The Mind and Mantra

The Mind

Formations of the mind

Every mantra has a specific sound. We do not know all the sounds, but we do know that there are certain sounds that are milder and others that are stronger. What happens when a sound is produced? Scientists have seen that the brain wave patterns are altered. Tantrics say that when a sound is produced, it alters the formations of the mind.


The mind is not one unit. Just as water is formed by the combination of hydrogen and oxygen, the mind is a combination of numerous formations. In yoga and tantra, these formations are known as samskaras. They are the residue of individual experience through many incarnations.


The mind works like a camera. Whatever has been known and experienced through the senses remains imprinted in the subliminal part of the mind. These impressions or formations are so numerous that you may never be able to know them all, and it is not easy to classify them. Some are weak and insignificant, while others have a powerful influence on character, habits, and nature. Some are casual and periodical, while others accompany you all the time.


It is understood that powerful thoughts like anger, passion, jealousy, or fear come into the mind from time to time, but during meditation, many insignificant thoughts keep coming and going. This happens because we have not cleaned the formations of the mind. That is why the first prerequisite to meditation is Chitta shuddhi (mental purification). This should not be understood as a religious affair. Chitta shuddhi means fixing the formations of the mind. Otherwise, when you sit for meditation so many little thoughts constantly come into the mind, causing restlessness and disturbance. The practice of mantra is one of the best methods of Chitta shuddhi, if it is done with an awareness of all the thoughts that enter the mind as the mantra is being repeated.


The formations of the mind have three ranges-vikshepa (distraction), vikalpa (one-pointedness), and laya (total dissolution). The first range occurs when the mind is continually jumping from one point to another and is never constant. For example, when you are concentrating on the flame of a candle and a distracting thought passes through your mind, it is called vikshepa. This is one form of the mind.


The second form is called vikalpa. When you have established pratyahara, dissociated your mind from the senses, one-pointed awareness takes place. Then you begin to see visions. You may be concentrating on the flame of a lamp, but you begin to see the inner television! These psychic formations of the mind are called vikalpa, and they are extremely difficult to break. In dhyana yoga, if a thought comes to your mind, you can definitely force it out by your own will. But when vikalpa comes, you are helpless. These are involuntary expressions of the psychic formations and you have no control over them. How are you going to destroy or fix these formations? Here the mantra will be very useful. Mantra is capable of destroying the psychic formations known as vikalpa. There is a third and powerful formation of the mind called laya which means dissolution, suspension. At that time the consciousness is completely eliminated and there is total shoonya (voidness). You have been concentrating on the flame of a lamp and suddenly everything is switched off; there is no flame, there is nothing, and you are totally helpless, lost. This is a very obstinate formation.


So there are three types of samskaras: distraction, psychic visions, and suspension of consciousness. How are you going to free yourself from these formations? Mantra is a very valuable tool for this purpose. When you are practicing the mantra, it is absolutely necessary to use a mala. Mantra and mala together will fix the formations of the mind. For example, while practicing Om, Om, Om, your mind suddenly drops, and visions appear. The turning of the mala will interfere with the visions and revive your consciousness. It will reverse the process of mental awareness. This is the importance of the mantra in relation to dhyana yoga and the awakening of spiritual consciousness.

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