Consciousness & Mind

Consciousness & Mind

The debate on whether Consciousness exists beyond mind is endless. Consciousness cannot be understood by mind. It has to be experienced. When Consciousness awakens ordinary mind stops functioning, falls silent.



Spiritualists, Materialists & Dualists

Three Views

The mystics say that Consciousness is an all-pervading awareness of which Mind is a possibility. So, Consciousness preexists Mind, survives Mind. It is greater than Mind; it begets Mind. However, the materialists aver that Consciousness & Mind do not exist by themselves; they come from the biochemistry of the human brain and nervous system. There are also the dualists who, while seeking to balance the two irreconcilable views, say that Mind is more than brain.


Mind Is Slave, Mind Can Be Freed

Mind Trapped in Body

If we study our mind-mind studying mind- it would be clear that though man is called a mental being the mind of man is entangled nearly fully in the unconscious operations of physical/nervous system.

This entanglement of mind seems so great that it is no surprise that materialism and psychology dismiss the idea of mind capable of acting as an independent entity.  This dismissal is quite justified, for our mind seems to be little developed or ill-developed, almost remaining at par with the animal mind.

However, the mystics assert that mind is an independent entity, though at present it is entangled in the physical/nervous system. Mind can be freed, they say, from this entanglement and when freed, it can help humans progress from Truth to greater Truth.


Reflecting, Dividing, Analyzing, Harmonizing

Not Just Thoughts

Mind is principally thoughts. But it seeks to understand, analyse and even harmonize the disparate elements- division, dissection and discernment.  However, the mystics aver that our mind being limited Consciousness, it cannot comprehend the Whole as whole.  The spiritualists view the Existence in terms of Wholeness: Divine Wholeness-One and Indivisible.  But Mind being a principle of division, it understands things by cutting the Whole into parts and considering that the Whole consists of these parts.


Leaving Behind Finite, Embracing Infinite

Light in Mind

Yet, mind has a light of its own. Though in its present limited form, it takes its stand on division, oblivious of the Wholeness in Oneness, it can return to the Oneness through its evolution, its growth. It is groping now, but it can expand and transform itself sufficiently to become Consciousness-the Consciousness of Divine Infinity and Eternity, leaving behind the finite consciousness.


Mind Searching for Greater Mind

Mind Is Incomplete

Mind knows that it is incomplete and it feels the need for something greater than mind- more expansive, more wide, more comprehensive. Mystics say that the sense of Eternity and Infinity is lying somewhere in mind in the form of a faint memory and so mind must grope for it and bring it into its awareness. Otherwise, it will remain restless, fumbling and searching.


Body, Mind, Consciousness

Puzzling Dilemma

Let us now see how the greats of the world view mind. Aristotle defined mind as an objective fact, identifying it wholly with the biological organism, soul being just a form of the body. Descartes, on the other hand, considered mind as a separate entity from matter, a purely subjective fact. Hobbes defined mind developing from body in motion while for Spinoza, mind and body are one and the same though the mind thinks and does not move while the body moves and does not think.

While Plato believed that the mind and body are fundamentally different with mind being rational unlike body, Immanuel Kant said that the thinking mind not just receives impressions through senses but also makes judgments on what is experienced, independent of the sensory experiences.

Sigmund Freud said he had found nothing in mind that is superior to mind, so he dismissed anything akin to what is known as spiritual Consciousness. Heads reeling? Yes, things are really baffling with body, mind and Consciousness remaining trapped in chaos, confusion, clutter. Sri Aurobindo rightly says: “Our human knowledge is a candle burnt on a dim altar to a sun-vast Truth.”


Body & Mind Possibilities of Consciousness

Upanishadic View of Mind

Upanishads are, however, emphatic on the separation of body, Consciousness & mind. The Rishis averred thousands of years ago that Consciousness is all-pervading reality and body and mind are its possibilities in its terrestrial manifestation. Consciousness-the Supreme Consciousness- is the starting point of creation and in it, creation ends.


Self-Losing & Self-Finding of Consciousness

Involution & Evolution

However, the Upanishadic view cannot be understood unless we have knowledge of involution and evolution of Consciousness. Involution means complete self-losing of Consciousness while evolution means Consciousness’s progressive self-finding.

The supreme Consciousness allows itself to get fully lost in Matter. Consciousness begins to emerge first in plant life and then it emerges further in animal life. In humans, Consciousness evolves further as mind emerges. Mind becomes an instrument for humans to stand back from itself and seeks itself- mind studying and discovering new dimensions of mind. Now, it must come out of the small mind and become the greater mind where is lying Consciousness.


Brahman Is Beyond Words, Indescribable

What Happens After Mind Dissolves?

Now, we know what mind is-its limitations and its power of freedom from its limitations. A human can transcend its humanness and become the Divine through the instrumentality of mind. Only through mind, the spiritual consummation is possible.

But what happens after mind fully dissolves in Consciousness? Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsha describes what happens after mind dissolves with an appropriate example. Once a salt doll decided to measure the depth of ocean. It was eager to know how deep the water was and then to tell others about its depth. But the moment it got into the water it melted. So, how could he then report the ocean’s depth?

This is the end of mind-the thinking mind, the reasoning mind, the seeking mind. The mind disappears in the Consciousness-the Supreme Consciousness of the Bliss of Oneness, of Eternity and Infinity; the Consciousness of Brahman One and Indivisible, the only real Existence. This state is called samadhi or spiritual trance. When one becomes the Brahman, he falls silent, so he cannot describe what the Brahman is.


You might also enjoy


    Maya is life limited by form and name,

error: Alert: Content selection is disabled!!