some thoughts on the mind - 4
gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Wed May 5 08:41:31 CDT 1999
For knowledge to arise, three things are necessary: the knowing-self
(kartA), the object, and the process of knowing. [This knowledge is
the empirical knowledge perceived by the mind].
The Atman with the limiting upAdhi, also known as the jeeva, is the
knowing-self and the agent of activity. At the empirical level, as
established earlier and as Shri Shankara says so emphatically in
adhyAsabhAshhya, the subject and object are like light and darkness
being opposed in qualities, still there is superimposition of one on
the other all the time. This false identification of the Atman with
the body-mind-intellect complex is essential before (empirical)
knowledge can be attained. This is an important part of the perception
process because without senses working, cognition cannot arise, and
the senses cannot work without a kartA, i.e. the sense organs must have
a base of operations. Thus, the wrong identification of "I" is essential
before empirical knowledge can be attained.
The ultimate consciousness (which is only one) comprises of the
consciousness determined by the internal organ and consciousness
determined by the object. When the two are identical, empirical knowledge
of the object is attained. The internal organ, antahkaraNa, undergoes
modifications, called vr^ttis. These vr^ttis are five-fold because of the
five sense organs. It is through these vr^ttis that the antahkaraNa
reaches out to the object and after establishing the identity between the
two gives rise to knowledge.
It is to be noted that it is the mind that goes out and not the sense
organs. This theory that it is the mind that goes out to the object is
quite distinct from the usually accepted theory that light from the
physical object strikes the eyes and creates impressions in the brain.
The movement of the mind is not meant here in a metaphorical sense,
but in the actual sense. The mind moves out and after reaching the object,
envelops it (takes the form of the object). In this way it is like light.
It alights on the object, takes the shape of the object and the knowledge
about the object is attained. The power or energy for the light is
provided by the SELF, and it is the SELF that illumines the vr^ttis.
By this time, the SELF is already identified with its reflection in
the jeeva's buddhi. It is this reflection which causes the illumination
of the vr^ttis of the antahkaraNa. [I am comfortable with the theory
that the mind takes the shape of the object, but will it be the actual
*size* of the object? I hope learned members provide some lead on this
Now, the internal perception of sukha and duhkha (pleasure and pain):
here the external sense organs are not functioning. Both the antahkaraNa
and the perception of pain and pleasure are within, their identity being
achieved without any external aid. Hence, no vr^tti of antahkaraNa is
required for this perception (of sukha and duhkha). Hence there is direct
cognition of sukha and duhkha without the necessity of external organs.
I like to end this post at this stage. There are many functions of the
mind, like perception, cognition, volition, emotion, memory and so on.
While these all are important functions of the mind, in advaita, mind
itself is a product of mAyA and hence giving too much importance to it
may keep us only in the empirical mold. With my limited knowledge of the
subject, I touched on only perception. I would be grateful for any
corrections and/or comments.
AgamasAshAstra of GauDapAda; Vidusekhara BhattAchArya
Br^hadAraNyaka upanishad with the commentary of ShankarAcArya;
translated by Swami Madhvananda
Brahmasutras: Swami Vireswarananda
ChAndogya upanishad with the Commentary of ShankarAcArya;
translated by Swami GambhirAnanda
Eight upanishads with the commentary of ShankarAcArya, volume 1
translated by SwAmi GambhIrAnanda
Revelation and reason in advaita vedAnta; K. Satchidananda Murthy
The concept of mind in Indian philosophy; S. Chennakesavan
VedAnta SUtrAs with ShankarA's comment; George Thibaut
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