Decluttering the mind is essential hygiene because mental health is a crucial determinant of the quality of existence.
The primary sources of mental clutter are thoughts and emotions.
Consider the mind to be a warehouse. Getting rid of unwanted inventory is part of the process of reducing clutter. When clutter is regularly decanted, mental energy is preserved, and psychosomatic disorders are avoided. A decluttered mind leaves room for self-observation and self-reflection and makes way for constant awareness. Others may motivate you to improve, but self-counselling will be ineffective unless you learn to observe yourself and allow your mind to examine and reflect on your thoughts.
The mahaguru had the uncanny ability to articulate multiple thoughts in one-liners; his ek vakyas. “Vichaar vishay se aata hai” was how he explained the emergence of thought. I will have to use multiple sentences to deconstruct his short sentence.
- Thoughts can emerge from the interaction of our senses. If you can control your reactions to sensory inputs, you can control the type of thoughts you attract.
- Your guna mix also determines the type of thoughts you attract. By voluntarily changing your guna mix, you can change the nature of your thoughts.
- Your mind can magnetise thoughts. The magnetic nature of the mind explains why similar discoveries happen in different parts of the world at about the same time. This is because the minds of many simultaneously attract the same thought from the atmosphere. Do note that thoughts prevalent in the atmosphere are dynamic and continuously change with time.
- Thoughts also arise when the samskars (conditioning) stored in the causal body surface. The mind usually plays the role of a self-reflector and understands the samskars via thoughts.
Only when I had an enlightening rendezvous with a thought did the full import of Gurudev’s words sink in. Decades ago, during deep meditation, I opened my eyes to see a ray of light travel from a corner of my room to a point just above the centre of my forehead. This ray dissipated as it hit my head, leaving a crystal clear thought or rather an observation in its wake! Before this experience, I enjoyed the positive thoughts that came to me and suffered the negative ones. However, after seeing a thought, I understood that thoughts were neither my choice nor my creation. I had no claim to them!
The collateral benefit of this realisation was freedom from guilt and joy! What is not my doing could not imprison me in its clutches. Moreover, since the same thought can strike many people simultaneously, thoughts are neither ownable nor unique!
In his gentle voice, the mahaguru’s senior disciple, FC Sharma ji, recalls his guru’s views on thoughts, “While you are in physical form, you cannot stop thoughts from coming to you. So you must let them come as they please and not react hastily. Instead, you should evaluate them objectively to select those to be acted upon or dismissed.”
Objectivity should be an integral part of thought management since it allows you to reflect on the nature of your thoughts with negligible bias. However, bias does intensify when harboured thoughts churn into feelings which then devolve into emotions. Emotions further bias your actions and reactions, resulting in a mess and compromising your mental performance! You end up operating from your brain’s limited capacity rather than your mind’s full potential.
FC Sharma ji echoed Gurudev’s sentiments on emotions, saying, “Everybody has emotions, and they cannot be avoided. But don’t nurture them or make them the basis of your conduct. They do not benefit anyone. Instead, they confuse and often lead to wrong decisions.”
Through associations and relationships, emotions bind you to objects of your physical reality and thus become deterrents on the spiritual path. Even though your connection with others is usually emotional, your relationship with yourself is inherently unemotional. Therefore, those in the quest for self-discovery must weigh the worth of their emotions.
Gurudev would attentively listen to people as they discussed their lives and affairs with him. He would let them vent their emotions to feel less burdened. Sometimes he also stood in their company in a consolatory stance, empathising with their emotional expression. However, when asked how he managed to hear so many traumatic stories daily without being bogged down by them, he said, “Beyond that moment, I offer everything to Mallik and do not retain even the memory within”. (Mallik was Gurudev’s way of addressing the param-aatma).
Whenever there is an emotion associated with an experience, it creates a memory. These memories get stored and carried into future lifetimes as samskars. These samskars will resurface as thoughts and circumstances in this life or one of the next ones. Therefore, the relationship between emotions, samskars and thoughts will cyclically continue beyond your current lifetime.
The mahaguru lived in constant awareness and carried the enormous burden of knowing the past, present and future of everyone he saw, met or knew. Knowing the history and mystery of their lives and the miseries they perceived in their existence made it necessary for him to subdue his emotions and remain detached. If he did not disengage from his emotions, they could wreak havoc in his mind. Therefore, he could only keep his mind decluttered and deal with his cosmic intuitiveness by mastering emotional control.
The only thing that became an emotional irritant for him was inefficiency in performing seva. Not only did he list seva as one of his missions, he also ensured that his disciples shared his vision. When people became careless in their seva or their egos got the best of them, the mahaguru would enact his emotions by reprimanding and pushing them to meet higher standards of public service. Virender ji dips into the mahaguru’s teachings when he says, “Seva is key to demolishing one’s ego.”
In summary, decluttering is vital to the functioning of the mind. The role of the mind is self-reflection, and so it acts as your mirror. A mirror helps you see the real YOU behind the veneer of your perceived physical appearance. To declutter your mind is to redefine the mirror.
Clearer the mirror,
the clearer is your self-realisation
and greater your spiritual awareness.