Satguru Kabir said that the mind is the cause of bondage and liberation. Tagore said that every person, at birth, is given the key of heaven, and the same key also unlocks the door to hell.


So what is the mind?  It is very difficult to define what the mind is because it is not something tangible. We cannot examine and analyze it like a material thing. So it is one of those things we have to live with and use, and yet we cannot define it. We say that the mind is functioning through the brain, it is controlled by the intellect, and it is the servant of the soul. The mind is also conscious, unconscious or subconscious. We say all these things and yet we do not know exactly what the mind is. But most spiritual and even scientific teachers would agree that the mind is really a sense organ, because it perceives and understands. Without the mind the eyes are useless, although they can function. Let us use the example of a camera. The camera sees beautifully. It can take a picture of everything it sees, but the camera does not know what it is seeing. It cannot interpret, it cannot understand, it cannot relate to anything. Just so the eyes function exactly like a camera. It sees all the details and the color, movements, shapes, sizes, etc., but without the mind it is unless.


Hearing is similar. This microphone “hears” everything I am saying, but it does not mean anything to it. The ear hears, but without the mind it is not aware of any meaning. The same can be said about taste and smell.


The sense organs function to get information. The mind makes use of the information by receiving, judging, analyzing, interpreting and making sense out of what you perceive. It relates what you perceive now with what you have perceived before, so you know what it means. If you never knew something in the past, and you see it for the first time, you will not know what it is. When you see something now you relate it to what is in the mind already, and now it makes sense. The mind is a storehouse of all your past experiences, imaginations, attitudes and feelings.


The storage function of the mind is done by the subconscious mind. It is the larger portion of the mind and stores everything that you have experienced in life. Although you may not remember certain things, they are nevertheless stored in your subconscious mind. Under hypnosis all the details that you do not remember consciously can be brought out. The hypnotist can make you recall the details of your childhood, and even of your past life through hypnotic regression.


The mind is the source of bondage. If you do not think wisely, then what is your mind going to function like? It might be silly, ignorant, almost useless, if it perceives things and does not make proper use of them. That is the bondage. It influences delusion, passions, anger, greed, pride and vanity. We can remove these things that create bondage by wise thinking.


The mind is also the cause of liberation from bondage. And you get this liberation from freeing your mind from the foolish and ignorant things of life. By seeing everything in their proper perspective, the mind can be used to free oneself. Everyday we have thoughts in our minds. Many of these thoughts are like bondage, because they consist of judging, criticizing and holding negative opinions about people. We feel hurt, guilt, anger, hate, or passions and desires. These are the sources of bondage. By proper and positive thinking we can be aware of their negative and emotionally and psychologically harmful effects on us. Therefore, control of the mind is essential, and will be discussed later.


Dr. Jagessar Das



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