To become somebody, you have to know what that somebody is. If you don’t know, how can you become that? I often give the example of seeing your own face in a mirror. We have never actually seen ourselves. When you stand in front of a mirror, whom do you see? You only see your reflection. You need a mirror to know that you have a face, and what you see in the mirror is the reflection of your face. To see your face clearly, without any distortion, you need a clean mirror. If it is dirty, smoky, or crooked, you see a crooked face. Do you run to a plastic surgeon, complaining that your face looks horrible? No. Instead, you clean up the mirror, by making changes in the mirror. You remove the dust and grime and when it’s all clean, then you see your face and you see it exactly as it really is.

In the same way, if you want to see your Self you should have a mirror, and, nature has already given you a pocket mirror. It is your own mind. Your mind should be absolutely clean to show you an accurate reflection of who you are. It must be smooth and steady, without any waves in it. That’s what we should be doing. You don’t have to worry about seeing your Self. Your Self is always there. To see it clearly, all you have to do is work with your mind. Make the mind clean, calm, and steady.

Our efforts are not to see the Self, but to make the mirror— the mind—clean. And that is what Yoga is all about. Patanjali tells us to eliminate all the modifications in the mind; all the waves in the mind. If you create a wave-less, crystal clear mind, then you will see your Self clearly.

How to achieve this? You can utilize the mind to clean the mind—one part of the mind works with another part. So, it is the mind cleaning the mind. The part of the mind that wants to see the Self and to make itself clean, becomes the tool. In the process of cleaning, that part of the mind cleans the rest of the mind, and after cleaning, it then drops away. It should not remain. Only then is the mind absolutely clean. There will be no thought at all.

How can you make the mind completely thoughtless? You’ll be saying: “I want to make my mind completely thoughtless.” Is that not a thought? If you say, “I am doing nothing.” What does it mean, doing nothing? You are doing the thing called nothing. Still, you are doing something. That is the problem. We have to do something, to undo everything. So, pick up one thought, and strengthen and develop that thought. Let the mind dwell in that thought only. All the other thoughts will slowly subside. The one thought takes over the mind completely. But you have to choose a thought that will not bother you afterward. It should be a thought that can be easily disposed of.

Take the example of algebra. How do you find the solution to X equals something? You work with the problem and ultimately you get the answer: X is equal to 8 or something like that. You’ve got the answer and then you no longer need the X. You drop the X because it becomes an extra. The X has served its purpose and is no longer needed.

All our practices, whether it’s called Yoga practice, Buddhist practice, Christian, Jewish, or Catholic—whatever it is—they are all various solutions. They are ways to work with, and to reach, the ultimate formless, nameless, and attribute-less state. When the mind becomes completely still and clean, then you see your Self.

The Bible says, “Blessed are the pure in heart.” Pure in heart means pure in mind. What is purity? Absolutely colorless, odorless. If you have that, or if you acquire that purity of heart, what happens next? You shall see God. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Just imagine: You make your heart pure, like a clear mirror, and you see God. Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras, says the exact same thing—had the Bible added another word: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see themselves as God.” Patanjali says that if you make the mind completely steady and calm, a pure mind, then the Self will abide in its own true nature.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda