The Wandering Mind : A Dialogue

Hi Anurag,

I’m enormously delighted to see that you have started off a new journey for helping people know their true selves. You are one of those people who has had a tremendous influence on my self-inquiry journey. Thanks a lot for that.

Anurag : You are most welcome !

My mind is in future or past most of the time; it wanders there continuously.

Anurag : The mind is a movement of memory. Till one has not understood the mind completely and the movement of memory, the mind will wander. The traditional approach is concentrating the mind on an idea, ideal, image or object. But the concentration of mind results in conflict because there is something “what is” and then on that you superimpose an ideal called “what should be”.

We are not interested in understanding the mind because it demands a lot of energy. We are rather looking for some quick fixes or remedies to “feel good”. When we say that our mind wanders, we are actually judging our mind according to an ideal. We have an ideal or an image of a silent mind. Against this ideal, we compare and judge our present state of mind and call it wandering. When there is no such ideal then there is no judgement and no comparison. Then there is mere awareness of mind as it moves. This requires alertness and attention because the mind is moving every second. We pine for ideals because we are lazy and want stability; a kind of static order where there is no need for vitality and energy. Consequently, we dull our minds through self-discipline, escapes and ideals.

Have we ever inquired from where our ideals come about? Are they again not a result of memory? We have heard from religious gurus that our minds have to be calm and focused. We have been trained in schools that we must concentrate our minds in order to learn a subject. We have been subjected to such conditioning because our society is built around conformity and obedience. We had to attend schools not out of choice but out of the desire of our parents to ensure us a livelihood. So we have actually never tried to understand the mind as it is, it’s a natural movement. We have been moulded, shaped and enticed to focus our minds on desired goals and objects through various means.

What would happen when we do not have any ideals? That would be the beginning of freedom to observe the movement of your mind as it is. But doing this would also mean stepping beyond the security of known ideals and behaviours. It would mean stepping out of the fabric of security created by society for one’s physical, psychological and emotional sustenance. It would mean moving alone. We are very scared of being alone. We adopt ideals so that we can remain a part of the social fabric. The real reason for having ideals are fear of losing security and pleasure.

So if one has gone into all this and deeply understood the significance of not having any “should be” in our life then one will drop all forms of self-discipline. Then there is just a passive awareness of “what is” from moment to moment, without condemnation or justification. Then all the deeper layers of the mind which were suppressed by the force of our ideals reveal themselves. When they reveal themselves, we are freed from them. Freedom is not at the end. In order to look, we have to be free from ideals. Freedom is at the beginning. Only a mind unburdened by all “should be’s” is free to look. And in that freedom, there is a release of energy that shall shatter all conditioning.

I think about helping others instead of pulling myself out of the suffering I’m in. Doesn’t one create more trouble in the world by seemingly helping others while one oneself is in trouble?

Anurag : An intellectual understanding of an issue is not the same as understanding something totally : from your mind and heart. It is not an insight which creates an instantaneous action. Intellectualization is just analysis, a sort of logical understanding of cause and effect, a play of symbols. And one of the effects of intellectualization and analysis is paralysis. We are caught between “what is” and “what should be”.

How does one come to know that one is going to create more problem in the world by helping others? Is this your own understanding or the understanding of another, whom you are trying to imitate?

All imitation of others is based on the fear of “going wrong”. One has to understand life for oneself. No one can help you out with this. Even though I am corresponding with you, I cannot help you ultimately. You can only help yourself by observing yourself in the mirror of relationships. In relating with me and all others you have to study your own reactions and thoughts and understand the significance of mind in relationships.

If one has a desire to help others one has to go into this desire and observe what happens. No amount of intellectualization is going to give you insight. When you try to help others and remain open to seeing all that comes about, you shall learn about this desire, which no book or no guru can teach you.

Could I ask a personal question? How do you spend your time during the day? Our minds love to be busy all the time and hate us sitting somewhere calmly. How can one put a stop to such a restless mind?

Anurag : Why do we want to establish a pattern of living? Doesn’t the building of this pattern come in the way of knowing ourselves as we are? Further, how do we establish any pattern of life? Is not such construction based on ideals gathered in our memory?

Why should one sit calmly? Isn’t calmness an idea we have constructed as an opposite to what we call “restlessness”. How do we judge our minds as restless? Is it not in relation to the established ideal of “calmness”? What if we do not form any ideal of calmness? Will there then be something called a restless mind?

If one has an insight into the fundamental duality of “what is” and “what should be”, then one shall end the whole movement of building ideals as opposites of what one is. When there is freedom from this duality, there is the freedom to observe “what is”. In that freedom, there is no direction, no destination, no goal but living in silence. It does not mean that life shall not precipitate a crisis. In fact, it will, because we are all tethered to different forms of security. Only in crisis will all patterns of security reveal themselves and come to an end.

So silence is not what we conceive of it. It’s a silence that comes with the understanding of every movement of thought. It’s not a dead silence of practice of a system or self-discipline or absorption in any samadhi or trance. It is a silence which is not caught in the acquisitive net of thought. It’s not the silence of the known: not a silence which you invite.

I do not have any pattern of spending my day. I work when I feel like, do not work when I don’t feel like. There is no effort or struggle to do anything, not do anything or reach anywhere. There are moments when I am just quietly watching my mind, moments when I am talking to people, moments where I am watching TV, moments when I am doing carpentry and moments when I am doing office related work. 

8 thoughts on “The Wandering Mind : A Dialogue

  1. Know Mind to No Mind , No mind is a state of witness like a Referee who is neutral , alert , aware and knows the game well. In Hindi we Have a word अमन that means Peace of Mind and Shakshi Bhav . उपनिषद् कहते हैं देखने वाले को देखना ही साक्षी भाव है।

    your dialogue is good but too many words.

    love all.

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    1. Thank you Ram for your comment. Actually I am not talking of the witness. The witness is still a duality, the duality between the observer and the observed. It’s perhaps the most subtle duality in mind. The observer is the center from which awareness is happening. I am talking of the observation without the observer, awareness without a centre.

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  2. ty anurag. I feel this effortless non doing awareness today a lot. I am not stable in it. What happens when I am not aware of being this centreless awareness? The practice for me to remind myself of coming back to the realisation of being this effortless awareness and staying there as much as I can. Sometimes it lasts 30 seconds or 1 minute like today. Then I notice a falling away of the recognition. Then I am also the awareness. If I am not doing the awareness, then awareness is aware and I am not this awareness, cause I am not doing it. It is just my blood to be aware. is this correct?

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      1. ty. If I am awarenes and awareness is all there is, then what is sound, sight, thought. Is there a way in advaita to realize that sounds, sights dont’really exist and that awarenss does not contain sounds, sights. I can’t deny a screen in front of me now and the sound coming out of hte speakres. There is always a world that isn’t awareness. 2 things. duality. see? Gonna read more on this site. Have been doing self inquiry all day long. I am obsessed about it. I need to step out of the wheel of being reborn in this lifetime.

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      2. Javi, yes you can realize that all is Awareness. This is what we do in the Direct Path. I have not written about it in my website as yet. I am doing it very slowly in my Direct Path group.

        Also, the Ultimate Reality is that you were never born. You superimpose Karma on yourself because you think you are the body/mind/intellect.

        You should be reading the online Advaita course only now. It is not just shamta meditation but Vipassana or insight is what you need.

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