The mind and its works
In Vedanta, the mind is considered as Jagat, meaning it is the microcosm that reflects the macrocosm of the universe. The mind controls various bodily functions such as the senses, Prana(Breath), etc. and is responsible for both bondage and liberation. Thus, a thorough understanding of the mind and its workings is crucial in studying Vedanta
According to Vedanta, the presiding deity of the mind is the Moon or Soma, which is known for its cool and soothing nature. This is because the Moon is formed of Apas-Tattva or the water element. Similarly, the mind also has a natural inclination towards sensual objects, as water tends to flow downwards.
Therefore, it is imperative to study the mind and its tendencies towards sensual objects in order to gain control over it and achieve moksha(liberation).
The external ear, eye-balls, and other such organs serve as mere instruments for the senses of Indriyas. The real centres or senses are located in the brain, or more accurately, in the astral body (Sukshma Sarira).
If the auditory nerve or the vision centre in the brain is impaired or damaged, the ability to hear or see is also affected. This holds for the other senses as well.
Despite the absence of external instruments or senses like eyeballs, during a dream, the mind performs the functions of all the senses. Within the mind, all the senses blend together, and it is the mind itself that is responsible for hearing, tasting, feeling, and so on.
This provides evidence that the real senses are located within the mind, while external organs like the tongue, nose, legs, and so on are merely instruments.
When considering whether to go to eat ice-cream or not, the mind performs the functions of Sankalpa and Vikalpa. The intellect or Buddhi then makes the decision that “I must go,”
while the ego or Ahamkara takes credit for the decision. The Chitta serves as a storehouse of Samskaras or impressions, and it prepares for the journey and issues orders to the senses.
When the mind decides to go and eat ice cream, the senses become active. The legs move and the eyes search for an ice cream shop.
Once you arrive at the ice cream shop and the Vritti or wave of thought that had been agitating you subsides or dissolves (Laya), you experience temporary peace and satisfaction after fulfilling your desire.
If you strike a vessel made of bell metal with a tuning fork, it will vibrate. Similarly, when someone praises or abuses you, or when you experience pain or pleasure, your mind vibrates.
When you receive praise and feel pleasure, the mind expands. Conversely, when you face criticism and experience pain, the mind contracts.
The mind, being a miniature Maya(Illusion), brings about the state of Self-realization when it stops functioning and merges into the Absolute.
In essence, Swami Shivananda taught us that the mind is a powerful tool that can influence our lives for better or for worse. By understanding how it works, we can take control of our thoughts and emotions, and steer them towards our goals.