Thursday, December 26, 2013

MIND rationally explained (W.M.M. - 5)

We saw the outline of the rational concept of God in the blogs 'GOD RECONSIDERED", as explained in the book by Swami Vijnananand. For majority of the people who would like to keep faith, belief in something, the God concept serves the purpose aptly. The basic God concepts from all cultures do not change much and on rational ground even agnostics can nurture the God concept in a rational manner.

We may not know 'why' of the universe by using human intelligence. While science research should continue this endeavor, it has so far largely agreed by majority of scientists that the universe will end up in the stage of no motion stage i.e. entropy. While universe can take care of the purpose; we, the common persons may try to understand the purpose of our own life and try to align it with the laws of nature so that we can be happy. The blogs related to 'PURPOSE' discussed these aspects in details with the outline of the views expressed in the book “PURPOSE OF THE UNIVERSE”.

Based on the books written by Swami Vijnananand (namely, GOD RECONSIDERED and PURPOSE OF THE UNIVERSE), we saw relevance of his findings in the present context by review and cross checking a few available references.

Not bothering about the concepts concerning God and Universe; even if we come to the limited agenda of our prevailing individual life, we reach to the unique aspiration common to all of us. Whatever country, religion, age, sex or social, financial background we may belong; our priority aspiration is to seek happiness. Be and continue to be happy all along. If we carefully consider the aspect of happiness and search for its essential ingredients, we see that to be happy three things are essential.

First is money. You cannot get means of happiness without money. That is well accepted fact. But we experience that money alone can't make you happy. Money can get you comforts but to enjoy those comforts your body must be healthy. You can buy lot of costly sweets if you have money but can't consume it if your digestive system does not permit or if you have diabetes. So the second thing necessary for the happiness is health. But there is one more thing essential for the happiness and that is your behavior, nature as it is called (nature = the fundamental qualities of a person or thing; identity or essential character). If your nature is good you may be happy even with lesser money and some health limitations but if it is bad you can' be happy even with good wealth and health. So while all the three things are necessary, the weightage comes more on our nature.

Now, who decides our nature? Answer in simple language is MIND. Unless you have good mind you can't have good nature. How do you make your mind good? Basically how do you understand your mind whether it is good or bad? Is there any scientific definition or description of mind available? These are the obvious questions arise if one wants to know more about the MIND.

When it comes to the definition of mind, there is no all accepted agreement as the experts in various disciplines have various views. The important link between mind and body is considered to be the BRAIN. Scientists and philosophers have different considerations on the subject of mind, brain and their relationship.

Mind-brain relationship: Mind-brain relationship has always been a point of debate between neuroscientists and eastern philosophers. Neuroscience believe that in the brain-mind interaction, causality flows in one direction: from brain to mind, which means neural activity underlies every thought and sensation. Eastern philosophers have a different view they feel one can transcend mind. There could also be another possibility of downward interaction, from mind to brain. We require a balanced view as purely material or mental aspect cannot objectively throw light on mind-brain communication. Again, there could be something which will be beyond brain and mind, which is the fundamental focus of spiritualism.  Instead of one-way studies, in modern times, there have been a couple of researches and experiments for the comprehensive view of mind-brain relationship, the neuron-anatomy of compassion. Meditation is one such method controlling mind and brain, having a calming effect on both.

What is the relationship between the mind and the brain? Neuroscientists have known since the nineteenth century that brain structures and mental functions are intimately connected, but the exact relationship between mind and brain always remained a mystery. In the Santiago theory, the relationship between mind and brain is simple and clear. Descartes' characterization of mind as the "thinking thing” is finally abandoned. Mind is not a thing but a process - the process of cognition, which is identified with the process of life. The brain is a specific structure through which this process operates. The relationship between mind and brain, therefore, is one between process and structure.

Just to understand the current situation of the science w.r.t. mind views of some experts in diverse fields are discussed.

1         Series entitled 'Science and Spirituality' in Nature India, (Published online 21 May 2012)
Dr. Pawan K. Dhar (Jan 2012), Professor of Biotechnology at Symbiosis International University, Pune and Hon. Director of the Centre of Systems and Synthetic Biology, University of Kerala

Dr. Pawan Dhar says: Life energy is like an operating system that runs the show but remains unknown. The subject of life energy has largely remained unexplored. As of now, the scientific community swims at the cellular and molecular surface, studying waves here and there and calling them path-breaking discoveries. Mind is what we think of as a buffer between subtle life energies and the gross body. It is like a 'metabolic pathway' that stays between the 'genotype of life energy' and the 'phenotype of the gross body'. It would be nice to scientifically document the contents of the mind to see its dimensions. We see the body, imagine the mind and believe in the life giving substance. This needs to change. Could there be more gross layers and more subtle layers than this naive abstraction? People use terms like consciousness, sub-consciousness, super-consciousness, emotions and awareness to describe life. Though one can play with these terms, in reality we only talk about individual perceptions.

To get a clear understanding of life giving elements, their attributes, their interactions, their structural and functional correlates, the subtle-to-gross pathways, we need to generate additional evidence in the space of existence and extend the intellectual front end of science.

People in the spiritual domain use mind as a lab, intent as approach and intensity as the key. People in the scientific world use a reductionist approach to split a system into constituent elements and weave the information into an integrated model.
In the first approach, the technology exists within the body. In the second, technology exists outside the body.

To find a meeting point of science and spirituality, it would be prudent to find commonalities between both and propose a logical and evidence-based approach that probe deeper into the spiritual space.

 An article published in the International Journal on World Peace, winter 2007 (
Author: Tom Kando is Professor of Sociology at California State University, Sacramento.
The modern world has come to a near- unanimous conception of the human mind as basically the same thing as the brain. This is a monumental and stupid mistake.
The guilt for this error belongs largely to the so-called social sciences, especially to Psychology. These folks have managed to convince the modern world of their stupid belief. As a result, by now, the popular culture, the media and the public all subscribe to this modern-day mythology.
The error made by most psychologists is called reification (from the Latin word rei = “thing”):  This is when you make a thing out of a concept. In other words; when someone makes something real and tangible out of something; which is not so. For example, take the idea of “evil.” When we personify this idea into, say, the “devil,” we reify it. Or take the concept of “society.” When we say that “society is racist,” we reify it, because in reality only people can be racist. There is no such thing as “society,” over and beyond a large collection of individuals.
Psychologists also commit the error of reification when they equate the mind with the brain. They give the mind a substantive material existence. They describe it as “a hunk of meat that…contains about 30 billion cells, called neurons.” But of course that is not at all what the mind is.


3 DANA Foundation shares the articles giving information on brain. Excerpts from the following article (issue October 2010)

The Unhealthy Ego: What Can Neuroscience Tell Us About Our ‘Self’?  By Brenda Patoine

Where’s the Ego in Neuroscience?

If ego is loosely defined in psychiatric circles, a neural definition is virtually nonexistent. “Ego doesn’t exist in the brain,” says Kagan. What does exist, he explains, is a brain circuit that controls the intrusiveness of feelings of self-doubt and anxiety, which can modulate self-confidence. But, Kagan says, “We are nowhere near naming the brain circuit that might mediate the feeling of ‘God, I feel great; I can conquer the world.’  I believe it’s possible to do, but no one knows that chemistry or that anatomy.”

Dana Alliance member Joseph LeDoux, Ph.D., a neurobiologist at New York University, has argued that psychological constructs such as ego are not incompatible with modern neuroscience; scientists just need to come up with better ways of thinking about the self and its relation to the brain. “For many people, the brain and the self are quite different,” he writes in The Synaptic Self, where he made the opposite case. For LeDoux it’s a truism that our personality—who we are in totality—is represented in the brain as a complex pattern of synaptic connectivity, because synapses underlie everything the brain does. "We are our synapses," he says.

4 John Templeton Foundation Darwin 200: Evolution and the Ethical Brain (excerpts)
Michael Gazzaniga - Professor of Psychology and Director of the Sage Center of the Study of the Mind at the University of California at Santa Barbara;
Steven Quartz Associate Professor of Philosophy, at Cal Tech University.  He is also the Director of the Brain Mind and Science PhD program
Michael Gazzaniga: Understanding the moment of personal conscious experience, we do not have a clue as to what that is. Everybody in this room by virtue of the fact you are here and experiencing what we are experiencing is in some sense a dualist.  You are looking at all the sub-elements here and you are throwing it into a conscious experience and flipping immediately into that conscious state, what is that?  What is that process?  What is that?  We are so far from understanding something like that and we are not a lot closer to understanding how you see a triangle either by the way. These things are so complex that when you hear the successes in brain science, we are all excited about what we can bring in. Five years ago, I do not think there were more than five experiments on the social processes of the human. Now, through brain imaging techniques, you cannot keep up with it, almost. It is so fast and so wonderful. Having said that though you do not want to oversell it. We are just getting our hands on the ladder here and it is exciting, but, I think, still limited.
Steven Quartz:  Yes, to speak to that, we still do not know how a neuron works.  Sometimes we say a neuron is simple or whatever, but, in fact, a neuron is an extraordinary complicated cell.  We do not understand how it integrates information.  We do not understand really how it represents information or what kind of code it utilizes and we certainly do not understand how you put a billion together to generate complex behavior and thought.  So, one of the real challenges is the gap between imaging provides an opportunity to look non-invasively on the human brain and it provides sort of an insight, but we still, the gap between understanding brain activation at the level of imaging and how individual neurons in unison give rise to that, what are the computations involved in that, what are the ways in which information is represented, how does it compute that information, what are the algorithms, what are the processes that give rise to that? It is still completely unknown.

 5.  Ref. Manashakti publication “ Super Procreation”, author – G.S.Kelkar. Page 57,
Conception and Mind: ‘What exactly happens at the moment of conception?’ To find out the answer to this question is rather difficult. However with certain assumptions and logic, science and mathematics we can answer the question. Granted that the moment of conception may not be known; but at least the moment of death is easy to see. Death is the polar opposite of birth, so if we get to know what happens at the time of death; it can be logically deducted that exactly opposite must be happening at the time of conception.
We describe death as follows: “The soul left the body”, “The flame of life was extinguished”, “The body lost the vital force", etc. etc. Briefly, soul, flame, vital force etc. is separated from the body. In scientific terms we can call soul, flame etc. as “energy”, while the body is “matter”.
At the time of death, energy and matter in the human being is separated from each other. Therefore it can be said that at the moment of conception, which is exact opposite of the moment of death, energy and matter must be uniting with each other. So whose energy is this? The answer is: it is that of the entity which wishes to take birth. This energy has been termed as the “organizing mind” (by S. V.) This concept is as follows:
Matter in this case consists of ovum of the male and sperm of the male. The sperm introduces to the ovum, the energy of the one who wishes to take birth. Hence in mathematical terms,
Death = separation of matter (body) and energy (vital force).
Birth = union of matter (body) and energy (vital force).
The book further explains the scientific proof of this logical argument.

My comments

While the materialists agree that they yet do not know completely the work of the brain, even the working of neuron, they still insist that mind is nothing but the expression of the brain. Is this stand logical, rational or scientific? ‘You should accept what I say even on the basis unknown to me!’ Any argument of such a nature tends more towards dogmatism than science.

A child has different ‘mind’ other than his father and mother. The conception, i.e. the first existence of the child is union of one cell each from the father and mother. When these two cells unite and the child is conceived it must be the ‘mind’ of the child which must be entering the conceived cell.  So the conceived cell becomes the cell with the mind of a child. When this happens then only the birth process makes progress. (Each intercourse does not yield conception). Obviously it must be the mind’s desire which helps conception and enter the world as new person through the process of birth. This proves that it is the mind that enters the body. And in the later process the brain gets developed. So logically mind precedes body and brain from the initial moment in human life.

Mind rationally explained by Swami Vijnananand

The simple subject ‘mind’ has been messed up by dogmatic views from all kinds of experts.  There is no clear and all agreed definition of mind so far. This is the status after the 1st decade of the 21st century is over,
Foreseeing this problem, way back in 1961, swami Vijnananand (S. V.) studied the mind very rationally. He has provided information regarding the definition, properties, and laws of mind which can conform on the tenets of science and philosophy. We shall see these in a few blogs to follow.

Vijay R. Joshi.

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