The subject of mind is so fascinating, to anyone who wants to study it, by any of neuroscience or psychology or just by observation. The study of mind and psychology is empirical, not true dissection method of science. Nevertheless there is always a question, is mind and brain the same? The answer is “No”, though we interchangeably use these terms. We assume “brain” is more technical term, and “mind” is more colloquial. It is fine for general discussions. But if we really want to have precise discussion, Mind and Brain are two different things, rather Mind is a larger and brain is smaller entity.
Brain is that physical “swollen walnut” kind of organ lying in the skull, more precisely called the cranium, the enclosure around the brain. Brain is a part of Mind, but it encompasses more, that I elaborated in my book “Mind Unravelled P1”. Mind is a bigger aspect of memory than brain, it is the quality of one’s alertness, thoughts, emotions, awareness. Our intelligence is not brain alone. Many aspects of human behavior and intelligence cannot be explained by brain alone, so a larger entity called Mind is needed, beyond brain, which gives us the human nature, otherwise with only brain, we could just be as good as machines.
Constitution of Mind
Now suddenly, we realize that mind is not just brain alone, but much larger aspect. But what does it consist? It consists of memory, that can be further classified into 6 types, and then there are identity, ego, personality, emotions, feelings, rules/values/principles that we hold to, and finally awareness. We came to the planet with some memory, and more is injected throughout our life through the five senses(The eye, ear, nose, tongue and skin).
Let us look at the information in the memory influencing new information to make new memory! For example: nuts and bolts are made of iron. If you ever had looked at a machine that makes nuts and bolts, the machine itself is made of iron. It converts iron blocks, or wire into nuts and bolts. Similarly another machine makes sheets, the same iron, another machine hinges and so on. You can think of innumerable components made of iron, made into different shapes by different machines, right? But how ? It is how the machine is organized and the program or memory it has.
Similarly, how a human mind is organized and programmed, with memory which again is information, is the way it processes new information from senses. So, some news is scary for a person, but interesting for another, and absolutely loving for someone else. It is how mind is organized.
This brings out the question, what is the constitution of mind! As I said mind has 6 components of memory. 1. The Conscious 2. The Sub conscious 3. The unconscious 4. Karmic 5. Genetic and 6. Evolutionary
We operate our day-to-day activities with (1) the conscious memory. With some attempt we can remember the subconscious memory, and it dictates our actions, so does the unconscious memory, but we cannot recollect it, with any effort. These are decipherable memories. Then comes Karmic, which are tendencies or habits deeply written into us. The Genetic is the templates we got from our ancestors and parents, and the evolutionary is about how our species evolved into humans.
Remember, eating a dog biscuit doesn’t make us dog, but human, which means there is some memory in us is dictating the process, called evolutionary memory.
The tendencies or the habits that we develop and exhibit are called in Indian Tradition as “Samskaaras”. These are not just developed, but carried forward.
Identity, Personality and Ego
What we think about ourselves is our identity, and what others think of us is our personality
Once we think “I am this”, “I am that”, a protective layer develops around it, which will fight tooth and nail to safeguard that. It is called “ego”. Ego is a virtual shield that protects whatever you think, believe in. You should see it starting to build up, when you get into an argument with others. And when we observe this happening, we are said to be aware. Once you are aware, you can control it or stop it, isn’t it? You got it! So being aware is very important in every action of ours!
Ego is the strongest soldier that defends its king till death, even if the king is as stupid as a ass, or as cruel as tyrant.
We got to know ego, and awareness! Two key factors of life, one most needed, and the other never to be played.
Personality is something what others think about us. From the known facts of ours, the looks, the qualities, the intelligence, to the extent they understand, they form an impression, which is your personality in their perception. Which may or may not be true, but it is the best they can see about you!
Emotions and Feelings
Then we have emotions. Due to underlying memories as explained above, which dictate our thoughts, slowly our personality evolves, and there develop deep thought patterns in our brain, called emotions and feelings, that can be triggered. They are like nuclear bomb with a button, small trigger, large impact!
Emotions are network of thoughts which are connected to larger section of body, but has small trigger.
For example, if you miss someone, you feel something in the stomach. If you are in love, your entire body goes into ecstatic state and so on. So emotions are thought structures, while feelings are physical.
This is where all our problem is Emotions! Some great emotions, that make our life worth living, and some absolutely squeezing life out of us.
This basic understanding about Mind is required to continue with how to keep at bay the emotions that squeeze life out of us.
We will look at these aspects and conclude the “Square of Health”, in the next blog!