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YOGA OF MIND – 5. Functions of Mind

Like the eyes seeing, heart beating, legs enabling to walk and the hand enabling to grip. We can say that the function of the mind is to think. 

We all know and can explain how the five senses function in our body. (i.e., sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing). But to explain how the mind functions in our body, only a few can explain. As already said that the function of the mind is to think, now let us see, how the mind functions. What activities take place when we see? The light rays enter the eyes through the optic nerve and the object is perceived on the retina and it is carried to the brain. If the activity stops at this point we will not be in a position to say that we saw this, that, so on and so forth. There is no sense of perception at this juncture.

When the light rays enter through the brain, the mind in man perceives the rays and it transforms into the object seen and then only we say that we saw this or that. A person in whom the mind does not function will not be in a position to perceive any object that is placed before it. It is a common thing of experience that when we are deeply engrossed in a thing we do not perceive the other thing. 

For example, if one is deeply absorbed in music, he may not know even if a dearest friend stands before him. Why? Even though the light rays enter the optic nerve, retina and reach the brain, the mind in the brain when it is deeply engrossed in the music transforms itself into musical notes and keeps perceiving the music alone; but it does not transform the light rays of friend standing in front. Similarly other faculties also do not function in a deep state of engrossment. 

From the above example it is not the eye that sees, it is the mind through the eye and brain that sees. It is not the ear that hears but the mind through the ear and brain hears. All the five senses are perceived through the respective sensory organs by mind through the brain. We call this function of mind transforming itself into five objects through the brain as thinking. (i.e. seeing, smelling, touching, hearing and tasting).

Let us elucidate how the various physical organs function. Everyone in the world has the same organs but speak different languages. Take for example an Indian, he cannot speak Dutch language although he has the same organs of a Dutchman. Only when the mind in the brain can transform the Dutch language, the tongue, vocal chords and multifarious other connected organs in articulating the speech can deliver through them the Dutch language. If one wants to call a person “Dear Me” the mind in that person through the vehicle of brain should stand transformed as “dear me” then only it can be translated into action. Without thinking in the mind, no activity can take place.  What cannot be done in the mind cannot be done in the body. Pain, pleasure, carrying out all activities voluntary or involuntary are to be thought of first in the mind and then the command is passed on to the various nerves and muscles. These acts and functions are termed as thought by us. 

Another aspect of thought by mind is the power of remembering. To understanding this aspect we must know what is sub-conscious mind. Let us takeup the study of sub-conscious mind later in detail. It is suffice to know now that whatever man sees with deep interest or hears or smells or reads or talks, are all stored in his sub-conscious mind. If a man wants to recall from his memory any one incident, if he pointedly thinks about that incident in his fore-mind (conscious mind) that very past incident transforms itself in the sub-conscious mind and we call this as ‘remembering’ the past incident. We often hear of one saying that he slipped back in his memory lane. It is nothing but the above exercise.

Suppose we give to a sweet-maker certain quantities of flour, sugar and ghee, he mixes the three in various proportions and makes various kinds of eatables. By combining power and physical things in various proportions we get new inventions. By the combination of various words in a particular way, we get poetry, painting comes out of the combination of various colours, new inventions take place every day in every walk of life. e.g. Textiles, printing, science, engineering etc., How does these things happen? The man first visualises in his mind and then translates them into action. This aspect of man’s mind is called the intelligence. It has the capacity to add, substract, combining various aspects. This is also called the inquiring mind. All these happen because of mind’s transformation, when we enquire as to what would happen if we add 10 to 15 tons. The intelligence in man transforms into the figure 10 and 15 and the inquiring mind gives the answer by transforming into these figures as 25. Thus we see the intelligence aspect functioning through the mind and brain. 

Imagination is the aspect of inquiring mind. Enquiry and the result occur because of some pre-concluded ideas. Imagination is beyond this pre-concluded aspects. Therefore, whatever the intelligence aspect of mind imagines, the mind transforms itself. This aspect of transformation is also that of intelligence of the mind.  

Now let us deal with dreams. From what we have already discussed, one can easily come to the conclusion that whatever scenes that occur in the mind are the transformation of mind. The differences between the walking and sleeping state is that, in the former, mind through the five senses transforms itself the various impulses of the five senses and intelligence and sub-conscious mind perceives them and in the latter we severe the contact between our mind and sub-conscious mind, the five senses get detached from the sub-conscious mind. This is a preliminary step to the sleeping state. We do not attempt to remember, argue, imagine in the state of sleep. However, since the mind keeps working throughout, it acts transforms itself, subject to its influence during the day by intelligence and sub- conscious aspect of mind. We have in full control of our mind’s function at this stage but during the state of sleep the mind and sub-conscious mind and intelligence aspect get detached and the mind goes out of control. The result of this state of affairs is we visualise all sorts of uncontrolled or dis-jointed events in our dreams. At this stage it is enough to know the above fact. 

We believe that the mind does not function during the sleep. But it is not so, mind keeps on functioning throughout but in a stage of sleep there is no connection between itself and awareness and that is a reason we are not in a position to know what is happening in the mind and there is also no cogency in the dream. 

So far we have attempted to explain that mind is subtler force and it transforms itself according to the impulses of five sensory organs and thinking is its natural function. 

    Proceeding further, let us find out some aspect of the transformation of the mind. Sometimes we control the mind according to our wish, but at certain times its acts on account of external stimuli. When we have to appear for an examination we try to remember what we have read and try to retain it in memory what we have read for examination. At times we are confronted with some family problems and we try to think deeply and try to find a solution for it.  Sometimes we are also fully engrossed in natural beauty and we keep enjoying it. Thus we direct the mind as we desire on some occasions. Opportunities may arise when we have nothing to direct the mind and we wish to remain quiet. But this is not possible. We often see that the mind keeps on thinking inspite of the desire in us not to do so.  The state at which we control the mind and direct it to function as we desire is called “SANKALPA’ – Determination. The state where the mind functions on its own is called “VIKALPA” – Devoid of determination and direction.

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