I believe during your high school most of you must have heard & read about ‘Theory of evolution’, which was propounded by Charles Darwin in 1859. This theory primarily talks about evolution of various kinds of species on this planet. Evolution simply means that organisms change over a period of time to better adapt to its surrounding environment and making sure of a better survival for them and their offspring. Before Darwin’s theory of evolution, it was believed that all different types of species which existed on planet earth emerged at the same time. Charles Darwin was a naturalist and with his keen observations and research for many years he found out that the above mentioned argument was not correct. The organisms didn’t come in to existence just like that, rather they evolved over a period of time. The greatest example of evolution is we human beings itself. If we go back to our lineage, we will find that we are the descendants of Homo Sapiens (The wise Ones). Similarly if you will study the history of every individual species that exist on this planet, there is scientific data to prove that all of them evolved and still continue to evolve with time.
If you look at the evolution of human brain, there have been drastic changes. Primarily human brain can be divided in to three parts, Reptilian brain, Limbic Brain & Cerebral Cortex Brain. The oldest of all three is the reptilian brain. This brain is believed to be few hundred million years old. There are two functions of reptilian brain which is called as ‘Fight’ or ‘Flight’. It means either you will fight, or you will run away (flight). This kind of brain helped species survive. We call it a reptilian brain because this is the way reptiles react whenever they observe any change in their environment which may affect them. Be it a snake, lizard or a crocodile etc. If you will go near them either they will attack you or they will run away. As the human brain evolved, there was a new dimension which got added to it and this was Limbic Brain. This brain is primarily responsible for the emotional behavior of human beings. It is also responsible for the formation of memories within ourselves. The third and the latest one is the ‘Cortical Brain’ which is majorly responsible for more evolved qualities of humans like intelligence, creativity, imagination and intuition etc.
This leads us towards the Mind which is far more complex than the brain and is a super set of it. If we look from modern science perspective, the major contributor to the human mind is believed to be the Intellect. In oxford dictionary, one of the meanings for mind is ‘A person’s ability to think & reason; the intellect’. However, In Yogic science, Mind has been categorized in to 4 different dimensions. These are Buddhi (Intellect), Ahankara (Identity), Manas (Memory) & Chitta (Pure Intelligence).
Buddhi (Intellect): Intellect is the instrument of survival. Without the help of intellect human beings can not survive in this world. So when we say five senses (Hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting & touching), intellect helps us deploy these five senses appropriately to perform a particular kind of action and hence makes sure that we are able to take care of our survival process. If we have to use a simpler analogy here, we can say intellect is like a ‘Knife’. The sharper it is the better is the survival. Just like if you have a sharp knife at home, you can perform any cutting action effortlessly, similarly if we have sharp intellect we can perform better.
Ahankara (Identity): The process of identification starts with the very moment you step in to this world. Do you think that when you were born as a baby, you had an identity? The answer is No. But within few days of your birth, people around you started calling you by a Name. Then you grew a little bit and then you were told by your parents/relatives that you belong to this particular religion and country. When you graduated out of your university you took on a new identity and you started calling yourself as a Doctor, Engineer, Therapist etc. You got married and you had your own babies & suddenly now you become a father or a mother. If you carefully observe the life process, you will see that you take on numerous identities as you move forward & these identities keep on changing with time and stage of your life. Let’s say you used to live in India & for higher studies you went to America, and then started working there and in couple of years you got a green card and now you are labeled as ‘American’. So the very nature of identity is such that it is ‘temporary’ and can change anytime depending upon the circumstances and choices we make.
Let’s understand the more deeper connection between ‘Identity & Intellect’. With whatever you get yourself identified with, your ‘Intellect’ start to function in accordance with that. E.g: let’s say presently you belong to ‘The Republicans’ political party in America and all your present activities are meant for the welfare of the republican party. You had an internal dispute with the party workers and you joined their rivals which is ‘The Democrats’. Suddenly all the activities which you are now performing are for ‘The Democrats’ and not for The Republicans. The implication of this example is that, with whatever you identify yourself with, intellect takes on that color to support & sustain that identity. If you identify with your family, you say this is my family, and now you are ready to go to any extent to support them. If you say I am an Indian, now you are ready to even die for your country, because you are strongly identified with it.
Manas (Memory): Manas is a huge memory which has been accumulated within you. There is not a specific part where it gets stored. The memory exists all through your body. We are not just talking about the memory of incidences which have happened to you, but also the other memories like genetic memory, evolutionary memory etc. For e.g today your body has a specific texture, your nose & eyes have a specific shape & size all because your body inherited it from your parents & grand parents. What you call as today’s human beings, have been possible only because of the millions of years of memory which got accumulated within us. So as we discussed above about the theory of evolution, the very basis of the theory of evolution is ‘Memory’ itself. Since we could remember everything which happened to us, we could improve more and more with time.
Let’s understand the connection between Memory, Identity & Intellect. Memory acts as an input to the identity, and accordingly then the intellect functions. Let’s use the previous analogy to understand it. The intellect is like a knife, and your identity is like your hand which holds that knife. Now how effectively you use a knife using your hands depends upon how many times you have used it earlier, and how much of that you remember. Similarly how you use your intellect depends upon how many identities you have taken and what kind of memories are backing those identities.
That means if you don’t have a memory, the intellect is totally defunct. The intellect can only function with the limited amount of data which you have gathered over a period of time. For. e.g lets say you were a pilot and you flew airplanes for almost more than a decade. Unfortunately one day your airplane got crashed. You managed to survive somehow but you lost your memory and you have no sense of who you are and what you used to do. In such a situation, do you think you will be able to fly the airplanes again. The answer is No. Although your intellect is still active, but because you lost all your previous memories, your intellect is now of no use, as far as flying an airplane is concerned. This leads us to the fourth dimension of Mind which is Chitta.
Chitta (Pure Intelligence): Indian Yogi’s of ancient times paid very deep attention to the inner nature of who we are as human beings, and they experientially realized that there is a dimension which is beyond the limitations of our ‘Intellect, Identity & Memory, and that dimension is Chitta or the Pure Intelligence which is not dependent upon the accumulated information or the previous memories. If you understood properly about intellect, identity & memory, you will find out that all these are totally interdependent upon each other. However the dimension of ‘Chitta’ is beyond these three. Pure intelligence is a dimension within every human being which is not dependent & affected by memory. It is said that if we get a conscious access to even 1 percent of this intelligence, we as human beings can perform our actions in ways which are far more efficient than we are working right now. Which means our ability to perform in this world gets leveraged to a phenomenal scale. This intelligence exists in everyone of us but in dormant state. We just need to pay deeper attention and make conscious effort to get it activated and reap the benefits of it. Yoga offers a whole range of tools for the same.
Significance of these four dimensions of Mind: Its very important that we understand each one of these four dimensions very clearly so that we know to what extent these needs to be used.
Intellect is just an instrument of survival, If we think intellect is everything, then we will easily miss higher of possibilities of life, because we will never explore in that direction beyond intellect. Intellect work only by cutting things down, which means it is exclusive in nature. But the nature of life is inclusive. Intellect can never help us understand the true nature of life. Unfortunately today’s world is focusing only on the intellect and not on other dimensions.
Identity is also a mode of survival. You are trying to have a limited identity ( For e.g my family, my car, my home, my country etc.). All these limited identities may help you survive well but if you are very strongly identified with these identities, then it will create a whole lot of other problems for you as an individual and also for the society as a whole. That’s why we should never have a strong sense of identity. Our boundaries of identity should be loose enough to accommodate other’s identities. All the wars and other atrocities which have happened in this world is only because of our strong identities which we took as nations.
Memory is a tremendous possibility which we have, because evolution happened only because we could remember. But for today’s generation it is only the memory which is the cause of their suffering in the form of stress, anxiety, depression etc. Which clearly shows that how strongly they are identified with their memories and they don’t know how to use it for their empowerment. Its high time that we learn to use this memory as a mode of empowerment, not as a mode of suffering. Again Yoga offers very simple tools to do that.
Chitta (Pure Intelligence) is the ushering of ultimate possibility in a human being, and it has the capability to make your life completely effortless and fulfilling beyond the duality of life.
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