some thoughts on the mind

Gummuluru Murthy gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Thu Apr 29 14:58:25 CDT 1999

On Wed, 28 Apr 1999, nanda chandran wrote:

> MurthygAru writes :
> >and we think we are limited by this embodiment,
> What made you think so?

namaste.  The following is my understanding.

The clause taken above is incomplete when taken out of my posting.
I was saying in that post " ... as long as we think we are
limited by this embodiment, we are bound by the manas ...."

If we don't think we are limited (from intuition and experience), we are
not limited. If we think we are limited, we are bound by the manas.
This thinking is done through the manas.

> Thinking is nothing but a stream of thoughts. Intellect, Ego, Mind are
> all just different representations of thought, according to the nature
> of the thought.

Yes. As I understand, the common word for all of these is antahkaraNa,
the internal sense organ. I amplified on this in my second post on the

> As Rene Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am". I is an entity who
> thinks. Here if the I and the thought are not individually identified,
> then there's only thought and no thinker. But if there's no thinker,
> then how's it you can remember the thought of the past? A thought of
> one instant cannot know the thought of the previous instant, because
> it's an altogether independent entity. So there's something that
> remembers the thoughts.

The agent of knowledge, the jeeva, i.e. the Atman with its main
limiting upAdhi which is antahkaraNa is the kartA and is the one
that remembers the thoughts.

> But then the next question is "ARE YOU THIS" which remembers?
> Remembering previous thoughts is common experience.
> But then if you're this that remembers, then you are apart from the
> thought. If you're apart from the thought you should be able to
> cognize thoughts as and when they happen. But is this the case in
> THEY HAPPEN. So for all practical purposes, though we can infer a
> witness to the thoughts, we are unable to distinguish it from the
> thoughts.

I think we should not mix the knower, the knowledge and the instrument
of knowledge. We can distinguish between these three in the realm of
the jeeva, i.e. where Atman is limited by the limiting upAdhi.
The knower is the jeeva, the one that remembers the thoughts;
instrument of knowledge is the manas through using which the jeeva
acquires the thought; the perceived knowledge gained by the jeeva
is the thought.

In the Atman realm, there are no thoughts, no receiver of thoughts
and no instrument to receive the thoughts.

> Thoughts are of both pleasure and pain. Since the witness is unable to
> distinguish itself from the thoughts, it,  as a results both enjoys
> and suffers.

As I understand, the enjoyment and suffering comes, *not* from being
unable to distinguish the thoughts from the receiver, but *because* the
receiver thinks that he/she is the agent of action/knowledge.

You used the word "witness" (lower case) in the above quoted sentence.
As I understand, at the thought level, there is no witness. There is
only kartA, the agent.

> One level higher to the thoughts, is the body. The

I do not understand this. I would be grateful for clarification.

> concept works the same way with the body too as with the thoughts. The
> Witness + Thoughts + Body is what we generally refer to as the "I".
> The process of distinguishing the Witness from the thoughts is the
> process of separating the Purusha from PrAkriti of the Patanjala Yoga
> system or the Brahma Vidya of the VedAnta. In the former the stress is
> on controlling the thoughts and in the latter, on discovering the
> witness (which is nothing but you in essence, devoid of thoughts).

I notice you have used the Witness (upper case) here. I assume that
is intentional and you are discussing a different level (of understanding)
here. I do not know much about Patanjali Yoga system, hence cannot
comment on it. But from the vedanta, Witness and thoughts are at
different planes (if you mean by Witness, the Atman, the ever-present
turIyA state). When we are engulfed and ridden with the thoughts,
the Witness is only in the background, ungraspable in the thought-mode.
When we look ourselves as the Witness, there are no thoughts. Hence,
both (thoughts and Witness) cannot be simultaneously present for

Further, doesn't the Witness concept lead to an infinite loop (Witness to
the Witness to the Witness....)?

Gummuluru Murthy

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