ENQUIRY OF THE MIND

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While the practice of Self Enquiry (asking the question Who am I?) is gaining credence, there is another form of enquiry that is helpful in spiritual growth too. Called the Enquiry of the Mind, it is a precursor to the Enquiry of the Self. In this article let us understand the Enquiry of the Mind.

You are not the mind, yet from morning to night you are attached to the joys and sorrows created by the mind. By conducting its enquiry with honesty, your awareness will rise. Secondly, although you are not the mind, you are using the mind and hence you should know about it. How much greed, ego, anger, hatred, malice, envy, lust, etc. it has. With all these patterns, in which direction is it going, how it gets entangled in the material world, and so forth.

In this enquiry, you have to first start observing your mind in its different facets, in its different states, with different people, and in different relationships. You will discover how the mind changes from moment to moment, how it puts on various masks, how it compares, how it judges, how it forgets all its morals and principles when its ego is hurt, how it wants comfort and how it tries to escape from any discomfort, how it compromises the truth for the sake of security, how it always thinks in the language of gain and loss, how it conjures up excuses and reasons, what all it does to get some praise, and so on.

Don’t hide the reality from yourself. Report to yourself honestly without any deceit. You may not like to see your mind’s darker aspects, but transformation will not occur without conducting an honest enquiry. If you really conduct enquiry of the body-mind with honesty, then this will become the foundation to attain Self realization.

With correct observation, the wrong automatically ends. This is the beauty of awareness. You cannot get angry, kill somebody, or do something wrong in awareness. You can harm others only when you are unaware. You can be selfish only when you are unaware, since you are unable to feel the other person’s pain. In this unawareness or unconsciousness, you cannot grasp the mysteries of life. Deceit, greed, ego, hatred, are all the offspring of unconsciousness. If you begin to watch yourself clearly in every situation, very soon you will be transformed. You will begin to understand the mind for the first time. The power of observation burns down the vices of the body-mind.

Every night just before going to sleep, if you look back at the entire day or at least recall the major events of the day; you will be able to understand the nature of your mind. Ask yourself, what were your actions in different situations and what was your underlying motive? If you did not do something that someone had asked you to, what was the reason? Was it because that person does not boost your ego? Or was it because they are a hurdle in the way of your ambitions and aspirations? On the other hand, if you did do something that you were asked to by someone, why did you do it? Was it because you were afraid of that person? Or was it because he or she boosts your ego? Do not hide from yourself. Answer honestly. If you like somebody, what is the reason? Is it because they do whatever you tell them to do or is it because of their qualities? If you do not like somebody, then are they really bad or is it just because they are an obstacle in your work? Answer in all seriousness.

After some days of this practice, you will begin observing your body-mind in every incident. Initially you may forget during some incidents. To develop the habit, there is a simple checklist that can help you. Check your mental state at an hourly interval throughout the day, against the following 12 points:

A – Anger : Feeling frustrated, irritated, or enraged on yourself or on others.
B– Boredom : Not feeling interested in anything.
C – Confusion : Not understanding in spite of explanations.
D – Depression : Feeling of melancholy even if there is no reason.
E–Ego : It is “I, me, myself…”Taking credit, self-praise.
F – Fear : Feeling scared, insecure, or uncertain.
G – Guilt : Self-criticism with the feeling, “Why did I do this?”
H – Happiness : Feeling good or joyous.
I – Ill-will : Hateful or malicious feeling, wanting to hurt someone.
J – Jealousy : Envy or feeling of “Why don’t I have what others have?”
K – Kindness : Wanting to benefit or help others.
L – Laziness : Not wanting to do anything; being idle.

Enquiring about the mind using the A to L checklist every waking hour, you would come to know what your mental state is at that time. It is not important whether your state is good or bad, what’s important is that you are prepared to look at yourself honestly.

Suppose you have gone shopping to the market. You are bargaining with the vendor, but there is something else going on in your mind. Likewise watch yourself in every situation to check where you think one thing, speak something else, and act something totally different. With this investigation you will come to know whether there is harmony between your feelings, thoughts, words, and actions. Transformation will begin when such aspects come to light. Thereafter you will find that unnecessary stuff automatically drops off and only what is necessary will remain. This is the beauty of enquiry of the mind.

Before this enquiry, you may be shying away from seeing the mind in all its gory details. It is like avoiding going into the dark at night, specially if you believe there is a stranger lurking. But now that you are conducting this enquiry, you will want to go, see and unravel. This is the beauty of truth. When these aspects come to light, you will be liberated from the patterns of boredom, comparison, hatred, anger, etc. But for this to happen, you will have to observe your mind. Because the mind associates itself with the body and impacts the body, it is better to call enquiry of the mind as enquiry of the body-mind. Thus examine your body-mind from time to time honestly.