The Destruction of the Mind Does Not Constitute Enlightenment

Hi, Ted.

I have been watching a video by James, “Is Ramana Wrong?” where mano-nasha is mentioned?


Ted: Okay. And just to clarify, mano-nasha refers to the destruction of the mind, or the stoppage of all thought.

Ingrid: Is this an ordinary sattvic mind? Or is it another phenomena?


Ted: No, mano-nasha itself does not define a sattvic mind. A sattvic mind is essentially a mind that is free of binding vasanas (i.e., compelling desires). Mano-nasha refers to the absence of all thought. It is essentially another name for nirvikalpa samadhi (i.e., the thought-free state that sometimes prevails during meditation). While the essential nature of the self (i.e., limitless conscious existence) is nirvikalpa (i.e., free of thought, or free of the modifications projected upon awareness by Maya), the thought-free state experienced by the mind does not comprehensively define the self. In other words, the self is not existent only when the mind is free of thoughts. The self is ordinary witnessing awareness. It is not the mind, but rather the “light” of awareness by means of which both the presence of thoughts and the absence of thoughts are known. Mano-nasha, therefore, is a temporary experiential state that arises in a sattvic mind, but it neither comprehensively defines the sattvic mind nor constitutes enlightenment. Figuratively speaking, we could say that the mind is “destroyed” when all the objects that appear within its scope as well as the mind itself are understood as nothing other than awareness appearing in form. Upon this realization, both the mind and its contents are understood to be nothing other than awareness, and thus the objects that were previously granted independent reality are “destroyed” in the wake of understanding.
Ingrid: I have only myself to refer to, and I feel my mind is blank. Dead is a description that is very describing. I can be sitting not thinking anything for long periods of time.


Ted: Sounds very peaceful. But such an experience is only a reflection of the limitless, unmodified nature of awareness. The experience itself does not constitute enlightenment. But should you assimilate the knowledge revealed by the experience and thereafter abide in the understanding of your true nature even in the face of objects/thoughts, we could say that you are enlightened (i.e., you have understood your true nature).


All the best,