There Is No Such Thing As Mind Control

If you’ve started meditating, initially you felt some sense of peace. After a bit more meditating, you began to realize the predicament you’re in: the mind keeps rising and seems out of control. And when mind rises, there is suffering (dukkha).

Naturally, at this point it may have occurred to you to use meditation as a way of bringing about mind control. Therefore, you may have begun to see the aim of meditating as precisely that.

While this is a natural move to make, it’s also a mistake. In a loose sense, sure, it could be said that meditation brings about mind control. Yet in a strict sense, this is not only untrue; it’s also misguided.

Listen to Sri Ramana Maharshi as he spells out the mistake and then offers a remedy:

D[isciple]: How to control the mind?
M[aharshi]: What is mind? Whose is the mind?
D.: Mind always wanders. I cannot control it.
M.: It is the nature of the mind to wander. You are not the mind. The
mind springs up and sinks down. It is impermanent, transitory,
whereas you are eternal. There is nothing but the Self. To inhere in
the Self is the thing. Never mind the mind. If its source is sought,
it will vanish leaving the Self unaffected.

“Talk 97,” Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, p. 95

The bad news is the mind cannot be controlled since it is of the nature of the mind to wander. The good news is that the mind needn’t be controlled, only its source found.

Yet again, we arrive at the preeminence of Self-inquiry (atma vichara). Elegantly (stunningly so) does Self-inquiry take what seems to be a deficit, a ‘bug’ (if you will) and turn it into an asset. “Dang, you say that thoughts keep coming atcha. No problem! Thoughts are precisely what allow one to begin in earnest. In fact, you’re in luck: thoughts, indeed, are the initiating force of the inquiry!”

Begin by tracing each thought back to its source. The latter, it turns out, is the mind, or the I-thought, or the ego I, or the “false” I (Ramana gives us different names for the same shadowy borrowed existence at different times).

Next, because you see that the ego has risen, trace the ego’s rising back to its source. That source is the Self.

Discover the source, abide in it, and thenceforth there will be no mind rising and therefore no need for mind to be controlled.

Voila! So much better than a cheap party trick!