06 August 2013

Is the sentence, "The Mind cannot end the Mind," true or false?

Someone recently said “The mind cannot end the mind.”

On the surface it seems to make sense, and seems to imply any mental effort or spiritual practice will never help you make any “spiritual” progress because the mind cannot step outside itself.  In fact, one might say it strengthens the minds grip.

But on whom?  Is there something or someone separate from the mind, a true self so to speak, that may be discovered or uncovered by spiritual practices such as meditation, concentration or pondering?

First of all, to say the mind cannot end the mind assumes that the mind is a things and a monolith, such that any action it does only strengthens it making going beyond the mind impossible, and that only grace can allow “you” whoever you are, to find some “true self.”

But is this the case?  Actually not.

What do we mean by mind?  Certainly thinking, but what else?

Even if we think about it for just a minute, we see the word mind means many things to most of us, not just a single entity.  We understand it is a group of prcesses or faculties and not just thinking.  It includes an ability to remember.  It includes the ability to read, write and understand concepts.  It includes the ability to add, subtract and perhaps do advanced math.  It includes an ability to plan work or activities the next day. It is that which helps us judge distance and time without a clock or measure, and that which allows us to use clocks and measures to be more accurate.  It includes the ability to imagine, as well as get lost in thought or imagination. It includes an ability to listen to, play and compose music, or create visual art.

It also includes the ability to concentrate and focus attention. It is that which allows us to isolate a thought or emotion in one’s attention,focus on it, let the emotion or feeling grown and expand and then pass through one.  One might say it also includes our concepts of Self and boundaries.

Therefore can we truly say that we cannot use the mind to step outside of hat we thought we were in order to have an expanded or contracted sense of self, of I-ness, or lack of I-ness?

For example, we can use meditation on just relaxing into our experience of the world to find a growing sense of emptiness.  We can use it to question all of our beliefs about everything, including who we are.  We can use t to isolate an emotion such as love, anger or hate to sink deeply in it and merge with it.

We can use it to isolate the I-am sensation, or else just the sense of I as Ramana taught and follow it backwards into the Self, the Raman I-I.

We can definitely use it to control the inner energies and to aid Kundalini experiences through breath control and imaginations.  We can use it to control and expand healing energies.

So the sentence, “The mind cannot end the mind” just is wrong.  It is a simplistic sentence that seems to make sense at first blush, but upon investigation is found wanting.


  1. Excellent explanation "for the mind" LOL
    I questioned that myself sometime ago. If I have to rely on memory to "remember" who I am then it would be self defeating but then I realized that any help one can get in the process is fine. Eventually what is happening is that "presence" or whatever it is, comes by itself without having to remember it. Pretty cool....

  2. one of my fav quotes from Nisargadatta says:

    "Use your mind to know your mind. It is perfectly legitimate and also the best preparation for going beyond the mind."

  3. Ramana Maharshi said the mind cannot kill the mind. The Yoga Vasistha says it can. Both speak the truth. Ramana meant that the mind should not be left to its own devices; enquiry is necessary into its nature so as to discover its non existence. A line in the Yoga Vasistha says: "Direct enquiry into the movements of thought in one's own consciousness is the supreme guru, the greatest teacher"

    1. Also Ramana said that using the mind to 'destroy' itself is like using a stick to stoke a fire - the stick does very well at stoking the fire of destruction, but is itself eventually destroyed in the process.