By Swami Tejomayananda, Chinmaya Mission/ Speaking Tree
The faculty of thinking, the mind, is a continuous flow of various kinds of thoughts like desire, will, intention, imagination, ideas and so on. While the body is the vehicle through which we transact with the world outside, the mind is the instrument of our experiences. It is the mind alone that performs all actions. For example, when the mind is dormant as in deep sleep or in coma, we are incapable of any conscious action or interaction. The body is similar to the hardware and the mind is like the software of a computer.
Since the mind is a most sophisticated and delicate instrument, it should be handled with great care and caution. It is much better to understand its functioning rather than fight a losing battle with it. Always in search of happiness, the mind follows the senses into the world of objects and enjoys various experiences — TV shows, a dance or just window-shopping!
Nature of objects
Does happiness lie in objects of the world? Is happiness the nature of objects? If it were so, they would give the same degree of happiness to all, at all times. But no thing, being, or circumstance is able to do so. In fact, we experience the law of diminishing returns – most things that we imagine to be ‘joy-giving’, eventually turn out to be disappointments.
We contact and acquire objects, through the senses, in order to gain happiness. What happens when we enjoy objects? When a certain desire is fulfilled, the mind temporarily becomes calm which results in manifestation of happiness within. Being unaware of the fact that the joy experienced was from within — we superimpose our feeling of delight on the object. We are convinced it was the object that made us happy and therefore, become attached to it.
Some people get attached to gross objects like food; others pursue subtler joys of literature, music, art and so on. Yet others enjoy subtler pursuits like meditation – all under the false notion that they are joy-giving. The more the joy superimposed, the greater the attachment. This causes dependence, possessiveness, jealousy, and fear, leading to sorrow, tension and agitation.
Dependence is sorrow. We feel we cannot live without objects. Having imagined happiness in them, we remain bound by the rope of attachment like an animal leashed to a post. It is only when this false notion is destroyed that the mind becomes detached and free.
How do we become free from attachments? Since the mind cannot remain without holding on to something, it is impossible to unhook it from objects without giving it a greater source of happiness. The mind usually pursues objects because of its likes and dislikes. Choice less performance of one’s duties as worship of God frees it from their grip.
Source of joy
Turn the mind towards the true source of joy – the Supreme Power. Such a worshipful attitude invokes His grace; the mind is purified. A pure mind turns within to the true source of joy. It becomes absorbed in God; the Truth, one’s divine nature is revealed. The person is happy, liberated and fulfilled.