and intellect through consistent meditative practices is key to achieving this transformation.