Purify your mind

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A pure, awake and alert mind

Mind is the element of a person that enables them to be aware of themselves, of the world around them and their various experiences; to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought; it is regarded as one of the higher functions of the brain and is the overall result of the soul (spirit) and body interface working in unison.

Mind is the aspect of intellect and consciousness experienced as combinations of thought, perception, memory, emotion, will, and imagination, including all unconscious cognitive processes. The term is often used to refer, by implication, to the thought processes of reason. Mind manifests itself subjectively as a stream of consciousness, or inter-subjectively through conversation.

Gurbani tells us that the mind can get polluted and distorted. Such a mind does not function correctly and that this needs to be rectified. "This mind is filthy and polluted; it does not meditate on the One. Deep within, it is soiled and stained by the love of duality." (SGGS p 116)

Mind body and soul

The human being is comprised of three components, Mind, Body and Soul. For a healthy person, all these components need to function in an efficient and coordinated manner. So to be healthy and fit is more than just doing exercise and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables - it's a complete way of life. Your mind, body and soul all have to work together in harmony. What use is a 6 minute mile or a six pack if you're about to kill the boss, or you sit at home depressed with a chocolate bar for company. So having equilibrium in life is an important goal. With a few simple steps and useful daily habits, we can all be healthier and happier and smile a little more. Life is about living and about being happy with yourself and others around you; to be in harmony with your surroundings. It is too easy these days to become negative with your thoughts when you are around the wrong people, or within the wrong environment. Unlike pushing the weights or pounding the streets - training the mind and soul is about training your inner self - your thoughts and your mind. What is confirmed by Gurbani is that the body, mind and soul are three distinct and necessary components that make up a person; further, that these are all the product of God and together these three separate components function in unity to excel the human being to the highest spiritual heights. "ਤਨ੝ ਮਨ੝ ਜੀਉ ਪਿੰਡ੝ ਦੇ ਸਾਜਿਆ ॥ ਗ੝ਰ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਤੇ ਨੀਚ੝ ਨਿਵਾਜਿਆ ॥੩॥ You blessed me, and fashioned my body, mind and soul. By Guru's Grace, this lowly being was exalted. (3)" (SGGS p 887)

What is the mind?

Theories of mind and its function are numerous. Earliest recorded speculations are from the likes of Zoroaster, the Buddha, Plato, Aristotle, Adi Shankara and other ancient Greek, Indian and, later, Islamic and medieval European philosophers. Pre-modern understandings of the mind, such as the neoplatonic "nous" saw it as an aspect of the soul, in the sense of being both divine and immortal, linking human thinking with the un-changing ordering principle of the cosmos itself.

Which attributes make up the mind is much debated. Some psychologists argue that only the "higher" intellectual functions constitute mind, particularly reason and memory. In this view the emotions—love, hate, fear, joy — are more primitive or subjective in nature and should be seen as different from the mind as such. Others argue that various rational and emotional states cannot be so separated, that they are of the same nature and origin, and should therefore be considered all part of what we call the mind.

In popular usage mind is frequently synonymous with thought: the private conversation with ourselves that we carry on "inside our heads." Thus we "make up our minds," "change our minds" or are "of two minds" about something. One of the key attributes of the mind in this sense is that it is a private sphere to which no one but the owner has access. No one else can "know our mind." They can only interpret what we consciously or unconsciously communicate.

How can we cleanse the mind?

In the twentieth stanza of Japji sahib, Guru Nanak, tell us some very obvious truths amount cleansing. First the Guru tells us that:

  • 1. When hands and feet are dirty, the dirt can be washed away with water - This will make the hands and feet clean and fresh again;
  • 2. When clothes are soiled and stained by urine, then soap can wash them clean - The soap will wash away the filth and the clothes will return to their original clean state;
  • 3 But what happens when the mind and intellect is polluted? The Guru tells us: When the intellect (or mind) is stained and polluted by sin, it can only be cleansed by the colour of Naam - lovingly remembering the Name of the Lord.
ਭਰੀਝ ਹਥ੝ ਪੈਰ੝ ਤਨ੝ ਦੇਹ ॥ ਪਾਣੀ ਧੋਤੈ ਉਤਰਸ੝ ਖੇਹ ॥

ਮੂਤ ਪਲੀਤੀ ਕਪੜ੝ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਦੇ ਸਾਬੂਣ੝ ਲਈਝ ਓਹ੝ ਧੋਇ ॥
ਭਰੀਝ ਮਤਿ ਪਾਪਾ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ॥ ਓਹ੝ ਧੋਪੈ ਨਾਵੈ ਕੈ ਰੰਗਿ ॥
ਪ੝ੰਨੀ ਪਾਪੀ ਆਖਣ੝ ਨਾਹਿ ॥ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਣਾ ਲਿਖਿ ਲੈ ਜਾਹ੝ ॥
ਆਪੇ ਬੀਜਿ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਖਾਹ੝ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਹ੝ਕਮੀ ਆਵਹ੝ ਜਾਹ੝ ॥੨੦॥

bhareeai hathh pair than dhaeh. paanee dhhothai outharas khaeh.

mooth paleethee kaparr hoe. dhae saaboon leeai ouhu dhhoe.
bhareeai math paapaa kai sa(n)g. ouhu dhhopai naavai kai ra(n)g.
pu(n)nee paapee aakhan naahi. kar kar karanaa likh lai jaahu.
aapae beej aapae hee khaahu. naanak hukamee aavahu jaahu (20)

When the hands and the feet and the body are dirty, water can wash away the dirt.

When the clothes are soiled and stained by urine, soap can wash them clean.
But when the intellect is stained and polluted by sin, it can only be cleansed by the Love of the Name.
Virtue and vice do not come by mere words;actions repeated, over and over again, are engraved on the soul.
You shall harvest what you plant.O Nanak, by the Hukam of God's Command, we come and go in reincarnation. (20)

Guidance provided by Gurbani

How can one become pure? In the first stanza of Japji sahib, Guru Nanak first asks the question: How can one be purified? How can one escape from falsehood? and then answers these question stating that: ....by following the command of the Lord!

ਕਿਵ ਸਚਿਆਰਾ ਹੋਈਝ ਕਿਵ ਕੂੜੈ ਤ੝ਟੈ ਪਾਲਿ ॥ ਹ੝ਕਮਿ ਰਜਾਈ ਚਲਣਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਨਾਲਿ ॥੧॥
Kiv sacẖi▫ĝrĝ ho▫ī▫ai kiv kūrhai ṯutai pĝl. Hukam rajĝ▫ī cẖalṇĝ Nĝnak likẖi▫ĝ nĝl. (1)
So how can you become truthful? And how can the veil of illusion be torn away?

O Nanak, it is written that you shall obey the Hukam of His Command, and walk in the Way of His Will. (1)