The Mind is just a garbage bin


The mind is just society’s garbage bin, says Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev of the Isha Foundation. But if you could pick and choose from it what you want, then it doesn’t matter how full or how filthy the bin is. The mind doesn’t need to be controlled. On the contrary, you have to be liberated from the mind, he says.

What you call as your mind is just an accumulation that you have gathered. Please see, your mind is just society’s garbage bin. Everyone who passes your way will throw some garbage into your head and go. You really have no choice about from whom to receive and whom not to receive. If you say, “I don’t like this person,” you will receive much more from them.

You may have the discretion about what to empower and what not to empower, but you have no choice about what to receive and what not to receive. Whatever you are exposed to naturally gets into you – you cannot help it. And this in turn becomes the content of your thought. The very content of your thought has come to you from outside.The content of your thought is all determined by what kind of situations you have been exposed to in your life; it is not really yours.

So what you think may have some social consequence, but no life consequence. If you begin to see that your thought and emotion have no existential consequence, suddenly things will start changing about you. Right now, you are hugely identified with the way you think and feel; it is the biggest attachment. If someone talks about attachment, the first thing people say is, “Should I leave my wife? Should I leave my husband?” However dear someone is to you, if they constantly go against the way you think and feel, they will drop out of your life. So your biggest attachment is to the way you think and feel.

The mind versus the physical body
We are too enamoured with the little bit of intellect that we carry in this bone-box. Your thought process can function only because there is a bank of memory. But in terms of memory, do you remember how your great-great-great-grandfather looked? No. But his nose is sitting on your face now, which means that your body remembers. The mind remembers only certain things. But the body carries the information of our forefathers and can even remember what happened here a million years ago. Of all the gadgets that you have known, the human body is the most sophisticated gadget on the planet. With such a large brain, still you cannot figure out what is happening in a single strand of DNA. That is how complex the operations are. So your mind’s memory is very miniscule compared to your body’s memory. Your thought process is just this memory, the same old nonsense, recycling itself. Thought has become such a compulsive part of human society. A large part of humanity has mental diarrhea because the thought process is simply on all the time. If you see the patterns of what it is, if you see the stupidity of what it is, then slowly you will distance yourself and without your attention, it will collapse.

But right now, people in the world are trying to stabilise the mind with morality, ethics, belief systems and ideologies. Despite that, you will see the mind will do its own thing. For example, if you have observed someone who is super moralistic and correct with their life, is there a single crime on this planet that his mind has not committed? His hands might have been tied, but his mind has done everything. It does not matter how hard they try with their morals, fear of heaven and hell, and whatever else, still they are not able to stabilise their mind because that is not the way to do it. This effort to stabilise the mind has not worked for thousands of years because people have not understood the fundamental nature of the mind. You do not know what the hell the mind is. You can make anything out of it because it has no character of its own. It is completely nebulous. It can shift from ugly to beautiful and from beautiful to ugly in a moment. You cannot control it, give it a form, or make it into a good mind. The beauty of the mind is that it is formless. The problem is that you have lost the choice. Your association with the mind right now is such that there is no distinction between what is yours and what is you. The reason for all this trouble is that you have gotten enmeshed in it. If there was a little distance between you and the mind, your mind would be like a shopping mall.

You can make anything out of it because it has no character of its own. It is completely nebulous. It can shift from ugly to beautiful and from beautiful to ugly in a moment. You cannot control it, give it a form, or make it into a good mind. The beauty of the mind is that it is formless.

If you go into a mall, you do not pick up everything there and come home – although a whole lot of people are picking up enough to make their house look like a mall! Whether you want to live in a house or a warehouse, you must decide. A house means you have things that you need, but a warehouse means you have everything. Similarly, everything that you have perceived through the five sense organs is stored there in the mind. In fact, the more there is the better, because there is no such thing as a pure mind. It is a garbage bin. A pure garbage bin is no good because a garbage bin must be rich with all kinds of things. The only thing is, you must have the freedom to pick what you want. If it has gotten all over you, then it is trouble.
Once you are not identified or submerged in it, the content of the mind is not a problem. It is just what society has offered me in my life. All the rubbish that has happened around me is there in my mind, but once I have the choice of what to pick and what not to pick, the content of the mind is not my concern. I want the whole universe to be in it. I want the most fabulous things and the filthiest things to be in it, but I have the freedom to pick what I want. This is why in yoga, we do not attach any importance to the content of the mind. We only attach significance to the mechanism of the mind, how it functions. Whatever stuff you have in it, if you learn to work it properly, then the quality of life changes.

Now, because people have not achieved the freedom to choose, they are trying to curtail the possibilities of the mind which have turned into such a big problem. The mind need not be controlled – you have to be liberated from the mind. Once that happens, it travels with you, but you are not in it. You can put your hand in it when you want, otherwise your hand is out of it. If your hand is out of it, then you can sit here as pure perception. Your perception is distorted only because the content of the mind is constantly interfering. If you look at a person your memory will say, “Oh, he’s like this, he’s like that.” If you can leave it aside and simply look, your perception will be absolutely perfect. You will not imagine anything good or bad; you will just see what is there.


Sadhguru is a yogi, a mystic and a visionary, and a prominent spiritual leader. An author, poet, and internationally-renowned speaker, Sadhguru’s wit and piercing logic provoke and widen our perception of life. More of his sayings can be accessed at: