The mind is a machine. It is programmed with countless thoughts; it is full of thoughts of the past and plans for the future. It is plagued and tormented by worries, fears, jealousies, etc. It continually broods over ‘whether that man likes me or dislikes me’, ‘have I made a good impression’, ‘did I make a fool of myself, ‘I was very clever today’ and so forth. The mind may remember a pleasant holiday, or angrily remember an argument, etc. There is no end to these mental fluctuations. They can never be stopped or suppressed directly, for they will merely bubble up again with increased intensity. Identification with the mind processes can never lead to mental peace, bliss or self-knowledge.
Then what should one do to find peace in life? The most direct method is by developing awareness. You must try to witness all thoughts and actions as something outside your being. This is the means to break the spell – the hypnotic effect of the continuous stream of thoughts. Instead of being lost in one’s thoughts and actions, one should try to become a witness of them.
In India, the automatic functions of the mind are called karma. It refers to the mental impressions that make up one’s personality. These mental impressions oppose or reinforce, believe or disbelieve an endless flow of concepts in the mind. It is these mental impressions which make one feel inferior or superior, good or bad and so forth. These impressions arise in the mind and cause corresponding externalaction. If one identifies with them, it is easy toget lost on the path of life. Karma is in themind: it indicates entanglement and attachment with external phenomena and the subconscious data of the mind. To becometree from the bondage of karma one mustbecome a witness.
Yet strange to say, there is a strong tendency to hold on to thoughts, especially pleasant thoughts, as one would hold on to the top of a multi-storey building. People are frightened to release their attachment to thoughts and concepts in case they find meaninglessness life. Yet just the opposite is true. The more one ceases to be attached to thoughts and ideas, the more happiness and meaning one will find.