Look at a treeless mountain
Mind without support dissolves
Reaching stillness of Shiva
When did you last look at something, say a blank wall, or hear something, say a monotonous drone, and feel bored out of your wits? You had two options. If you felt free to run, you would have fled. If you had reason to stay, you would need to disengage from that sensory experience. You would need to shut your mind.
Our mind functions on sensory inputs that feed information to it. Patanjali in his yoga sutra calls this food or ahara. The yogic technique of pratyahara works on shutting off nutrition to the mind, by disengaging from the senses.
In the tantric as well as yogic tradition, manas is the part of the mind that receives sensory inputs. Manas stores this in chitta, another part of the mind as impressions or memories. Ahamkara, or ego, a third part of the mind looks at these impressions and interprets them based on conditioning we grew up with. The final interpretation passes on to buddhi, the intellect part of the mind, for action.
Action taken by us, and therefore our behavior, and consequent results, arise from these four actions, of which sensory inputs become the source. What we see or hear or feel or taste or smell, objects of senses, produce these sensory inputs. If we withdraw from these objects or if these objects become irrelevant and uninteresting to us, our mind stalls with no inputs, no impressions, no interpretations and therefore, no action.
Shiva plays a trick on Devi and us here.
Look, he says, look at this uninspiring, boring landscape. Nothing holds your attention. Your mind can follow nothing, so barren, stark and uninviting the scene is. The mind gets bored. It shuts down.
This happens to people who go the Arctic or Antarctic and watch the barren white landscape for months. Initially, the scene captivates. Gradually, it bores. Anything, with no variety or motion cannot occupy the mind for long. If forced into this experience, the mind shuts down.
Mothers have known this from creation. So, they make kids stand in a corner and watch the wall, and get bored out of their wits!
Try Shiva’s trick, and be inspired to drop your mind. He has a few more tricks up his sleeve in the following verses.
Many consider Arunachala, the red mountain in Thiruvannamalai in South of India, Shiva’s abode. True or not, Ramana Maharishi made it his abode and sacred. The very presence of this mountain heals. It stills the mind, not from boredom, but from the sheer presence of its energy. If there happens to be one place any spiritual seeker should visit as part of a bucket list, that would be Arunachala.
You will not only meet and experience the energy of Ramana, but Shiva as well.