Mind and Self

You cannot be surprised that under these conditions of continued disappearance of functions, the unfortunate student asks: “What becomes of the mind itself? If you suppress all the functions, what is left?” In the Indian way of teaching, when you come to a difficulty, someone jumps up and asks a question. And in the commentaries, the question which raises the difficulty is always put. The answer of Patanjali is: “Then the spectator remains in his own form.” Theosophy answers: “The Monad remains.” It is the end of the human pilgrimage. That is the highest point to which humanity may climb: to suppress all the reflections in the fivefold universe through which the Monad has manifested his powers, and then for the Monad to realise himself, enriched by the experiences through which his manifested aspects have passed. But to the Samkhyan the difficulty is very great, for when he has only his spectator left, when spectacle ceases, the spectator himself almost vanishes. His only function was to look on at the play of mind. When the play of mind is gone, what is left? He can no longer be a spectator, since there is nothing to see. The only answer is: “He remains in his own form.” He is now out of manifestation, the duality is transcended, and so the Spirit sinks back into latency, no longer capable of manifestation. There you come to a very serious difference with the Theosophical view of the universe, for according to that view of the universe, when all these functions have been suppressed, then the Monad is ruler over matter and is prepared for a new cycle of activity, no longer slave but master.

All analogy shows us that as the Self withdraws from sheath after sheath, he does not lose but gains in Self-realisation. Self-realisation becomes more and more vivid with each successive withdrawal; so that as the Self puts aside one veil of matter after another, recognises in regular succession that each body in turn is not himself, by that process of withdrawal his sense of Self-reality becomes keener, not less keen. It is important to remember that, because often Western readers, dealing with Eastern ideas, in consequence of misunderstanding the meaning of the state of liberation, or the condition of Nirvana, identify it with nothingness or unconsciousness — an entirely mistaken idea which is apt to colour the whole of their thought when dealing with Yogic processes. Imagine the condition of a man who identifies himself completely with the body, so that he cannot, even in thought, separate himself from it — the state of the early undeveloped man — and compare that with the strength, vigour and lucidity of your own mental consciousness.

The consciousness of the early man limited to the physical body, with occasional touches of dream consciousness, is very restricted in its range. He has no idea of the sweep of your consciousness, of your abstract thinking. But is that consciousness of the early man more vivid, or less vivid, than yours? Certainly you will say, it is less vivid. You have largely transcended his powers of consciousness. Your consciousness is astral rather than physical, but has thereby increased its vividness. As the Self withdraws himself from sheath after sheath, he realises himself more and more, not less and less; Self-realisation becomes more intense, as sheath after sheath is cast aside. The centre grows more powerful as the circumference becomes more permeable, and at last a stage is reached when the centre knows itself at every point of the circumference. When that is accomplished the circumference vanishes, but not so the centre. The centre still remains. Just as you are more vividly conscious than the early man, just as your consciousness is more alive, not less, than that of an undeveloped man, so it is as we climb up the stairway of life and cast away garment after garment. We become more conscious of existence, more conscious of knowledge, more conscious of Self-determined power. The faculties of the Self shine out more strongly, as veil after veil falls away. By analogy, then, when we touch the Monad, our consciousness should be mightier, more vivid, and more perfect. As you learn to truly live, your powers and feelings grow in strength.

And remember that all control is exercised over sheaths, over portions of the Not-Self. You do not control your Self; that is a misconception; you control your Not-Self. The Self is never controlled; He is the Inner Ruler Immortal. He is the controller, not the controlled. As sheath after sheath becomes subject to your Self, and body after body becomes the tool of your Self, then shall you realise the truth of the saying of the Upanishad, that you are the Self, the Inner Ruler, the immortal.

»Lecture III: Yoga as Science