The Saga or Stable Mind
The Sage or Stable (or Steady) Mind (or Understanding)
The JIVANMUKTA or PSI BEING • The one who gives up all desires (kāmā) originating in the sensory mind (manas) and is content in himself by himself—he is said to be of steady understanding (prajñā). • The one whose mind is not agitated by miseries, freed from greed for pleasure, with passion, fear, and anger gone—he is called a sage of steady understanding. • The one who is without attachment to anything, who when he encounters this or that whether pleasant or unpleasant neither rejoices nor dislikes—his understanding stands firm. • And when, as a tortoise completely draws in its limbs, he withdraws his senses from the objects of sense—his understanding stands firm. • The objects of sense turn away from the abstemious dweller in the body, but the taste for them remains; even the taste turns away from the one who has seen the Supreme.
• The agitating senses of even a striving wise person forcibly carry away his mind. • Restraining all these senses, he should sit unified (yukta); centered on me, in control of his senses—his understanding stands firm. • A person, dwelling on the objects of sense, conceives an attachment to them; from attachment, desire is produced; from desire, anger is generated. • From anger arises delusion; from delusion, a wandering memory; from a wandering memory, destruction of intelligence (buddhi); from destruction of intelligence, he is lost. • But passion and hatred eliminated, even though he moves among the objects of sense, with self-restraints, controlled by the Self, he attains peace. • In that peace, all sorrows cease for him; for him whose mind is peaceful, the intelligence becomes steady. • There is no intelligence in the disunified person, nor is there any concentration in the disunified person, and for the one without concentration there is no peace, and for the unpeaceful person where would happiness come from? • When the mind is guided by the wandering senses, then it carries away the understanding, as the wind drives a ship on the water.
• Therefore, the one whose senses are completely withdrawn from the objects of sense, his understanding stands firm. • In that which is the night of all other beings, the person who is restrained is wakeful; in those things in which they are wakeful, that is night for the sage who sees. • As the waters flow into the ocean, which even while being filled is unmoving, standing steady, so he whom all desires flow into attains peace, not the desirer of desires. • The person who abandons all desires acts free from yearning; free from the sense of “mine,” free from the sense of “I,” he attains peace. • This is the state pertaining to ultimate Reality; the one who has attained this is not deluded; standing firm in it even at the hour of death, he reaches the Liberation of ultimate Reality.
The JIVANMUKTA tells us what sort of person the sage of stable mind or steady understanding is. Such a person has given up all the desires that spring from the personality, the lower mind, and has become centered—that is, he knows who he is and is content to be that. Such a person has an unwavering understanding of himself and of the world around him.
The miseries that the Buddha said are the common experience of life in this world do not agitate him, which is not to say that he does not experience them, but rather that he does not respond to them. Put another way: pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. He experiences pain and pleasure, but is not attached to them. Krishna uses a metaphor to help us visualize what he is talking about. The Sage of Steady Understanding is like a tortoise that draws all of its legs within its shell, away from contact with the world around. Don’t misunderstand the metaphor. It does not mean that a wise person is a hermit. It is rather a graphic illustration of one of the eight “limbs” or practices, which include four preliminary bodily practices (abstaining from wrong conduct, observing right conduct, posture, and breath control). They are followed by four other limbs, the last three of which are spiritual practices: concentration, meditation, and unification.
Between the four preliminary bodily practices and the three final spiritual practices is a transitional practice that helps us turn from the outer world to the inner one. It is called in Sanskrit pratyāhāra, literally “gather toward oneself.” It is the practice of withdrawing sensory awareness from the objects of sense, turning from sensory input to our own inward awareness, becoming aware, not of what’s out there, but of what’s in here.
We can put the objects of sensory desire out of our minds, so that they appear to turn away from us, but the desire itself is another matter, not so easily disposed of. As long as we are immersed in this world, we will experience desire. But once we become aware of the Supreme Reality, that which is really Real, even the desire for unreal worldly objects fades away. Until that time, however, we must expect to contend with desire. ...