At the end of Part – 7, we made a reference to the bag of tricks that the mind had acquired to help in the preservation and the perpetuation of the “form” of the body-organism.
Before we take up that issue for a detailed discussion, we should also make note of an important and closely related point. It is the “power” of the mind. For all practical purposes brain is after all the seat, or at the least the surrogate, of the mind.
All schools of philosophy agree on the power of the mind. The mind can do miracles. You see them all the time but you are so habituated to experiencing the miracles that you tend to overlook their immensity and astounding quality.
The faith oriented schools of philosophies exploit the ‘power of the mind’ in visualizing, securing and realizing, in the interest of the body organism, situations that are congenial to make the life of the body-organism easy, comfortable and reasonably happy. A number of techniques have been developed and refined over time to serve towards such an objective.
They come in various types like different forms of meditation, elaborate rituals, deity worship, observation of austerities, performance of askesis, mantra chanting, recitation of hymns and repetition of Godly names and so on. Training the mind through such methods in intense focusing, concentration, and one-pointedness bestow to it an ability in converging its strength. The mind can then work with colossal energy much like the diffused light becomes a laser beam having the ability to cut even steel.
Tremendous faith and practice are required to achieve such proportions of strength. Monks like Matthieu Ricard earned the epithet of “The World’s Happiest Man” through the technique of practicing several years of Compassion Meditation. Psychiatrist Dr. J. Schwartz used Buddhist meditation techniques to remedy problems like Obsessive Compulsory Disorder, depression and the like. Quadriplegics are able to use the power of their mind to drive their wheel chairs. With his unswerving faith in the word of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Lama Phakyab Rinpoche could heal his leg which was otherwise to be amputated because of severe gangrene.
The well-known ‘placebo’ effect and its opposite ‘nocebo’ also work better if there is complete “faith” in three directions – on the item used as placebo, on the giver of the placebo and on one’s own self using it. Fake surgeries as placebo done on the knees of Arthritis patients cured their pain. The secret behind the curative property of the substances given by holy men could be the placebo effect. Our mind has an unlimited capacity to cure the body-organism by generating the required antibodies and opioids etc. triggered by the faith induced by placebo.
The power of the mind is the reason behind the teaching when Advaita says that the world seen by you is nothing but a projection of your mind. Recognizing that power of the mind, Advaita advises the spiritual seeker to harness the capacity of the mind to transcend itself. The dualistic schools, in contrast, aim at making the life sweet and happy for the devotee by manipulation of the power of the mind through belief systems.
So devotion does work, but the devotee still stays within the realms of the mind rather than transcend it.
We had already hinted at the power of mind when we referred to the imagination of the presence of “another” in addition to a ‘me’ towards the end of Part – 1. It is the mind that imagines and projects an utterly powerful superhuman entity and embellishes it with all those things that itself apparently lacks.
Under normal circumstances, the mind ‘thinks’ it observes in the world the following traits that are inimical to its happiness:
Unstoppable Change – in both spatial and temporal dimensions causing variation, heterogeneity, growth and decay – resulting in “uncertain futures and consequent “unhappiness”;
Inevitable Conflict – in ownership of resources and also conflict of interest in the utilization of the resources – leading to an absence of peace of mind;
Asphyxiating Confinement – in its capacities of physical bodily prowess; life-span etc. – resulting in despair in its ability to conquer things;
Irritating Composites – in all entities and processes we face in the world causing difficulty in controlling them.
Therefore, the mind chases:
Changelessness –a constancy and certitude of things/situations instead of ‘change’;
Oneness – absence of differences in the creatures so that love flourishes instead of ‘conflicts’;
Infiniteness – unbounded strength and seamlessness across all things instead of ‘confinement’;
Single Constituent – ensuring homogeneity instead of varied composites and aggregates which give scope for division.
A deeper investigation, however, shows that even if all the things ‘wished for’ are granted, new wants arise and one feels that we remain like a bottomless pit with unfulfilled wants. This is also a power of the mind!
(To continue …. Part – 9).