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The Inner Instrument

By Swami Sivananda

Antahkarana (the inner instrument) is a broad term which includes mind, intellect, memory and egoism (ahankara). The one antahkarana assumes different names, just as the same man assumes the name of judge when he works as a judge in the law courts, or president when he serves in a society or association, and store keeper when he is in charge of the stores. 

When you walk through a mango garden, the will and doubt are done by the mind - it thinks whether the mango is good or not. The intellect comes to its aid; it determines that the mango is 'good'. Then the chitta (mind stuff) finds out how to get hold of some of the mangoes from the gardener. Ahankara self-arrogates. It demands the mango at any price. The mind executes this order by passing it to the feet (karma indriya) to take the man to the gardener. Ahankara buys the mango and eats it. The impressions of the mango remain in the mind and the vasana (tendency) is formed in the mind. The thought of enjoyment comes to the mind later on. And this, through memory (in the form of a subtle vasana) produces thought (sankalpa) and troubles the man again and again, to enjoy the mango. 

This cycle: desire, thought, action, goes on from eternity to eternity. This brings bondage to man. When the vasana is repeated several times, it becomes a strong passion. Then the man is a slave of the passion and indriyas (senses). A strong sense hankering is called a trishna. The difference between desire and vasana is that the vasana is subtle and hidden in the subconscious mind, whereas the desire is gross. The pleasure derived from the enjoyment of the object brings attachment in this mind. Attachment is moha. 

The man who is attached to objects, who is full of sense vasanas, is tied to those objects. Escape becomes nearly impossible for him. Escape is possible only by destroying these knots, by knowledge of the witness, the director of this mental factory, who has kept up this show inside. 

If you can clairvoyantly visualize the inner working of this mental factory you will be dumb-founded. 

If you can clairvoyantly visualize the inner working of this mental factory, you will see that it is like a big telephone exchange - the messages come from diverse houses and firms into the central exchange. The operator plugs, connects and disconnects the various switches. So too, the mind plugs, connects and disconnects. When you want to see something, the mind puts a plug into the other four senses (centers of hearing, smelling, taste and feeling). When you want to hear something, the mind plugs into the other four centers.  

The mind functions at an unimaginable speed. There are numberless pigeon holes in the subconscious mind where various sorts of things are recorded in perfect order. There they are classified, grouped, labelled with accurate precision. 

One impression rises up as a thought wave and comes to the surface of the mind. It tickles the jiva (individual) into action. You can also see various colors in thoughts - spiritual or holy thoughts are tinged with beautiful yellow color. If there is thought of anger, dark red arrows shoot out from the mind. There is perfect order in the cosmos - the working is smooth and harmonious because there is the antaryami (inner controller) behind it, directing and guiding. In the mere presence of the inner ruler, the indwelling, interpenetrating presence, the mind and other inner faculties work without any friction. 

There are different regions for sentiments, emotions, instincts, impulses. There are highlands and lowlands in the mind. There is the spiritual plane and there are the planes of the instinctive mind and the intellect. On the one side, the will steps in to execute a certain strong desire of the mind. The other faculties, such as memory and the power of judgment and reflection stand behind, in a disciplined array, to help their master, the will. After the will has executed the order, imagination comes forward and speculates. Memory helps imagination. 

Then the three gunas (qualities of nature), the various modes, and the thirteen evil vrittis (lust, anger, etc.), show their faces in different colors. They come to the scene, do their work and then retire for a rest. Words cannot describe how thrilling this scene is. Develop this clairvoyant astral sight through purification and concentration. 

Do not forget the inner ruler who is awake even when the mental factory is closed down temporarily. Purify the mind. Practice concentration. Develop the power of the mind. Eventually you will merge with him.

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Wake up from this long slumber of ignorance, 

Purify, meditate and attain wisdom, 

And roam about happily. 

So says Sivananda.