Chapter 9: The Fire of Knowing
om is the atom of mind. And it is the most subtle atom, no atom is more subtle than this. If we split it.. Scientists say that if we split the electron, neutron and proton, the atom will disappear into nothingness; nothing will be left behind, it will become formless. But in this very splitting, a tremendous energy is released that we know of as atomic fission. An atomic explosion is the release of a tremendous hidden energy that had been binding these three together, the electron, neutron and proton. We have seen it by dropping only one atom bomb on Hiroshima: within five minutes, one hundred and twenty-thousand people were reduced to ash. It was the explosion of one tiny atom which is not even visible to the naked eye. That much energy is held in it because the three components are stuck together and the moment they become free, a tremendous energy is released.
In exactly the same way, Indian wisdom has worked hard on mind and ignored matter. Indian wisdom did not focus on matter at all, because it felt that to focus on matter would lead nowhere. It found that man gains nothing by focusing on matter; it is only an illusion that something is gained. You feel that there is some gain, but your hands remain always empty. So in India, matter was ignored and instead they explored the mind. They felt “Why not transform the mind which experiences all pleasure and pain, happiness and misery? Instead of accumulating things which create happiness or misery, why not transform the very mind that experiences the happiness or the misery?”
This approach was developed in India only after much experience. They accumulated material things, but they discovered that as material things accumulate, they cease to give happiness. They observed that by removing the causes of misery, even while they are being removed, the misery starts to come from something else - but it never really ends. Finally, they discovered that happiness or misery have nothing to do with things directly: things function only as an excuse, a hook, for happiness or misery. When we go into our houses we hang our coats on a hook, or if there is no hook then onto something else, onto a door or a window. But you will have to hang the coat somewhere or other, the hook is not the essential thing. This is why even if you break the hook or make it bigger, it will make no difference - still the coat will be hung somehow.
Indian wisdom has found that material things are only hooks, and it is the mind, which hangs onto these hooks like a coat, that is important. So if the mind is miserable, it will become miserable on any hook; if the mind is a happy mind it will become happy with any hook. A peaceful mind will remain peaceful on any hook, a restless mind will remain restless on any hook. Hence, the question is not of changing hooks, the question is of transforming the mind - so they started working on the mind. And the conclusion that they came to from their research on the mind revealed that pranava, om, is the atom of the mind.
Can this atom of the mind also be exploded? If it can be exploded, then this atom will also release enormous energy. Can this atom be exploded?
The science of meditation, yoga, says yes, it can be. If fission takes place, if it disappears, then an energy will be released like a fire being born from within. And that fire will burn the personality to ashes - the ego, the past actions, the sins, the virtues, all that a person has done, all his past, This very fire will burn his whole load, his whole burden to ashes.
Now let us enter the sutra: