December 2010

The Vessel

   December 21st marks the winter solstice. On this day of the year, the duration of daylight in the northern hemisphere is the shortest. From this day forward, the daylight time will increase until it reaches its maximum duration on June 21st, the summer solstice. In ancient legends, the sun gods were born on this day. It was a time of celebration in many different cultures. Besides its mythological, astrological and astronomical significance, the winter solstice has a deeper psychological and spiritual impact. Corresponding to the increasing daylight, there is the potential awakening of the light of the spiritual Sun, or Atma, in the darkness of the human mind. It is potential because its presence and influence will depend on how suitable the mind is as a vessel to receive and share the light of spirit.

A vessel is an appropriate metaphor for the mind. It has also been called a sheath (kosa) or basis (upadhi). The word vessel helps one comprehend three important functions of the mind. Like any vessel, the mind has three functions – to receive, to carry and to share. The mind is a vessel that receives, carries, and shares impressions. What makes up the vessel we are calling the mind? The mental vessel is made up of will, thought, and desire or feelings. The size and strength of the mental vessel are determined by the thoughts and desires in the mind. Will is the energy of mind that determines the force of the impressions that are received, stored and shared by the vessel. The greater the vessel in size, strength, and force, the greater is its ability to receive, store and share. The greater the thoughts, desires and will of the mind, the greater is its ability to receive, store and share impressions. How do we expand the mind as a vessel to receive and share the light of the Higher Self?

The process begins with another faculty of mind - imagination. Imagination is the image-making faculty. Without a strong and trained imagination the will cannot do its work. The imagination creates the mold, formed from the image of one’s highest ideal of human perfectibility, into which desire, thought and feeling can expand. Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, or any of the Sun Gods would be good ideals of human perfectibility, since many already carry a mental image of what they may have looked like. Our highest idea of the nature of a great soul, or Mahatma, is also very helpful. The next step is to harness the positive aspect of the powerful mental faculty of memory. Even while in the midst of the duties, conflicts, and chaos of everyday life, one tries to recall what might be the motive, thought and feeling of such a perfected

human being in this situation.

One soon discovers that it is not easy to desire, think, feel and act like a perfected human being. The limitations and imperfections of personal desires, feelings and ideas get in the way. These limitations and imperfections in one’s mental vessel are exactly what prevent it from receiving and sharing the light of spirit. The present vessel resists one’s effort to expand it. There are two ways to generate the urgency and force to break through the resistance. One is the fruit of experience of long and bitter personal suffering that drives the individual to the point of doing whatever is necessary to remove the causes of suffering. The individual vows and resolves to will the change. There is no alternative. There is no turning back. There is no compromise. The second way is by the accumulated karmic stamina of vows made and kept in previous lives that propels one from within around the obstacles and past old errors.

There is another way. Forget about one’s spiritual progress and live to benefit humanity. Nurture the desire to fit oneself to be the better able to help and teach others. Gradually learn to feel oneself as part of all that lives and that all that lives is part of oneself. In this effort the personal idea of self is slowly replaced by an expanding awareness of the Self of All. The growing impersonality of the desire is proportional to the intensification of the energy of the spiritual will to be a force for good. There is no risk in this method. No effort is wasted. Internal obstacles are gradually destroyed and replaced by a vessel suitable to be the receiver and transmitter of spiritual light.


We seldom think creatively. Creative thinking is exploring various methods of solving a problem. It consists in readiness to rethink — not being satisfied with the first answer. Ordinarily we think reproductively, hence our response is based on our previous experience on a similar occasion. We need to think productively taking into account alternative possibilities and approaches.

The Voice of the Silence suggests that the creative mind is the mind with breadth and depth. Depth of mind comes from knowing the "why" of everything. It is the ability to link effect to cause. It is also the ability of going from the particulars to universals.

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