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

Mahesh Ursekar mahesh.ursekar at gmail.com
Fri Feb 23 09:31:18 CST 2007

Pranams Amuthan:

You have used the term personality. I would like to clarify my understanding
of this term so that we are on the same boat. It is important since
split-brain persons do not have multiple personalities like schizophrenics.
They think they are the same person before and after surgery but their mind
works like two independent minds.

I would like to repeat some of the stuff of my last mail (sorry for that)
but wish to stress some points this time around. The first is that the left
and right hemispheres show marked differences in functionalities as noted
 "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*."

Due to this, when the patient's right brain was asked what he wanted to
become, he said a draftsman *since that side is imaginative and
conceptul*while the left side said automobile racer
*since that side is analyitic and logical*.

While this test may be subjective to some extent, the second test wherein
"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*"

My interpretation of this is that the verbal ability is controlled by the
left side and since it did not have the information as to what was written,
the patient could not say what the word was.

In summary, the experments show that the mind (or manas) is not working as
an integrated whole due to the fact that the brain has been split. However,
the individual halves continue to function as before. Two interpretations
are possible for this:
a. the mind is a physiological process of the brain and splitting the
latter has caused a split in the mind
b. the mind exists independently but due to the fact that the brain has
been damaged (I mean operated here)  it functions in the manner described

Now b. is what Vedanta would hold but it does not seem to a very strong
case. As far as I can tell, it is a hypothesis that is not disproved by the
experiments above but at the same time, it is weak in that it gives not a
clue as to why it should be the case. Now you have attempted to explain this
via vAsanAs/saMskArAsbut I don't know if that could explain it fully. After
all, vAsanAs/saMskArAsare based on previous births and so would vary from
person to person and might explain why some persons turn schizophrenics.
However, the above is an experiment which is repeatable in all patients who
have undergone such brain surgery.

Pranams, Mahesh

On 2/23/07, Amuthan <aparyap at gmail.com> wrote:
> namo nArAyaNAya!
> dear shrI Mahesh Ursekar,
> On 2/23/07, Mahesh Ursekar <mahesh.ursekar_at_gmail.com> wrote:
> > 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
> > argument
> the condition here is similar to what happens between two births. the
> person whom you were in any of your previous births could be quite
> different from who you are now and you typically have no clue about
> that. even death, which is far more physically destructive than any of
> the disorders we are talking about, does not cause any harm to the
> sUkShma sharIra (ref. gItA 'vAsAmsi jIrNAni...').
> the two cases are not entirely similar either, the difference being
> that in the split brain case the shift in personality happens at a
> much shorter time scale and occurs alternatively within a single
> lifetime. but it is still true that actions done (with any one of
> those personalities in the split brain case) imprint the corresponding
> vAsanAs in the manas and generate the corresponding saMskArAs. in this
> sense, there is no 'damage ' to the sUkShma sharIra which serves as a
> receptacle for vAsanAs and a generator of saMskArAs. (btw, by a
> 'damaged' brain, i was having in mind any condition of the brain which
> is not normal.)
> thus the cases you have referred to are purely physical disorders and
> affect the manas only in the sense that they add to the already
> existing store of vAsanAs.
> vAsudevaH sarvaM,
> aparyAptAmRtaH.
> _______________________________________________
> Archives: http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/
> To unsubscribe or change your options:
> http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/cgi-bin/listinfo/advaita-l
> For assistance, contact:
> listmaster at advaita-vedanta.org

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list