What’s the “mind” of the mind?

Mind: a beautiful servant, or a dangerous master? Or, beyond this binary, does the mind exist et al? Mind is a mystery or mind is energy? Many psychologists, spiritualists, philosophers, and religious commentators have examined or interpreted ‘mind’, yet the study has not been concluded — for once and all. That’s the beauty of [the] ‘mind’ that it does not settle.

A little iota of ‘existential crisis’ would verily push our mind towards questions like: (i) what is the origin of the mind?, (ii) how is the mind dead?, or (iii) what is the source of consciousness?

These questions, disguised as speculations, are inquisitive.

The mind that we sense is a conventional concept, not an absolute reality? If it is an absolute reality, how is it continuously functional? The mind that we use is not a conventional concept but an absolute reality, so why does it have to end with our death?

Humans have discovered that 95% of this universe is filled with dark energy. The rest are solar systems. Despite this, humans are egotistical to believe that they are not alone. Is this mind a manifestation of the ego, or is the ego a delusion of the mind? Darkness had already been there before we came into being. Is this mind an outcome of this darkness, or does not the mind already exist beyond the origin and end of this universe?

Buddhist teachings describe that the mind manifests moment-to-moment as sense impressions and mental phenomena that are continuously changing. The moment-by-moment manifestation of the mind-stream has been described as happening in every person all the time, even by a scientist who analyses various phenomena in the world or the material body, including the brain organ. The manifestation of the mind-stream is also described as being influenced by physical, biological, psychological, volitional, and universal laws. A salient feature of Buddhist philosophy that sets it apart from Indian orthodoxy is the centrality of the doctrine of not-self.

The Buddha’s not-self doctrine sees humans as an impermanent composite of five psychological and physical aspects instead of a single fixed self. In this sense, what is called ego or the self is merely a convenient fiction, an illusion that does not apply to anything real but to an erroneous way of looking at the ever-changing stream of five interconnected aggregate factors and they are: form, sensations, perceptions, mental activities, and consciousness. The relationship between these aggregates is said to be one of dependent-arising (pratītyasamutpāda). This means that all things, including mental events, arise co-dependently from a plurality of other causes and conditions. This seems to reject both causal determinist and epiphenomenalist conceptions of the mind, concluding that the mind is simply an abstract without any solid foundation.

Thus, [the] mind is empty!

Whereas, ordinary thought is defined as prapañca (‘conceptual proliferation’). According to this theory, perceptual experience is bound up by multiple conceptualizations (expectations, judgments, and desires). This proliferation of conceptualizations forms our illusory superimposition of concepts like self and others upon an ever-changing stream of aggregate phenomena. In this conception of mind, no strict distinction is made between the conscious faculty and the actual sense perception of various phenomena.

Consciousness is instead said to be divided into six sense modalities, five for the five senses and sixth for the ‘perception’ of mental phenomena. The rise of cognitive awareness is said to depend on sense perception, awareness of the mental faculty itself, which is termed mental or ‘introspective awareness’ (manovijñāna), and attention (āvartana), the picking out of objects out of the constantly changing stream of sensory impressions.

* * * *

A senior monk and a junior monk were travelling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross.

The young woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side. The two monks glanced at one another because they had taken vows not to touch a woman. Then, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried her on his journey.

The younger monk could not believe what had just happened. After rejoining his companion, he was speechless, and an hour passed without a word between them.

more hours passed, then three. Finally, the younger monk could contain himself no longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”

The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”

* * * *

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A libertarian professor based in Mumbai, youtubing at times, and reading books all-the-time. I write too. Dhamma practitioner.

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Jaimine

A libertarian professor based in Mumbai, youtubing at times, and reading books all-the-time. I write too. Dhamma practitioner.