Mind is An Action


‘Tada Drastuh Svarupe Vasthanam’
(Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Sutra 3 – Verse I)

Unclutching is the essence of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The ancient Indian sage Patanjali, who was the founder of the ancient yogic sciences, condensed the truth, explanations of which would occupy volumes, into this one short verse. According to him, unclutching or the cessation of the mind and all its thoughts, can be achieved by understanding a few simple concepts.

The first concept to imbibe is that your mind is not an object, it is an action. We always feel that the mind is bigger than our brain. We always say that the brain is only physical, but the mind is subtle, so it holds a greater power over the brain. However, one of my masters once told me a very beautiful statement – One action of your brain is called mind. We can do many things with our legs, like walking and running. In the same way, the mind or thinking is just another action of your brain. Cognizing this truth will make you realize that you can relax from it at any time.

The moment you realize that you are responsible for your thinking, you will stop. Only when you don’t want to take the responsibility for it, will you go on postponing and your mind will continue to enslave you. This is the essence of this verse – to take responsibility for your subtle actions called the “mind”. Do you ever ask yourself why you stopped or started doing a particular action? No! You simply know why, and that’s why you performed the action in the first place. In the same way, you can start, stop and restart your own mind – if you take the responsibility and do it. Taking responsibility for each and every action, and having the awareness that all situations around us and within us are a reflection of our own inner space is the only way to live authentically. This includes taking responsibility for our own minds.

The second concept is acceptance. In Zen philosophy, there is a small story: There was a great enlightened master who had an enlightened disciple called Suzuki. When Suzuki’s master died, he began to cry. All of the master’s other disciples came and asked Suzuki why he was crying, because after all, an enlightened being cannot cry! Suzuki retorted that if that holds true, then he was no longer interested in enlightenment. He could not be so insensitive, because he knew how much he will miss the master’s physical presence. Then, another disciple asked him, “What about acceptance? Have you been teaching it to us all these years without experiencing it yourself?”. In response to this, Suzuki beautifully explained that there are two levels of acceptance. The first is acceptance of the outer situation – whatever is happening around a person. That is surrendering to the now, the present moment. Experiencing certain emotions in response to the outer world situation and accepting those emotions, is the second level of acceptance. That is accepting the inner world situation – accepting that certain outer world situations will bring about certain inner world changes in you. Suzuki was accepting his master’s death and also accepting the pain he felt in response to it. He was completely in acceptance.

If you accept only the outer world and try to be calm and collected all the time without accepting the anger or pain in you, you cannot be established in your true nature. When you are in complete acceptance, suddenly you will see that you are established in your nature, that you are no more in the chaos that your mind creates, but simply pure consciousness. Being established in this state is known as ‘unclutching’. When thoughts disappear and cessation happens, it results in relaxation into your own true nature.

The very idea of complete acceptance is a technique in itself. There is no need to practice any additional meditation in order to live this. The concept of complete acceptance, if understood and practiced, will establish you in the state of unclutching. Unless you are able to completely accept situations, you cannot unclutch. After acceptance, you will realize that your mind is just an action and you must take the responsibility to stop it. Just internalizing these two truths will become a technique in itself and you will be unclutched.