MIND, KARMA AND GUNA – I
What is the mind ? Where is it located ? What is it made of; its warp and woof, so to say ?
Of what does it take on its distinct, individual character ? What is it that determines it ?
I’ve asked a couple of these questions at a time on all social media forums I frequent. Predictably, but surprising nonetheless, there wasn’t a single response, not even a tentative one. The reason however is not difficul;t to fathom : none had spent time exploring it and, therefore, had no idea to contrbute. The most the “gurus” online dish out are generic advisories, dos and dont’s, promises and dreams.
A clear, self-verified knowledge, cutting through the mind’s inscrutability and myths alike, would be more enlightening and useful to every interested individual on the planet. For everybody has a mind in which all one’s experience is sensed, in which all reactive emotions arise with will and thoughts respective to each, and where the wilful ego takes on the colours of the moment. It’s the animal loop within us, largely characterised by auto-inputs from the subconscious.
Of course, we all have the human loop in the mind as well, starting with the triggered or imagined thought but brought over to intellect and conscious memory. It leads us to analyse, comprehend, corelate with facts in memory, conduct further research, form defining ideas, understand, contemplate, and arrive at the truth or fulness that abides. It takes effort, at times much, to direct oneself along this loop, keeping calm all the while and pushing oneself on to that peace where our understanding is complete.
This line of investigation of the mind, which can virtually contain the whole of the universe within it, brooks no presence of God, faith, religion or cleric. It is about the individual and his mind : what is it, how does it work, etc. But before one can take the inquiry any further, the reality of the mind must be acknowledged, as distinct from our material appendages such as limbs and organs. The mind seems virtual in comparison and hence comes to preoccupy few amongst us. Those who are taken up however would vouch that the mind is more real, more fundamental to being human, than the body or its parts !
The inscrutability of the mind is both a cause and a consequence of the complexity involved in our understanding of it, of perception perceiving itself : it is already defined by the very mind we seek to understand. We will need a place apart to stand on before, to paraphrase Archimedes’ famous quote, we can observe the happenings in the mind objectively. It takes a while, usually a long while, before our individual-self becomes free enough to witness the mind-field phenomena.
Once the individual-self graduates to the witness mode, he begins to observe the nature of the mind, its propensities and their root, which Vivekananda best summarises, “As pleasure and pain pass before the soul, they leave upon it different pictures, and the result of these combined impressions is what is called a person’s “character.” If you take the character of any person, it is really but the aggregate of tendencies, the sum total of the bent of the person’s mind. You will find that misery and happiness are equal factors in the formation of that character. Good and evil have an equal share in molding character, and in some instances misery is a greater teacher than happiness.”
Unlike the physical body that grows old and weak and lies forsaken, inanimate, upon its death, the mind has no such limitation of lifetime or ageing. It temporarily ceases to be during our deep sleep state; but it comes back to being with the same structure and architecture, specific tendencies and identities that it held before. It is subject to laws that are of entirely different nature than the ones that prevail in the Material Space. The space in which the individual mind exists is infinitely more subtle, such as to be invisible to the physical eye. The individual self however, being more subtle than the mind, can perceive the latter if it is lead to shed its engagement or preoccupation with gross objects, by cutting asunder the attraction they hold for our respective sense organs – smell taste, sight, hearing and touch.
The Mental Space is the transit buffer between the manifest and unmanifest universe, along both directions : projection and absorption. This domain is available to our awareness, to all beings that have a developed brain and nervous system. The unit mind is trifurcate : Chitta – Feeling and Emotion, powered into action by vitality, in which our animal will arises and most instantly overpowers the individual self; Manas – Thought and Ideas, where doubt and rationality works itself out to the contemplating self; and, Buddhi – Knowledge and Wisdom, where true witness conscious self resides and avails of long-term integration of learning impressed from past experiences in current lifetime.
Hereon, it becomes difficult to chart the inner processes and describe nature of change they each bring about in the very nature of our mind and its consequence upon ourself.
To be continued …
- Swami Vivekananda Quotes (Part 4) (mohitmaurya.wordpress.com)
- Quotes from Karma Yoga by Swami Vivekananda (eeshan89.wordpress.com)