Can the mind or thoughts be controlled? Bhagavad Gita | Advaita Vedanta

Many say that (1) the mind (ie. thoughts) cannot be controlled and (2) the mind need not be controlled for liberation to result. Here is what is written in the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 6, verses 35 and 36:

Arjuna: The mind is very restless, turbulent, strong and obstinate, O Krishna. It appears to me that it is more difficult to control than the wind.

Lord Krishna said: O mighty-armed son of Kunti, what you say is correct; the mind is indeed very difficult to restrain. But by practice and detachment, it can be controlled.

Note the teaching here is clear – the mind can be controlled. Just practice is required. To find out more, please read Chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Gita which explains the meaning of ‘controlling the mind’, the method of doing so, and the result (Moksha)


Swami Sarvapriyananda: Seeing the eternal in daily life not just in samadhi

Also see: Does Swami Sarvapriyananda teach the same as Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna?

Above is a nice presentation from Swami Sarvapriyananda, but this in my view this is actually a distortion of genuine vedanta teachings. I do want to be respectful towards Swamiji as I think he is doing a great job sharing Vedanta teachings – he is raising awareness of and popularising Vedanta in a very accessible and approachable way – and he is also a gifted teacher who is benefitting many – so I hope I will not offend anyone by merely stating an alternative view that I also hope will be of benefit to those seeking liberation (see the link above for more on my view of these types of teachings).

Imho these ‘Vedanta’ teachings are predominantly on the intellectual plane only and the genuinely infinite and blissful nature of the Self is not revealed with this type of teaching. The Jnana (knowledge) of the scriptures is not mere intellectual knowledge, as suggested by Swami Sarvapriyananda, but a synonym for Self-Realisation which is beyond any intellectual comprehension and does not depend on the mind/thought. Jnana is not merely a change in a point of view, but something much more radical and fundamental than this.

eg. there is a direct contrast between Swami S’s teaching in the video and with that of Sri Ramana Maharshi, who I consider to teach the genuine Vedanta teaching, as taught in the Upanishads and by Sri Shankaracharya. The following is taken from Sri Ramana’s text Who Am I? – can the teachings be any clearer? See how it contrasts to the exposition given, eg at around 23:40 mins into the video above where Swami S states the world/’what is seen’ need not be removed:

Questioner. When will the realization of the Self be gained?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: When the world which is what-is-seen has been removed, there will be realization of the Self which is the seer.

Questioner: Will there not be realization of the Self even while the world is there?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: There will not be.

Questioner: When will the world which is the object seen be removed?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: When the mind, which is the cause of all cognition’s and of all actions, becomes quiescent, the world will disappear.

This teaching is given by Sri Ramana as ignorance is only removed when we turn away from Maya and towards the Subject-Self, and thus discover what we truly are beyond the mind and objective phenomena. Sri Ramana is also telling us that the entire world is in fact an illusory projection of the mind, something that he further explains in the text ‘Who am I?’.

Ironically, this teaching given by Swami Sarvapriyananda is also in direct contrast to Swami Vivekananda (the founder of the organisation Swami S is in) who again and again explained the need for Samadhi, eg:

‘The conclusion of the Vedanta is that when there is absolute [ie. nirvikalpa] samadhi and cessation of all modifications, there is no return from that state’

Or contrast this with Sri Shankara, the founder of ‘modern’ Advaita Vedanta, in his commentary on the Katha Upanishad 2.1.1:

‘…The group of sense organs, beginning with the ear, should be turned away from all sense-objects. Such a one, who is purified thus, sees the indwelling self. For it is not possible for the same person to be engaged in the thought of sense-objects and to have the vision of the Self as well

Guru Ramana gives a rather cutting teaching in Guru Vachaka Kovai verse 599:

The innocent girl-bride thinking that
Betrothal is full conjugal union
Is filled with joy. Even so the learned
Who have yet to turn within and taste true bliss
Claim that the verbal wisdom which they prattle
Is advaita jnana.

See here for more many more quotes like this from Sages such as Sri Shankara and the Upanishads: Do we need to turn away from the world of objects to realise the Self? | Advaita Vedanta | Sri Ramana Maharshi | Upanishads | Shankara

There is no knowing or realising the Self | Sri Ramana Maharshi

People speak of knowing the Self, or Self-Realisation, but knowing the Self is just to Be the Self. To Be the Self is just Pure Being devoid of objective phenomena. In this there is no knowing or realising, just Being.

Here are some verses from Sr Ramana Maharshi’s Upadesa Saram (30 verses on the Essence of Spiritual Instruction):

25. Seeing oneself free of all attributes [objects]
Is to see the Lord,
For He shines ever as the pure Self.

26. To know the Self is but to be the Self,
For it is non-dual.
In such knowledge
One abides as that.

27. That is true knowledge which transcends
Both knowledge and ignorance,
For in pure knowledge
Is no object to be known.

28. Having known one’s nature one abides
As being with no beginning and no end
In unbroken consciousness and bliss.

See here for the full 30 verses of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s Upadesa Saram which summarises the entire teaching

Why are Self-enquiry & Self-Surrender making me feel weak in myself? | Advaita | Sri Ramana Maharshi

Hi Tom

This teaching in satsang today deeply resonated with me. It was one of those times when it felt it like every word was being spoken for the benefit of this body-mind.

I’m so grateful to you and Ramana
Thank you so much

(Above is from the volunteer who created/edited this video)

This video was recorded live during a Satsang meeting with Tom Das and put together by volunteers.

To attend satsang, see here:

For guided meditations see the ‘guided meditation’ playlist here:

For recommended reading for liberation see here:

To book a 1 to 1 session with Tom see here:

What is the best way to deal with suffering? | Spiritual Bypassing | Vasanas and conditioning

There are two basic paths you can take with suffering. One is pure Self-Enquiry, and just like any other phenomena that is arising, you say “To whom does this occur? To me. Who am I?, in order to direct your attention away from the suffering and the thoughts and go back to the Self.

However, with strong vasanas, strong suffering, you may need to go into Maya and solve these on the level of cause and effect. Just like any other practical problem in life, we can try to solve them on the level of life.

This video was recorded live during a Satsang meeting with Tom Das and put together by volunteers.

To see all the guided meditations see the ‘guided meditation’ playlist here:

For recommended reading for liberation see here:

To attend satsang, see here:

To book a 1 to 1 session with Tom see here:

Samadhi and Meditation: Yoga vs Vedanta

Q. Would you say that samadhi is a mental state? If so would Self Realisation be possible while not in that state after experienced?

Tom: Samadhi is not a mental state. Mental states come and go and are part of maya (illusion). Samadhi is beyond this. Samadhi is abiding as Self.

Q. I’m not clear on this for myself. From my understanding there are many jivas the world considers Self Realized that did not constantly operate out of a state of absorbtion/samadhi but were able to access it at will. I think that if Realisation is confined to samadhi only one could be justified in forgoing the Advaita path and shravana (hearing the teachings) and manana (reflecting upon the teachings) aspects altogether and aspire straight to a more meditative or Raja yoga path.

Tom: Regarding your first point, the Jnani is not the body-mind, but the eternal Self Within. There is only one Jnani – the Self. This Self is also called ‘Samadhi’. It is non-dual. It cannot be understood properly by the mind. This is why the Self can only be attained by Samadhi. The various so-called ‘realised-jivas’ are just illusion, or maya, appearance.

See a quote from Sri Ramana Maharshi here:

A Swami asked: I feel toothache. Is it only a thought?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Yes.

~Talks 451

Questioner: Now there is the Sino-Japanese war. If it is only in imagination, can or will Sri Bhagavan imagine the contrary and put an end to the war?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The Bhagavan of the questioner is as much a thought as the Sino-Japanese war. (Laughter.)

~Talks 451

Now regarding your second point about yoga and meditation vs vedanta and sravana (hearing the teachings) and manana (reflecting upon the teachings):

⁠’Fools, not the learned, speak of Sankhya [the path of knowledge] as being different to Yoga. Anyone who properly resorts to even one of these obtains the results of both’
⁠~Bhagavad Gita 5.4

⁠’The State that is reached by Sankhya is also reached by Yoga. He truly sees who sees that Sankhya and Yoga are one’
⁠~Bhagavad Gita 5.5

Krishna goes on to explain the path of yoga in the rest of chapter 5 and particularly in chapter 6 and how that leads directly to realisation.

⁠So yoga is another way. Have not all the great sages proclaimed this? It seems to be only the modern teachers with an intellectual appraoch who say otherwise. Sri Ramana Maharshi has said this – see the text he wrote called Self-Enquiry (Vichara Sangraham) where he describes how Raja Yoga can lead to liberation. Sri Ramakrishna, who was initiated and was taught Advaita Vedanta in a traditional way, also said the same, as did his disciple Swami Vivekananada. The purpose of Sravana and Manana is just to teach Nididhyasana (meditation). The purpose of all teachings is to come to Silence (mouna). Silence is just another word for Samadhi, or the Self, and is represented by the sacred symbol ‘Om’ above.​

⁠’All the texts say that in order to gain release one should render the mind quiescent; therefore their conclusive teaching is that the mind should be rendered quiescent; once this has been understood there is no need for endless reading.’
⁠~Who am I? by Sri Ramana Maharshi

⁠See how much time Sri Ramana spends on Sravana and Manana in his teachings and writings – he always emphasised Nididhyasana, whereas the modern intellectual-type teachers of ‘Advaita Vedanta’ emphasise and spend most of the ri time on Sravana and Manana. Why do you think this is?

⁠As I said above, this point is also explained in the Bhagavad Gita Chapters 5 and 6 where Krishna explains how yoga leads to Moksha.

⁠It is also explained in a traditional text that Sri Ramana Maharshi recommended – Advaita Bodha Deepika – see Chapter 3 where this is also explained.

Please see these above texts if you wish to explore this further.

Advaita Vedanta: Is samadhi required for Self-Realisation according to Shankara and the Upanishads?

There are several views on this topic, but in this post we will see what the Advaita scriptures say and what Shankara has written on this in his commentaries.

In some texts that are attributed to Shankara, such as Vivekachudamani, the case is clearly presented – these texts clearly state that Samadhi is definitely required for Self-Realisation to occur. Whilst this is the most widely held view, and by far the dominant traditional view for at least the last one thousand years and more, and also the view of the four Shankara Mathas that have been entrusted with handing down Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta tradition to each generation, there are a minority who state that Vivekachudamani is not a genuine work of Shankara.

Therefore in this post we will look at what was written by Shankara in his commentaries, the authorship of which is not in doubt:

Please see this link here to read the discussion of this topic.