In the past, on my birthday, I’ve written about how birthdays are one’s personal new year and how I use the day to establish resolutions (which I don’t ever really do) and assess things in life, set a few new goals perhaps. It really is like a January 1st for me. This year is different, though. I have no interest in setting goals or personal resolutions on my body’s very own new year.
In recent weeks, however, I’ve been assessing a few things. A few things that are actually really very and truly important to me as an aspiring/developing Jnanayogi. In an earlier post, I mentioned the value is perpetual assessment and questioning. To be clear, I don’t mean to doubt. I mean to explore and to experience and to know.
Occassionally, I find nuggets that really hit home and help me do that assessing and either show me that I need to adjust or confirm that the direction I’m pointed in is correct for me. Recently I visited a blog that is one such nugget. I’ll encourage everyone to visit and follow that blog, which can be found here. Below, I’ve copied/pasted a lengthy post from there titled “Spirituality of the Intellect.” For me, this title is fairly synonymous with Jnana Yoga. If you read the post, and if it makes even a little sense to you, and if you implement some of this wisdom in your existence, you can be sure that so much else will fall into place. There are, of course, many other valuable and enjoyable posts on the blog which I also encourage you to read.
Om Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Spirituality of the Intellect.
One of the oft repeated assertions in spiritual circles is that the mind and intellect is a hindrance to true spirituality. This is only a partial truth, an oversimplification of the diverse possibilities of a misunderstood and ill-defined (in normal parlance) part of the human organism.
The mind is but a lose term for a collection of psychological processes-drivers of a human being. It can be broadly classified into 3 parts. First the sensory mind, also called manas, which controls and reacts to influences that reach the mind through the sense-organs. This part of the mind is driven by instinct and compulsive reactions. Then the chittah, repository of all impressions and influences, also called samskaras. Everything that a normal human being ever does, howsoever insignificant, plants an impression in the chittah. At odd times, in otherwise uncalled for situations, the chittah can throw up random, arbitrary images from an semi-forgotten past. The third part of the mind is a mental ahamkara. A very subtle I-sense whose job it is to endlessly and mindlessly oppose, sometimes in a secret and subliminal manner, any part of the human being that is asked to transform itself in the process of sadhana. The ahamkara will do just about anything to hang on to the old personality including all its various likes/dislikes/automatic-movements/passions/desires/comfort-zones ETC, for only by the survival of the older flawed frontal-personality can the ahamkara’s own existence be justified. Often people wrongly translate the word ahamkara to mean pride. Pride is just one manifestation of it, equally expressions of humility or pity or even friendship (or any human relation) can also be a work of the ahamkara. Any refusals to change the flawed habits of the surface personality is a work of the ahamkara fighting for self-preservation.
From this chittah, is thrown out another aspect of the mind – the part which in the realm of pure-thoughts. This is buddhi. In most people the buddhi part of the mind is inseparably tied to the manas and the chittah and the ahamkara. Therefore the thought process is driven in a very subjective manner by the randomness of the conditioning present in the chittah or the compulsive, reactive nature of the manas, or is taken for a royal ride by the ahamkara churning out comfortable but insincere logic to justify the preservation of the flawed, frontal personality. The Buddhi thus becomes severely distorted and defeats the very purpose of its own existence. Such a mind is terrible master.
On the other hand, if the Buddhi is taught to function without being influenced by the sensory mind or the repository of random impressions and conditioned thinking, or be at the service of the ahamkara, then it can work in an objective and non-distorted fashion, searching for the truth as it is, and a trying to find the route to that truth. Such an intellect, unsoiled and pure, is never outraged by anything for agitation is foreign to its nature, can look at all possibilities however obnoxious or repugnant in complete calmness, and weigh them on well defined parameters of judgement. To do this the intellect has to slay the demons of the sensory mind and chittah and ahamkara, at least temporarily if not permanently, which is the higher aim. The Rig Vedic Rishis named this pure intellect as Indra, one who has won the battle against indriyas (sensory mind, manas), the mighty slayer of the demon vritra (meaning envelop), and hence named vritahan.
Once this pure intellect is developed and instilled and one learns to operate from that platform of pure-reason, one must ideally head for the next stage of pushing the frontiers of the mind and intellect into a higher region of functioning, where by default the intellect can integrate apparently contradictory lines of thought in a harmonious manner. Even higher than this stage is an intellect with a natural illumination and unfailing intuition, which can known things by dint of a process that seems to bypass normal logical constructs. Beyond this intuitive mind, lies a vast Cosmic Mind, the mind of the Great Gods where like a Universal game of chess one see innumerable possibilities on every side, gigantic divergences, near-infinite karmic-chains and their exact repercussions right down to the minutest details. It functions not from the premise of piecemeal analogical building blocks of reason, for such a lower method simply cannot handle a universal complexity of unspeakable proportions, but from a perspective of spontaneous knowledge that does not need to strive. And then there is a mind beyond this too, the mind where direct knowledge of Truth comes by the inalienable oneness of subject and object, of viewer and the viewed, or the experiencing-agent and the experienced-subject, where everything is simultaneously and equally divided yet undivided. There is no point thinking of it from our normal mind. Whatever one may think, whatever one can think, will be inevitably flawed for sure, because this is as far beyond the ranges of the average human mind as a normal man is to a cockroach.
The one singular disadvantage of the intellect, though, is its habit of moving in endless circles when it hits a logical road-block. If one falls into that trap, the intellect hinders the seekers progress. However if one is well aware of limits of pure intellect, one can very well use it as a stepping stone into a higher range of the mind and beyond. But to imbibe the essence of these higher platforms of the intellect, one must first develop the pure intellect – uncluttered by manas, chittah and aham, which is the beginning of the spiritual planes. And therein lies the problem for 90% of people, as the mind in most has not learned to offload the retarding, retrogressive weights and soar high above on its own wings. Therefore the spirituality of the intellect is off-limits to most, and consequently the intellect gets unduly demonized.