Manas is the Sanskrit word for the perceiving, information-processing mind. I prefer the English phrase monkey mind; it captures the way my mind chaotically shifts from one stimulus to the next. And the way the thoughts overlap, leapfrog and contradict, peaceful and painful often jostling for the same spot.
This silent internal whirl is just the mind doing its job; thinking, analysing and preparing me for worst-case scenarios. It is keeping me alive, it believes. The mind is not a bad thing, it just does not know where to stop.
Delegate the mind. Let it do this job: If it stands at the gate of inner being, it will be doing the job properly, and you will not be troubled – Shantananda Saraswati
In peace, quiet and concentration, Manas is observed by us, we can see or sense its movements. Under observation it doesn’t run amok.
Instead it slows…
The limits it imposes lift. The limits we need for navigating the material world aren’t needed for peaceful inner lives.
In the quote above, the advice is to use the mind as an instrument, a servant to ourselves, to protect our equanimity, which is our natural state. Shantananda also advised us to: “provide the rest and make them (thoughts) give up.”
This implies a letting go of attachment to thoughts, beliefs and desires – actively becoming passive.
To arrive at being all, desire to be nothing… – St John of the Cross
Such words also suggest that in rest, a deeper, more fulfilling experience of life can be found.
Buddhists learn that desire is the root of suffering. When there is less desire, less emotion, less claiming and less grasping, the not wanting brings rest. It is less cerebral and more balanced – things are done less to satisfy whatever urge the mind has fastened on to, and more out of a natural movement to act.
With the mind more at peace, one has easier access to intuition and feeling, qualities found at a deeper level, in the stillness of the deep ocean rather than the turbulence of the waves on top. The thoughts that arise from this deeper place are simpler, more innocent and more brilliant than those of the thinking mind and the intellect. David Lynch calls this ‘catching the big fish’.
But who has the time to contemplate this these days, with the daily bombardment of so much information? For people inclined to analysing what their mind consumes, time and space is necessary to absorb information and make sense of it all. Without this, the junk piles up inside us.
The junk pile is all externally sourced and imported in. The chaos out there isn’t going away. The nature of things is dynamic, constant movement. In London this is accelerated. But we can exercise some control over ourselves and our internal world, bringing some stillness and observation which can then transform our relationship to this breakneck world.
A white flower grows in quietness
Let your tongue become that flower – Rumi
By Tom Charles @tomhcharles