Manas in Yoga Meditation
QUICK EXPLANATION ON MANAS
Manas = sensory mind, lower mind, in- and exporter of sensory impressions, manas controls the 10 senses (karmendriyas: speaking, grasping, moving, procreating, eliminating and jnanendriyas: hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling)
Manas = one of the four functions of mind: manas, chitta, ahamkara and buddhi
Manas = this function of mind relies on the instructions of buddhi, manas itself cannot make any decisions (this is buddhi‘s job). If manas is not coordinated well with buddhi, and/or we are not in the habit of listening to buddhi, then manas gets its instructions for somewhere else, because manas itself cannot make any decisions. If it is not buddhi then who instructs manas? The samskaras itself can pass on orders to manas. Basically manas listens to the one screaming the loudest.
You can choose to observe manas for a day or a week. One way to start is to remember what this function does and to start to notice what its role is in the action you do at this moment. Which senses are you employing? Who is controlling the senses? Remember that this is manas. When you see this you are witnessing manas at the spot, live in action. Another way to observe manas is when you notice you are not able to make a decision, ask yourself; “who is it that you are listening to right now and expect to make a decision?” Maybe it is manas, then is it not strange that a decision is not coming, this is buddhi’s job. When you start to observe the close relationship between manas and buddhi, you can start to observe that manas can be a great servant of buddhi who is willing to perform what is decided by buddhi. Manas is not a slave (maybe you start to notice that you treat manas like this, which is not useful) but a great friend and because manas controls to the senses it has great power. Therefore to observe manas will open up the friendship that is possible between you and the mind. And you will come to see how these four functions (manas, chitta, buddhi and ahamkara) work together. A good coordination between the four functions of mind is one aspect of nirodhah, and will help in the ability to set aside all movements of the mind-field, which is the goal of yoga.
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DAILY OBSERVATION AND YOGIC SELF-AWARENESS ASSESSMENT
Eventually manas will swim around in your awareness all the time, as it becomes a part of constant self-awareness. Also, becoming aware of manas will have the effect that you will increase your use of this word in your daily vocabulary to express yourself and you will discover how manas relates to other concepts, processes, or insights. For example, you may come to see that when you feel rajasic, you may also think of manas, or you find a relationship between kshipta and manas. Or you may observe that when manas works together with buddhi it this feels sattvic. Eventually you will discover how all these concepts dance together and coming to know this dance will guide you toward that which is beyond all the concepts. This is because as you increase your self-awareness, you will discover that everything you can observe is not who you truly are, you are not manas, you are the One that is able to witness all these concepts. Therefore manas itself will have to be transcended, who you really are is beyond manas. This will increase the non-attachment toward manas itself, while you can be in awe of the beauty of the Divine dance of Consciousness that appears to play as manas. Therefore practicing self-awareness is actually practicing not-self-awareness by which the True Self will eventually reveal itself.
Look at the self-assessment PDF (assessment-yymmdd.pdf) and a PDF that includes daily internal dialogue and daily observation (sumseven-yymmdd.pdf) on the website of www.abhyasaashram.org (when you are on this page scroll all the way down to find the downloadable PDFs) These PDFs can be used as tools to explore and expand your understanding on manas.
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MORE ON MANAS
Manas; a spoke in a wheel
The four functions of mind are described in the Upanishads as being like a wheel with four spokes. The center of the hub never moves, which is the Self, on which the wheel of the mind seems to rotate, therefore the Self seems to operate in the apparent manifestation through the four functions of mind. When I was young, I once rode a bike where the spokes where not of equal length, so the hub appeared not to be in the center. When I would ride it there was the experience as if you were riding over little hills, while the surface was flat. Which to me is a nice way to look at the way the four functions of mind need to work together, all are equally important, otherwise I would experience the world as a bumpy road!
Manas and the metaphor of the chariot
There is a verse in the Bhagavad Gita that describes a metaphor of a chariot.
Chapter 6 verse 34: “The chariot of the body. The five horses represent the five senses (tongue, eyes, ears, nose and skin). The reins, the driving instrument, symbolize the mind, the driver is the intelligence, and the passenger is the spirit soul.” In this metaphor manas is symbolized as the reins, that guides the horses (the 5 senses), buddhi is the driver, and Atman the passenger. This metaphor shows us that if buddhi takes hold of the reins (manas), manas can guide the horses (the senses) and therefore chariot (the body) can function properly. Can you imagine what happens to the chariot is the reins are not held properly and the horses get no guidance? This verse also shows us that the purpose of the chariot is the carry the passenger which is Atman.
Manas and antahkarana
When you read the word mind, it is useful to remember that both manas and antahkarana are translated as mind. The first is the function of mind that deals with the senses and the latter is the totality of the four functions of mind. To know that both words are translated as mind, will make it doable to understand which of the two words the author is referring to.
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YOGASUTRAS ON MANAS
1.35 The inner concentration on the process of sensory experiencing, done in a way that leads towards higher, subtle sense perception; this also leads to stability and tranquility of the mind.
vishayavati va pravritti utpanna manasah sthiti nibandhani
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2.53 Through these practices and processes of pranayama, which is the fourth of the eight steps, the mind acquires or develops the fitness, qualification, or capability for true concentration (dharana), which is itself the sixth of the steps.
dharanasu cha yogyata manasah
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3.49 By that mastery over the senses and acts (indriyas), there comes quickness of mind, perception with the physical instruments of perception, and mastery over the primal cause out of which manifestation arises.
tatah mano-javitvam virarana-bhavah pradhaua jayah
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SWAMI RAMA ON MANAS
”Manas uses the senses to go out to the objects of the world. Manas imports and exports through the ten senses, but it has no power to import and export whatever it wants. Manas is called the doubtful faculty of your mind. Before you do something, first manas says; shall I do it or not? Manas has no power to decide. Sometimes you want to decide, but you wait.
Conflicts arise in your mind because you do not decide things on time. The nature of manas is to argue and to pose questions, but has no power to decide, to judge, or to discriminate. These are the functions of the faculty called buddhi. Manas the doubtful part of your mind, puts both sides before buddhi, the decisive faculty, and immediately buddhi makes a decision.
buddhi has the very important post of financial advisor. buddhi checks manas. You need to train your buddhi, which discriminates, judges, and decides, so that your mind can import and export according to your capacity. If you go beyond your capacity, the firm will fail. Is your buddhi prepared and sharpened enough to teach manas? Is manas listening to your buddhi?”
~ Samadhi pg. 37
“If you train manas, and if you lead your ahamkara toward chitta and your manas toward buddhi, then you have accomplished something. Don’t do anything in life unless your buddhi, the counselor within, tells you to do it. You need to make internal experiments with yourself: you need to train your buddhi to give a correct, clear judgment to your manas. You also have to train your manas to take advice from buddhi. Perhaps you feel deprived of something of value and suddenly the idea occurs that you want to steal it. You know that it is wrong, you you want to do it. This is due to your mental habits. So you must train both your manas and your ahamkara, and that process is what we call polishing your ahamkara.”
~ The Art of Joyful Living pg. 82
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SWAMI JNANESHVARA ON MANAS
Read the whole article “Coordinating the Four Functions of Mind” on www.swamij.com
Manas is supervisor of the senses: Manas is like the supervisor in the factory of life, and directs the ten senses or Indriyas Manas does a wonderful job of carrying out directions, but it is not supposed to be the key decision maker in the factory. That is the job of Buddhi. If Buddhi is clouded, then Manas has a habit of continuing to question, seeking good instruction. Then it often listens to whoever is speaking the loudest in the factory, which is the wants, wishes, desires, attractions, and aversions stored in the memory bank of Chitta.
Read the whole article “Training the Ten Senses or Indriyas in Traditional Yoga Practice” on www.swamij.com
Moving is behind, or subtler than walking: To witness the active senses (karmendriyas) in daily life means, for example, that when you are walking you observe that “I am moving”. It is not just seeing that “I am walking,” but going one step further inward and observing the process of moving that is behind the walking. Then, as you observe different actions and the many ways of moving, you become increasingly aware of the underlying process behind the motion, and this is manas, one of the four functions of mind.
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OTHER TEXTS ON MANAS
Vivekachoodamini, Adi Shankaracharya
Translated by Swami Madhavananda, Published by Advaita Ashram, Kolkatta
93-94. The inner organ (antahkarana) is called Manas, Buddhi, ego [ahamkara] or Chitta, according to their respective functions: Manas, from its considering the pros and cons of a thing; Buddhi, from its property of determining the truth of objects; the ego, from its identification with this body as one’s own self; and Chitta, from its function of remembering things it is interested in.
122. The body, organs, Pranas, Manas, egoism, etc., all modifications, the sense-objects, pleasure and the rest, the gross elements such as the ether, in fact, the whole universe, up to the Undifferentiated – all this is the non-Self.
369. Restrain speech in the Manas, and restrain Manas in the Buddhi; this again restrain in the witness of Buddhi, and merging that also in the Infinite Absolute Self, attain to supreme Peace.
370. The body, Pranas, organs, manas, buddhi and the rest – with whichsoever of these supervening adjuncts the mind is associated, the Yogi is transformed, as it were, into that.
384. One should behold the Atman, the Indivisible and Infinite, free from all limiting adjuncts such as the body, organs, Pranas, Manas and egoism, which are creations of one’s own ignorance– like the infinite sky.
563. Just as a stone, a tree, grass, paddy, husk, etc., when burnt, are reduced to earth (ashes) only, even so the whole objective universe comprising the body, organs, Pranas, Manas and so forth, are, when burnt by the fire of realisation, reduced to the Supreme Self.
Panchadasi, Sri Vidyaranya Swami
Translated by Swami Swahananda and Published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai (Translation under Fair Use, and believed to be in the public domain.)
1.20. From a combination of them all (i.e. sattva portions of the five subtle elements) arose the organ of inner conception called antahkarana. Due to difference of function it is divided into two. Manas (mind) is that aspect whose function is doubting and buddhi (intellect) is that whose functions are discrimination and determination.