Self-Knowledge and the Universal Mind

By Wes Annac, Editor, Culture of Awareness & Openhearted Rebel

I wrote the following for the 226th issue of the Weekly Awareness Guide, a written document distributed weekly via email that I offer for $11.11 a month.

Income from the guide helps me get by and ensures I can continue to offer free content, and every subscription is appreciated. The option to subscribe is given at the bottom of this post (learn about subscribing with cash/check here).

Following last week’s segment on enlightenment and an article I wrote this week about the power of “no-mind”, let’s learn about the mind from spiritual teachers who encourage us to transcend its illusions and be open to the higher consciousness beyond it.

The mind is an undeniably important instrument that we shouldn’t waste. It can be used for amazing creative and intellectual achievements, but I recommend keeping it open, empty, and receptive to a higher consciousness if you want to see what it can really do.

You’ll feel better if you empty the mind than if you indulge its endless stresses, which leads to unhappiness and the feeling that you can’t escape your own negativity.

I enjoy reading spiritual guidance on the mind, and rather than condemn it, these teachers encourage us to understand it for what it is and use it to support rather than inhibit our evolution.  

Ramana Maharshi and Jiddu Krishnamurti on the Mind

According to Ramana Maharshi, the mind is a simple thing.

“The mind in truth is only the thought ‘I.’” (1)

“The mind is nothing but a lot of thoughts.” (2)

Jiddu Krishnamurti tells us the mind is incapable of grasping anything outside itself.

“The self, at whatever level it is placed, is still of the mind. Whatever the mind can think about is the mind. The mind cannot think about something which is not of itself; it cannot think of the unknown.

“The self at any level is known; and though there may be layers of the self of which the superficial mind is not aware, they are still within the field of the known.” (3)

The mind, and subsequently the self, is comprised of conviction, knowledge, belief, conclusion and experience.

“Knowledge, belief, conviction, conclusion and experience are … the very structures of the self. The self cannot be if there is no cumulative effect of experience; and the fear of death is the fear of not being, of not experiencing. If there were the assurance, the certainty of experiencing, there would be no fear.” (4)

The Path to Happiness

Until we open the mind, we will never experience truth or happiness.

“Truth or happiness cannot come without undertaking the journey into the ways of the self.” (5)

The choice to embark on the journey is one of the best you can make, because this path provides the soul-level fulfillment sought in the material world as well as endless opportunities for evolution.

I recommend daily meditation to help you understand the “ways of the self” as Krishnamurti put it. It can not only increase self-awareness, but bring your awareness to the calm, healing, empty-minded space that can change your life.

The secret to inner peace and the evolution of the self is a relaxed mind, and life will continue to be dominated by unhappiness and stress until we take the plunge.

Self-Knowledge Calms the Mind

Self-knowledge, Krishnamurti tells us, calms the mind.

“What is essential is self-knowledge, which brings about a still mind.” (6)

How can we attain self-knowledge? By becoming aware of our thoughts and responses to life.

“Self-knowledge comes into being through awareness of the moment-by-moment responses to the movement of life.” (7)

Try to pay attention to your responses, whether the situations you respond to are good or bad. Observe the differences between your reactions to favorable and unfavorable circumstances, and consider that you can change your response to the unfavorable; which is easier with a calm and open mind.

This introspective process will increase your self-awareness as well as your ability to respond calmly and rationally to negative situations. This can bring about an overall sense of peace and wellbeing, and as seasoned spiritual seekers will tell you, it’s just the beginning.

Universal Mind

Now, let’s learn about the “Universal Mind”. Despite that it might be used to describe different states depending on the teacher you talk to, it’s usually described as the original formless mind that exists naturally in a state of enlightenment.

Lankavatara Sutra describes the Universal Mind:

“Pure in its own nature and free from the category of finite and infinite, Universal Mind is the undefiled Buddha-womb, which is wrongly apprehended by sentient beings.” (8)

Steve Beckow notes that the Universal Mind can also be referred to as “God the Father”.

Bodhidharma describes it as “the original mind”.

“The buddha is your real body, your original mind. This mind has no form or characteristics, no cause or effect, no tendons or bones. It’s like space. You can’t hold it. It’s not the mind of materialists or nihilists. Except for a tathagata, no one else, no mortal, no deluded being, can fathom it.” (9)

Sri Ramakrishna tells us a pure mind brings oneness with God.

“That which is Pure Mind is also Pure Buddhi; that again is Pure Atman, because there is nothing pure but God.” (10)

Sri Aurobindo provides an excellent description of the gradual transition from ego-domination to the state of no-mind:

The description of the status of knowledge to which we aspire, determines the means of knowledge which we shall use.

That status of knowledge may be summed up as a supramental realisation which is prepared by mental representations through various mental principles in us and once attained again reflects itself more perfectly in all the members of the being.

It is a re-seeing and therefore a remoulding of our whole existence in the light of the Divine and One and Eternal free from subjection to the appearances of things and the externalities of our superficial being.

Such a passage from the human to the divine, from the divided and discordant to the One, from the phenomenon to the eternal Truth, such an entire rebirth or the new birth of the soul must necessarily involve two stages, one of preparation in which the soul and its instruments must become fit and another of actual illumination and realisation in the prepared soul through its fit instruments. (11)

The preparation stage could take lifetimes, whereas illumination could happen quickly. As we learned last week, it won’t be the only perceptual leap we experience. Since evolution is endless, it would be one of several that each come with more awareness, understanding, and bliss than the last.

According to Sri Aurobindo, seeing the world through new eyes is a sign we’re in the preparation stage. This won’t lead to any fantastic states of consciousness yet since evolution is gradual, but it’s a sign we’re moving forward.

Right Where We Need to Be

It takes time to move from a space of unawareness to illumination and ecstasy, which is why I recommend meditation; not to speed up the process but to help you accept that it doesn’t need sped up.

We’re right where we need to be, and we won’t soar through the air on a cloud of bliss until we can handle it.

An understanding of the ways of the mind and the higher consciousness that reveals itself when the former is open will help you break away from its distractions and discover the peace that can only be found deep in your being.

Don’t hesitate to use your mind and intellect, especially in a society that seems to denounce intelligence, but consider what you can get out of a mind that’s open to the cosmic energies radiating from the Source.


  1. Sadhu Arunachala (A.W. Chadwick), A Sadhu’s Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1961, 38.
  2. Cit.
  3. Krishnamurti, Commentaries on Living. First Series. Bombay, etc.: B.I. Publications, 1972; c1974, 68.
  4. , 89.
  5. , 13.
  6. Krishnamurti,Commentaries on Living. Second Series. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1967; c1958, 239.
  7. Krishnamurti, Commentaries on Living. First Series. Ibid., 79.
  8. Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy. New York, etc.: Harper and Row, 1970; c1944, 8.
  9. Red Pine, trans., The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma. Port Townsend, WA, Empty Bowl, 1987, 21.
  10. Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 178.
  11. Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1983, 294.
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About the author: 

wesannacI’m a twenty-something writer & blogger with an interest in spirituality, revolution, music and the transformative creative force known as love.

I run The Culture of Awareness, a daily news blog dedicated to raising social and spiritual awareness and supporting the evolution of the planet.

I also have a personal blog, Openhearted Rebel, in which I share writings related to spiritual philosophy, creativity, heart consciousness and revolution (among other topics).

I write from the heart and try to share informative and enlightening reading material with the rest of the conscious community. When I’m not writing or exploring nature, I’m usually making music.

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