some thoughts on the mind

Sunder Hattangadi gourish at INTERNET1.NET
Wed Apr 28 20:27:00 CDT 1999


    Congratulations on selecting a vital topic for discussion.

    One suggestion I would like to offer, is to organise the
presentation in such away that:

1.    Your comments come first, buttressed by specific references to the
scriptures you base them
2.    Quote the scriptural sentence/passage, and comment on it.

3.    Categories of questions that are answered, viz. what, why, how,
where, when, and who as
       relevant to the passage/comments.

        This can help readers comment on a specific area. It would also
help to compare other similar words, like chitta, antaHkaraNa, etc.



----- Original Message -----
From: Gummuluru Murthy <gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA>
To: <ADVAITA-L at>
Sent: Tuesday, April 27, 1999 9:34 PM
Subject: some thoughts on the mind

| namaste.  Some random thoughts on the mind.  Corrections and
| comments are very much appreciated.
| The question: What is mind made up of? What is the mind and
| how does it function?
| The sanskrit word for mind is manas. It is subtle in nature.
| It can be argued that our primary objective and what the upanishads
| teach is to reveal Brahman, the Atman. Thus, no purpose is served
| to an intense mumukshu to study the functioning of the manas.
| However, as long as we are embodied, and we think we are limited
| by this embodiment, we are bound by the manas, and understanding
| how it functions will help us to put it in its place.
| Manas is characterized as something which goes out far. Thus,
| it is not a physical sense-organ.
| The body is made up of food. The mind is also made up of the food
| intake. This is substantiated in BhagavadgItA, Br^hadAraNyaka and
| ChAndogya upanishads. The intellect, the buddhi is also made up
| of food. Thus, the body-mind-intellect complex, the jeeva, is made
| up of the food intake.
| By practice (sAdhanA), the mind is to be made subservient to the
| intellect and the intellect has to be pure so that any unsavoury
| thought that enters the body-mind-intellect complex is immediately
| thrown out. After all, if the thought repeatedly visits this complex,
| it takes root. The viveka has to be on vigil all the time so that
| unsavoury thoughts do not get a foothold. I take the body as the
| housing and the buddhi, the intellect as the gatekeeper. Mind is
| simply the wanderer either in or out, and meditation is to keep this
| wanderer still.
| In the ChAndogya upanishad, UddAlaka teaches Svetaketu that when food
| is eaten, the finest part of it becomes manas. Shri Shankara comments
| on this in His bhAshhya. Since by eating food one increases one's
| such increase must be caused by the food that was eaten. When a human
| does not eat, his/her powers of speech and mind are very much
| When food is taken, there is a gradual increase in these activities.
| All activity in the body is made possible because of the energy that
| is made available by the consumption of food. Thus, it naturally
| that manas is increased by the food intake. Thus, manas must be of the
| nature of food.
| The human is superior to animals because of his/her capacity to
| the future and remember the past (Aitareya AraNyaka). Shri Shankara,
| His ChAndogya UpanishadbhAshhya raises a question: if the mind is made
| of food, then how is it some animals, although they consume food, do
| have the consequential mind? All things are tripartite, being made up
| water, fire and food, each being fit to conserve the three aspects of
| existence, life, speech and mind. Therefore, each organism that
| food makes use of that food according to its need. Thus, mind is made
| of the finest particles of food.
| Manas governs the sense-organs. The five karmendriyAs (senses of
| and the five jnAnendriyAs (senses of knowledge) work under the control
| of manas and depend on manas for their functioning. It is only when
| is in conjunction with the sense organs that it is possible to have
| perceptual knowledge. ChAndogya upanishad says that manas is superior
| the sense organs. Br^hadAraNyaka upanishad also says the same thing:
| mind is elsewhere, I do not see, I do not hear although the sense
| are directed at the object of perception. The lack of perception is
| to the diversion of the mind from that sense organ to other things.
| knowledge is entirely dependent upon the attention bestowed by the
| on the object of perception. Thus, mind is the most important
| for knowledge.
| sasheSham (to be continued)
| Regards
| Gummuluru Murthy
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------

>From  Wed Apr 28 19:43:28 1999
Message-Id: <WED.28.APR.1999.194328.0500.>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 19:43:28 -0500
Reply-To: niche at
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
From: Parisi & Watson <niche at AMERITECH.NET>
Organization: Knitters Niche
Subject: Re: Philsophical Views and Certain Knowledge
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

nanda chandran wrote:
> Advaita VedAnta is not some hocus pocus, quick fix solution. Vidya or
> knowledge is the liberator. Even I used to wonder whether I was being
> conditioned and systematically brain washed by all the VedAntic texts.
> But consider this - the VedAntists do not ask you to experience an
> OTHER, where one can be easily misled. They only insist on Self
> Knowledge. To know who YOU are. Here there can be no mistakes as
> you're the means as well as the end. If you maintain your integrity
> and reason, there can be no going wrong. True sAdhana requires such an
> attitude. And Truth is something, which will definitely stand this
> test.

You have just outlined what bothers me. In fact I can draw conclusions
about myself and my attributes (or lack of them) that are mistaken. I
can have an experience that I describe as feeling one with an infinite
ocean of bliss, and yet still not be infinite. I am inevitably the best
expert on what my experience felt like, but that does not necessarily
qualify me to interpret it or describe its significance. I can
potentially have a near death experience and believe that it informs me
about life after death, but this interpretation can also be mistaken.
Mystics down through the ages have had remarkably similar and ineffable
experiences, which they have done their best to describe to us. But does
this fact necessarily mean that their philosophical or religious
understanding of those experiences is correct? Could the experiences
perhaps have a mundane neurological explanation? If we can't rule out
this possibility, then drawing conclusions about the ultimate nature of
ourselves and reality seems premature.

> >Someone issued the invitation to "ask all the questions you want,"
> and I am now doing so.

> A piece of advice - if you're really earnest, put in fifteen minutes
> of practice daily in Self Inquiry - Atma VichAra. Sit in a quite
> spot, close your eyes and try to know who you are. You can improvise
> on this practice even while going about your normal life - in the bus
> or train, at work, lunch etc. Within a short time this will prove more
> to you than years of reading books.

I am doing that for 30 minutes each morning and 30 minutes each evening,
and have been for around seven years. Since the full subtlety of Atma
Vichara escapes me (and I have read 'Talks With Sri Ramana Maharshi'), I
just quietly observe everything in the field of awareness without
reacting to it or identifying myself with it. What I'm doing might be
more like Vipassana than Atma Vichara, but I do the best I can. Maybe
I'm just a blockhead, but so far this practice has not opened any major
doors for me. It does give insight on how the mind works. It also gives
some relief from tension and a measure of dispassion with which to face
our anxieties and desires without being their slave. But what it has not
done is reveal anything fundamental about the ultimate nature of
ourselves or reality. Am I expecting too much? If I'm to look only for
pragmatic advantages, I might as well be a Buddhist. (a small joke)

>From ADVAITA-L at LISTS.ADVAITA-VEDANTA.ORG Thu Apr 29 07:00:26 1999
Message-Id: <THU.29.APR.1999.070026.0400.ADVAITAL at LISTS.ADVAITAVEDANTA.ORG>
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 07:00:26 -0400
Reply-To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
From: Sunder Hattangadi <gourish at INTERNET1.NET>
Subject: Re: Philsophical Views and Certain Knowledge

It is recorded in the biography of Sri Ramakrishna that his Guru, Tota Puri,
had reached 'advaita-siddhi'after 40 yrs. of sadhana (as a monk!)
He initiated Ramakrishna, who reached the same state within 3 days.
Ramakrishna gave a taste of it to Swami Vivekananda by a mere touch, but
witheld the 'key' till he had accomplished his work on earth.
In Ramakrishna's words, the Divine spark in us lies unlit because of the
'wet wood' of past 'sanskaras'. The rapidity with which the wood can be lit
up depends on the dryness of the wood. Sadhana is the process of removing
the wetness in the wood!

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list