By Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda

Interpretation of Symbols

The Symbol of Truth Om viewed through the veil of Vasanas expresses through the instruments of: the Body (B), Mind (M), and Intellect (I). As the individual entity or ego: the Perceiver (P), Feeler (F), and Thinker (T). In the world of: Objects (O), Emotions (E), and Thoughts (T).

Understanding Our Personality

With the aim of discovering the art of personality development, the sages of the Upanishads examined life and found that an experience is not possible without three fundamental factors: The experience, the object of experience, the relationship between the two, the experiencing.

The Individual

The individual experiencer (PFT) is the subject who gains experiences of the world (OET) through the instruments of experiencing (BMI). Through the body, the person experiences the world of objects; through the mind, one experiences the world of emotions, and through the intellect, the world of ideas. When the subject identifies with the intellect, he becomes the thinker, experiencing the world of thoughts and ideas; when identified with the mind he becomes the feeler, experiencing the world of emotions and feelings; and when identified with the body, he becomes the perceiver, experiencing the world of objects. Therefore each individual acts out the various roles of a perceiver, feeler, and thinker as he seeks his happiness in the world of objects, emotions, and thoughts. In every experience in life, man contacts the world through the media of four constituent entities in him. They are his body, mind, intellect, and the Consciousness, symbolized by the symbol Om, which is the Life Principle in him.

Body, Mind, Intellect

The physical body, the densest aspect of the human personality, contains the five organs of perception and the five organs of action. The size and shape of the body differ from individual to individual, but the essential material composing it and the functions of the organs are common to all. Again, the subtlest aspect, the Consciousness, which is the core of man's composite personality, is one and same in all human beings. The variable factor in man is the mind and intellect equipment. The mind is the seat of impulses and feelings, and it is common to all living creatures. Animals also possess a mind, but man alone has the capacity to discriminate and analyze his feelings as and when they arise. He alone can allow his actions to be guided and directed by his power of discrimination instead of being driven and carried away by momentary impulses and feelings. This faculty of discrimination, this power of judgment, this capacity to discern what is to be done and what is to be avoided, is the function of the intellect. The kaleidoscopic patterns of experience are, therefore, attributed to the difference in texture and quality of the mind and intellect. In fact, it is only the mind and intellect equipment which come in contact with one another whenever there is a meeting or transaction between two individuals.


The quality and textures of the mind and intellect equipment differ from one individual to another, depending upon one's inherent and innate tendencies or inclinations, which are called vasanas. Vasanas create desires in the intellect; desires produce thoughts in the mind, and thoughts manifest in the form of actions at the level of the physical body. Desires, thoughts and actions are, therefore, only manifestation of vasanas in the respective individual. Each one of us thus becomes a helpless statement of our past though this impulse of vasanas. Vasanas are generated by our egocentric contacts with the world of objects, emotions and thoughts. The stronger the vasanas, the more we are subject to unconscious urges; the more we are controlled by our urges, the greater are the devastating agitations of the mind. Even when the desires are gratified, we find no lasting happiness, for the vasanas only kindle more desires. The conditions of the body, mind and intellect must be transcended in order for us to regain our true nature. The vasanas have to be changed if one's desires, thoughts and actions need correction. These tendencies or vasanas can be purified with the study of philosophy and the practice of religion, and thereby human personality can be elevated to a higher spiritual level.

Om, the Symbol of Truth

At the level of the cosmic totality, Om, the Life Principle, is called Brahman. The individual, as part of the totality, has this spark of life. At this individual level, this divine Self, Om, is also known as Atman. Due to our vasanas and the consequent desires, agitations, and actions, we are ignorant of this divine Self. Therefore, we identify with our body, mind, and intellect and their limitations. An individual is the Self as though contaminated by this ignorance. The principle by whose mere presence the intellect thinks, the mind feels, and the body perceives, is Om, the Self. As the divine Om trickles down to express itself in the various instruments of the personality, it becomes distorted by the pressure of vasanas. To achieve spiritual realization, the mind has to be purified of its desires and agitations, thus relieving it of its subjective impressions. The fewer the agitations in the mind results the fewer the vasanas; the fewer the vasanas, the quieter the mind. As the mind becomes quiet, it remains in a state of meditation. When the vasanas are completely transcended, the Self manifests of its own accord. Only then does man know his true birthright. The only method for regaining one's true nature is to vigilantly and ceaselessly divert one's mind and intellect away from preoccupation with objects, emotions, and thoughts and direct it to an awareness of the divine Self. The four yogas or spiritual paths in Hinduism: the paths of Knowledge, Devotion, Action and Mysticism, are all directed to the purification of vasanas so as to rehabilitate the mind and intellect and reconstitute the individual personality.