The Presence of Mind
To experience the Presence of God, presence of mind is required. The one who does not have presence of mind can never experience God. The one who is absent-minded can never realize the Truth.
What is the Mind?Mind is different from the soul (Atma). We are not our mind. But without the mind it is not possible to know our self. The states of bondage and emancipation are possible only with the mind. The Self is unchangeable it is the mind only that undergoes changes. In this drama of existence, the mind is both the act and the actor, it is both the reflection and the reflector. That is, what we perceive with the mind is not the Self, but the mind only. For example, you have met many persons, and many different people have met you during the span of your life, yet not a single one of those persons will perceive you in exactly the same way as another perceives you. Mostly what people see is what they project with their own mind; that is, they perceive their own mental projections. The same applies when we try to understand our lives through our own mind. Generally what we perceive is our own mental images; hence, we misunderstand ourselves, and we misunderstand others also. When we misunderstand ourselves and others, we are in a state of bondage. All that this means is that our mind is bound by its images and that we imagine we are bound by our mind. We only imagine we are bound by our mind when our mind is bound by images. The state of emancipation (Total Freedom) is attained only when all the samskaras (mental imprints) of the mind are erased. To erase the samskaras, the presence of the mind is required.
What is 'Presence of Mind?'When the mind is under the direct control of the soul, this is called presence of mind. Unfortunately, most of the time our mind is not under our control, but instead it is under the control of our past impressions (samskaras), memories, images, moods, ego, etc.. When you bring the mind under control, only then do you have presence of mind.
Where Does the Mind Go When It is Not Present?
Although the mind is supposed to be the controller of the body and senses, yet often times the mind is swayed by the body and senses. When we don't control the mind, the mind goes where ever it wants to go, even against our will. Take the case of a man who is infatuated with women. His mind will always be thinking about how to please some woman, or how to woo some woman. Even if the man wants to rise above his desires and assert his manliness and stop behaving like a stray dog, yet by force of habit his mind slips away and runs after another woman, just as a dog chases after a female dog in heat. This degrading condition of the mind is brought about by lack of discipline and poor training (or no training) during the growing years. The saying goes "You can't teach an old dog new tricks", but it is equally difficult to prevent a young dog from 'playing tricks'. The young man who is infatuated with his body and with the body of a woman (they go hand in hand), is just as dirty as the dirty old man who wastes his whole life in pursuit of sensual gratification. Both have lost their mind.
The one who abuses his mind is unable to reach his full potential. To hit the mark, the arrow must be carefully aimed. Similarly, to reach the Goal, we must discipline the mind, otherwise this precious opportunity that has been granted to us in this human incarnation will be wasted.
Where is the Mind?The seat of the mind within the body is the brain. Outside the body, the seat of the mind is the Akasha. Since we are embodied souls, our concern is with the mind and its relationship with the brain. We need not concern ourselves with astral travel and other psychic phenomena that occur in the Akashic plane, unless and until we have learned to control the mind in the body.
How is the Mind Controlled?Before talking about controlling the mind, we should first understand the difference between controlling the mind and mind-control.
Wash Your BrainsIf the seat on which you are sitting is dirty, then you also will get dirty. Similarly, because the seat of the mind is the brain, the mind is affected by the brain, and likewise, the brain is affected by the mind. For example, the thoughts that you think can physically affect the brain (such as causing a tingling sensation, or the opposite such as headache or possibly even brain tumor). Likewise, the state of the brain (for example its complexity [as for instance in the difference between the brains of a human being, a cat or a fish, etc.,] and its chemical composition) psychically affect the mind (for example, it is well known that chemical substances can actually induce mental states such as depression, exhilaration, etc.).
Everyone knows that if a person consumes a certain quantity of alcohol it will definitely affect the person's mind (his judgment, his memory, his awareness, etc.). Many people have experienced the affect that white sugar, coffee, or tea has on their system (mind and body). From my own personal experience, I can say that I have experienced significant changes in my mental states as a result of eliminating coffee and tea from my diet.
It should be obvious to everyone that the food that one eats becomes the stuff of which the brain is made. It may sound far fetched to some, but the day is not too far off when scientists will prove (if they haven't already) that the food we eat directly affects the thoughts that we think. (And also that the thoughts we think affect our food especially during the process of cooking the food.) The simple truth is that many 'bad thoughts' can be eliminated simply by being more selective about the foods we eat. To attain the deeper states of concentration which lead to meditation (and ultimately Samadhi, which purges the mind of all its past negative impressions), it is imperative that all meat, fish, eggs, alcohol, tobacco, etc., be completely eliminated from the diet.
Control Your SensesJust as we have to exercise control over the types of foods we put into our mouth, we must also exercise control over the types of 'foods' we take in through our eyes, ears, and other sense organs. Our five senses are direct channels to the brain, which is the seat of our sixth sense, the mind. Whatever we smell, taste, touch, hear, or see, directly affects the brain and, consequently, the mind.
The Way to SuccessIt is absolutely impossible to control the mind unless we control our senses. So, to succeed in mastering the mind, it is imperative that we do not contaminate the mind (and brain) with pollutants. The polluted mind is a liability, it is not an asset. The polluted mind is a great hindrance to the soul in its eternal quest for Absolute happiness and Perfection. It is not possible to reach the Goal unless the mind is purified. Without a pure mind we cannot see clearly (e.g., we will not be able to understand the Truth). If we cannot see clearly, we will be unable to aim (concentrate) the mind on the Goal. If we are unable to concentrate, we will aimlessly drift about in the sea of the world, and the waves and currents of the mind will continuously overpower us, and perfection will ever elude us.
Presence of Mind is RequiredThough it is true that no one is perfect, it is equally true that no one can ever be satisfied with imperfection. The soul's nature is to naturally seek out perfection. A vision of Perfection, a vision of the Truth, is attained only when one has presence of mind.