What is Mind?

That which separates man from his Original or True Nature (i.e. Jot Saroop) is mind.

In short, the wall — also called veil, curtain, screen etc. in the Gurbani — that stands between man in his Mool (Original Nature) is his/her own mind.

Gurmat Giaan or Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) says pull the wall down through the Guru’s Wisdom and then one will come face to face his/her Mool.

The ocean at depth is calm and quiet. But at the surface, due to disturbance created by the wind, waves arise. Stronger the wind, stronger and higher the waves. If there is no wind, there will be no waves.

Similarly, the phantom of the instinctive mind is nothing but turbulent waves on the surface of the pool of the Pure Consciousness (Jot Saroop). The seed of the mind is Haumai or false-ego-sense (‘I’-ness or self-centeredness etc.).

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਮੁਈ ਨ ਮਨੁ ਮੁਆ ਸਰੁ ਲਹਰੀ ਮੈ ਮਤੁ ॥: (Neither the mind’s love for) Maya has died, nor the mind has died (i.e, the mind has not turned away from the worldly desires); and the mind-ocean remains brimful with waves of ‘I, I’ (self-centeredness, etc.). (sggs 992).
  • ਇਹੁ ਤਨੁ ਲਹਰੀ ਗਡੁ ਥਿਆ ਸਚੇ ਤੇਰੀ ਆਸ ॥੧੨੫॥: This body is caught in the waves (of desire-ਸੰਸਾਰ-ਰੂਪ ਸਾਗਰ ਦੀਆਂ ਵਿਕਾਰਾਂ ਰੂਪ ਲਹਰਾਂ). (To escape from these waves of desires) O my True Rabb, You are my only hope! ||125|| (sggs 1384).
  • ਤੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਤੋਹੀ ਅੰਤਰੁ ਕੈਸਾ ॥ ਕਨਕ ਕਟਿਕ ਜਲ ਤਰੰਗ ਜੈਸਾ ॥੧॥: You are me, and I am You—what is the difference between us? We are like gold and the bracelet, or water and the waves ||1|| (sggs 93).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਦੀਰਘ ਰੋਗੁ ਹੈ ਦਾਰੂ ਭੀ ਇਸੁ ਮਾਹਿ ॥: Ego is a chronic disease, but it contains its own cure as well (sggs 466).

The body is only a shadow of the mind. In other words, body is the mold prepared by the mind for its expression. When the mind is agitated, then this body also is agitated. In other words, when the mind is in control, the body (including all senses) also is in control.

How do these waves arise in the mind? Where do they come from?

The knowing man is nothing but a mind, which is nothing but a collection of thoughts and perceptions.

Man is nothing but the mind, and the mind is nothing but thought-stuff and perceptions. In fact, Awareness or Conscience (Surat) conditioned by an object becomes a thought and perception.

Our thoughts come two sources, (1) externally caused and (2) internally caused. External sources include thoughts given to us by our parents, other family members, neighbors, friends and associates, teachers, Pujaaree (clergy), leaders, books and other publications, social media, and so on. Internal sources are our inner being (Jot Saroop), inner silence, cosmic creation, nature, introspection, Simran or meditation, and so on.

Beauty, youth, strength, possessions, social status, titles, education, knowledge, family of birth, illusion of being more religious or Dharmic, high caste (Jaat Paat) etc. make us arrogant and mentally blind.

Hence arrogance or ‘I’ thought (Haumai) is the base of thoughts. This idea of ‘I’ will bring in its train of thoughts (Phurnae-ਫੁਰਨੇ), the idea of time space and other potencies.

Hence, waves of the instinctive mind include waves of uncontrolled flow of desires, Vaasnaa, sensuousness, vices/Bikaar (i.e., lust, anger, greed etc.), senses chasing their respective sense-objects etc.

  • ਮਨੁ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਨੁ ਧਾਇਆ ਮਨੁ ਪੰਖੀ ਆਕਾਸਿ ॥ : (Devoid of Naam or Gurmat) the mind (longs) for Maya, chases Maya, the mind (keeps flying for the sake of Maya) as a bird flies in the sky. (sggs 1330).

For example, when we see something, there arises desire in the mind. That creates disturbance or waves in the mind. Without seeing (or without desires or love for Maya), there will be no waves or disturbance in the mind. It’s similar to as if there is no wind, there will be no waves at the surface of ocean.

When in mother’s womb, our eyes are closed and don’t see anything. As a result, there are no waves of desires or disturbance. The Gurbani explains this to us beautifully.

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਦੇਖੇ ਉਪਜੈ ਨਹੀ ਆਸਾ ॥: Without seeing something, the desire for it does not arise. (sggs 1167).

If the mind is moored to its Mool or Jot Saroop within then there will be no Waves of Maya or desires arising in us.

  • ਇਉ ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਮਨ ਤੂੰ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਅਪਣਾ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣੁ ॥੫॥: Thus says Nanak – O mind! You are embodiment of Pure Light (Pure Consciousness, Pure Nature, Original or Real Nature, Wisdom, Virtues – Jot Saroop …)! Recognize your Mool (ਅਪਣੇ ਆਪ ਦੀ ਪਛਾਣ, recognition of mind’s Original or True Nature – Jot Saroop…) ||5|| (sggs 441).

But, on account of our love or hunger for Maya, there will be waves of desires arising in us. In a nutshell, that’s the mind. Hence, mind happens to us, we don’t happen to mind!

Therefore, to reach the mind’s divine state within (Jot Saroop), one’s thought has to transcend one’s thoughts, and there very source (Vaasnaa etc.).

As indicated taught by the SGGS, mere abandoning of family, world, or actions is not the solution. Moreover, man cannot stay away from actions or thoughts even for a moment.

The solution therefore lies in regulating directing one’s thought flow and its source. As indicated by the SGGS, this can be achieved with the help of all three equipment’s — the body, the mind, and the intellect. At the body or physical level, earning honest living or working selflessly and meeting responsibilities may be practiced in a spirit of dedication to a higher altar. At the mental level, Bhagti can be developed to gain Wisdom and understanding of the Hukam (Cosmic System-Rule-Law of Nature). From the intellectual angle, one can cultivate discrimination (Bibek Budh) between the Real and the unreal and constantly maintain the ONE Universal Energy pervading the pluralistic phenomena of the universe.

  • ਏ ਨੇਤ੍ਰਹੁ ਮੇਰਿਹੋ ਹਰਿ ਤੁਮ ਮਹਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਧਰੀ ਹਰਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਦੇਖਹੁ ਕੋਈ ॥: O my eyes, the ‘Har’ has infused (His) Light into you; therefore, without ‘Har’, you don’t see another (i.e., you see the entire world as the Har’s manifestation). (sggs 922).
  • ਮਨ ਤੇ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਨਿਆ ਚੂਕੀ ਅਹੰ ਭ੍ਰਮਣੀ ॥: The (lower) mind is reconciliated with the (Higher) Mind, and the ego’s wandering ways come to an end (sggs 227).

To put it otherwise, the Gurbani teaches us that If we only live a Mayaic lifestyle, then there will be waves of Maya in the mind. But, if we live at the level of the Mool or Jot Saroop, then there will be no waves of Maya in the mind.

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਡੋਲੈ ਬਹੁ ਬਿਧੀ ਮਨੁ ਲਪਟਿਓ ਤਿਹ ਸੰਗ ॥: Maya wavers many ways, the mind clings to this (Maya, also wavers many ways). (sggs 258).

In short, mind is a dual power.

For the sake of discussion, if we must put it in words, this dual-power mind can be represented as follows (‘ਕਹਨ ਸੁਨਨ ਕਉ’):

One part or aspect of mind connected to Maya remains ‘external’ or ‘outside’ (‘ਬਾਹਰਿ’) — ever changing, disturbed, agitated, worried, anxious and restless (‘ਲਹਰੀ ਵਿਚਿ’). Thus this instinctive mind is NOT only made daily, but every moment. Haumai (false ego-sense) and Budhi (intellect) work in healthy-cooperation with this mind — a collection of though-stuff; a collection of desires; a bundle of Vaasnaas, habits etc. This aspect of the mind binds the man and is the cause of his sorrows.

The other part or aspect which is untainted by Maya (‘ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਸੇ’), remains stable (‘ਅਡੋਲੁ’), within. This aspect of the mind does not cause any problems to us. In fact it aids our life.

  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਸੇ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭੀ ਓਹੀ ॥: Antari basae baahari bhee ohee (sggs 294).

In short, mind that gives up hunger for Maya realizes its Mool, within. Similarly, if we listen or work only at Mayaic level, we are likely to practice falsehood or Maya in life. But If we listen at the level of the Truth, then we are likely to live Truth.

  • ਹਉਮੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਜਾਤਿ ਹੈ ਅਤਿ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਅਭਿਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਤਾ ਜਾਤਿ ਜਾਇ ਜੋਤੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਮਿਲੈ ਭਗਵਾਨੁ ॥੨॥: Haumai, self-centeredness (ਮੈਂ ਮੈਂ, ਮੇਰੀ ਮੇਰੀ) and ‘Jaati’ (pride of being superior, separate, different…), (gives rise to) too much anger and pride (i.e., all Bikaar). (If) died through the Shabad (i.e., becoming absorbed in Naam, Hukam, Shabad-Vichaar, Wisdom….), then ‘Jaati’ (pride of being superior, separate, different…) goes away, (and then one’s) light merges into the (Supreme) Light and (he) Realizes ‘Bhagwaan’ (Mool, Parmaatam…). ||2|| (sggs 429).
  • ਏ ਸ੍ਰਵਣਹੁ ਮੇਰਿਹੋ ਸਾਚੈ ਸੁਨਣੈ ਨੋ ਪਠਾਏ ॥: (O my ears!) You are sent to listen to the Truth. (sggs 922).

Mind creates havoc through its power of imagination, wandering, etc. Imaginary fear of many sorts, exaggeration, concoction, mental dramatization, building castle in the air are due to this power of imagination or fancy. It broods over the perceived objects, creating feelings of likes, dislikes, desires (Trishanaa) etc. For example, once a desire arises, man finds no peace till it is fulfilled. All this because man feels that he gains happiness from objects. Therefore, the gain and loss of objects become a source of joy and sorrow.

a wandering mind is like a goat’s mind. For example, a goat grazes for a few seconds in patch of green grass and immediately jump to another patch, even though there is plenty of grass to eat in the first patch. Similarly, a wavering or wandering mind jumps from one so called Teerath (place of pilgrimage) to another Teerath, from one Deraa to another Deraa, from one Guru to another Guru, from one sant to another, and so on.

The aim of the Gurmat Giyan-Wisdom of the SGGS is to freeze this wandering mind — bring about cessation of its wild imaginations or fancies, and help it trace its steps back to its Original or True Nature (Jot Saroop), here and now — shift it from Bhav Saagar to Sukh Saagar.

Maya is a big poisonous tree. This tree of Mayaic illusion is watered by baser desires. The Guru Shabad (Upadesh, Wisdom…) is the death knoll for the Mayaic waves, and the end of Maya’s waves result in the end of mind’s waves.

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਅਗਨਿ ਜਲੈ ਸੰਸਾਰੇ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਿਵਾਰੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਵੀਚਾਰੇ ॥: The world is burning in the fire of Maya (hunger or love of Maya…). The one who has become the Gurmukh removes (this fire of Maya from within) by reflecting on the Shabad (Upadesh, Giaan or Wisdom of the Guru). (sggs 1049).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਸਬਦੈ ਭਰਮੁ ਨ ਚੂਕਈ ਨਾ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਜਾਇ ॥੬॥: Without the Shabad, doubt is not dispelled, and egotism is not eliminated from within. ||6|| (sggs 67).

Hence, the SGGS asks us to conquer, or annihilate/kill the conditioned or Mayaic mind. Because, the Gurbani teaches us that without killing it neither one can transcend Maya nor realize Mool or ‘Bhagti‘:

  • ਨਾ ਮਨੁ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਰੈ ॥: Maya can not be conquered without annihilation of the mind (sggs 1342).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਮਨ ਮੂਏ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: Without subduing the mind, Bhagti cannot be practiced (sggs 1277).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਮਨ ਮੂਏ ਕੈਸੇ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇ ॥: Without annihilating (conquering) the mind, how can ‘Hari’ (Mool, Source…) be realized? (sggs 665).

Some Related Posts:


  1. Thank you sir, actually I was contemplating on the mind as it is called jot saroop but one thing keep on disturbing how it is divine.. How we can search our mind as it is mentioned that even demigods have failed to see their mind in their body,

  2. The question then arises What is Maya. Gurbani says Aiya Jag sache ki hai kothri, sache ka vaas. The body and mind are then part of Truth.
    The fouth quote sggs 922 says much the same thing. But there is maya. Qote 5 sggs 429 says; through the Word, maya is eliminated.
    The first quote SGGS 992 is apparently a prayer: O Lord, the mind is still full of desires. (Grant that they be removed).

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. * = required fields. Comment Policy.