Sri Sathya Sai Baba loved Arunachala and sent many devotees to this sacred place. In fact it was because of Swamiji's precise instructions telling me to come and stay at Arunachala that I ended up living here -- previously I had scarcely heard of this place.
In an earlier posting I mentioned that Sri Sathya Sai Baba gave his first spiritual teaching to devotees when he was 14 years old when he sang the bhajan -- 'Mansare Bhajore Guru Charanam' which states that the feet of the Guru is no different to the 'Om' that pervades the Universe or to Lord Shiva and the great Arunachala.
Throughout his life Sri Sathya Sai Baba gave illuminating discourses on the mind and consciousness, and below is an excellent and extremely helpful dissertation on the nature of the mind.
Discourse on the Mind
The entire world is based on the concept of I. So long as this I-principle exists in you, you will be involved with the outside world. And as long as the world exists in your experience, you will not be able to free yourself from sorrow and misery. During deep sleep you do not have the thought of I and mine. Once the I-thought disappears there is no longer any world for you, and when there is no world there will be no sorrow. Therefore, eradicate the cause of sorrow. Relinquish the feeling of I and mine. Then you will be in Ananda, You will be in unending bliss.
What does being in Ananda mean? Is it related to the possession of health or wealth or power? Aren't there many people in the world who have lots of wealth? And aren't there many also who are blessed with health? And aren't there many others who wield power? But are any of these enjoying real happiness? No. What is the reason for this? The reason is that so long as anyone still has the thought of I and all the desires and attachments that go with it, he will be unable to manifest true joy.
When thirsty animals see a mirage they run to it to quench their thirst; but they cannot find water there, and so they get exhausted and perish. In the same way, man seeks happiness in the objects of the senses and runs after them. But he cannot find the inexhaustible springs of Ananda there, and so he gets exhausted and dies in a most futile and pitiful way.
The moment you free yourself from the thought of I, you become God Itself. It has been said 'Brahma Sathyam Jagath Mithyam', that God is real and the world is unreal. But more correctly, the world is both real and unreal. It is an illusion which is unreal, superimposed on God who is real. If you want to understand the nature of the world you must first make an effort to find out who you are and whether you are real or not. The moment you find out your own truth, you will be able to understand the world.
One of the great sayings of the Vedanta which you are enjoined to repeat and meditate on is, 'Aham Brahmasmi', which means 'I am Brahman', 'I am God'. In this saying you use the word I before the word God. Where did this word I come from? What is its meaning? Is it the same I that you use many times every day to refer to your individual self? No, that personal I is not what is meant in the statement, 'I am God'. Beyond the personal I, which is the I-thought, there is another I which stands behind it. That is the true I. That I is your own true nature. That is the true I meant in the statement, 'I am God'.
This true I is not just there when you repeat Vedic sayings. It is there behind every I you use. Suppose you say, 'I am a man'. Here also, standing behind the subjective I, there is the true I which is your natural state, your unchanging truth. The word 'man' is the feeling of limitation you impose on that truth. The true I is always full in itself; it is complete and unlimited. But, the word 'man' is partial, incomplete and limited. When the word 'man' with its limitations and boundaries joins the true I which has no limitations or boundaries, then the limited I-thought arises.
The I-thought can be compared to a river bounded by name and form. Once it merges into the limitless ocean it loses its name and form and all its limitations. Before that it had a separate identity as a river. But once it merges it becomes the ocean. In that way, when you remove the I-thought, you as a limited man merge with the unlimited ocean of Divinity and become one with It. Then you as a separate entity called 'man' disappear.
What is the origin of the I-thought? The I-thought takes its origin from the Atma, the true I, the one eternal Self. From the one Self arises the thought of I. And out of this I-thought all the rest of the mind takes form. In truth, the I-thought and the mind belong to the Self; they are both just aspects of the Self. The relationship can best be visualized as the Self being the grandfather, the I-thought, the personal self, being the father, and the mind being the grandson.
Consider a cloth which has been made into a handkerchief. Its basis is cotton, which does not have any specific form. It may be considered as pure and unlimited. From this cotton has come the threads. By joining the threads together a cloth has emerged. In the same way, from the pure and unlimited Atma the I-thought has emerged. From this, in turn, has come the mind. Therefore, your mind and the I have both originated from the pure, unlimited Divinity, the One Reality which is your true Self.
You should be clear about the distinction between the I-thought and the impersonal, immortal Self. The I-thought takes birth and grows; for a time it comes in and is associated with a body; then it disappears. But for the Self there is no birth, there is no growth, no death, no coming, no going. Once you recognize the truth that from the one unlimited Self has emerged the limited I, and from that I the mind has taken birth, then you will realize your true Self and understand the origin of the world and everything in it.
Chaitanya or consciousness is all-pervasive. This consciousness is also the substratum of the mind, but when it becomes associated with the mind it is no longer pure. Mind takes birth, blossoms forth and shines in man. With this mind man tries to analyze and understand the external world. But, unknown to him, that world is only a reflection of the inner thoughts that shape the mind. All knowledge is inside you. All the beauty you see outside is but an image of the beauty already there in your heart. All the research and experiments that you perform in the world are merely reflections of the inner thoughts that are already within you. If you learn to carefully concentrate your mind and go to its very root you will be able to understand the basic truth of everything.
Make an effort to know who you are and what the deeper meaning of this word I is. When you conduct this investigation you will unlock all the secrets of existence. When you examine your own truth, you will discover the very basis of the whole creation, and you will find the source of life itself. Then the Divine Flame inside you will blaze forth and you will realize the truth that the Divinity is your very core. In this you can be your own guru. If you develop a high level of patience and calmness, and remain free from selfishness, the basic truths that are always within you will naturally manifest and shine forth in your awareness.
First you must free yourself from the defects in your vision. Do not try to find fault with the creation. The entire creation is saturated with Divinity. Today, man uses all his capacity and power of vision to see the outside world, but he does not use his abilities to discover his true Self. It is because of the petrified ignorance in his heart that man goes on thinking and worrying about worldly objects and situations. And by diverting his attention only to the manifested world he suffers disappointment and despair.
If you think you can free your mind from worldly thoughts by repeating mantras or engaging in various spiritual exercises you are mistaken. It is only when you recognize your own real nature that you will be able to become free of all worries and misery. Once you know yourself, nothing that can happen in the world will be able to touch you or cause you any anxiety. And once you understand yourself you will be able to understand the world in all its fullness.
No matter how long you go on experimenting to find out what this manifested world is, you will always come back to the realization that the world of name and form consists only of the five basic elements, space, air, fire, water and earth. The body, the mind and the senses are also made up of these same five elements. So, the senses composed of the five elements are enjoying the things of the world made up of the five elements. Of what avail is that? These limited enjoyments are not real; one day or another they must come to an end. Names and forms made up of the five elements can only give rise to other names and forms which go on changing and finally disintegrate.
Aspire for the eternal joy that has no end. The Vedanta declares, 'Brahmavid Brahmaiva Bhavati', 'Know God and you become God.' Once you know the Divinity you realize you are the Divinity Itself. Then there is lasting joy and fulfillment. That is why it is said, it is not enough to merely hear the Rama story. You must become Rama Himself. You must realize your truth as Absolute Bliss itself.
Therefore, endeavor to understand the principle of Atma. Strive to discover the relationship between the I and the Self and banish the I-thought completely out of your being. So long as that I-thought continues you will not be able to free yourself from attachment and the anxiety and misery that go with it. As was mentioned before, in the deep sleep state you do not have the thought of I. When there is no I there is no world for you. The moment you get up from sleep the I-thought catches hold of you and the experience of world rushes back into your awareness. Once the world reappears sorrow automatically follows.
Your distance from the Divinity is the same as your distance from yourself, your true Self. It is the I-thought that has emerged from the Divinity which separates you from the Divinity. Who is it that declares this I? Is it the body? The body is inert. It cannot have the power to declare its ‘I’ness. Then is it the Self? The one eternal Self does not recognize any second entity at all. If you examine this question carefully you will find that the word I emerges by itself the moment the Self and the body come together. As soon as this I-thought emerges the mind manifests itself and the world appears. At the same time, the impersonal Self, the Atma, disappears from view.
The mind has 50 million different ways of manifesting itself in the thinking process. Behind all these myriad thoughts there is the seed-thought which is the source of all thoughts. This is the I-thought which emerges from the One Self. Everyone, be he a theist or an atheist, says 'I' and believes that he himself exists. Eventually everyone will have to realize the truth of his existence by tracing back to the very root of that original I-thought and discover there his true Self. Spirituality is nothing more than that. It is recognizing your true nature. It is abiding in the very heart of the Reality and enjoying it.
I bless you that you will steadily inquire into the Divine Principle and realize the Ananda which is your own natural state.