The Mental Computer

Swami Satyananda Saraswati, from satsangs at Rikhia in 1994

Three influences affect the karmas. Firstly, there is karma from the parents, which is genetic transfer. Secondly, there is karma from the previous life, which is spiritual transfer. Thirdly, there is karma from the society, the environment in which you live, which is environmental transfer.

Genetic transfer is the result of a meeting between the parents. Samskaras and consciousness are not the dharma of the body. The body is only a chariot and it has a charioteer and a passenger. It is driven by ten horses, which are the ten indriyas or sense organs: the five jnanendriyas or organs of sense perception and the five karmendriyas or organs of action. Buddhi, the higher intellect, is the charioteer and the jivatma, the individual soul, is the passenger. The charioteer is driving the horses. On the day you leave the body, the chariot and the horses are left behind. The jivatma then takes another chariot. How good or bad that chariot is depends upon the earnings or karma from previous lives.

The combination of these three influences creates a person’s actions, thoughts, success or failure. For example, a coriander seed has its own particular genetic potential. If it is sown at the right time, in the right place and cared for properly, there will be a good crop of coriander. However, if the seed is good but the soil is poor and there is insufficient water, the plant becomes weak. In the same way, the disc you have carried from previous births affects your karmas.

During genetic transfer, the life-giving cells of the parents in the form of sperm and ovum affect the karmas. Scientists say that genetic transfer is responsible for sickness and the shape of the body. However, there is a limit to the influence of genetic transfer on karma. How far the actions of previous lives can affect the karma also has a limit.

Components of the computer mind

There are two aspects of mind: mechanical and intellectual. The mechanical aspect works automatically; whatever you say is imprinted on the mind. Superior to this aspect is buddhi or intellect, which programs the mechanical aspect of the mind. The mind is like a computer, but if a computer could be made to perform all the functions of the mind, it would cover thousands of square kilometres.

Once a saint came to Swami Sivananda’s ashram. He made one hundred men stand in front of him and speak a few words at the same time. When they were all finished, he began to repeat what each one had said. A mind that can be attentive to one hundred things at a time is called shatavadhana. Avadhana means ‘attention’. I used to be called ashtavadhana, because I would attend to eight things at a time, talking on the phone, writing articles, checking files, reading books, etc. These are the possibilities of a computer mind.

The profile disc

During our lives, we tend to forget many experiences and impressions. There are innumerable objects we have seen in this world and countless ideas we have contemplated. Any thought, incident or experience that comes within the perception of the senses is registered by the mechanical aspect of the mind. Suppose I am watching you from here. The angle of my vision is such that even though I may not observe a broken egg lying in my visual path, still the imprint will fall on my eyes and be registered by the brain. Anything the eyes see, even if we are not aware of it, is registered. There is an aspect of the mind which registers the environment also. Good and bad environments, good and bad company, likes and dislikes, are all registered, and after some time they are transferred, just as entries in the computer are stored on a disc.

The Egyptians preserved the body in the form of a mummy, thinking that man was immortal. The body is not immortal, but the thoughts you have had since you first started thinking are still with you. Although you may not remember them, they are still there. Sometimes you may suddenly remember what you thought at the age of five or six or even at the very end of your life. This means they are within you. You remember something you had heard or seen ten, fifteen or twenty years ago. If these impressions are still with you after such a long period of time, they will remain with you even after leaving the body. If you try to access those thoughts now, you may not be able to make a printout, but they are still there stored in the subtle mind.

After input, you can either make a printout or transfer the information to a disc. If all our thoughts and impressions could be fed into a computer and a printout taken, it would extend from here to infinity. In the same way, after the impressions are registered, they are transferred to the subtle body as samskaras, mental seeds, and this is the source of secret knowledge. Millions and billions of thoughts and ideas have come to our minds and they still exist there in the form of samskaras. Thoughts create samskaras, which are the seeds of our mental impressions. Then this profile appears in the second computer.

The samskaras are stored in the sukshma sharira, or subtle body. Just as a seed is responsible for the existence of a plant, in the same way it is this mental seed or samskara which leaves with the individual soul, the jivatma, at the time of death, and is responsible for the next birth. The karana sharira, or causal body, carries it. The sthoola sharira, or physical body, may perish but not these samskaras. You may be unaware of it, but the profile disc you have carried on from your previous births is showing the effects. It determines your life, beliefs, destiny, pleasure and pain, abilities and disabilities. As is the seed, so is the harvest.

The software

Whatever a person thinks or does becomes a samskara which cannot be eliminated. It is recorded or registered in the mind and brain. Whether its impact is strong or weak is a different matter. Sometimes this samskara remains for many years and for many births. If the samskara is not very powerful, it may go or it may not. You cannot ignore any action. Every action, thought and form of your awareness is recorded.

The mind or brain is like a computer camera. Everything that comes into the area of the camera is recorded in the picture. Some of the karmas are not strong, but they stay on line, as if they are electromagnetic. You may have seen that when you sit for meditation, your mind is one-pointed, and then suddenly thoughts start coming. These are inner thoughts; either you take them out or you come out. There are different brainwaves too, which are biological and also psychological and spiritual. Similarly, a thought is not merely a biological process; it is there and it will go with you.

However, one thing must be remembered. Sometimes the computer program gets a virus which impedes the system and has to be wiped out. In the same way, the mind also gets cobwebs. Most people have a very limited mental capacity. Their minds are not expansive and they cannot think much, hence their abilities are few. So actually people create fearful and inhibiting social concepts, which in turn limit the mind and the mental abilities.


The most important influence on the karmas is through associations, good or bad company. Satsang is the origin of bliss. A ruffian or a tyrant can improve with the company of the wise. A wicked person can also improve with satsang. If someone had a bad previous birth, or his parents did not give him the right training, he can improve through contact with good company. Through bad associations, children from very good families can also be spoiled. The company you keep depends on the environment. You go to school or college, read books, watch films, sing songs, which are also associations. Anything you interact with in your life is a form of association. Rishi Muni has said, “Just as a drop of water shines on a lotus leaf, thus is the glory of positive associations.”

You can see the virtue of good company in the conch. It is said that the conch stayed in the hands of Lord Narayana for a long time and as a result, even though the conch is a piece of bone, we bow our heads to it. Normally, you would not bring an animal bone to your lips, but since it has been in God’s hand, even priests raise it to their lips. By the power of positive association, Ravana also became the devotee of Rama at the time of his death.

A thorn has to be removed with a thorn. In the same way, remove rubbish with rubbish. You may ask your guru or somebody else to remove your rubbish for you, but you are only adding more to your waste bin, which is why your rubbish basket is always full. The municipality removes the old rubbish, but the new garbage accumulates again. When God’s grace is there, all the rubbish of life is removed instantly, just as sheets and sheets of darkness are removed by the first rays of the sun.

Samskaras from many different births will vanish or subside only with the Lord’s grace. However long you work at removing your rubbish, you will not be able to do it. Nothing is possible without divine grace. If you think you can remove your own rubbish, that is ego. How can you remove it? First of all, you do not know what is rubbish and what is not. Sometimes you may be throwing away the diamonds and keeping the stones because you do not know the difference. You do not have the discrimination to know what is true and what is false. Therefore, leave it to God. Try to attain His grace through prayer, remembrance and satsang.

The first sadhana is satsang, where there is talk about God, about spiritual life or where there is singing of bhajans and kirtans. This helps you to purify yourself and your inner environment. Satsang must be compatible with your inner environment. Participation in yajna is very important because it creates an energy field. By mantra chanting, energy is created in the subtle consciousness. That energy takes care of our karmas, dharmas, mistakes and sickness.

In this bungalow of the body there are nine gates. The tenth gate is locked with a key and the gatekeeper, the chetana purusha, the subtle consciousness, does not allow anyone in. If the tenth gate opens a bit, then Kabir says, “For one who meditates on that supreme purusha the game of karmas, illusions, diseases and mistakes that we have been playing is dispelled.” All the bad debts are written off and then a new life begins. So from today we can all start a new loan account. We can go home having washed off everything and then start borrowing again.