We know we are doing something wrong and yet, when the time comes, we are unable to stop ourselves. This can happen for very small things and also for things which have a crucial impact on our lives. When we are quiet, by ourselves, we feel that we will not indulge in wrong movements or repeat our mistakes. But as soon as the occasion arises, not only do we forget our resolutions, but even begin to find justifications and excuses for our indulgence. And the whole cycle repeats itself over and over again. We sometimes wonder why this is so. This article explores the way out of this psychological predicament.
Human beings are creatures of habit. We seek refuge in an uncertain world by developing all kinds of humdrum routines – big and small. We impart stability and coherence to our life by staying plugged into some social network, eating at regular hours, engaging in small-talk with loved ones or even strangers, meticulously scheduling daily chores – all in the desperate desire to fill that void within. One of the object lessons that we gain from Castaneda’s books is the necessity of giving up attachment to such routines. That doesn’t necessarily imply that one must become erratic in conduct; it’s just that one must stop being an automaton.
The current scientific consensus equates the mind with the brain and sees consciousness as the outcome of brain activity. In contrast, various Yogis have asserted based on their experience of self-realization that there is a greater consciousness that inhabits the body, and that the mind is distinct from and greater than the brain. When the thoughts which keep rattling in the brain have ceased, one begins to catch a glimpse into the truth behind yogic assertions that the brain is not the whole mind. In the state of self-realization, one no longer sees the brain as the seat of thought. The idea that “I am the body” (referred to in Sanskrit as “Dehatma-Buddhi“) becomes severely diminished. The consciousness is felt to be greater than the body, and one begins to ideate from Sahasradala Chakra above the head, turning the brain into a channel for communication between the greater mind and the rest of the body. This post collects some observations on the brain-mind contrast from a few seers of the modern age.
When we fall asleep or go into a coma, the greater part of our consciousness recedes from the surface and plunges into the depths of the subliminal being. But there still persists a life-force within the body which can remember and respond when presented with an external stimulus. Writing in the early part of the twentieth century, Sri Aurobindo had outlined this condition of consciousness in his work The Life Divine. Medical science is now offering experimental validation of his observation as adduced from a couple of experiments discussed in this article.
The human consciousness in its attempt to know something divides itself into two parts : the first is the movement of identity whereby one gets to know something by becoming that thing and the second is the movement of differentiation where one stands apart as the subject and analyzes the entity as an object. Building on this observation, Sri Aurobindo outlined four epistemic modes of consciousness which differ from each other in the relative intensity of these movements of identity and differentiation .
At a certain stage of spiritual progress, when the mind acquires the ability to stay tranquil for large periods of time and the subtle body disengages itself from the bulk of the physical body and begins to extend freely in the subtle physical world, one starts having those flashes of intuition which are indicative of the working of the greater sense-mind (called Manas in Sanskrit). The mind can see things without the aid of the senses or, as the Katha Upanishad says, mind is the real sense behind the senses.  As per the Mother Mirra Alfassa, some of the esoteric traditions of antiquity recognized that man had not five but twelve senses. The rest of this article outlines the greater powers of the sense-mind with some examples from recent history followed by a method for enhancing the action of the senses.
The sultry weather, the pungent aromas, the pensive faces, the distant inaudible music — we may not remember everything we experience during the day, but unknown to us, these things are accurately recorded in our consciousness. Writing in the early twentieth century, Sri Aurobindo said that “there is a subliminal memory which can hold all things, even those which the mind cannot understand, e.g. if you hear somebody talking Hebrew, the subliminal memory can hold that and bring it up accurately in some abnormal state, e.g. the hypnotic. Exact images are retained by the subliminal memory. All that is subliminal is conventionally assumed by mainstream psychology to be the subconscious, which is not possible because the consciousness that holds exact memories is far wider and fuller than our waking or surface consciousness, and so cannot be called subconscient.”. Modern psychology uses the term eidetic memory or photographic memory to refer to such precision memory recall skills. This article covers a few examples of this action of the subliminal memory.