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The two States of the Mind, Pure and Impure

If there were no mind, neither the motor organs nor the sensory organs would be able to function at all. For all these various senses, the mind is in the position of the controller. It acts as the bridge to the inner life of the person. You may be in a lecture hall and your eyes and ears may be taking in all that is happening, but, if your mind is not there, if it were to wander off to your home town to think over some events going on there, you would not register anything which was taking place in the hall. Afterwards, you might question your neighbor, "What did the lecturer say? My mind was not here." What is the reason for your not hearing, although your ears are there? What is the reason for your not seeing although your eyes are there? The reason is the mind.

If your mind is absent, even if your eyes are here, you will not be aware of who your neighbor is; even if your ears are here you will not be aware of what is being said. The inner significance of this is that the mind is the master of the senses. All the senses should properly be subservient to the mind. When the mind is in a position of stillness, the senses will not be able to function at all.

The mind has two states. One is the impure mind, which is the thinking faculty, and the second is the pure mind, which is the seat of deepest feelings, experienced as the spiritual heart. When the mind allows itself to be subservient to the senses, it is impure. But, when the mind exercises control over the senses and follows the dictates of its highest inner knowing, it is pure. In other words, when the lower mind follows the buddhi, the higher mind, which knows the dictates of the heart, it is pure. Impure and pure are just aspects of the same mind. In its natural state, the mind is pure. Through the thinking process and its association with the senses, the mind becomes impure. Consider a small example.

The nature of a handkerchief is pure whiteness. The white color is natural to it. When you use the handkerchief it acquires dirt, and then you describe it as being dirty. After the washerman cleans it, you again think of it as a clean cloth. The dirty cloth and the clean cloth are one and the same. The same cloth, having acquired some dirt, has become a dirty cloth. Once the cloth has been washed and the dirt has been removed, it has become pure and you call it a clean cloth. You say that the washerman has made the cloth white. But really, he has not made it white; whiteness is its natural state. He has only removed the dirt. Similarly, when the mind absorbs impurities from the senses it can be described as an impure mind. But when the sense impressions have been removed and the mind is no longer turned towards the senses, it becomes pure again.

It is in this context that you can understand the meaning of these two states of the mind, pure and impure. When the mind is intimately associated with the senses it is impure. Then it is nothing but a bundle of thoughts; it can be conceived of as the process of thinking itself. In this process of thinking, revolving around duality and its polarities of attraction and repulsion, the mind gets dirty. It absorbs the impure impressions of the sense organs and becomes impure. At this point it does not have any specific form; it is merely the thing which thinks.