Freedom From Mind And Bondage

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Published: Friday, September 17, 2010, 12:58 [IST]
 
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Freedom From Mind And Bondage

Swami Tyagananda talks about freedom from mind following freedom from body in the previous section.

'It is the mind that causes bondage, and it is the mind that liberates man,' says the Upanisad. ( Amrtabindu Upanisad) Sounds paradoxical. How can one that binds also liberate? The answer is that a pure mind liberates, and an impure mind binds. Shri Ramakrishna says, 'God cannot be known by the sense-organs or by this [impure] mind; but He can be known by the pure mind, the mind that is free from worldly desires.'(The Gospel of Shri Ramakrishna (Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math. 1980) p.328-29)

Freedom from the mind, therefore, means freedom from the bondage imposed by an impure mind.

What are these bondages? There are eight bondages (asta-pasa) traditionally enumerated in our scriptures: 'Aversion, shame, pity, suspicion [or fear], hatred, and [pride of] family, [of] character, and [of] community.' These are bondages because they are products of ignorance and bind one to the world. The master often referred to another set of bondages called the 'six enemies' (sad-ripu). These are: desire, anger, greed, pride, attachment and jealousy. These are 'enemies' because they are bent on stalling your spiritual progress and ultimately on destroying you.

How do we get rid of these bondages and attain freedom from mind? We can do it, says Vedanta, by simply asserting our real nature in every situation, at every moment of our life. To teach man about this profound power of self-affirmation was what Swami Vivekananda considered his ideal in life. He wrote:
My ideal can indeed be put into a few words and that is: to preach unto mankind their divinity, and how to make it manifest in every movement of life.

All the bondages enumerated above are not natural to us. That is to say, they are not a part of our real nature. Our true nature is divine; every one of us is a free, perfect and immortal being. Anything that negates this is simply an accretion that needs to be shaken off. The abiding awareness of oneself as the atman — free, blissful and luminous — breaks off the bondages in a simple, natural way. What happens when the sleeping soul is roused to self-conscious activity? It spontaneously manifests power, glory, goodness, purity and everything that is excellent. It is, however, not easy to maintain always the awareness of oneself as the atman.

Intense efforts are necessary to overcome the opposing pulls of the wayward mind. Indomitable will-power coupled with spiritual aspiration takes the seeker slowly but surely to the state of natural and effortless self-affirmation.

Shri Ramakrishna showed another natural method of overcoming the bondages created by an impure mind. According to him, these become 'bondages' only because they are directed towards the world; direct them to God, he said, and not only will they cease to be bondages but will also become positive helps in your spiritual journey.

Shri Ramakrishna showed on several occasions how this re-channelling can be done. He said,
The impulse of lust should be turned into the desire to have intercourse with Atman. Feel angry at those who stand in your way to God. Feel greedy for Him. If you must have the feeling of I and mine, then associate it with God. Say, for instance, 'My Rama, my Krishna.' If you must have pride, then feel like Bibhishana, who said, 'I have touched the feet of Rama with my head; I will not bow this head before anyone else.'

If you must have desire and greed, then you should desire love of God and be greedy to attain Him. If you must be conceited and egoistic, then feel conceited and egoistic, thinking that you are the servant of God, the child of God.

Instead of desiring worldly pleasures, desire God... If you cannot get rid of anger, then change its direction... say, 'What? I have repeated the hallowed name of Durga, and shall I not be liberated? How can I be a sinner any more? How can I be bound any more?' If you cannot get rid of temptation, direct it toward God. Be infatuated with God's beauty.

When the freedom from mind is sought from the 'eight bondages' (asta-pasa) and the 'six enemies' (sad-ripu) it becomes pure. This purification can also be brought about by selfless service, intense prayer, and surrender to the Divine. Armed now with this moral freedom (freedom from mind), the seeker proceeds to encounter the barrier of the intellect which lies ahead. The mind (manas) and the intellect (buddhi) are usually considered two faculties of the one internal organ (antahkarana). For a complete purification, both must be purified.

To be continued

Swami Tyagananda

'Freedom from Mind' is an excerpt from Swami Tyagananda's (Ramakrishna Math) elaborate article 'Degrees of Freedom' in which he deals about the ultimate freedom or spiritual freedom which is the goal of every spiritual seeker.

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