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Spirit Mag November '07
Volume II, No. 3
VI. The Human Mind: An Overview
During the last five months, we have covered an overview of the inner sciences as it applies to us. We are a composite of body, mind and soul. The soul (or, spirit – the latter word gives rise to the term spirituality) is our inherent consciousness. It's a point-like non-material singularity. It makes us 'enjoy' (a technical term for both pleasure and pain) the life experiences. Also, the soul is the entity that finally becomes aware of a piece of knowledge and is the doer of any karma performed by a human being. The body and mind are its instruments that enable it obtain knowledge, perform karma and 'enjoy' life experiences. The soul is unmanifest – it goes through no transformation. On the other hand, the body and mind are made of matter. They go through all kinds of manifestation. While the body is a gross structure made of matter, the mind is a subtle body made of minutest sub-atomic particles.
This month onward, we will devote the next few articles on the human mind with the following tentative titles:
The human mind is the most fascinating thing that we come across in the entire creation. It is not to be confused with our brain that is a constituent of our gross body. Even the brain poses great intrigue and our best minds are trying to understand it. The mind is still more a zone of intrigue. However, we must develop the inner sciences regarding the same. It may sound paradoxical to understand the mind through the mind. But it is not impossible. Do we not see our eyes through our eyes? We need to find the ways and means to do so as we do in the latter case, by using a mirror we are able to see our eyes through our own eyes.
Mind provides the connectivity between the body on the one side and the soul on the other side. That gives rise to the different states of the body. We are deep in sleep when the consciousness of the soul is limited to itself when both mind and body are void of voluntary functions. If the consciousness permeates through mind and is limited to that then we are in 'dream state'. Then body is void of voluntary functions but mind exhibits voluntary functions. Finally, through mind, the consciousness is allowed to permeate throughout body, and then we are in the 'waking state'. In the waking state, we are fully conscious and acquire knowledge, perform karma, and therewith enjoy the life experiences – the three-fold functions (knowledge, karma and enjoyment) of the soul that it can do through the instruments of body and mind.
The outermost zone of the mind activates our motor organs for karma (hands, feet, speech, etc.) while its inner faculty links up with the sense organs for knowledge (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin). The former functions constitute our karma through the outgoing channels; the latter functions constitute acquisition of knowledge through the incoming channels. The outgoing channels (hands, feet, etc.) have greater inertia than the incoming channels (eyes, ears, etc.). We are familiar with this sort of our functioning. We may take time to decide to walk to a certain place with the help of mind, but once we have decided and the feet are activated then the mind is relatively free and the feet continue to walk. While walking great distance, mind gets engaged in other functions as if feet move by themselves. Their inertia being greater, it requires a more mindful decision-making to activate them. However, once activated, their greater inertia makes them remain active with no significant mental involvement. In contrast, the way we operate our eyes to see something – we see one thing and shift to another thing with much greater ease – demonstrates its minimal inertia.
In other words, the way the subtle mind functions makes it far easier for us to acquire knowledge. But it requires us to be more mindful to indulge in karma. Though karma happens to be more gross a function yet it's far more important. We are judged by our karma and not by knowledge. Indeed, the purpose of knowledge is to decide the right karma in a given circumstance. We may have the right kind of knowledge but if we succumb to the human weaknesses of lust, anger, greed, ego, envy, etc. and tilt towards wrongdoings then a civil society looks down upon such karma. We must appreciate the fantastic speed of the mind functions, particularly the thinking and intellectual decision-making process, whereby our present incoming knowledge and the past knowledge stored in the memory are utilized to choose the karma of our choice out of a multitude of options we may have at a given point of time.
Its memory is another sphere of yet greater intrigue and that resides further inward. How we store the incoming knowledge and then retrieve it will baffle any human being. Not only the sound and vision data but the same related to taste, touch and odor are of far greater intrigue. Imagine, you are drinking a cup of coffee and its taste acquired by the taste buds gets registered to the mind and then you, the soul, begin to feel that you 'like it.' Then you compare the present taste with the taste of the coffee you had a day before in another place. In this simple instance, you have the present taste of the coffee – the incoming sensation brought in by the taste buds. Furthermore, for sake of comparison, you retrieved the taste of coffee you had a day earlier and that was stored in your memory unit. Then you compare both the taste and conclude which one you like more. A property like taste of coffee, and how do we quantify and classify it, then how does the mind store the knowledge in its memory; how does it retrieve it; how the two data are compared and a conclusion is drawn, and all this happens in a flick of a second – these functions and the associated time scales are mind boggling.
Besides being instrumental in our functions related to knowledge and karma, and its memory in thinking and decision-making, mind is capable of coming up with a new idea altogether different from any of its ideas it has stored in its own memory. It comes as a flash on the mind and then the mind builds up on this intuitive flash to shape a new brilliant idea. Scientists and philosophers come up with something intuitively at a most unexpected place and time. We are told that Archimedes obtained a flash about the buoyancy force exerted by the displaced water when he was about to enter into a pool of water. The mind functions as a clean slate in such instances. This is another area of intrigue associated with mind.
Finally, with the help of mind we can gain better control on it and take a few moments off from it. Making it quiet, calm and still and then getting disconnected from it, is the objective of a serious Yoga practitioner. Then the soul has some moments by itself, leading to self-realization – an experiment in inner sciences.
In summary, the functions of the human mind are:
This being the overall picture of the infinitesimally small and miniaturized domain of mind, we can expect that the exercise to explore its understanding will be highly mind boggling. Next month, we will present another overview of the mind domain based on the Yoga principles that are becoming increasingly popular worldwide in the present times. We will try to understand the strategies that Patanjali developed in his classical treatise on Yoga and the rationale behind it in so far as the mind domain is concerned.
B. Tech. (IIT Kanpur)
Ph. D. (, USA)
3. May 2010 Events in the UK: We are pleased to announce the following sessions that would be conducted in the UK:
a) Liverpool: Science of Meditation, - Patanjali 253 Edge Lane, Liverpool, L7 2PH at
b) Warrington: Science of Meditation, - Patanjali at Peace Centre, Peace Drive, Great Sankey, Warrington, Cheshire WA5 1HQ c) Liverpool: Science of Yoga - Patanjali Meditation, EveryGreenbank Sports Academy, Greenbank Lane, Liverpool, L17 1AG, Tel: 0151 280 7757, Smithdown Room,
4. Lecture at Arya Samaj London, Sunday June 6, 3:30 pm: Dr Harish Chandra will speak on 'Karma' at Arya Samaj, 69-A Argyle Road, West Ealing, London W13 0LY, Tel: 020 8991 1732
5. Next Events in USA-Canada-Caribbean: Watch out for his events in Toronto (July), New York (July-August), Guyana and Trinidad (August) in the next issue of SpiritMag.
6. Marriage Family and Love: Dr Harish Chandra's 32-page booklet on 'Marriage Family and Love' has been appreciated by a wide cross-section of readers. It's an ideal gift for the guests attending a wedding event. Family is the first school where every child learns the fundamentals of life and that must be strengthened to give a better shape to the humanity. Everyone can contribute towards this. An important topic has been covered in brief so that everybody can find a couple of hours to read it. It is a MUST read for everybody to get better insights about love that we take for granted. It will cement our relationships. Some people have been so excited that they have distributed its hundreds of copies in their neighborhood. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for special prices on bulk orders.
6. CIS website:
Our website www.centerforinnersciences.org is currently being redesigned.
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