“I am not in the world; the world is in me” This daring declaration of ancient yogis gave expression to the perennial truth that the material universe, our physical bodies, and the thoughts that occupy our minds are expressions of an underlying unbounded field of consciousness. The “I” in the bold statement reflects a transformation in the internal reference of the seeker from skin-encapsulated ego to expanded Soul.
Most people identify themselves with their mind, intellect, and ego, which are the components of the subtle body. The seventeenth-century French philosopher René Descartes is famous for his statement, “Cogito, ergo sum,” meaning “I think, therefore I am.” People continue to believe that they are their minds, but we need to recognize that the components of our mind are simply coverings of the Soul.
Conscious mind or objective mind, Subconscious mind or subjective mind (Chitta) and Super-conscious mind are three aspects of the mind. You see, hear and read with the objective mind.
Conscious mind has three layers. The first layer is called Mind, known as Manas. The mind is the repository of sensory impressions. When you hear a sound, feel a sensation, see a sight, taste a flavor, or smell a fragrance, the sensory experience registers in your consciousness at this layer. The mind cycles through different states of consciousness, and your sensory experiences change with these changing states. A person’s mind is composed of two functions, technically termed sankalpa and vikalpa. Sankalpa means the mind’s desire to join thought into concepts, theories, and tableau’s of theories. Vikalpa is the mind’s function of rejecting thoughts, simplifying and limiting experiences which are gathered through the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.
The second layer is the Intellect, known as Buddhi. This is the aspect of mind that discriminates. Whether you are trying to decide what kind of toothpaste to purchase, which partner to choose, or what house to buy, your intellect is at work, attempting to calculate the advantages and disadvantages of every choice you make. This layer integrates information based upon your beliefs and feelings to come to a decision.
The third layer is the Ego, known as Ahankara, which means the “I-former.” The ego is that aspect of your being that identifies with the positions and possessions of your life. It is ultimately your self-image—the way you want to project who you are to yourself and to the world. The ego is the boundary maker that attempts to assert ownership through the concepts of “I,” “me,” “my,” and “mine.” The ego seeks security through control and often has a deep-seated need for approval. Most emotional pain is the result of your ego being offended because something that it believed it had control over was actually outside your jurisdiction.
Chitta is termed as the mind-stuff or mental substance. It is the ground floor, as it were. From it proceed the three mental activities viz., Manas, Buddhi and Ahankara. Subconscious mind is termed “Chitta” in Vedanta. Much of your subconsciousness consists of submerged experiences, memories thrown into the background but recoverable. The Chitta is like a calm lake and thoughts are like waves upon the surface of this lake and name and form are the normal ways in which these waves rise. No wave can rise without name and form.
The functions of the Chitta are Smriti or Smarana (Remembrance), Dharana (Attention) and Anusandhana (Inquiry or Investigation). When you repeat the Japa of a Mantra, it is the Chitta that does the Smarana. It does a lot of work. It turns out better work than the mind or Buddhi.
In the whole Manas (Mind), Buddhi (Intellect), Chitta (Subconscious mind) and Ahankara (Ego) are only functional aspects of the mind. The Manas has all things for its objects and extends through the past, present and future; it is one only, but has various functions. You are a Judge when you exercise your judicial powers in the court. You are a cook when you work in the kitchen. You are a president of an association when you sit in the chair in that capacity. You are the same man, but you function differently and you are called by different names according to those different functions. Similarly, when the mind does Sankalpa-Vikalpa (will-thought and doubt), it is called Mind; when it discriminates and decides, it is Buddhi (Intellect); when it self-arrogates, it is Ahankara (Ego); when it is the storehouse of Samskaras and seat of memory, it is Chitta (Subconscious mind).
Who gave coolness to water, warmth to fire, motion to air? These qualities are their very nature. Even so, mind has got its very nature of running towards objects, Buddhi of determining, Ahankara of self-assertion and self-identification, Chitta of thinking of those objects which are identified by Ahankara.
When the mind is at work, Buddhi and Ahankara work simultaneously along with the mind. Mind, Buddhi and Ahankara work in healthy co-operation. Mind makes Sankalpa-Vikalpa. It thinks whether a certain thing is good or bad. Buddhi comes for determination. It is Buddhi which discriminates them.
The Super-Conscious Mind (Universal Consciousness) is the aspect of consciousness which is limitless or “Infinite” in nature. When a human mind reaches this super-conscious state, it is known as Samadhi. The super-conscious mind is like a mega computer that orchestrates the activities in every little computer connected to it. It is the true source of all the inventions in the Universe.
All creation is the result of consciousness. The Super Conscious Mind contains within itself the possibility as well as the probability of creating anything and everything that can be conceived with mind…The possibilities are “Infinite.”
Mind Functions Within the Three Categories
Mind always functions within the categories of time, space and causation. These three categories are mental creations only. A coconut tree is not really twenty feet high. The height is only a mental interpretation. There are vibrations only outside. It is the mind that creates length, breadth, height, thickness, dimensions, void, square, etc. A distance of two miles comes out of feeling only. You actually feel that you have walked so much distance. When you transcend the mind, all these categories vanish entirely. Annihilate the mind to enter a realm of Peace and Bliss which is eternal, infinite and causeless.
1. Mind – Its Mysteries and Control By Sri Swami Sivananda
2. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga By Deepak Chopra and David Simon