Human mind works in a funny way, its basic nature is that of rebellion and the more you try to tame it, the more it gets out of control. Try keeping it fixed at a particular spot for a few minutes and you can experience its nature yourself. There are many times wherein I have simply wanted to be silent. By being silent, I don’t mean draining my mind of all thoughts, for that stage is way high up in one’s spiritual journey. I simply mean being equanimous towards the thoughts/emotions that cross my mind, simply being a observer and not reacting. However, this seemingly simple thing of being still is incredibly tough to get in action.
The understanding dawned onto me one day during a 10-day Vipassana course in Dharamshala, India. I was observing how still a deodar tree was when a crow came and sat on a branch. The stillness of the branch got perturbed due to the crow’s arrival. Moments later the crow flew away leading to yet another round of movement. However, the branch returned to its natural state of being soon after the crow flew away. I could correlate this with my mind’s functioning. Our mind(Chitta) is like the tree, which is still in its normal state. When an idea strikes across it, it produces vibrations(Vrittis) in the mind. However, we start reacting to the Vrittis produced and hence, produce more of them in the mind.
Momentary reaction is still acceptable upto a certain extent. The tree reacted momentarily to the crow’s action & it didn’t try to control the natural occurrence, it just behaved as an observer. We, on the other hand, start reacting and also, want to control the natural occurrences according to our likes and dislikes. We also, don’t keep our reaction limited to a few moments, it continues for longer duration’s. Think of an example of an incident which kept affecting you(i.e to which you kept reacting) long after it happened. Thus, we keep producing more and more vibrations(Vritis) in our mind for every idea that strikes it and hence, it is occupied all the time and almost never still.
Secondly, unlike the tree where the number of crows who come and go is limited, our mind is almost at every moment buzzing with a new idea. To understand it better, visualize a crow coming to sit on a branch as soon as another one leaves. Just as the branch would never be still for its always buzzing with crows, so is our mind ever occupied as new thoughts/ideas keep striking across it every moment. No wonder, we find it so tough to focus our attention and energy on one idea and make it our life for each moment we are providing fodder to our mind in form of a new idea or a new reaction.
Thirdly, in those instances when we try to suppress our emotions by ignoring them for the present moment, we are in-fact burying them deep into our sub-conscious and they are bound to come out someday in some form or the other. To understand this, think of a branch which starts shaking 1000 times more violently that what it would normally shake when a crow sits on it, the extra vibrations were a resultant of the expression of all the similar vibration that it had been suppressing for long and as soon as they found a weak spot to come out, they came out. Have you ever noticed that at times, when we get angry, our anger exceeds far above the normal level and for no apparent reason.
To counter all these, we have to learn to be still, to be equanimous to all that happens around us. Being still in no way means being dead, it is simply having an understanding of one’s own mind so as to not lose focus on the idea on which one’s working and to not be distracted and waste energy on all that props up in the mind. All that will continue, new ideas will come and produce vibrations(Vrittis) in one’s mind, only the response of one person would be to Act and not React and also, to be more of an observer, simply smiling and seeing the new ideas come and go while maintaining one’s composure and focus on the task at hand. We should learn from the trees for they embody this so beautifully, they go back to being still once the momentary breeze or disturbance has passed over and even while the disturbance is there, they continue with the work at hand(that of creating food for themselves and reproduction). Of-course, getting this in action is extremely tough for one has to be aware at every moment but then, aren’t the best things in life the toughest to get and that’s what adds so much to the joy of striving for them.