What Is The Mind?

Mindfulness is now synonymous with meditation. Meditation in its simplest and most profound form is paying attention to the mind–to all the expressions, manifestations, and perceptions. What exactly is the mind?

Yogic Understanding of the Mind, February 2009 issue of Yoga Magazine (Bihar School of Yoga) provides some answers.  This is a somewhat scholarly article. For those interested in knowing the way mind is defined and described in the various Indian philosophies this article is very helpful. This post provides a small glimpse.

The article states that the mind is the power of the self or atma shakti. The divine consciousness or the universal spirit manifests and expresses itself through this mental energy. The heart is the seat of the mind. In samadhi (individual consciousness or jiva merges with the cosmic consciousness/ universal spirit  or paramatman, Brahman) and in sleep the mind rests in the heart. But in sleep ignorance is the veil that separates it from itself as the projection of  the universal spirit.

The individual mind is connected with the cosmic mind and with all other individual minds. We are all interconnected through a global web of individual minds–think of it as a world-wide web where all minds are interconnected.

“If A is a friend of B, A’s mind is connected with B’s mind. The minds of friends and relatives of A are attached to A’s mind. Several minds are similarly linked to B’s mind also. The minds of those who are attached to A’s mind are, therefore, connected in turn with the minds of those who are hanging on B’s mind. In this manner, one mind is in touch with all the minds in the whole world. This is the Vibhu theory of mind of raja yoga.”

Nyaya, one of the Indian philosophies, says the mind is atomic. Patanjali describes it as all-pervading. According to Vedanta philosophy, it is the same size as the body.

“Mind is material, made up of subtle matter. Just as the physical body is composed of solid, liquid and gaseous matter, so also the mind is made of subtle matter of various grades of density with different rates of vibration. A raja yogi penetrates through different layers of the mind by intense sadhana [spiritual practice].”

The article goes on to describe the mind as one of the five sheaths or koshas.

“The mental body or manomaya kosha varies in different people. It is composed of coarse or finer matter, according to the needs of the more or less unfolded consciousness connected with it. In the learned, it is active and well-defined; in the undeveloped, it is cloudy and ill-defined. There are several zones or slices in the mental body just as there are various compartments in the brain for particular types of thought. During intense anger, for example, the whole mind is suffused with the black hue of malice and ill-will, from which fiery arrows of anger dart forth.”

The mind is called the bridge between the human and the divine.

With permission from Yoga Magazine, this article will be an important addition to the Article section of www.mahasriyoga.com.

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