What is this Mind
B. V. Narasimha Swami, author of the book “Self-Realization” on Ramana Maharshi, continued to ask:
D.: What is this mind?
M.: Mind is one form of manifestation of life. A block of wood or a subtle machine is not called mind. The vital force manifests as life-activity and also as the conscious phenomena known as the mind.
D.: What is the relation between mind and object? Is the mind contacting something different from it, viz., the world?
M.: The world is ‘sensed’ in the waking and the dream states or is the object of perception and thought, both being mental activities. If there were no such activities as waking and dreaming thought, there would be no ‘perception’ or inference of a ‘world’.
In sleep there is no such activity and ‘objects and world’ do not exist for us in sleep. Hence ‘reality of the world’ may be created by the ego by its act of emergence from sleep; and that reality may be swallowed up or disappear by the soul resuming its nature in sleep. The emergence and disappearance of the world are like the spider producing a gossamer web and then withdrawing it. The spider here underlies all the three states – waking, dreaming, and sleep; such a spider in the person is called Atman (Self), whereas the same with reference to the world (which is considered to issue from the sun) is called Brahman (Supreme Spirit). He that is in man is the same as He that is in the sun. (Sa yaschayam purushe yaschasavaditye sa ekah).
While Self or Spirit is unmanifest and inactive, there are no relative doubles; e.g., subject and object – drik and drisya. If the enquiry into the ultimate cause of manifestation of mind itself is pushed on, mind will be found to be only the manifestation of the Real which is otherwise called Atman or Brahman. The mind is termed sukshma sarira or ‘subtle-body’; and jiva is the individual soul. The jiva is the essence of the growth of individuality; personality is referred to as jiva. Thought or mind is said to be its phase, or one of the ways in which the jiva manifests itself – the earlier stage or phase of such manifestation being vegetative life. This mind is always seen as being related to, or acting on, some non-mind or matter, and never by itself. Therefore mind and matter co-exist.
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
4th February, 1935