To know who you truly are, you need a mirror. Have you ever seen your face? You only know that you have a face because you have seen the reflection in a mirror. To see your face clearly, you need a straight, clean mirror with no distortion. If you look in a mirror that is unclean or crooked, you see a crooked face. Do you run to a doctor? No, you make the necessary changes in the mirror, making sure that there is no wobbly surface. Then you can see exactly what your face looks like. In the same way, if you want to see your Self, you should have a clean mirror.
Nature has given you such a mirror. It is your own mind. To reflect your Self clearly, the mental mirror should be absolutely clean and steady, without any waves in it. All our efforts should be to make the mirror clean, the mind clean. That is Yoga. Eliminate all the modifications or waves in the mind. Create a well balanced, crystal clear mind and then you will see your Self clearly.
How can you make the mind crystal clear? If you are thinking, ”I want to make the mind thoughtless,” is that not a thought? So, we have to begin with one thought to make the mind thoughtless. Pick up one thought and develop it by letting the mind dwell only on that. All other thoughts slowly subside because the one thought takes over the mind completely. At the cost of all other thoughts, you develop one. But, you have to choose a thought that will not bother you afterward. That is why we often use a sacred sound, a mantra, such as Om Shanti. Then, at the right time, even that sound drops away, leaving the mind totally calm.
I use the example of cleaning a piece of linen. Imagine that it is so dirty that you want to clean it. How would you clean it? You would use soap, which is another kind of dirt. It may be good smelling with a nice name such as Ivory or Dove, but it is still a kind of dirt. You apply that soap on the cloth and what happens? If you watch carefully, the dirt on the linen sees another dirt coming in; it forgets all about the cloth and welcomes the new dirt. Birds of a feather flock together and so it gets busy inviting the dirt in and it forgets about the linen. When you see that happening, you take the cloth out of the water and it has become clean, leaving both the original dirt and the soap in the water.
That is what we do in the name of Yoga practice: we use one part of the mind to clean the other part. The part of the mind that wants to see the Self becomes the tool. After doing its job it leaves, along with the original dirt. It should not remain. Only then is the mind clean and clear enough to reflect who you truly are.
By Sri Swami Satchidananda