Like a Transparent Lake

From Talks with Swami Vivekananda

Disciple: Sir, it is so difficult to direct this uncontrollable mind toward Brahman.

Swamiji: Is there anything difficult for the hero? Only men of faint hearts speak so. “Mukti (liberation) is easy of attainment only to the hero — but not to the cowards.” Says the Gita, “By renunciation and by practice is the mind brought under control, O Arjuna.” This chitta or mind-stuff is like a transparent lake, and the waves which rise in it by the impact of sense-impressions constitute manas or the mind. Therefore the mind consists of a succession of thought-waves. From these mental waves arises desire. Then that desire transforms itself into will and works through its gross instrument, the body. Again as work is endless, so its fruits also are endless. Hence the mind is always being tossed by the countless myriads of waves — the fruits of work. This mind has to be divested of all modifications (vrittis) and reconverted into the transparent lake, so that there remains not a single wave of modification in it. Then will Brahman (Absolute Existence-Knowledge-Bliss) manifest Itself. The scriptures give a glimpse of this state in such passages as, “Then all the knots of the heart are cut asunder,” etc. Do you understand?

Disciple: Yes, sir, but meditation must base itself on some object?

Swamiji: You yourself will be the object of your meditation. Think and meditate that you are the omnipresent Atman. “I am neither the body, nor the mind, nor the buddhi (determinative faculty), neither the gross nor the subtle body” — by this process of elimination immerse your mind in the transcendent knowledge which is your real nature. Kill the mind by thus plunging it repeatedly in this. Then only you will realize the essence of Intelligence, or be established in your real nature. Knower and known, meditator and object meditated upon, will then become one, and the cessation of all phenomenal superimpositions will follow. . . . When the Atman is the only knower, by what means can you possibly know it? The Atman is Knowledge; the Atman is Intelligence, the Atman is Sat-Chit-Ananda (Absolute Existence-Knowledge-Bliss).