The mind runs around in the ten directions; the material or ego-being
(Manmukh) wanders around, deluded by doubt. In his mind, he
continually conjures up material hopes; his mind is gripped by hunger
and thirst (desires). (sggs 776).

That which stands like a veil between man and the Absolute Reality is the mind with its outward motion. This mind is none other than the subtle aspect of the physical body; while the body is its external manifestation. Impure ego-sense (Haume) is the seed of the mind. To put it otherwise, a thought, a notion or a concept in action is what we call "mind". In essence, thus, the conditioned individual mind (Jeeva) is essentially same as Maya (illusion), relativist consciousness, duality (Doojaa Bhaav), thoughts-stuff, ignorance, finiteness, time and space, subject-object relationship, phenomenal world, and so on.

  • ਲਾਗੀ ਭੂਖ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਗੁ ਜੋਹੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਮੋਹਿ ਖਰੇ ॥: Laagee bhookh maya mag johai mukat padaarath mohi kharay: Driven by hunger, it sees the path of Maya's riches; this emotional attachment takes away the treasure of liberation (sggs 1014).
  • ਅਹੰਕਾਰੀਆ ਨੋ ਦੁਖ ਭੁਖ ਹੈ ਹਥੁ ਤਡਹਿ ਘਰਿ ਘਰਿ ਮੰਗਾਇ ॥: Ahankaareeaa no dukh bhukh hai hath tadeh ghar ghar mangaai: Suffering and hunger cling to the egotistical people; they hold out their hands and beg from door to door (sggs 303).
  • ਅੰਦਰਿ ਤਿਸਨਾ ਅਗਿ ਹੈ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਭੁਖ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥ ...: Andar tisnaa aggi hai manmukh bhukh na jaai ...: Within the Manmukhs (ego or material beings) is the fire of desire; their hunger does not depart. Emotional attachments to relatives are totally false; they remain engrossed in falsehood. Night and day, they are troubled by anxiety; bound to anxiety, they depart. Their repeated suffering never end; they do their deeds in egoism (sggs 1424).
  • ਹੰਸੁ ਹੇਤੁ ਆਸਾ ਅਸਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਤਿਸੁ ਵਿਚਿ ਭੂਖ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਨੈ ਸਾਨੁ ॥: Hans hayt aasaa asmaan. Tisi vich bhookh bahut nai saan: Cruelty, attachment, desire and egoism - there is great hunger in these, like the raging torrent of a wild stream (sggs 151).

Mayaic mind's function is to produce the phenomenal world; causing bondage through involvement in it. Bondage is nothing but consequence of the mind emotionally attached to the senses and the sense-objects. When the mind is so attached to any of the sensory perceptions, it then perceives the objective world for its "likes" or "dislikes": delight or anger, desire or grieve, acceptance or rejections, etc. Thus the mind with its false ego-sense is bondage, and the extinction of this mind and ego is liberation (Mukti). In other words, the mind is said to be in Pure or Blissful Awareness when it is unattached to any sensory perception. In that unconditioned state the world appears as illusory, like in a moonless night the rope lying on the ground is apprehended as the snake. But the same mind in its conditioned state — distinguishable from the Formless, Nameless, and Unborn Truth — creates forms, names or functions called the phenomenal world.

Mayaic "hunger" or "thirst" of the mind are numerous. These include its wanderings, habits, tendencies or Vaasnaas. Some of them are internal; and some are external. For example, mind's internal hungers are material desires (Trishnaa, cravings, etc.), fears, selfishness, corruption, falsehood, frauds, deception, attributes, doubts, lust, anger, greed, emotional attachments, self conceit, envy, stubbornness, fame, praise, repulsion and attraction, sense-gratification, tendencies, impulses, emotions, unrighteous and untruthful living, etc. Mind's external hungers include names and forms, worldly activities and actions, competition, smell, touch, taste, seeing, hearing, self-preservation, procreation, security, eating, and so on. But the worst of the external hunger is indicated to be the bad company or Kusang.

  • ਮੇਰੈ ਮਨਿ ਤਨਿ ਭੁਖ ਅਤਿ ਅਗਲੀ ਕੋਈ ਆਣਿ ਮਿਲਾਵੈ ਮਾਇ ॥: Mayrai man tan bhukh at aglee koee aan milaavai maai: Within my mind and body, there is such a great hunger; if only someone would come and unite me with the Truth, O my mother! (sggs 49).
  • ਜੋ ਦੀਸੈ ਸੋ ਆਸ ਨਿਰਾਸਾ ॥ ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਬਿਖੁ ਭੂਖ ਪਿਆਸਾ ॥: Jo deesai so aas niraasaa. Kaam karodh bikh bhookh piaasaa: Whoever is seen, is driven by hope and despair, by lust, anger, corruption, hunger and thirst (sggs 224).
  • ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਬੁਝਈ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਹੋਇ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥: Trisnaa kade na bujhaee dubidhaa hoi khuaar: (Those who inflict their hatred upon the Saints, their) ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ (desire craving, thirst, hunger, greed, avrice, ambition, etc.) is never ceased, and they are ruined by duality (sggs 649).
  • ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਤ੍ਰਿਖਾ ਭੂਖ ਭ੍ਰਮਿ ਲਾਗੀ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਨਾਹਿ ਬੀਚਾਰਿਓ ਰੇ ॥: Tarisnaa tarikhaa bhookh bharam laagee hirdai naahi beechaario ray: The thirst of desire and the hunger of doubt afflict you; you do not contemplate the Reality in your heart (sggs 335).
  • ਇਕਿ ਭ੍ਰਮਿ ਭੂਖੇ ਮੋਹ ਪਿਆਸੇ ॥: Ik bharam bhookhay moh piaase: Some are gripped by doubt, Mayaic hunger, emotional attachment and desire (sggs 839).
  • ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਜਲਿਆ ਭੂਖ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥: Tarisnaa jaliaa bhookh na jaai: Burnt in the fire of desire, one's Mayaic hunger does not depart (sggs 1262).
  • ਭੁਖ ਵਿਆਪੈ ਬਹੁ ਬਿਧਿ ਧਾਵੈ ॥: Bhukh viaapai baho bidh dhaavai: Afflicted with Mayaic hunger, one runs around in all directions (sggs 98).

Human mind's Mayaic hungers are all instinctive forces. They are very real in animals as well. The functioning of the instinctive mind is controlled by the driving force coming from the lusty or sexual nature, and habit impressions stored in the subconsciousness during the childhood and subsequent experiences of the life journey. In the event we lack or have no mind-control or self-control, the animal nature takes over completely. As repeatedly indicated in the Gurbani, the first step on the spiritual path consists in learning and understanding to harness these numerous variations of the mind's hunger and transmute their energies into the Higher Nature.

  • ਮਨੁ ਵਸਿ ਦੂਤਾ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਦੋਇ ॥: Mann vas dootaa durmati doi: The mind is in the control of evil passions, evil intent, and duality (sggs 222).
  • ਮਾਣਕੁ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਰਸੀ ਸਚਿ ਨ ਲਾਗੈ ਕਤੁ ॥: Manak man mahi manu maarsee sach na laagai kat: The Divine Jewel within the (Higher) mind subdues the (lower) mind; thus attached to the Truth, it does not wander deluded again (sggs 992).

If the Mool (Source...) is the ocean, the mind is like its waves. As the waves stirred up by the wind rise and fall in the ocean, similarly, when the individual mind — which in its true nature is Pure — is stirred up by the wind of ignorance, the waves of thought and concepts appear. This fluctuating or restless mind, in turn, produces the phenomenal world in which the objects and beings of the world rise and fall, jostle, play and interact with one another like waves, all in the ocean of the Changeless and Boundless Mool. This hunger of the mind for its phenomenal world prevails until the dawning of the Divine Knowledge (Aatm-Giaan) within.

When mind concentrates on the body-frame then it identifies with the body and becomes the body itself. What it means is that when the mind is restless, the body is restless. To the contrary, if the mind is in control, the body stands conquered. So the body acts as the container or food for the mind through which it experiences the external world of objects and expresses itself. Thus, when the mind confounds itself with the body and becomes attached to it than the pure Mool, it becomes the root of all evils and suffering in the world. As indicated in the Gurbani, the hunger or wanderings of such mind can never be appeased.

  • ਚੰਚਲ ਚਪਲ ਬੁਧਿ ਕਾ ਖੇਲੁ ॥: Chanchal chapal budh kaa khel: Body is the play-thing of fickle and unsteady intellect (sggs 152).
  • ਬਿਖਿਆ ਕਦੇ ਹੀ ਰਜੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਮੂਰਖ ਭੁਖ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥: Bikhiaa kade hee rajai naahee moorakh bhukh na jaaee: No one is ever satisfied and fulfilled by evil and corruption. The hunger of the fool is not satisfied (sggs 1287).
  • ਭੁਖਿਆ ਭੁਖ ਨ ਉਤਰੀ ਜੇ ਬੰਨਾ ਪੁਰੀਆ ਭਾਰ ॥: Bhukhiaa bhukh na utree jay bannaa pureeaa bhaar: The Mayaic hunger of the hungry is not appeased, even by piling up loads of worldly goods (sggs 1).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਨੈਣੀ ਸੁਖੀ ਮੂਲਿ ਨ ਉਤਰੈ ਭੁਖ ॥: Antar chintaa nainee sukhee mool na utrai bhukh: Man harbors anxiety within himself, but to the eyes, he appears to be happy; this way his hunger never departs (sggs 319).
  • ਸੋ ਸੰਚਿਓ ਜਿਤੁ ਭੂਖ ਤਿਸਾਇਓ ॥: So sanchio jit bhookh tisaaio: Man collects that which will bring him only hunger and thirst (sggs 715).
  • ਤਿਸਨਾ ਭੁਖ ਨ ਉਤਰੈ ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਜਲਤ ਫਿਰੰਨਿ ॥: Tisnaa bhukh na utrai andin jalat firann: People's Mayaic hunger and thirst never leave them, and night and day, they wander around burning (sggs 755).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਭਰਿ ਰਹੇ ਮਨਿ ਆਸਾ ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਬਹੁ ਲਾਖੁ ॥: Manmukh tarisnaa bhar rahay man aasaa dah dis baho laakh: The Manmukhs (ego beings) are filled with hunger and thirst; their minds run around in the ten directions, hoping for more wealth (sggs 997).

As we can see, the mind is a very complex and powerful instrument. If we analyze it further, we will find the mind has three states (Avasthaa), namely waking-state-ego (Jaagrat), dream-state-ego (Swapna) and deep sleep-state-ego (Sushupti). Its subtle states of the inner psychic world include various mental phenomena such as instincts, moods, impulses, emotions, whims, fancies, imaginations, sentiments and temperaments. It is said to have six important powers: power of perception, power of memory, power of imagination, power of judgment, power of will or volition and power to hold. It has three defects: impurity, restlessness and the veil of ignorance. Also, the mind has three Gunas or qualities: Taamas (inertia, darkness, etc.), Raajas (passion, activities, etc.) and Saatav (goodness, light, bliss, etc.). Depending on the quality of the mind, it could be Taamasic, Raajsic or Saatvic. Additionally, the mind functions through innumerable thought-waves.

Also, the mind is connected with the vital breath. In fact the mind depends on it. So does the body. Further, just as the body, the mind also depends on the food for its formation. The food we take in is transformed in three different ways: the gross or the heaviest portion of it becomes the excrement; that of medium density is transformed into flesh; and the finest portion goes to form the mind. Thus, the three qualities of the mind — Saatav, Raajas and Taamas — are the result of three different kinds of food. Thus, the quality of one's actions, attitudes and behavior depends on the quality of his mind. For example, the Raajasic and Taamasic diet excite the mind. Also, different kinds of foods produce different effects in different parts of the brain and weaken the immune system. Meditation (Jap or Naam Simran) is impossible with such weak, restless, unstable, crooked and corrupt mind. To the contrary, the Saatavic diet calms the mind; hence very conducive for Shabad-Vichaar.

  • ਰੂਪੈ ਕਾਮੈ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਭੁਖੈ ਸਾਦੈ ਗੰਢੁ ॥: Roopai kaamai dostee bhukhai saadai gandh: Beauty and sexual desire are friends; hunger and tasty food are tied together (sggs 1288).
  • ਜਿਤਨੀ ਭੂਖ ਅਨ ਰਸ ਸਾਦ ਹੈ ਤਿਤਨੀ ਭੂਖ ਫਿਰਿ ਲਾਗੈ ॥: Jitnee bhookh an ras saad hai titnee bhookh fir laagai: The more one feels hunger for other tastes and pleasures, the more this hunger persists (sggs 167).
  • ਓਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਮੰਦੈ ਪੈਰੁ ਨ ਰਖਿਓ ਕਰਿ ਸੁਕ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਕਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਓਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਦੁਨੀਆ ਤੋੜੇ ਬੰਧਨਾ ਅੰਨੁ ਪਾਣੀ ਥੋੜਾ ਖਾਇਆ ॥: Onhee mandai pair na rakhio kar sukarit dharam kamaaiaa. Onee duniyaa torhe bandhnaa ann paanee thorhaa khaayaa: They (the truest of the true) do not do sin, but do good deeds and live righteously in Dharma. They burn away the bonds of the world, and eat a simple diet of grain and water (sggs 467).

It is not so easy to tame the hunger of such a mighty ghost of the mind! It is like walking on a two-edged sword. It is said that one may be able control the wind or the vicious animals, but it is very difficult to control the mind. How can then the innumerable hungers of the mind be eliminated? Various terms such as controlling of the mind, conquering of the mind, annihilation of the mind, killing of the mind, becoming desireless or detached, becoming egoless or thoughtless, and so on, are the same as eliminating hunger of the mind.

To weed out the mind's hungers, we need untiring love, faith, concentration and conviction. Mind has two aspects: one is discriminative and the other is imaginative. Through imagination, the mind binds itself to the objective world. In this aspect of the mind, ignorance is active while the discriminating intellect is turned off. On the other hand, through its aspect of discrimination (Bibek Budhi), it liberates itself from the bondage. This subtle sense of discrimination helps one to know the difference between Sat & Asat (truth and falsehood). A person with discrimination knows that the Absolute Reality alone is eternal (Sat) and that everything else in this material world being in the framework of time and space is temporary (Asat). Thus the mind is the cause of man's bondage as well as his freedom from it. In other words, the egoistic mind is the root of its hunger or bondage, while the non-egoistic mind is the root of elimination of its hunger.

  • ਬੂਝੈ ਬੂਝਨਹਾਰੁ ਬਿਬੇਕ ॥ ਬੂਝੈ ਬੂਝਨਹਾਰੁ ਸਭਾਗਾ ॥: Boojhai boojhanhaar bibek. Boojhai boojhanhaar sabhaagaa: Only one with discriminating intellect understands it. Very fortunate is the one who knows this (sggs 285).
  • ਤਿਨ ਕੀ ਦੁਖ ਭੁਖ ਹਉਮੈ ਵਡਾ ਰੋਗੁ ਗਇਆ ਨਿਰਦੋਖ ਭਏ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਇ ॥: Tin kee dukh bhukh haumai vadaa rog gaiaa nirdokh bhaye liv laai: Those who are lovingly attuned to the Self, they are rid of pain, hunger, and the great illness of egoism; they become free of sorrows (sggs 1423).
  • ਤਿਸਨਾ ਅਗਨਿ ਬੁਝੀ ਖਿਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗੁਰਿ ਮਿਲਿਐ ਸਭ ਭੁਖ ਗਵਾਈ ॥: Tisnaa agan bujhee khin antar gur miliai sabh bhukh gavaaee: After meeting the Self (Guru), the fire of desire was extinguished instantly; now all my hunger has been satisfied (sggs 732).

Destruction of the false ego is the destruction of the mind's hunger. To enlighten the mind, the Shabad-Vichaar and living the Gurmat is lauded in the Gurbani.

  • ਤਿੰਨਾ ਭੁਖ ਨ ਕਾ ਰਹੀ ਜਿਸ ਦਾ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਹੈ ਸੋਇ ॥: Tinnaa bhukh na kaa rahee jis daa parabh hai soi: One who abides in Pure Consciousness (God or Self) has no hunger (sggs 323).
  • ਸਾਚੇ ਨਾਮ ਕੀ ਲਾਗੈ ਭੂਖ ॥ ਉਤੁ ਭੂਖੈ ਖਾਇ ਚਲੀਅਹਿ ਦੂਖ ॥: Saachay naam kee laagai bhookh. Ut bhookhai khaai chaleeahi dookh: If someone feels hunger for the True Name, that hunger will consume his pain (sggs 9).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਭੁਖਾ ਤਾ ਰਜੈ ਜਾ ਗੁਣ ਕਹਿ ਗੁਣੀ ਸਮਾਇ ॥: Nanak bhukhaa taa rajai jaa gun kahi gunee samaai: O Nanak, hunger is relieved only when one utters the Divine Praises and become one with that Divinity (sggs 147).
  • ਤਿਸ ਕੀ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਭੁਖ ਸਭ ਉਤਰੈ ਜੋ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥: Tis kee tarisnaa bhukh sabh utrai jo har naam dhiaavai: Those who meditate on the Divine Name have all of their desire and hunger removed (sggs 451).
  • ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਪੀ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤਾਸੇ ਸਭ ਲਾਥੀ ਭੂਖ ਭੁਖਾਨੀ ॥: Har har amrit pee tariptaasay sabh laathee bhookh bhukhaanee: The Divine Name is Amrit, drinking in it I am satisfied; all my hunger and thirst is quenched (sggs 667).

Simply put, the mind must be destroyed through the mind itself. Because the mind is the cause of bondage, and the same mind devoid of ego-sense can lead back to Absoluteness. This is the Gurbani's edict. Spiritual practices make the mind strong and thus help awaken the spiritual qualities within. As the thorn is removed with another thorn, as the venom is antidote to the venom of snakebite, as the water cleanses a dirty cloth, similarly, having developed the discriminating intellect (Bibek Budhi ), the hunger of the lower mind (lower quality thoughts or delusions of the heterogeneous mind) is eliminated through the Higher mind (higher thoughts or one-pointed mind). In other words, the ego-mind that has melted away stands stripped of its expressions, delusion, imaginations, fluctuations and inertia: the hunger. Such pure mind established in the all-pervasiveness of the Self transcends the duality or Doojaa Bhaav — hunger and satisfaction, attachment and detachment, freedom and bondage, religion and irreligion, Dharma and Adharma, sin and virtue, joy and sorrow, and so on. Because in the absence of dualistic knowledge, everything merges in the Mool (Source...). Such mind is God-like, says the Gurbani.

  • ਜਿਨੀ ਆਤਮੁ ਚੀਨਿਆ ਪਰਮਾਤਮੁ ਸੋਈ ॥: Jinee aatam cheeniaa parmaatam soee: Those who understand their own Soul, are themselves Parmaatam (sgg 421).
  • ਨਾ ਉਸੁ ਭੂਖ ਨ ਹਮ ਕਉ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ॥: Naa us bhookh na ham kaou tarisnaa: God has no Maya's hunger, so I have no Maya's thirst (sggs 391).
  • ਜਾ ਕੈ ਕਾਮਿ ਉਤਰੈ ਸਭ ਭੂਖ ॥: Jaa kai kaam utrai sabh bhookh: Working in God-consciousness, all hunger departs (sggs 238).
  • ਮਨ ਕਉ ਹੋਇ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਭੁਖਾ ਧ੍ਰਾਪੀਐ ॥: Man kaou hoi santokh bhukhaa dharaapeeai: When the mind becomes content, its hunger is satisfied (sggs 519).
  • ਵਿਸਮਾਦੁ ਭੁਖ ਵਿਸਮਾਦੁ ਭੋਗੁ ॥: Vismaad bhukh vismaad bhog: (In Pure Consciousness) Both hunger and satisfaction appear wonderful (sggs 464).
  • ਜੇ ਭੁਖ ਦੇਹਿ ਤ ਇਤ ਹੀ ਰਾਜਾ ਦੁਖ ਵਿਚਿ ਸੂਖ ਮਨਾਈ ॥: Jay bhukh deh ta it hee raajaa dukh vich sookh manaaee: Even if You give me hunger, I will still feel satisfied; I am joyful, even in the midst of sorrow (sggs 757).
  • ਮਨ ਰਸਕਿ ਰਸਕਿ ਹਰਿ ਰਸਿ ਆਘਾਨੇ ਫਿਰਿ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਨ ਭੂਖ ਲਗਾਵੈ ॥: Mann rasak rasak har ras aaghaanay fir bahur na bhookh lagaavai: My mind is immersed in, and drenched with the Divine Essence. Fulfilled with the Love of the Self, I will never feel hunger again (sggs 172).
  • ਏਹੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਸਾਰੁ ਜਿਸ ਨੋ ਲਾਏ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਭੁਖ ਗਵਾਏ ॥: Ih sabad saar jis no laae. Gurmukh tarisnaa bhukh gavaaye: Whosoever becomes established in the Essence of the Shabad (Self), by becoming Gurmukh (egoless or spiritual being), he gets rid of Mayaic thirst and hunger (sggs 1016).

— T. Singh