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The Cunning Mind & Obedient Body

Always I wonder why the sages and saints preach purification of mind or control of mind for peaceful and happy life, Self realization or enlightenment. We are also advised to ignore the suffering of the body  stating that it is perishable and not real Me. Often I get a feeling that we are not facing the truth and not doing justice and attention to the body it deserves. In the process we ignore the beauty of the body, its creation and attachment to the mind. Our medical scientists intelligently started emphasizing on mind-body medicine for better healthcare stressing the connection between body and mind. By the by how much we care and give attention to the body? The human body is a treasure trove of mysteries, that still confound doctors and scientists about the details of its working. Every part of the body is a wonder. To state a few, the human lungs contain approximately 2400 km of airways and 300-500 million hollow cavities. If all the capillaries that surround the lung cavities were unwound and laid end to end, they would extend for about 992 km. Sneezes regularly exceed 100 mph, while coughs clock in at about 60 mph. Your body gives enough heat in 30 minutes to bring half-a-gallon of water to boil. The human body is estimated to have 60000 miles of blood vessels. The human brain cell can hold 5 times as much information as an encyclopedia. The brain operates on the same amount of power as 10 watt bulb even while sleeping. Nerve impulses to and from the brain travel as fast as 170 miles / hour. It takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown. The human heart creates enough pressure to squirt blood 30 feet high in the air. (Alive, Oct. 2014). The body definitely deserves the best attention and appreciation.
            Now coming to the mysterious, subtle and cunning mind which controls and directs the body, we know very very little. What is the mind? And where it is located? The question which always haunt the intellectuals without precise answers.
            In Vedic wisdom, Self or Aatma (Soul) free from attributes is considered as Pure Consciousness. It is further explained that pure consciousness (Aatma) associates with some attributes such as raga / dvesha due to cause and effect of Karma Siddanth in previous lives becomes clouded or compromised as Anathma or mind. One example of attribute is ahankara (ego) as part of Anathma. Once it is free from attributes of mind, then one becomes enlightened. Our individual consciousness (Jivatma) is part of Super or Universal Consciousness but has lost its purity, its character and identity because of merged impurities called Vasanas (instincts) which create desires and aversions. Vedanta stresses development of mind for physical, intellectual, aesthetic and moral development. Mind is the source of freedom, as also of bondage. Meditation, Selfless work, devotion to God, unconditional love to all, prayers, chanting holy names, contemplation on TRUTH, solitude in serene places etc. are all the methods described in the Gita to remove Vasanas and attachment to the material world to experience non-dual nature of man. Unless one experiences it, when we state that God is within us, it will remain an intellectual concept. ‘In Buddhism one mentions of mastery over the mind and purification of mind by developing insight to make it free from Vasanas by Vipassana Meditation leading to liberation or enlightenment. Consciousness is all pervasive and not located in any one part of the body. Something like electricity supplied to different instruments interconnected but with various functions in a laboratory and also connected to external source. Consciousness can never be studied by a reductionist approach. Consciousness is more an  emergent phenomenon wherein, the whole is not merely more but very different from the sum of its parts. Consciousness is objective mind and non reactive while consciousness with intellect along with its attributes (likes and dislikes) is subjective mind and reactive. Intellect visualizes and analyzes bad, good etc. and stores knowledge. Mind gives rise to thought of likes and dislikes, thus leading to happiness or misery. Thus mind is culprit with memory and thought power, becomes reactive and becomes cause of suffering. Body is innocent and remains bosom friend and is controlled by mind. Thus developing an equanimous and silenced or still mind leads to pure Aathma which is called enlightenment. Develop strong will power to win over mind. Our mind, an average has over 50000 thoughts in a day, of missed opportunities, potential rewards, health, finance, future actions and to do things. This mental chatter is driven by our karmic imprint and life experiences. The negative undertones of many of our thoughts generate heightened emotions of fear, anxiety, anger or envy, making us nestles, confused and impulsive. Few ideas for taming the mind are (1) eliminate comparison, (2) be more grateful, (3) realize our wholeness, (4) trust the universe and accepting whatever happens, happens for our highest good, help experience greater peace and (5) practice mindfulness i.e. living in the present moment. Practicing mindfulness stills the mind, deepens our clarity and calms our anxieties thereby enhancing confidence and reducing the number of our thoughts (Raji Vij, Speaking Tree). The concept of vritti is central to the main definition of Yoga. “Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha” is given in Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. Vrittis refer to the different tendencies or psycho-physical propensities. They are an expression of stored anagrams or samskaras. Collectively they represent motivation, behavioural patterns, desires, repulsion, predispositions and complexes. Asthanga Yoga aims to disconnect (nirodha) this database (vritti) from the personalized consciousness (chitta) to effect a pure, impersonal awareness (Deepak M.Ranade, Speaking Tree). To Gautam’s questions on nature and ultimate goal of the Soul, Mahavira replies that “nature of the Soul is equanimity” and ‘the ultimate goal of the soul is also equanimity’. The pristine nature of the soul is sullied and its inherent equanimity disturbed when it comes in contact with the body.  Right ethical conduct, austere living and respecting the equality of all beings alone can restore the true nature of Soul and finally leading to Kaivalya, liberation (Ashok Vohra, Speaking Tree).
            “Consciousness is at the core of unfolding all of reality”, states Dr. Eben Alexander. The brain operates the body based on input from the personality, but the higher intelligence or sub consciousness, is the mechanism that controls the body and that is the Soul which exists within the human body that transcends the human experience. The foundation for research should begin with the clear understanding of the ‘Soul’ or conscious spirit, that exists outside of the body and is eternal.

I gratefully acknowledge the number of inspiring articles on Chanchal Mind by expert  authors. - BCH       
               March 20, 2015                                                                   Prof. B.C. Harinath