The Soul

Track Running Track 4

What is mind, actually? Just as the vital is the field of feelings, emotions, desires, similarly, mind is the field of conception. There is a distinction between feeling and conception. A conception is a form in which the object, which is physical, or any other object is represented. A representative form of an object is called conception and normally this conception is expressed in the form of words. All our capacity of using words is because of the power of conception. I see a table; if I want to tell you about the table, I have two ways of expressing it. One is to take you to the table and say, 'Look, this is what I mean', in which conception is not necessary. Or else if I know the trick of conception and the use of words, then without the need of bringing you to the table I can simply say, 'I want to speak to you about the table'. I use the word 'table' and immediately what happens is that the image, representation of the table comes to your mind. This representation of the table is the conception. That he is capable of these representations is a great capacity of man. It gives him the possibility of representations of various things and therefore within a small compass he can contain so many objects. All representations are brief as compared to the objects – the word table or the concept table is smaller than a table itself. So because of brevity, the capacity of connecting objects becomes quicker. Therefore the advantage of the mind is that by its use one can quickly connect many objects and understand their interrelationship. Here again, the word interrelationship is very important. Just as mind is fundamentally a capacity of conception, mind is also a capacity of understanding. We usually say that when we entertain our mind or train our mind we begin to understand things better. Therefore, just as the mind is fundamentally a capacity of conception, mind is also a capacity of understanding. What is the meaning of the word 'understanding'? When do I say, 'I have understood', and when do I say, 'I have not understood'? Both ways we can try to understand the thing. You understand a thing first when you can touch it; it is one way of understanding. But even that is not sufficient. You may say that even if you touch an object you may not really understand it. Take for example the story of Othello, Shakespeare's story again. In this story the handkerchief plays the major part. Othello and Desdemona love each other tremendously and marry and lead a very happy life until one man – Iago, goes on telling Othello that Desdemona is unfaithful to him. He is a poisonous man who cannot bear the happiness of Othello and Desdemona, and simply wants to disrupt this happiness. He goes on telling him about Desdemona's unfaithfulness with a story that Othello's friend, who visits him quite often is especially entertained by her, 'She is so attentive to him, just see, you watch', and that spoils the whole mentality of Othello. But he is so sure of his wife that even though temporarily these doubts come in his mind, he just throws them out. Iago finds that Othello is invulnerable and the disruption that he wanted is not possible, so he devises a kind of plot. He bribes a maidservant of Desdemona to steal a handkerchief for him. It was a special handkerchief; presented by Othello to Desdemona as a special gift and it was prized above everything. Having come into possession of that handkerchief, he tells Othello, 'I now have proof of Desdemona's unfaithfulness. You prized above all the handkerchief you presented to Desdemona do you know where it is lying now? It is not with her! She has presented it to your friend.' Othello does not believe it at all at first, but when he comes home he asks her for the handkerchief. She is quite sure that the handkerchief is there but obviously it is not there and she comes back empty handed. This infuriates Othello tremendously. It is for him the last straw on the camel's back after so many accusations, which he had heard over months. This becomes the clinching proof that Desdemona is really unfaithful and he becomes so angry that he murders her. Soon after, the maidservant enters and on seeing her dead mistress asks, 'Why? What is the reason?' Othello answers, 'The handkerchief.' And she says, 'But I gave it to Iago!' On hearing this, the whole matter becomes terribly chaotic in his mind. He accused her absolutely falsely; on no ground at all – such a faithful, such a beautiful woman. He feels he has done a great injustice to everybody in the world and he cannot even bear to look at himself – so he kills himself too. It is a tragedy. The story basically rests upon a handkerchief. Many people may see just a handkerchief but the way in which Othello sees it makes him understand many things; the whole story becomes quite different on seeing just one handkerchief.  Merely seeing an object is not enough for understanding, the context in which an object is seen is very important. So all understanding basically is the grasp of an object in the context of everything else. When the context is seen, then you say, 'Yes, now have I understood'? That interrelationship of an object with all the rest is what is called understanding.

Now the human mind is capable of conception, it is capable of understanding, and thirdly it is capable of withdrawing from the rush of all emotions. It is the third capacity of the mind. It is very often difficult but it is capable of gradually withdrawing and becoming a witness, pure witness. I can observe my own anger although very often when I am angry, I become anger myself; I even loose all control over myself. When I do not even know that there is anger, I am simply a wave of anger myself; there is only explosion and nothing else. But when the mind has been trained to withdraw itself more and more, particularly in the calmer moments when our mind has become more and more a witness self, then we see that even when anger overpowers us, then this habit of witnessing comes to our help and we can see ourselves that, 'Now anger is rising, I am being overtaken by anger, explosion is taking place.' Because of this witnessing consciousness you can intervene and even if anger remains you can stop the manifestation of it. Now this intervention of the mind is actually the action of will of which we spoke earlier. So without the mind there is no action of will therefore will is usually called intelligent will. There is intelligence which works in order that the will operates and this will operates because of the capacity of the mind to withdraw from the rush of emotions, desires, instincts, sympathies. It is a great capacity of the mind.

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