The Mind and How It Works – Part 3, Mental Activity and Inactivity

Mental Activity and Inactivity

Ripples, Waves and Whirlpools (Vrittis) 

The waves of thought in the mind-stuff are called vrittis (literally, “whirlpools”). Ripples, waves and whirlpools arise in the mind-stuff due to external stimuli constantly being ingested by means of the senses and the thought processes associated with them. We cannot see what is behind all of this, we only see the objects presented by the senses. It is like not being able to see the bottom of a perfectly clear lake because its surface is covered with ripples, waves and whirlpools, and why it is said that this must cease in order to catch a glimpse of what lies beneath the surface—the clear, pristine Truth.

Various Forms of Vrittis

The ripples, waves and whirlpools of the mind-stuff manifest as scattering, lethargic, gathering, one-pointed and concentrated. The scattering form is activity that tends toward pleasure or pain. The lethargic form tends toward ignorance of Reality. The gathering form functions when the mind-stuff is drawing itself inward to become concentrated, and the one-pointed form when it is concentrated. The concentrated form of mind-stuff leads to samadhi.


There is no English word synonymous with samadhi. Technically, samadhi is a uniform state of mind, or equilibrium. However, once having achieved it, this definition seems cold and dry. 

Through meditation, with the advent of advanced stages of samadhi, the knower, the process of knowing, and the object of knowledge, merge and disappear into the Absolute. Though the individual that you are remains forever what it is, there is no sense of self, no viewpoint, no sense of experiencing, no mind (as we know it). All desires are obliterated in this ocean of rolling bliss. It is through this samadhi that we acquire the desireless state naturally. (What could be left to desire?) Ultimately, as a result of this samadhi, we go home to ever new joy, the end of all sorrows, and final liberation—the Ultimate Fulfillment.


At its highest, yoga is the cessation of the ripples, waves and whirlpools in the mind-stuff. In the following sutra, yoga is found to be synonymous with samadhi:

yogas chitta vritti nirodhah — Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, I:2

Yoga is (yogas) the cessation (nirodhah) of the activities (vritti)
of the mind-stuff (chitta).

The word “yoga” means union. Yoga is both union and the means of attaining union. Yoga is sun-moon union (hatha yoga) until it becomes royal union (raja yoga), union with the Ultimate, Absolute God. The attainment of this highest union through the equanimity of a uniform state of mind is the ultimate fulfillment. Once having reached it, one never deviates from the means of attaining it: yoga.


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These three issues on The Mind and How It Works, is in the service of setting you up for the next roll of Ancient Mystical Writings on the subject of Raja Yoga (royal union). See you then.

Durga Ma

Shaktipat Intensive, September 15-16
Meditation Teacher Training & Certification
Online Meditation Courses

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The Mind and How It Works – Part 2, The Individual Mind

The Individual Mind  

Mind-Stuff (Chitta)  

The powerful force generated by your consciousness of what is other-than-You, from the view-point of You, is energy. This combination of consciousness and energy is the substance of the mind, or mind-stuff.

If you look up the word chitta, it covers just about everything—mind, memory, intelligence, reason, consciousness, imagining, thinking, noticing, and so on. The list is long. The reason for this is that mind-stuff gets defined along with its functions. Mind-stuff exists because you became conscious of another—the original, perfect, all-knowing and all-powerful You, exercised the ability to be conscious in order to perceive.

There are three processes of the mind-stuff, chitta: manas, buddhi and ahamkara.

The Thinking Mind (Manas)

The word manas is usually defined as “mind,” probably because it gathers data and thinks. Manas is the function of the mind-stuff that flows out to receive impressions of things—images, sounds and so on. We think of this function as our attention, or a flow of consciousness. Once an impression is obtained and determined, manas stores it (memory) for use in thinking, reasoning and figuring things out.

The Determinative Faculty (Buddhi) 

The duality inherent in the relationship between self and other-than-self naturally creates a determinative faculty called buddhi. It is this determinative faculty that receives the impressions brought in by the mind (manas) and determines the nature of the impressions received. Because of this, buddhi is often defined as judgement or discrimination. It is buddhi that sorts things out. Buddhi knows the difference between things. Buddhi knows what’s what.

The Doer (Ahamkara)

When the determinative faculty does its job, the function of the mind-stuff known as “ego” is also activated. Knowing yourself to exist (“I am”), and having become conscious of something from the point of view of you (“I perceive”), you sense yourself as having acted independently (“I do”). The word ahamkara is commonly translated as “ego” but literally means, “I-doer” (i.e., “I am the doer”) and lies at the very core of the mind as a whole.

At the core of this core, is atman, usually translated as soul, self, or “I”.

“I Am”
From this “I” there arises the sense of self, asmita (“I am”). It is from here that you perceive. It is from here that you are conscious of anything that is other than you. This is your your viewpoint, the place you perceive from. 

I Do”
Perceiving seems to be doing something, but who or what is doing it? Enter ahamkara, or ego, the sense of separate self as the doer of action—the perceiver, the seer, the experiencer, the desirer, the knower (”I do”).

NOTE: Keep in mind that the word “ego” as it is used here, is not necessarily consistent with the definition of ego as used in the fields of mental health.


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In the next installment, we will conclude with Part Three on the subject of Mental Activity and Inactivity, next week.

Durga Ma

Shaktipat Intensive, September 15-16
Meditation Teacher Training & Certification
Online Meditation Courses

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The Mind and How It Works – Part 1

What the Mind Is  

It’s always good to know more about what you’re living with every day.  It is hoped that by knowing more about your mind, it might run you around the block a little less, giving you more freedom to make your own choices consciously, more flexibility for understanding things better, more influence due to your mastery of such a mysterious thing as a mind, and more competence with everything in general.

The mind is a conglomerate of consciousness, energy, and all its concomitant functions. It is filled with things perceived through the senses along with their opposites. Just as a flute is mute until the musician plays it, the mind is merely an instrument.

The mind is the mother of the brain. Just as we have said about the senses—you have eyes because you can see, it’s not the other way around—you can think of the relationship between the brain and the mind in the same way: you have a brain because you have a mind. Knowing more about the mind and how it works will tell you something about yourself, and will very likely shed some light on your current situation as a non-physical individual entity presently taking up residence in a human body.

What the Mind Isn’t

The mind, and the brain for that matter, is not intelligent. It only appears to be intelligent because of the all-knowing-You behind it. (You really do know everything, though it’s a little daunting trying to get access to all of that information whenever we want.)

You have eyes because you can see, but it isn’t really the eyes that see. Take away the vision center in the brain and the eyes are still there with their images, but still the eyes do not see. The eyes are just an external instrument. The mind has to reach out to a seeable object and bring an image back to the vision center in the brain before the eyes can see it. The same goes for the other four senses.

It All Began With You

Self or Soul (Atman)

In the Absolute, you exist as a non-physical individual entity in a blissful state of perfection, with unlimited potential and the same qualities attributed to God. You have the ability to be conscious and to become self-aware. You have free-will and the ability to employ it, so you do . . .

Sense of Self (Asmita) 

You become self-aware. You are aware of your own existence.

Self and Other (Purusha & Prakriti) 

Having become self-aware, you exercise your ability to be conscious and you become aware of another self. You are now conscious of something other than You, from the point-of-view of You. There is You (purusha) and there is other-than-You (prakriti). Duality has made its entrance and generates a powerful force from which your own individual mind is produced.

© Copyright 2009, revised 2012, Durga Ma and Phoenix Metaphysical Institute, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

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In the next installment, we will continue with Part Two on the subject of The Individual Mind next week.

Durga Ma