Mind: Its Mysteries & Control

What Hindu Philosophy Says About Our Mind

What is the Difference Between the Brain & the Mind?
What is the Difference Between the Brain & the Mind?. Getty Images

Swami Sivananda, in his book Mind - Its Mysteries & Control, tries to unravel the mystery and the make-up of the human mind based on Vedanta philosophy and his own interpretation of the workings of the brain. Here's an excerpt…

"He who knows the receptacle (Ayatana) verily becomes the receptacle of his people. Mind is verily the receptacle (of all our knowledge)." - Chhandogya Upanishad, V-i-5

That which separates you from God is mind.

The wall that stands between you and God is mind. Pull the wall down through Om-Chintana or devotion and you will come face to face with God.

The Mind - Mystery

The vast majority of men know not the existence of the mind and its operations. Even the so-called educated persons know very little of the mind subjectively or of its nature and operations. They have only heard of a mind.

Western psychologists know something. Western doctors know only a fragment of mind. The afferent nerves bring the sensations from the periphery or extremities of the spinal cord. The sensations then pass to the medulla oblongata at the back of the head, where the fibres decussate. From there, they pass on to the superior frontal gyrus or superior frontal convolution of the brain in the forehead, the supposed seat of the intellect or mind. The mind feels the sensations and sends motor impulses through the afferent nerves to the extremities - hands, legs, etc.

It is a brain-function only for them. Mind, according to them, is only an excretion of the brain, like bile from liver. The doctors are still groping in utter darkness. Their minds need drastic flushing for the entry of Hindu philosophical ideas.

It is only the Yogis and those who practise meditation and introspection that know the existence of the mind, its nature, ways and subtle workings.

They know also the various methods of subduing the mind.

Mind is one of the Ashta-Prakritis - "Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, reason and egoism - these constitute the eight-fold division of My Nature" (Gita, VII-4).

Mind is nothing but Atma-Sakti. It is brain that wants rest (sleep), but not the mind. A Yogi who has controlled the mind never sleeps. He gets pure rest from meditation itself.

Mind is Subtle Matter

Mind is not a gross thing, visible and tangible. Its existence is nowhere seen. Its magnitude cannot be measured. It does not require a space in which to exist. Mind and matter are two aspects as subject and object of one and the same all-full Brahman, who is neither and yet includes both. Mind precedes matter.

This is Vedantic theory. Matter precedes mind. This is scientific theory. Mind can be said to be immaterial only in the sense that it has not the characteristics of ponderable matter. It is not, however, immaterial in the sense that Brahman (Pure Spirit) as such is. Mind is the subtle form of matter and hence the prompter of the body.

Mind is made up of subtle, Sattvic, Apanchikrita (non-quintuplicated) and 'Tanmatric' matter. Mind is all electricity. According to the Chandogya Upanishad, mind is formed out of the subtlest portion of food.

Mind is material. Mind is subtle matter. This discrimination is made on the principle that the soul is the only source of intelligence; it is self-evident; it shines by its own light.

But the organs (mind and senses) derive their principle of activity and life from the soul. By themselves, they are lifeless. Hence the soul is always a subject and never an object. Manas can be an object of the soul. And it is a cardinal principle of Vedanta that that which is an object for a subject is non-intelligent (Jada). Even the principle of self-consciousness (Aham Pratyak-Vishayatva) or Ahankara is non-intelligent; it does not exist by its own light. It is the object of apperception to the soul.

The book is now available for Free Download at the Divine Life Society Website.