The Mind and the Atman  By Swami Sukhabodhananda

The mind and the atman by swami sukhabodhananda

Chitta is one of the four components or qualities of the mind. It is pure consciousness, pure intelligence. Chitta vrittis are modifications or disturbances of consciousness that cause it to be in a constant state of flux. These disturbances can be either negative or positive. Is this pure intelligence really the same as the atma or the soul? If not, what is the difference? The final stage of self-realization is to differentiate the atman or soul from the chitta or consciousness. Atman is the witness of the disturbances that take place in consciousness as it experiences the material world. It is the unchanging that is constantly witnessing the field of experience. The chitta is still coloured by the ego which identifies itself as a separate, individual entity. The atman is the unchanging and eternal observer of all that takes place. When the atman is able to shed this last and final layer of identity, it is able to merge with the absolute and the transcendental.


All of existence and our experience within it is therefore really a mind game. To transcend the body and its gross trappings and the mind with its more trappings of material nature and merge with the Absolute is the very process of self-realization and, ultimately, liberation. It is impossible to understand this as a philosophy; one must rather look upon it as an experiential understanding.


Today, we are living a world of dualities. In an existence where there is sorrow, there must necessarily be joy. Just as the pendulum swings between two extremities so too life alternates between joy and sorrow, loss and gain, victory and defeat. Both these extremes disturb the flux of consciousness known as chitta. Various practices teach one to calm the mind, creating a stable centre for the self that is unwavering and undisturbed. Fundamental to these practices is the quality of detachment. One should learn not be unduly affected by either of the extremes. That is the state of detachment. One should learn to live with what life gives you at every turn. When life gives you summer, bask in it. When it is winter, build snowmen. It is not what you have, but how you use what you have that determines the quality of life. Take, for example, a surfer: in an ocean filled with waves, he is so aware, so relaxed that he delicately balances when there is a wave. He takes the surf, goes with it and as the waves come, he knows how to glide through them; and even if he falls, he will fall with awareness.


He will enjoy that fall, again pick up his surfboard and again come and go. He enjoys the wave, which is a problem for others. He learns the art of navigating with awareness through the wave. He is also relaxed as he is doing that and he enjoys himself. But you and I are not surfers. And every time a problem comes we grumble. We get frustrated and tensed and we are not aware. The surfer is just a human being like you and me. The only difference is that he has done exercises on living with waves so that he knows how to navigate and surf.



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