In Sanskrit the mind is called mana and from this
word comes manu which means man. Also the word man
is much the same as manu, and from that we gather
that man is his mind. Man is not his body, nor is he his
soul; for the soul is divine, it has no distinction, and
the body is a cover. Man, therefore, is his mind.
Once we begin to look into the minds of men we begin
to see such a phenomenon that no wonder in the world can
be compared with it. Looking in the eyes when they are afraid,
when they doubt, when they are sad and want to hide it,
when they are glad; seeing how men from lions turn into
rabbits, when they have a guilty conscience. As flowers
emit fragrance so minds produce atmosphere. Apart from seeing
it in the aura, even in the expression of man, we can see
clearly the record of his mind. Nothing can show man's mind
better than his own expression. Mind therefore, is the principal
thing. We distinguish men as individualities, and it is
the culture of the mind which develops individuality into
The difference between mind and heart is that the mind
is the surface of the heart, and the heart the depth of
the mind: they are two different aspects of one and the
same thing. The mind thinks, the heart feels. What the heart
feels the mind wants to interpret in thought; what the mind
thinks, the heart assimilates expressing it in feeling.
Neither is the mind the brain, nor is the heart a piece
of flesh hidden under the breast. Those who do not believe
in such a thing as the mind think that thoughts and impressions
are in the brain, that a person thinks with his brain. It
is not true. The brain only helps to make impressions clear
to man's material vision.
The mind does not belong to the same element as the body;
the body belongs to the physical, the mind to the mental
element; the latter cannot be measured or weighed or made
intelligible by physical instruments. Those in the world
of science who are trying and hoping one day to produce
machines which make thoughts and impressions clear, if ever
they are successful, will only be so in the sense that the
impressions of thoughts affecting the physical body will
be felt by their instruments, but not the thoughts from
the mental sphere; for the mind alone is the instrument
that can take reflections from the mind.
The mind can be seen as five different faculties working
together: in thinking, remembering, reasoning, identifying
Thinking is of two kinds: imagination and thought. When
the mind works under the direction of the will there is
thought, when the mind works automatically without the power
of the will there is imagination. The thoughtful person
is he who has a rein over the activity of the mind; an imaginative
person is the one who indulges in the automatic action of
the mind. Both thought and imagination have their place
in life. The automatic working of the mind produces a picture,
a plan which is something more beautiful than a plan or
idea carefully thought out under the control of the will.
Therefore, artists, poets, musicians are very often imaginative,
and the beauty they produce in their art is the outcome
of their imagination.
The secret that is to be understood about imagination
is this: everything that works automatically must be prepared
first, then it works; just like a watch must be prepared
first, then it works automatically. We must wind it up,
then it can go on; we need trouble about it no more. This
shows that we need prepare the mind to work automatically
to the best advantage in life. If people become imaginative
without having prepared their mind, it leads them to at
least an unbalanced condition, and maybe to insanity; for
when an imaginative person becomes unbalanced, and has no
control over his mind, it may lead to insanity.
Now the question arises: how to prepare the mind? The
mind is like a film taking all the photographs to make a
moving picture, and it produces the same that was once taken
in. The one who is critical, who looks at the ugly side
of human nature, who has love for evil, love for gossip,
who has the desire to see the bad side of things, who wishes
to find the bad points of people, prepares a film in his
mind. That film projected onto the curtain produces undesirable
impressions in the form of imagination.
The great poets who gave us beautiful teachings in moral,
in truth, where did they get them from? This life here is
the school in which they learned, this life is the stage
on which they saw and gathered. They are the worshippers
of beauty in nature and in art. In all conditions of life
they meditate upon beauty and find good points in all those
they see. They gather all that is beautiful, from the good
and the wicked both. Just like the bee takes the best from
every flower and makes honey from it, so they gather all
that is beautiful and express it through their imagination
in the form of music, poetry and art, as well as in their
thoughts and deeds in everyday life.
I began in my early life a pilgrimage in India – not
to holy shrines, but to holy men, going from place to place
and seeing holy men of different characters and natures.
What I gathered from them all was their great love nature,
their outgoing tendency, their deep sympathy and their inclination
to find some good. In every person they see they are looking
for some good, and therefore, they find it in the wicked
person. By doing so they themselves become goodness because
they have gathered it: we become what we gather. In their
presence there is nothing but love, compassion and understanding
– of which so little is found in this world.
In our domestic life, in our social or political life,
in business, in commerce, in national activities – if we
had that one tendency, it would make life different for
us, more worth living than it is today for so many souls.
The condition today is that people are rich, they have all
convenience and comfort – but what is lacking is understanding.
Home is full of comfort, but there is no understanding,
there is no happiness. It is such a little thing, and yet
so difficult to obtain. No intellectuality can give understanding.
This is where man makes a mistake: he wants to understand
through his head. Understanding comes from the heart. The
heart must be glowing, living. When the heart becomes feeling
then there is understanding, then you are ready to see from
the point of view of another as much as you can see from
your own point of view.
The other aspect of thinking is thought, which is heavier,
more solid, more vital than imagination, because it has
a backbone which is will power. Therefore, when we say,
'This is a thoughtful person,' we make a distinction between
the imaginative and the thoughtful person. The latter has
a weight about him, something substantial; one can rely
upon him. The imaginative person one day may come saying,
'I love you so much; you are so good, so high, so true,
so great,' but it is just like a cloud of imagination which
has arisen. The next day it is scattered away, and the same
imaginative person, who yesterday followed this cloud, would
try to find some fault, and nothing is left in his hands.
How very often this happens! Those are angelic people perhaps,
but they ride on the clouds. For this dense earth they are
of no use, one cannot rely upon them. They are as changeable
as the weather. The thoughtful person, on the contrary,
takes his time to express both his praise and his blame.
The mind of the thoughtful is anchored and under control.
The one who learns how to make the best of imagination
and how to control his thought shows great balance in life.
How is this to be achieved? By concentration. In India there
is a sacred Hindu legend relating that two sons of God (sons
of Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu) were in a country where
the younger one saw a horse which was set out free by the
government. The one who would catch the horse would become
king of that country. This youth was so attracted to the
horse, and to the idea that was behind it, that he ran after
it. He could not catch it, for the horse would sometime
slow down, but ran away as soon as the youth nearly reached
it. His mother was worried and asked the elder brother to
go find him. Then the older brother came and saw that his
brother was pursuing the horse. So he said to him, 'That
is a wrong method. You will never be able to catch the horse
that way. The best way of catching it is not to follow,
but to meet it.' Instead of following the horse the youth
met the horse, and so caught it. The mother was very pleased
and proud that her son had been able to catch the horse,
and he became entitled to the throne and crown of his father.
The horse in this story is the mind. When the mind is
controlled then mastery is gained and God's kingdom attained.
The younger brother is the pupil, the elder brother the
guru, the teacher. The way of controlling the mind is not
by following it, but it is by concentrating: by concentrating
one meets it.
It is also told that a Sufi had a pupil who said to him,
'Teacher, I cannot concentrate on one thing. If I try to
concentrate on one object, other objects appear; then they
become so muddled that I do not know which is which. It
is difficult to hold the mind on one object.' The teacher
said, 'Your difficulty is your anxiety. The moment you begin
to concentrate, you are anxious that your mind might wander
away. If you were not anxious about it, your mind would
have poise; your anxiety makes it more active. If you just
take what it gives you, instead of looking behind it in
order to see where it goes, if you change this tendency
and meet the mind face to face, seeing how it comes to you
and with what it comes, you will be able to concentrate
From this story a great lesson is to be learned, for
this is always the case! The moment one sits down to concentrate
the mind changes its rhythm for the very reason that the
person is anxious to keep it under control. The mind does
not wish it; it wants its freedom. As you stand for your
right, so the mind stands for its right. The best way is
to greet the mind as it comes to meet you. Let it bring
what it brings when you stand face to face with your mind,
and be not annoyed with what it brings. Just take it, then
you have the mind under control, for when it comes to you,
it will not go further; let it bring what it brings. In
this way you make a connection with your mind, and as soon
as you begin to look at it, you have your mind in hand.
The photographer has his subject in hand when he has focused
the camera on his subject. It is the same thing with a person
and his mind: as soon as he has focused himself on the mind
he has got it under control.
Concentrations can be considered as different stages
of evolution. The first concentration is on a certain designed
object and is divided into two actions. One action is making
the object and then holding it in the mind. It is just like
a child who takes little bricks, pillars, and different
things making a little house out of them. The first action
is this making of the house; the second action is looking
at it. This is one kind of concentration, and another kind
is that there already is an object which the mind must reflect
by focusing itself on that object.
The next stage of concentration is improving on the object.
For instance, one imagines a tiger, and then one also imagines
the background of the tiger: rocks behind it, a mountain,
trees, forest, and a river. That is improvement: holding
at the same time the background and changing it according
to the activity of the mind. Even if the tiger changes,
it does not matter as long as one has that particular kind
The third concentration is on an idea. The idea has some
form, which is inexpressible – but the mind makes it.
Now coming to the realm of feeling – feeling is such
an important thing that our whole lives depend upon it.
A person, once disheartened, sometimes loses enthusiasm
for his whole life. A person, once disappointed, loses trust
for his whole life. A person heart-broken, loses self-confidence
for all his life. A person, once afraid, sustains fear in
his heart forever. A person, who has once failed, keeps
all through life the impression of his failure.
In the East they love bird fights. Two men bring their
birds to fight, and as soon as a man sees that the bird
of the other man will win in the end, he takes his bird
away while it is in the action of fighting – before it has
accepted defeat. The man admits defeat while the two birds
are fighting, but he does not allow his bird to go so far
as to be impressed by defeat. Once impressed by it the bird
will never fight again. This is the secret of our mind,
and once we learn to take care of our mind – just as the
man took care of his bird – going to any sacrifice but not
giving the mind a bad impression, we will make the best
of our life.
Besides this, we read of the lives of great heroes and
great personalities, how they went through all difficulties
and sorrows and troubles, and yet always tried to keep their
heart from being humbled. This gave them all their strength;
they always escaped humiliation. They were prepared for
death, wars, suffering and poverty, but not for humiliation.
I will tell you an amusing anecdote. I once was in Nepal,
near the Himalayas, and I wanted a servant, so I sent for
one. He was of the warrior's caste, Kshatriyas, of a fighter's
tribe in the mountains. I asked him what work he wanted
to do, and he said: 'Any work you like, anything you like.'
I asked: 'What about pay?' 'Anything you will give,' he
answered. I was amused to find that he wanted to do any
work I would give him and to accept any pay. 'Well,' I said,
'then there is no condition to be made?' He said: 'One.
You will not speak a cross word with me.' Imagine! He was
ready to accept any money, willing to do any work, but no
humiliation. I appreciated that spirit of the warrior beyond
words; this was what made him a warrior.
Friends, our failure and our success all depend upon
the condition of our mind. If the mind fails, failure is
sure, if the mind is successful, conditions do not matter:
we shall be successful in the end.
Question: Is it possible, when humiliated, to spare our
mind the injury of humiliation by seeing that the person
who humiliates us is beneath us?
Answer: That is not the way, because as soon as we accept
humiliation we are humiliated, whether we think it or not.
It does not depend upon the other person, it depends upon
ourselves. No sooner do we admit humiliation, there is humiliation.
If the whole world does not accept our humiliation, it does
not matter as long as our mind feels humiliated, and if
our mind does not accept humiliation, it does not matter
if the whole world takes it as such. If a thousand persons
come and say to a man, 'You are wicked,' he will not believe
it as long as his heart says, 'I am not wicked.' But when
his heart says, 'I am wicked,' if a thousand persons say,
'You are good,' his heart keeps him down just the same.
If we ourselves give up, then nobody can sustain us.
Question: Is it possible then to develop a state of mind
that lifts us out of humiliation?
Answer: Well, the best thing would be to avoid humiliation,
but if a person cannot avoid it, then he must be as a patient
who must be treated by a physician, then he needs a person
powerful enough to help him, a master-mind, a spiritual
person. He then can be doctored, attended to, and get over
that condition. When a person is a patient he cannot very
well help himself. He can do much, but then there is the
necessity of a doctor.
Question: Can that condition be treated by counter-irritation?
Answer: Yes, it can be met with that.
Question: What do you do when the feeling of humiliation
has entered the mind?
Answer: To take it as a lesson, to take poison as something
that must be. However, poison is poison. What is put in
the mind will grow. It must be taken out. Every impression,
if it remains, will grow: humiliation, fear, doubt. When
it is there it remains; there will come a time when the
person will be conscious of it. It will grow, and because
it is growing in the subconscious mind it will bear fruits
Question: Would the study of mathematics be good for
an imaginative person?
Answer: Yes, it can bring about a balance. I have seen
this in the case of one of my pupils who was extremely imaginative.
He could not stay on the earth. But later on he got into
a business where he was obliged to count figures, and after
some time he obtained a great deal of balance.
I have given this as a title in order to make my idea
intelligible, but when explaining the subject, instead of
using the word mind, I shall use the word spirit. The word
mind comes from a Sanskrit root, which means mind and also
man. In this way the name itself explains that man is his
mind. Since the word, mind, is not understood in the same
way by all those who use it in their everyday language,
I think it best to use the word spirit instead.
The spirit can be defined as consisting of five different
aspects: mind, memory, reason, feeling and ego, and each
of these five aspects is of two kinds.
The mind is creative of thought and imagination. Out
of the work of the mind, directed by the will, comes thought,
and out of the automatic working of the will, comes thought,
and imagination. So the thoughtful person is different from
the imaginative. Thought is concrete because it is constructed;
it is made by will power. The thoughtful person therefore,
is dependable and more balanced, because he stands on his
own feet. The imaginative person, on the contrary, floats
in the air; he rises and falls with his imaginations. He
may touch the heights of heaven, and he may fall deep down
on to the bottom of the earth. He may float to the north,
the south, the east or the west. However, both thought and
imagination have their proper places.
The automatic working of the mind, which produces imagination,
has its power, inspiration and beauty peculiar to itself.
Poets, musicians, painters, and sculptors create out of
their imagination, and they reach further than the ordinary
man does. This only shows that the power of the automatic
working of the mind is very great, although there is always
a danger of being unbalanced. So often one sees a great
genius, a composer, a poet, a great artist with a wonderful
skill, and yet unbalanced, because the imagination makes
the spirit float in space. The one who by floating takes
the risk of falling, also has the chance of rising further
than anyone else rises. To a practical and thoughtful man
of common sense an artist or a composer seems to be very
impractical, sometimes he seems to be very ignorant and
childish. And looking at them from this point of view he
is right, for however large a balloon may be, it is a balloon,
it stays in the air. It is not a wagon one can rely upon
to stay safely where one has put it. A balloon will fly;
one does not know where it will take one. Nevertheless,
the wagon remains on earth, it never touches space. It does
not belong in the air. Being a wagon, it misses the joy
of rising upwards.
Thought has its place; it is solid, it is concrete, it
is distinct. A thoughtful man seldom goes astray, for he
has rhythm, he has balance. Maybe he cannot fly, but he
walks and you can depend upon him.
Now as to the spiritual aspect in connection with thought
and imagination, there are two kinds of seekers after spiritual
truth: the thoughtful and the imaginative. The imaginative
at once jumps into religion; he does not walk he jumps into
it. He revels in superstitions, he cherishes dogmas and
beliefs, he interests himself in amusing and bewildering
stories and legends connected with religion, he maintains
beliefs that are impressed upon him. And yet, with all faults
and weaknesses, the imaginative person is the one who is
ever able to make a conception of God and of the hereafter.
The one who has no imagination is not able to reach the
zenith of the spiritual and religious ideal. Often an intellectual
or materialistic person without imagination stands on the
earth like an animal compared with a bird: when the bird
flies up the animal looks at it and wishes to fly, but it
cannot, it has no wings. The imagination, therefore, is
as two wings attached to the heart in order to enable it
to soar upwards.
The thoughtful seeker after the spiritual ideal has his
importance too, because superficial beliefs and dogmas do
not lead him. One cannot fool him, he is thoughtful and
every step he takes may be slow, but it is sure. He may
not reach the spiritual ideal as quickly as the imaginative,
but if he wishes to reach it, he will arrive there, slowly
The second aspect of the spirit is memory, which again
has two sides. There are certain things we need not look
for; they are always clear in our memory, such as figures,
and the names and faces of those we know. We just have to
stretch out our hand and touch them. We can recall them
at any moment we wish, they are always living in our memory.
But then there is a second side to the memory, which is
called by some the subconscious mind. In reality this is
the depth of the memory. In this part of the memory a photograph
is made of everything we have seen or known or heard, even
just once in a flash. This photograph remains located there,
and some time or other, maybe with difficulty, we can find
Apart from these two sides of our memory there is still
a deeper sphere to which it is joined. That sphere is the
universal memory, in other words the divine Mind, where
we do not only recollect what we have seen, or heard, or
known, but where we can even touch something that we have
never learned, or heard, or known, or seen. All that can
be found there also; only for that the doors of our memory
should be laid open.
The third aspect of the spirit is reason, of which there
are two kinds. One kind is affirmation, and the other is
both affirmative and negative. Affirmative reason is the
one we all know. When a person is bankrupt we have reason
to think that he has no money for the very fact that he
is bankrupt. When a person shows his bad side we know that
he is wicked, because people call him bad. Every apparent
reason makes us reach conclusions that things and conditions
are so and so. This is one kind of reason.
The other kind is the inner reason, which both contradicts
and affirms at the same time. This means that, if a person
has become poor, we say, 'Yes, he has become poor – and
rich.' If a person has failed, we say, 'Yes, he has both
failed – and gained.' Here is a higher reason which one
touches. The higher reason weighs two things at the same
time. One says, 'This is living,' and at the same time one
says, 'This is dead,' or one says, 'This is dead and at
the same time living.' Everything one sees gives a reason
to deny its existence and at the same time to affirm its
opposite – even to such an extent that when one has a reason
to say, 'This is dark,' by that higher reason one may say
that it is light.
When one arrives at this higher reason, one begins to
unlearn – as it is called by the mystics – all that one
has once learned to recognize as such and such, or so and
so. One unlearns and one begins to see quite the opposite.
In other words, there is no good which has not a bad side
to it, and nothing bad which has not a good side to it.
There is no one who rises without a fall, and no one who
falls without the promise of a rise. One sees death in birth
and birth in death. It sounds very strange and it is a peculiar
idea, but all the same it is a stage. When one climbs above
what is called reason, one reaches that reason which is
at the same time contradictory. This explains the attitude
of Christ. When a criminal was taken to him he had no other
attitude towards him than that of the forgiver. He saw no
evil there. That is looking from a higher reason.
Feeling is the fourth aspect of the spirit. Feeling is
different from thought and imagination. It has its own vibrations
and its own sphere. Thought and imagination are on the surface;
feeling is at the depth of spirit. Feeling also has two
sides: one is likened to the glow, and the other to flame.
Whether one loves or whether one suffers, there is intense
feeling, a feeling which cannot be compared with the experience
of thought and imagination. A feeling person has a different
consciousness; he lives in a different sphere. A person
who is feeling, has a world of his own. He may move among
the crowds and live in the midst of the world, and yet he
does not belong to the world. The moment feeling is awakened
in man, his consciousness becomes different. He is raised
up, he touches the depth, he penetrates the horizon, and
he removes what stands between man and the deeper side of
Is there anyone in this world who will own that he has
no feeling? And yet there are hearts of rock and of iron,
of earth and of diamond, of silver and of gold, of wax and
of paper. As many objects as there are in this world, so
many kinds of hearts there are. One heart is not like another.
There are some objects that hold fire together; there are
others, which burn instantly. There are objects, which will
become warm and cold in a moment; others, as soon as the
fire touches them will melt, and others again one can mold
and turn into ornaments. So is the heart-quality. Different
people have different qualities of heart, and by the knower
of hearts, each is treated differently. But since we do
not think about this aspect of feeling, we take every man
to be the same. Although every note is a sound, all notes
are not the same, they differ in pitch, in vibrations; so
every man differs in pitch, in the vibrations of his heart.
According to the vibrations of his heart he is either spiritual
or material, noble or common. It is not because of what
he does, nor because of what he possesses in this world
– he is small or great according to how his heart vibrates.
All my life I have had a great respect for those who
have toiled in the world, who have striven all through life,
and reached a certain greatness, even in a worldly sense,
and I always have considered it a most sacred thing to touch
their presence. This being my great interest, I began to
make a pilgrimage to great people in the East, and among
these wonderful visits to writers, sages, philosophers,
and saints I came in contact with a great wrestler, a giant
man. Since I had this admiration for great toil, I thought
that I should go and see this man too. And would you believe
it: this in appearance, giant-like man, with that monstrous
muscular body, had such a sympathetic outgoing nature, such
simplicity and gentleness connected with it, that I was
surprised and thought, 'It is not his giant-like look that
has made him great. What has made him great is that which
has melted him and made him lenient.'
Feeling is vibration. The heart which is a vehicle, an
instrument of feeling, creates a phenomenon, if one only
watches life keenly. If one causes anyone pain, that pain
returns. If one causes anyone pleasure, that pleasure returns.
If you give love to someone, love comes back, and if you
give hatred, that hatred comes back to you in some form
or other. Maybe in the form of pain, illness, health, success,
joy, or happiness – in some form or other it comes back,
it never fails. Generally one does not think about it, and
when a person has got a certain position where he can order
people about and where he can speak harshly to them, he
never thinks about those things. Every little feeling that
arises in a man's heart, and directs his action, word, and
movement, causes a certain reaction and rebounds; only it
sometimes takes time. But do not think that you can ever
hate a person – even have the slightest thought of it –
and that it does not come back. It surely comes back some
time. Besides, if you have sympathy, love, affection, a
kind feeling for a person, even without telling him so,
it returns in some form or other.
The fifth aspect of the spirit is the ego, and again
there are two sides to the ego: the false and the real.
They are just like the two ends of one line. If we look
at the line in the center, it is one line. If we look at
the line on the ends, it has two ends. So the ego has two
sides: the first one is the one we know, and the next one
we must discover. The side we know is the false ego which
makes us say, 'I'. What is it in us that we call 'I'? We
say, 'This is my body, my mind, these are my thoughts, my
feelings, my impressions, this is my position in life.'
We identify our self with all that concerns us and the sum
total of all these we call 'I'. In the light of truth this
conception is false, it is a false identity. If the hand
is broken off, or a finger is separated from this body,
we do not call the separate part 'I', but as long as it
is connected to the body, we call it so. This shows that
all the false ego imagines to be its own self is not really
Besides, it must be remembered that all that is composed,
all that is constructed, all that is made, all that is born,
all that has grown, will be decomposed and destroyed, will
die and will vanish. If we identify our ego with all these
things which are subject to destruction, death and decomposition,
we make a conception of mortality, and we identify our soul
which is immortal, we identify our self, with all that is
mortal. Therefore, that is the false ego.
Now, coming to the most important truth about spiritual
attainment: those who are thoughtful and wise, those who
go into the spiritual path, do not take this path in order
to perform wonders or to know curious things, to perform
miracles or other wonderful things. That is not their motive.
Their motive is to rise above the false ego and to discover
the real. That is the principal motive of spiritual attainment.
For no one will consider it wise to be under a false impression,
to be under the impression that 'I exist,' when one has
nothing to depend upon in one's existence. Therefore, striving
in the spiritual path is breaking away from the false conception
that we have made of ourselves, coming out of it, it is
realizing our true being and becoming conscious of it. No
sooner do we become conscious of our true being and break
the fetters of the false ego, than we enter into a sphere
where our soul begins to realize a much greater expansion
of its own being. It finds great inspiration and power,
and the knowledge, happiness, and peace, which are latent
in the spirit.