The 3 Aspects of the Mind – Connecting to Pure Intelligence
In today’s society, our culture is very heavily focused on the mind and the intelligence, often giving too much significance to thought at the expense of our other important faculties. Within the yogic system of thought, the mind is seen to have as many as 16 parts. However, today we are going to touch on the three basic aspects. We can begin by understanding there is not necessarily such a thing as ‘the mind’. Instead, what we know to be the mind is actually just a combination of memory and intelligence, individually and collectively, and only through focus and dedication can we begin to have a better relationship with the mind.
As humans, we are only able to think thoughts from the information we have already received throughout our lives so far. This means nothing that the mind is able to conjure up is ever really new, it is instead recycled and transformed into something slightly different from the data we have previously stored. Therefore, if we allow ourselves to only be dictated by our thought processes then we are ensuring that no new information ever comes through. Instead, we want to be able to observe the processes of the mind and begin to control them. Before we can get a grip on the processes of the mind, however, first we are to understand them.
The Ego Mind
Rather than the generic way of looking at the ego, let’s instead understand the ego as the individual thought pattern itself. It is the habit of the mind to focus on of interesting and desirable things, whether they are ‘good or bad.’ The ego creates separation—it’s the ‘I am here and you are there, I want this, I want that’. This is not a bad thing, however, as it is also the root of our perception of our unique identities. In its pathological state, it creates feelings of separation, pain, and alienation. Consider the example of someone needing to be right, they may ordinarily behave in a peaceful way, however, if one of their beliefs that they hold close to their hearts are challenged, they may come to blows with someone in order to stand up for what their ego believes in.
This attachment to beliefs creates a personal illusion, one that seems very real to the individual but is in fact obscured by subjectivity not having a real root in actual reality. This deep attachment to beliefs is what causes most of us in the world to act in some of the most destructive of ways. In its balanced state, the ego is a personal journey through a conscious reality. It can be our lens through which we personally experience the awe of life itself while co-creating from an empowered individual perspective. We can then more accurately strive towards satisfying our needs, feeling good about ourselves, and designing a life that is in the greatest good of all concerned.
Either way, there needs to be a more balanced approach to this aspect of our minds, a type of clarity gained in the ego, in order for us to function as our best selves. This is gained through understanding the other two functions of the mind.
The Memory Mind
Our memory responds to the desires of our ego by seeking individuality through focussed reflection and contrasting experiences. It is the place where all experiences and emotions are kept for later reference—basically, like the hard drive of the mind. This information is being constantly stored in order to update our perception of ‘what life is all about’. It is constantly being consulted to help us better understand what actions to take in any given moment; like, for instance, to understand whether we are in danger or whether we have enough balance to feel happy.
There is more memory stored in our bodies than we could ever imagine. Our bodies are the mediums through which the real mind is translated, and not necessarily just the thoughts we so often identify as the ‘truth’. The entire body carries and translates memory and a gigantic amount of it at that. The memory can be thought of as the lower mind, through which it interacts with the external world and stores sensory information and experiences. The memory is constantly under question and doubted by the conscious mind, which can cause anxiety about the past or future if used to the extreme. Our memory is very good at helping us to understand and direct ourselves in the world, however, it is not meant to be the main decision maker. That is the job of the higher mind or the pure mind. You can cultivate an awareness and understanding of your memory through noticing your thoughts and actions through your five senses. How do they respond to your world in any given moment? By observing these sensory responses, you realize how often your memory is behind your senses and actions.
The Pure Mind
Pure mind is pure universal intelligence and is unaffected by memory. This begins the process of the detachment from the ego and the understanding that there is a you that isn’t tied to your memories or experiences. When you get in touch with this aspect of being then you are able to access the pure source of creative intelligence inherent in life itself! The three functions of the mind are all seemingly competing for attention in order to carry out their desires into the external world. These competing aspects can be much louder than that of the pure mind. In the absence of hearing the pure mind, the competing voices often influence people into doing things that are not useful, and can, in fact, be harmful to themselves and the world.
Again, pure mind is pure universal intelligence. If the pure mind remains clouded by the weathering of negative internal and external behaviors, then the deeper aspects of universal mind—which knows, decides, and discriminates—cannot be fully realized. This aspect of the mind is the most important part of purifying oneself in the path of meditation and self-realization. A good way to cultivate the witnessing of pure mind is to simply be aware of the streams of thoughts, emotions, and images that arise along with your memories.
Even when you have come to know everything you could possibly want to know through your intelligence, you come to realize you know nothing. There are infinitely more questions posed in response to the infinite amount of answers you find. This type of unsatisfactory feeling or boredom towards life can be seen in young children today. They already have so many answers to the cosmos given to them through the technology, instead of actually participating and learning within the world. Sometimes, rather than exploring the world outside, they live through the window of modern technology instead and wondering why they are so bored. The same can be said for adults too. Instead of living life at a steady yet meaningful pace, we are in such a rush to accomplish our many dreams and desires while simultaneously trying to find answers to our many questions as quickly as possible. This leads us to find the answers (or what we think is the answer i.e. money) but not necessarily to finding happiness or contentment. It gets to the point where life is no longer as exciting as it is supposed to be since we are using only our intelligence to understand life and not connecting to something greater.
Cultivate a Balanced Mind
We need to allow our pure mind to do its job: understand, decide and discriminate. It is designed to help us dream, think and act in the best possible manner we can at any given moment. Truly, we want the pure mind to be making more of the decisions for us if we want to live a life filled with wonder and happiness. Otherwise, our memories get their instructions from the habit patterns of the ego mind. If our pure mind is activated then we can respond to the world as it is at present. Through the practice of meditation, we can develop a sense of calm and peace, no longer reacting from the memory, but rather to that which is, that of truth.
Modern-day understandings of the mind can all too often focus on the need to develop intelligence and keeping the mind logically sharp. However, if we are to develop a more balanced mind, we need to practice more meditation, more being in nature, and actively practicing love and compassion within the world with our pure mind.
In love and light,
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