[Advaita-l] Reconciling current research with Advaitic theory of mind

Mahesh Ursekar mahesh.ursekar at gmail.com
Fri Feb 23 05:19:31 CST 2007

Pranams Amuthan:


Thanks for your reply. It was very informative and did bring out points of
Advaita I was not familiar with viz. the idea of objectless cognition.

However, maybe it does not apply to my line of thought (unless I have not
understood you). Let me elaborate. I think the stage of objectless
congnition is to be reached by a sadhaka on his or her way to realization. I
was more concerned with the way Advaita fundamentally defines the mind viz.
as having an 'independent' existence from the body. Let me highlight
some points on the split-brain patient study to futher illustrate what I
want to say:

 1. "The split-brain patient seems to have two minds. What the left brain
learns and thinks is unknown to the right brain, and vice versa "

Earlier reseach had shown:
"The left hemisphere was shown to be logical, analytic, quantitative,
rational and verbal, whereas the right hemisphere was revealed to be
conceptual, holistic, intuitive, imaginative and non-verbal."
 [Assume you know that the right brain controls the left side, and vice

2. Hence it was found:
a> "When the researchers asked the right side what he wanted to be, he
answered an automobile racer while his left side stated he wanted to be a
draftsman. "
b> "An experiment was done by flashing a word so the right hemisphere of the
brain would interpret the information. When the patient wrote down the word
his left hand wrote down the correct word flashed. But when asked what he
wrote done the patient did not know. Since the brain was split the
information that was given to the right half could not relay the message to
the left side"

Now the above points seem to indicate that the manas or sUkShma sharIra
appears to be have been split by the operation so that each half behaves
independently of the other. This condition is slightly different from that
of a damaged brain (sthUla sharIra) patient wherein one could say that the
manas cannot carry out certain functions just as a driver cannot drive a car
that has been damaged in some way. In this particular case, the results of
the experiments above show that the left half and right halves of the manas
work as they did before but due to the missing corpus callosum in between,
they don't work together as one unit. In other words, the removal of
the sthUla tissue of the corpus callosum has caused the sUkShma manas to
have split. Of course, one might argue that that is the way manas functions
and it is not really split. But to me that does not seem to be a very strong

I hope my line of thought is made more clear.

Pranams, Mahesh

On 2/23/07, Amuthan <aparyap at gmail.com> wrote:
> namo nArAyaNAya!
> dear shrI Mahesh Ursekar,
> the issue is not as complicated as it sounds. the mind cannot
> function efficently with a damaged brain. however, even in the case of
> split brain condition, the essential function of the mind which is to
> 'know' is not affected. but an aj~nAni with a brain disorder *cannot*
> attain Atmaj~nAna since a 'sane' mind is a necessary prerequisite for
> Atmaj~nAna.
> technically, manas is part of the sUkShma sharIra. the sUkShma
> sharIra cannot function without a sthUla sharIra as it's support. in
> particular, manas manifests itself through the activities of the
> brain, which is part of the sthUla sharIra.
> the ultimate essence of the mind, which is bare cognition, is not
> different from the Atman (refer to AchArya gauDapAda's remark
> 'ani~NganamanAbhAsaM niShpannaM brahma tattadA'). it is the
> 'object-ive' part of the mind which cognizes objects that needs to be
> freed from those very objects for mokSha. this process of cleaning the
> mind of objects requires a systematic enquiry into the nature of what
> is seen and what sees, which in turn presupposes the ability to think
> clearly, steadily and rationally. this inturn presupposes having a
> 'fit' sthUla sharIra which allows for the manas to function
> efficiently. in the case of a person with a brain disorder, there
> would be no way to rationally analyze the true nature of the seer and
> the seen. no wonder our shAstrAs repeatedly say that a human birth
> with the right preconditions for steady enquiry is rare. it would be
> especially useful to reconsider what AchArya says in vivekachUDAmaNi
> 'jantUnAM narajanma durlabham...'.
> in short, what neuroscientists try to study is the behaviour of
> various parts of the brain in relation to various actions of the body
> and find a mapping between them. however, it is impossible to device
> any form of scientific experiment that would differentiate between a
> human and a super-duper robot which functions about as efficiently as
> humans. in other words, it is impossible to study by any scientific
> method the act of cognition without explicit reference to objects of
> cognition. since vedAnta deals with objectless cognition (which is
> entirely subjective) and since science deals only with phenomena that
> can be objectively analyzed, the two subjects are in this sense
> uncoupled.
> vAsudevaH sarvaM,
> aparyAptAmRtaH.
> On 2/22/07, Mahesh Ursekar <mahesh.ursekar_at_gmail.com> wrote:
> > Pranams to all:
> >
> > In a recent issue (Jan 19, 2007) of TIME magazine, the following article
> > appeared entitled 'The Mystery of Consciousness':
> > http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1580394,00.html
> [message truncated]
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