The nature of the Self—i.e, you and I—is very pure. There is no mind in it. Mind is manah in Sanskrit. The root of that word is from maane—to know. The faculty of knowing is the mind. We are constantly knowing something or the other all the time when we are awake. In semi-sleep we know our dreams and in deep sleep, we know nothing.
Adi Sankaracharya says in the Atma Bodha that the faculty of knowing has a transactional existence in our waking state which helps us to give and take and exchange things in the world. Once that job is over, the mind has got no relevance.
The mind is there, but it is not there too. Confusing? Not exactly, if you understand it in relationship with this example: You are watching your favourite film, crying with the heroine, running with the hero, fighting with the journalist against corruption, falling in love and going through the pangs of a thwarted marriage. All these are mere images. The feelings are invoked in you and are not there on the screen. The screen itself is a blank sheet of synthetic material, doing nothing but just existing and affected by nothing that happens in the film.
When no film is shown, even the screen has no role to play. The mind too is like this screen. It is there, but not in our understanding in our day-to-day basis, just as we don’t remember the existence of the screen when we watch the film.
Again and again it helps to remind ourselves of consciousness that casts its rays on the screen of the mind and the images of thoughts that are projected on it. The Upanishads keep reiterating that consciousness does not have vital air or knows like the mind. Its job is to cast its light and enlighten our thoughts. It is pure too and illumines all thoughts and feeings just as a tube light shines on all objects in the room.
Adi Sankaracharya makes it very clear that what he is saying are not his words, but are teachings from the shrutis or words of wisdom that were heard by the rishis in their moments of inspired silence.
When we praise something, our loving attention is cast on that thought and we have a respectful understanding of that object of praise in our memory. We remember something better when we praise it and so the Upanishads glorify and praise the ‘Self’ that is consciousness again and again.
What is the benefit of knowing this? The experiences of sorrow, attachment, hatred and fear become mere thoughts which we witness. Remember the characters on the screen? When we see them as moving images and are aware of the screen of consciousness, they cease to have their painful impact on our life as they usually do.