4902What do all those different names for mind mean, like manas and buddhi etc.?
- Jun 12, 2014
Question: What do all those different names for mind mean, like manas and buddhi etc.?
Answer: The process of our mind is an internal process. These internal processes are called antar karana. Antar means “inner” as in antara yoga or antara pranayama. Karana means “to do”, hence the “internally occurring processes”. There are said to be four internal processes. The first one is called the chitta, which is at the lowest level. Chitta refers to the subconscious, the unconscious mind. It is this lowest level of the mind, which is the memory storehouse where all the memories, all the experiences that you have ever had since the moment of conception are stored. The chitta also is related to your spinal cord, to the brain stem, which makes sure that you can eat, sleep, walk around, jump up and down, have sex – and all those basic, autonomic, unconscious activities that you need to survive but that you can do without a brain. That is what chitta vritti is all about, about dealing with that stuff of those whirlpools that are pulling you down. This is the first level, the chitta.
At the next level, you have the manas, the conscious mind, which starts to deal with other aspects than just surviving. You could say that the conscious mind is like the upper layer of the water in a river, and the chitta is the deepest layer at the bottom of the river. Sometimes, things from the bottom come up to the surface and then sink back to the bottom. Whenever something comes to the top, it comes through your conscious level, and then your manas deals with it. And then, it sinks back to the bottom for another twenty years when it occasionally comes up again. There is this constant interplay of the subconscious coming up to the conscious and going back down.
Manas is that which makes us a human. You can hear it even in the word hu-man, man, wo-man. In Sanskrit the human being is called manushya, the one who has manas, because it is believed that animals have the chit but only humans have this conscious mind.
So, you have the chitta, the manas, and then you have something called the buddhi. The neocortex is part of that. This is the intellect, the part of the internal process, which has the ability to distinguish between good and bad, between the things to be done and the things not to be done. It is the power of discernment. This is the energy of viveka. Because of the viveka the buddhi has three powers, three energies: one energy is called iccha shakti, the power of will. Most of the time when we say that somebody has a lot of willpower, it is actually wantpower. “I want this, I want that”. Very few people have actually willpower. Willpower is to move forward. Wantpower is just stagnation.
The second power is called kriya shakti. Kriya is an action, a movement. It is the power of movement. And the third energy is called jnana shakti, the power of wisdom.
You have these three powers in your intellect: the power of will, the power to do and the power to know whether something should be done or not. All those three are there in your intellectual existence, in the buddhi. There are many people in the world who want to do good but then just sit on their couch, and a lot of people want to do something bad and they go out and do it. Like terrorists, for instance; they don’t now about good or bad, they don’t know what should be done or not, they don’t have the jnana. Only very few people have all three powers of the mind working together. They know what should be done, they want to do it and they go out and do it. That is an integrated personality in which the buddhi is working.
We could correlate the chitta with the annamaya and pranamaya level of our bodies, because those deal with the physical and physiological functions. The manas can be correlated with the manomaya kosha level and the buddhi with the vijnanamaya kosha level which is the intellectual aspect, the higher mind.
And then, you have the fourth, which is called the ahamkara. The ahamkara is the individuating principle, that which enables us to be an individual. The frontal cortex is part of this. Ahamkara can also refer to a negative ego, but in this context it means a positive ego of knowing “I am an individual”. Remember that individual means indivisible. You cannot be divided.
These are the four aspects of the mind, the internal process according to Yoga; the lower unconscious, subconscious, the chitta, the conscious manas, the intellectual buddhi, and then that which knows that you are an entity on your own, which is the ahamkara.
This can, to some extent, also be correlated with the different levels of samadhi – the vitarka at the chitta, vichara, then you have the sasmita, which is with the ego, the ahamkara and sananda, which is when you go beyond it. When you put all of those four aspects together, you have chit. There is also the concept of chit as the super conscious. Consciousness becomes then chit like in sat chit ananda, the absolute truth, absolute consciousness and absolute bliss. We are all that.
This perspective on chitta and manas in this concept is the same in almost every tradition, but some traditions look at ahamkara first and then at buddhi as the higher one. These are just different views. I prefer the buddhi and then the ahamkara above it, because I find that the individual personality exists at a certain level, which is like going into the pancha kosha and into the anandamaya kosha. You have your own individual universe, and then you go out into the next level. So, I like to put the ahamkara out there and above the buddhi.
The full talk by Dr Ananda in Berlin is available from http://icyer.com/documents/chakras_ABB2012.pdf
And a report on the seminar is available from: http://icyer.com/documents/April%20Weather.pdf------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani
Chairman: ICYER and Yoganjali Natyalayam
25, II Cross, Iyyanar Nagar, Pondicherry, India
www.icyer.com and www.rishiculture.org
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