Individual and Universal Mind

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

There is no such thing as the human mind. It should be understood as the individual mind and universal mind. The mind is present in every speck of creation. Animals, vegetables, even minerals have a mind. The individual mind is limited by mara, avidya, samskara, death, ignorance and impressions, and by a framework of personality which is created by nature: the type of one's birth and surroundings.

Life after life, man has individualized his mind due to karma and desire. When the ego is removed and the mind goes beyond the barriers of ego and personality, the individual mind and the universal mind are both the same, just as electrical energy and the bulb are the same. The individual mind and the universal mind are not different. The individual mind is only an individual circuit.


Everything in this universe is subject to evolution. Everything is not created, was not created and cannot be created at the same time. In the process of evolution, when matter is created, it takes its own time. Matter is a general word which can be used for anything – for the living and dead, for the invisible and the visible, for the known and unknown.

In the process of evolution, matter has expanded into many forms and shapes. These various forms, objects and shapes of creation, planets, stars, the earth, human beings, animals, the vegetable kingdom and minerals have all come to be individualized.


When a human being is born, he develops a special consciousness, called jnanam. Jnanam means awareness of the entire process of existence in relation to time and space. ‘I am existing, I know I am existing. I know that I know that I am'. This is knowledge in relation to time and space. Jnanam is an awareness of the awareness of knowledge. It is that particular knowledge when one becomes the witness, the observer, the seer. It is a special faculty of the human being. When jnanam takes place, matter is broken, matter is split. The birth of higher knowledge takes place and the individual mind becomes the universal mind. The individual mind and the universal mind are two important topics in Indian philosophy, especially in yoga and tantra. They say that the individual mind is present in waking, sleeping and dreaming. These three states represent the egotistical state of the mind.


When one is able to develop a state which is neither waking, sleeping nor dreaming, that is dhyana, meditation, which is none of the three. It is the fourth state, turiya, a state of total awakening. Waking, sleeping and dreaming are not states of total awakening, but only partial stages. They are not homogeneous. Therefore, the ego is individualized by circumstances of the mind, body and senses.

When one is able to develop a constant state of awareness, when one is aware, not only of the external life, but at the same time of the inner universe, when one is not only able to see the river but the whole ocean the river is meeting, it is at that time that the universal consciousness embraces the individual consciousness.

8 March 1985, London, UK