The Illusion of the Mind, Self-Reflection, Fulfill Your Duties


This is a classic talk by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami from 1962. He explains the illusion of the mind, karma, meditation, dharma, and Self-Realization from the Advaita perspective. He urges listeners to follow the laws of religion, discover and fulfill their duties. The talk contains guidance for mothers and an especially compelling section on how to listen to and understand the language of the soul.

Unedited Transcript:

The mind is only an illusion ever creating itself carried forth by its own creations. It is but a dream and we find reality in the mind only from the depths of our memory as we project our fears worries and doubts, hopes and aspirations into the future. Only from the depths of the memory and what you have already projected mentally into the future. In doing so we create what we call the material existence and material consciousness is created in this way. If you have through your study already lost consciousness of the material world, lost to material consciousness and if you want to create it again you can do so in this way.

The two states of consciousness that we have here, the past and the future if you meditate upon that you can bring yourself into a deeper knowing and actual experience of the eternity of the now. So meditate on that this week and let me know your unfoldment, not by telling me but by letting me see you. There are many subtle things that take place as you practice yoga and as you fulfil your life in fulfilling your duty and become consciously conscious of exactly where you are in space or where you are in evolution. That is your first realization in being consciously conscious or consciously aware of where you are in space. The mind is so, shall we say, like a Pygmy. It is so small and it [unknown word] itself so much that we think we are the person in the mirror and we lose consciousness of reality and we live do really in what we think that we are from what previously we had impressed upon our minds. And that is unfortunate but true. And the mind in this Pygmy state of consciousness this diminished and in a sense collapsed state of consciousness, g oes along on this little pathway living its little dream and completely unconscious of what it is doing. And that is man in his diminished state of consciousness. It's not man in his expanded state of consciousness, it's different.

He sees himself as an entity in space and he sees himself with the capabilities of being able to not only to know where he is in space and his evolution but hasten his evolution along. You have all brought with you into this birth an accumulation of dream matter. And that is experience. Those experiences that are going to happen to you, that have happened to you, that you're afraid may happen to you, and those experiences that you are going through right now. That is an accumulation of dream matter, an accumulation of atoms functioning in a certain way to produce certain results. These results register on a lower state of consciousness which is your lower conscious and subconscious state of mind.

Now these experiences that you have gone through register in your mind the experiences that you will be going through are gaining enough strength now to produce themselves in the material plane and they're accumulating power to attract and create circumstance that you will walk into one of these days as you go forth from day to day. Each day is a new series of experiences as they set up your pattern and we call it a standard of living and function accordingly. But these patterns can be changed through your ability to know where you are right now in your karma or in your experience or functioning in space. The more you, in a sense, take stock of yourself sit quietly cognize or deeply understand your action and the reaction that it is going to cause, and every action that you make, especially the important ones. The more you can understand this, the greater ability you will have in hastening your evolution along. Or dissolving, mentally, this dream matter before it has a chance to [inaudible phrase] with you in the material world. Now of course you don't want to dissolve the good, you want to dissolve the bad, the negative. And that you can and will do as you fulfill these basic laws.

The first law is, know your duty in this life. Find out what your duties are. Your duty is your positive experience, your positive karma or the positive dream. You've all brought your duties along from your past lives and you have them now. But if we set our duties aside, then what happens? Then we fall into a lower state of consciousness, into a different negative karma or a negative dream and we create a different picture and we are making more negativity for ourselves to face in the future. In other words we are printing [??] our consciousness or printing [??] our mind. And in doing so we begin to believe the material world is very real, very real. And in believing the material world is very real, we lose our perspective of what is really real, we even forget about it.

What is duty? That which you have to do to fulfill your obligation to yourself. Now you might think I would say that you have to dutifully fulfill your obligations to others and so forth and so on. What you have to do to fulfill your obligations to yourself is your duty. Now, of course that brings in everyone else. Now if you don't do your duty, and what you really, after you've searched your mind, feel is your duty, then what you then if you don't do it you hurt yourself and we call that a conscience. And you begin to make your conscience, after a period of time, very raw and the raw conscience is an emotional strain, and emotional stress and strain. Then you cannot understand reality because you do not really have enough strength. You have to first feel the conscience, accept your duty, fulfill your duties and then your mind expands into a beautiful state of consciousness and you shall attain your first step on the path to consciousness of the eternal now.

Now we all have duties and you all know what they are you but have to search yourself. That is your first step of releasing your soul. Whatever your duties may be, whatever they may entail, you can bear your karma cheerfully. Carry your duties happily and carry them through joyously. And then they become light. If you give way to your desire that is in the lower state of consciousness, then your duties become like a cross and they become very heavy. Your karma in this life becomes very heavy. And so to get away from this heavy karma, or from fulfilling your duties, you cease to take on other experiences and all you are doing is adding another weight to your cross. This weight is carried of course [??] in the subconscious state of mind. Now your subconscious state of mind is a great expanse. It is a great expanse. We could say the subconscious state of mind is like the earth. And here we are in the conscious mind now. We are only conscious of a very small place on the earth. And yet your subconscious state of mind takes in everything that's underneath and around the body. Underneath you have all of the other places. And just think, down through the Earth and everything that you have, as you go down, down into Earth and around the other side of the Earth. That is as great as your subconscious state of mind is.

Your superconscious state of mind is as great as what is up above and all the way around the Earth encompassing the whole thing. And that's as great as you are and yet the mind is an illusion and does not exist in the face of reality. But if you want a concept of the subconscious state of mind, think about it in that way. On the other side of the Earth, a war is going on. All sorts of things happening. But in one individual upon the Earth also there's peace in one side on one part of his mind and a war within another part of his mind. Reconciliations going on in another part of the mind. And all sorts of things happening to that one individual, though he may apparently be sitting quietly. So what you see in an individual with your two eyes is only the physical body. But if you were to look into the subconscious state of mind you'd see a vast world and should you look into his superconscious state of mind you'd see eternity and you'd go into eternity as if you were to travel in outer space, you'd just keep going and going and going. There's no end to the mind just as there's no end to the forms you can create with the mind. And yet one moment of realization of the Self, of reality, the Self God the absolute will show you that the mind completely does not exist.

If you could just sit and watch your mind at work you can in a sense, from a higher state of consciousness, project the substance of quietness into your mind. Now if you practice concentration and can quiet your conscious mind upon one object from within yourself you will be able to objectify quietness and project it upon your lower states of mind just as if you were flying in an airplane and projecting peace upon each of the cities that you flew over. You can do this within yourself and that is your first awakening into meditation when you have the ability to project quietness to quiet the mind.

So first sit and watch your mind working but you can't watch your mind working until your mind is concentrated. So first sit and concentrate your mind on one thing and then as you go within yourself a little bit you'll be able to watch your mind work. And then when you go within yourself a little bit further you will be able to project quietness throughout your mind and that is he eternal now. And your consciousness begins to expand and as it expands you see yourself as an entity in space or you expand into your superconscious state of mind and the world loses it's density, actually the world becomes transparent to you, and then you begin to know where you are in space, you begin to know where you are in your evolution and the laws of life which are the laws of religion become very clear to you and little by little you adjust your habit patterns of your mind accordingly to fit into those laws of life or into those laws of religion.

The reality of the mind comes from the depth of your memory, of your hopes, fears aspirations and joys that [inaudible phrase] express in your future. Your entire mind is but an illusion. Your entire mind has no reality in the face of reality.

The Self, the Absolute, God is within you vibrating every atom of your being that is it the very life, the feel within your fingers, the light within your eyes ever radiant.

And this you'll find through your knowing of its existence. It is the mother that can save the material world today. And today in America we have the frustrated mother, the mother in anxiety, the mother that has left the home. The old fashioned mother that still remains within her home. We have the peaceful mother, the lonely mother, the weak mother and the strong mother. But the individual who today and during this past week has faced the possibility of the extinction of the material consciousness, the individual within himself must face his own soul. For reconciliation comes only under stress and strain mixed with a little bit of fear.

During this past week, each one has faced the possibility of leaving this consciousness and has faced and asked himself the question, "Am I ready? Have I done everything that I should have done to make myself ready to face the next consciousness?" Your soul shining through your lower state of mind has given you your answers through feeling. Look within yourself and you will always find strength and courage. And by you using that strength and courage you can and will be successful in all of your undertakings, provided they are helpful to mankind. Look within yourself for the deeper understanding that is there waiting for you. Of the most holy scriptures, study and ponder yourself and keep asking yourself the question, "Who am I?" What is the "I", what is the identity of yourself? Ask yourself that question and try to feel the answer.

Do you know and perhaps you do that feeling is the language of your soul? Feeling is the language of your soul. And you must understand that language, the language of feelings. So pay attention to your inmost feelings and guidance will be yours on your journey through life. Security will be yours each day. If it is abundance of material goods that you are seeking and your motive is to do good [inaudible phrase] people, then material abundance you will have. But you must listen and obey the language of your soul.

How do you contact your own soul? First, be quiet, be calm, do not let one fear ruffle your consciousness. Do not let a worry enter your mind. Concentrate your mind and meditation will be yours. Meditation is the first step in understanding the language of your soul. And you will begin to know and you will begin to see the light that shines within you and through feeling you will gain the answer to your great question, "Who am I? Where did I come from? And where am I going?"

I have a beautiful little verse which we have put into music for you as a benediction and I'd like to read it for you. It is very deep and meaningful. When your life is feeling weary, search your soul and you shall see that the light that shines within you is the God for you to be. Looking within yourself, you'll find your real being. It is the mother that has created the material world and all living beings. It is the mother who looks within herself for that light that shines within her that can now preserve the material world. If you are a mother, leave your office, go home, take care of your family and your home. Leave your desires for the material world and seek the peace radiating out from your soul. Quiet the minds of those about you, your family and your friends. And you will fulfill your destiny as a mother in the material world today.