Swami Bhaktimurti opening talk – Mana Retreat, June 2004
Why inner silence?
Because in the scriptures it says that in inner silence the essence of life is known, and the great sages and saints, the ancient rishis, the illumined teachers, they’ve all come to tell us and declare that we are divine, that our real self is satchidananda which is true consciousness and bliss, and that our real destiny lies in the pursuing that divinity within us. The greatest barrier to this happens to be our minds.
What is mind?
The mind is a pulsation of the radiance of the self and it’s also a contracted form of consciousness. The mind is enormously powerful. We can achieve anything through the mind if we’ve reached the source of it, but we’re not there yet. The reason why is because we modify the mind. These modifications are called the chittavrittis.
So what are these chittavrittis?
They’re right knowledge they’re wrong knowledge, they’re fancy, sleep and memory and they govern the whole of our thought process. The reason why they control us is because we are in ignorance of the true reality of oneness with the divine. As a consequence, we develop the ego and that’s our greatest problem, the sense of I, I am something, I am this person, etc. The vrittis are constantly there and consequently we’re creating so many desires, so many thoughts, so many patterns, so many impressions related to the modified aspect of the mind. These are kleshas and they create and cause all the karmas, all the samskaras, all the impressions that lie deep within us.
While we’re currently working out some of those karmas, there are other karmas and samskaras deeply embedded in the unconscious mind called the karmashires. Now, as we move through the practices of yoga and in particular with antar mouna practice, we’re meeting the samskaras, we’re meeting these karmas within ourselves. Sometimes we don’t want to face them; sometimes we are happy and glad to face them to transcend them. But what happens is, as we go deeper, we learn to use the buddhi or the intellect, to be able to transcend them and that’s the important thing. The most important thing of all is to be able to witness that.
There’s always the thinker, there’s always the thinking and there’s always the thought. To transcend these three we come to what is truly the witness, because the witness is the state beyond duality. So that’s the whole purpose of any yoga practice no matter what it is, no matter how dynamic, whether its kriyas or kundalini yoga, it doesn’t matter. Where we come to eventually, is to be able to transcend all the modifications of our mind to go deep within ourselves, to come to these karmas, to come to these samskaras and to have the grace, to have the courage to allow them to come up and be removed.
The Stages of Antar Mouna
So in each step of antar mouna we’re gradually moving through to that state of inner silence were the essence, your own divinity is known and experienced. There are six steps in antar mouna.
a) Sense withdrawal
The first one is withdrawing from the senses. You go into the senses so they become more apparent to us so that in the end we don’t want to have anything more to do with them. So we’ve withdrawn, pratyahara, withdrawing the mind from the senses. The reason we withdraw from the senses first is because there’s consciousness, then comes the prana then comes mind then comes the tattwas, the elements and out of that come all the senses, and then from that of course come all the karmas etc.
b) Witness Spontaneous Thoughts
Once you’ve gone through the senses then you face the mind, all the thoughts, the patterns, the impressions. You need to witness what is happening, your thinking, witness the thought etc. So we move through thoughts and as the mind becomes a little quieter then we’re able to take hold of deeper thoughts.
c) Focus on challenging thoughts or feelings
Next we create thoughts which can be troublesome to us, which has been bothering us. The reason for this is as we create thoughts we tend to go deeper into ourselves and that awakens other thoughts that come up spontaneously.
d) Allow spontaneous thoughts to arise
From that position, those more spontaneous thoughts, some of which have been lying dormant within us for incarnations actually, and particularly during this lifetime, come to the surface. You might not like them, they might not be nice thoughts at all, they may be very scary thoughts. The whole point is that you remain the witness because they are not you, none of those thoughts are you. They’re things you’ve created and somewhere, somehow, some of them have got buried right down. They have to come up because in yoga it says, what is yoga? Yogaschittavrittinirodhaha – to block the patterns of consciousness is yoga.
Now the blocking doesn’t mean the thoughts, the patterns, etc, that are coming into your mind as of now, it means the whole stream of consciousness that comes in with the causal body, in each incarnation, those patterns that lie deep within ourselves and we have to get rid of them, they have to come up. All that stuff that’s been stuck down there through incarnations of living has to come up. But through yoga it can be done in a way that you can handle, that you can cope with and that’s the important thing.
e) Touching the Void
Once we get past those thoughts, those patterns, those deep, deep samskaras which make the mind our greatest enemy, then the mind becomes our great friend and we can enter into a state of ‘thoughtlessness’.
Now in that state there may be incidental thoughts that come up then you can let them go, you don’t suppress them, you just let them go, push them away, “no I don’t want you, go!” And from that point the mind is clear. But the mind always constantly must have an object of awareness. We have to have a form around which to mould the mind otherwise we’ll go into a void and well get lost somewhere, somewhere that we don’t know about, and you come back and you think where on earth have we been.
No, the mind must have a point, a symbol, and that’s the bindu. By concentrating on that power point, whatever it is to you, whatever you’ve chosen, that is the means of entry into your transcendence. It’s only through the symbol that you will transcend, but you have to enter into that symbol and know its reality because in every single thing in creation everything has that divine essence as part of its inner being.
“Oh Arjuna, do not become entangled in the creation of your mind, bring your mind under your full control, make your mind very strong and make it move in me.” And so begins the journey of antar mouna, of moving through the self, the ego self, and coming to the true self that is divine.