BEYOND MIND & MINDFULNESS .....
A case for Mindfulness : There is so much talk these days about mindfulness : for health and wellness, for personal development, for stress management, etc. And rightly so ! Without being aware and mindful, self-management and the quest for happiness don't even begin.
And yet, meditation is not just mindfulness, as most people in the West understand ; it is a lot more than just that. In fact, mindfulness is awareness that ends in Dharana (concentration) which culminates into Dhyan or Meditation. Meditation finally ends in Samadhi, the final union, in which the Observer-Observed-Observation - they all unite and become one.
Understanding the Mind & Brain : The mind belongs to the individualized part of Unified Consciousness, defined by time and space co-ordinates, and it borrows its sentient faculties from the incarnate soul. It is finer than both matter and energy. In an individual, the mind is above the body and is the head of the senses.
Mind is not just the brain but it includes and operates it ; the brain is like a hardware. It's an organ - with a location , a birth (the brain starts shaping up soon after the embryo formation), a death (brain death, and not the heartbeat stoppage, is the final clinical death), a shape (similar to walnut kernel), a weight (about 3 pounds for an adult brain), a configuration (in billions of neurons), etc. The brain is our body's CPU - the processor. But it is still a hardware. It is the mind that, as the programmer, runs and operates the brain. The brain is the interface between the mind and the body, operating through sensory and motor nerves. The five senses feed the brain with sensory inputs, and the brain processes them. The mind likes or dislikes them !
The mind itself is the interface between the body and soul, and it gets polarized. The lower part of this interface, closer to the body, is called Manas in the science of Yoga - the ego-dominated sensory mind. The upper part of the interface, closer to the soul, is the intellect - the reasoning and discriminating mind (Vivek-Buddhi).
The Ego : It's the villain, the real mischief-maker. Its den is the body and sensory mind. In fact, ego is defined as the limited (and limiting) body-consciousness. 'I am this boldy', 'that's Me and Mine, those are others' ... this is ego. It's accomplice is ignorance. So, we can say, the Ego is the ruler in the kingdom of body and sensory mind. It rebels against the real king, Soul, and his (the soul's) deputy, the Reasoning Intellect. That's the scene, the stage set for ceaseless conflict, the inner Mahabharat.
Where mindfulness can help : Awareness is where mindfulness helps. The ego (working through the sensory mind, the brain and the senses) is aware of the color, the sound, the touch etc. in its objective environment, and as one matures through experiential and other learning, some room is allowed for the higher mind, the Intellect, and so, some rationalization happens.
'This tastes good but has proved harmful ; let me not eat more ; tobacco makes me cough, so I better restrict it ; uncontrolled anger spoils relationships, so let me regulate and restrain it', etc., are the tips the discriminating, discerning, reasoning intellect drops into the domain of ego/sensory-mind combine. Gradually as these are taken well and honored, mindful living happens.
So, we can say, in effective mindfulness the mind (higher mind of intellect) 'minds' the lower mind's egoistic desires, habits, likes and dislikes and to the extent allowed, regulates them.
Where mindfulness cannot help : But this is not smooth. The ego is a hard nut to crack. It is not a good listener, until perhaps great suffering happens or wisdom dawns through meditation etc. The mind trying to control itself is a dicey game and even the reasoning faculty itself can fail because it works on experience through sensory evidence which is fallible, and has only a little of soul-wisdom. For example,
When you need to forgive, it's beyond the scope of mindfulness, it may even be beyond reason.
Mindfulness, or even pure reason, cannot understand love and compassion.
The Soul & the Heart : Love and compassion, understanding and forgiveness, peace and joy are belong to the highest domain of soul, manifest as qualities of the heart.
Over 99% doctors would say the heart is just a blood pump. However, a new super-science, Neurocardiology, says the heart thinks, feels, intuits and judges far more accurately than the mind, and a research goes on to say that the heart even has a brain of its own, with 65% of its cells being neural in nature, complete with ganglia and dendrite ! Some neurocardiologists even believe that the heart is a powerful endocrine gland secreting a hormone called AFT, and that true, compassionate love is self-healing. Many scientists and organizations like Heartmath Institute (https://www.heartmath.org) are doing commendable work on this, bridging science and spirituality, the need of the modern world that stands at confusing crossroads.
In life's complex drama, wherever the mind fails to heal and resolve, the soul can step in, drop its love-wisdom into the heart and make amends through compassion, forgiveness, service, vision etc. - leadership attributes all !
The truth is, the mind creates more problems for the body than it solves ! Over-eating is mind's handiwork because greed is in the mind ; physical abuse and assault are mind's work because anger / lust are in the mind, etc. Mindfulness being a quality of the mind, cannot be a perfect tool, because its observation (mindfulness) and decision may be colored by desire - the segregation is difficult without wisdom and detachment (Vairagya).
In his two masterly commentaries, each in two volumes, respectively on the Gita (called 'God Talks With Arjuna' ) and the Bible (called 'The Second Coming of Christ'), a globally-revered East-West saint Sri Paramahansa Yogananda gives astounding insights into the dynamics of soul-tendencies and ego-tendencies and their mutual warfare - the psychological Pandavas and Kauravas. In 'God Talks With Arjuna' (Vol.1, Page 225), he writes :
"The 'I' or ego - the dream projection of the soul and the subject of the objective dream, is what thinks, and uses its powers of sensation to know and relate to the world of material creation. Thus thought and sensation are not a part of the soul, but are experiences of ego consciousness in the dream.... One knows he exists because of the confirmation of his thoughts and feelings that it is so. But what of a person in deep sleep or absolute calmness in which - even if for just an instant - there is neither thought nor feeling, nor is he unconscious !" .
The Master further explains on the same page that thoughts and sensations are like searchlights ; they throw their rays in front, on material objects but cannot reveal the soul behind these searchlights. Intuition is the bridge between the soul and the ego's thoughts and sensations.
Conclusion : Howsoever the rebel ego may refuse, all powers of its self- awareness, all powers of mind, the thoughts and sensations are borrowed from the soul. The light of the projector cannot reveal the projector itself.
Mindfulness is a light of awareness. It gives diagnosis, not the treatment. The treatment demands reason, and often beyond reason too, it needs intuitive understanding which is soul-wisdom, best brought in through regular meditation.
Meditation is beyond the mind, beyond thoughts and sensations. It develops intuition. We all have some undeveloped intuition, meditation deepens it. Mindfulness without intuitive understanding is awareness without wisdom, diagnosis without cure.
Some people talk of mindfulness meditation ; it makes a sense but only at the primary level. It is more of Pratyahara & Dharana (Interiorization & Concentration), rather than Dhyan (Meditation). They are different progressive stages of a continuum on the path of yoga. Eventually, meditation must go beyond the mind, because until enlightened, mind is more a hassle then a friend. Once Self-realization happens, the same mind can work as a channel of divine inspiration, but until that happens, it is apt to create obstacles on the path and therefore must be transcended.
So the Gita says, 'Na hi gyanen sadrisham pavitram ih vidyate' (Ch. IV / Verse 38), which means wisdom is the greatest cleanser, it purifies the best. And the Bible agrees, 'Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding' (Proverbs 4:7, KJV).
Mindfulness is good but without meditation-born intuitive wisdom, it is not enough ! We must go beyond it. Through soulful meditation.
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