Are Thoughts “Subjective Impressions” of Human Mind? First Lesson of Yoga !


 By: Shreepal Singh

We are humans and we have our thoughts. In fact, it is our thoughts that make us so different from animals. We have from very simple thoughts to very complex thoughts. The bundle of our knowledge – all the laws of Nature revealed to us by science – is the bundle of our thoughts about Nature. On the one side there is Nature (whether we are here or not to know this Nature) and on the other side are our thoughts about this Nature.  While we humans are “objective” entity, our thoughts look very much “subjective”; as we all know “objective” thing exists in reality and independent of us and “subjective” thing is only an impression within our mind, which has no existence independent of us.

We have reached a stage in our evolutionary journey where we are only able to say this much: This Nature is an “objective” reality and our thoughts about this Nature are nothing but our “subjective” impressions in our mind, which have no real existence independent of us! We are evolving beings and we know many things but we are yet to know many more things in this evolutionary journey! This is the dismal state of our knowledge today! Not only this dismal state of our knowledge, we still have many people – people holding responsible public positions – among us who completely deny the natural phenomenon of evolution. We have yet to go a long way in our journey! In the geometric pattern of the “progress” of our scientific knowledge, this point in 21st century is not the last point – we have not reached the dead-end of our knowledge. Let us come to “thoughts”.

What is a ‘thought’? Does ‘thought’ exist? How do we know of the ‘apparent existence’ of, say, mind – that is, reason? What is reason? We human beings (like our inferior cousins, plants, microbes and animals) observe ‘objective’ world around us. We act, being propelled by the movers of life, like the so-called instincts and ‘go ahead’ by preserving ourselves in a hostile environment, dealing to dominating our competitors in our surroundings, adapting and procreating our progeny. This is evolving ourselves in relation to the objective world around us. This is life. But this is not enough to ‘reason’. To be able to ‘reason’ we have to rise a bit higher on the ladder of life. To ‘reason’, we take a portion of the ‘objective’ world around us and isolate this portion from the ‘unified whole’ of this world. This is the separation of a part from the whole by using the faculty of our ‘reason’.

  We study the properties of this isolated part and then refit it into the whole again. It is like breaking the whole into pieces creating jigsaw puzzle and solving the same by putting them back in different relations. This is unification. The reasoning follows the process of movement from unity to separation to unity again. Or, it may be put this way: we take a set of material objects (with their associated properties) and isolate this set from the remainder of the whole universe. It is an incongruous heap or, say, a jumbled world. The incongruity in their interrelation is a ‘problem’ or, say, disorder. We re-position them again and again in their interrelation till congruity is established. Then, the incongruous heap turns into a congruous order of their interrelations. We call it a ‘thought’.

  The output of the process of reason is a thought. And, this thought, when found to be in congruity with another neighboring ‘assembled’ thought, is elevated to the dignity of a principle or even a law. This congruity – this thought – is already existing in universe in the form of an ‘ordered state’ of Nature; we simply become conscious of this ordered state in our own way – by reasoning. The net output of this reasoning process is called by us a thought, which is nothing but a reflection in our mind of a reality that is existing outside us.

Let us give an analogy to make it easier to understand. We human beings perceive colors, beautiful and of varied hues. Do these colors exist in universe independent of human beings? Yes, they do exist. But they do not exist in the form of ‘colors’ as we perceive them. The colors are the corresponding sensations in the brain of human beings of particular frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. Colors exist in Nature, though not as colors but as a corresponding reality. Our universe is an apparatus that is full of order and logic, if there is a human being to search and sense these harmonious structures. Even if there is no human being there to sense and ‘certify’ this orderliness of universe, it still exists there as a hard reality. Our universe is a beautiful creation that is still continuing to grow. Our thoughts are merely our “equivalent(s)” of these ordered states existing in Nature, and even if we are not there to sense these “equivalent(s)”, they exist there independent of us.

This universe is a grand thought. All thoughts that we become aware of in our own way are already existing in the form of the congruity of the material reality in Nature. Whether we receive (which we prefer to call perceive) or not receive, these ‘thoughts’ – the building blocks of this Grand Thought – are already existing out there in this universe. Thoughts are immortal.

  One may raise a question – a doubt – here: If there is ‘real existence’ of thoughts and consciousness outside of human beings, then we must be able to fabricate devices that generate and receive these ‘realities’. Is it possible? Why can we not detect any of them today with our modern tools that are sensitive enough to detect the presence of a minuscule form and amount of energy? If there is this objective presence of thoughts etc. we must surely be able to get an indication of their existence through these fine instruments. But we do not get any such indication. Is not all this talk of an objective existence of thoughts, desires and consciousness a humbug and nonsense? It seems so today. But we should not be in hurry in pronouncing our judgment on the basis of our inability. Yes, we are unable but it should be all the more reasons on our part to be more humble in our judgments and verdicts on things that we still do not know. We know today all our ‘thoughts’ or ‘sensations’ of desires are the phenomena occurring in our mind only. We know there are transmissions of impulses of energy through various neurological circuits in our brain. We also know these processes occurring within biological brain are phenomena that are interpreted by our ‘mind’ as our ‘thoughts, desires’ etc.

 But human brain itself is a trans-receiver. It generates and receives thoughts and desires, though we are not able to detect them outside our ‘mind’. Why is it so?

 Brain is made up of matter and thoughts, desires etc. are not made up of matter. However, this matter is able to detect things that are not material (including electro-magnetic energy, which is material). Brain is a very sensitive material tool, which is simply devised by Nature’s evolution. It is conscious of itself. It is possible to fabricate a device that is able to generate and receive thoughts, desires etc. But it has to be likewise sensitive enough; it has to be conscious of itself. It is creating artificial life in laboratory. It is possible but creating artificial life is not enough to generate or receive thoughts etc. This artificially created life must also be ‘sensitive enough’ and – it means simply that – this life must be organized in the required fashion like brain. Brain has been organized – in a manner as it is – by life’s evolution process. It can be achieved in laboratory too but it would amount to achieving such evolutionary traits of mind by us artificially. Now we have the necessary tool – genes – to accomplish this task in laboratory. It is duplicating (and not only duplicating but refining too in a better way that is not available in Nature) evolution artificially. It is all possible.

  It all is creating ‘mind’ artificially. But today we are quite far from even properly understanding the biological structure and functions of human brain. An individual neuron in brain is not self-aware but when we put billions of them together in a particular manner there, the brain suddenly becomes self-conscious possessing an ego-awareness, which is the signature tune of mind. How biological brain is connected to non-biological mind? Or, is mind simply an operation that is going on in the background of biological brain? Even if this be the case, this operation of mind would be akin to a computer-like non-biological (mind’s) software running in the biological hardware (of brain). But then this software application also has some linking bridge with the biological brain. There is yet a long way for us to go. The coming age of bio-science would belong to the understanding of relation of human brain with mind. We have yet to understand not only the functioning of physical brain, but also the co-relation between brain and mind; and understanding mind means understanding mind’s conscious, subconscious and unconscious parts; and understanding those domains of mind that are beyond the conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious parts, which are still unknown to us. The biological brain is like an electric motor – you supply the power and it moves on giving an output; or like a dynamo – you move it and it supplies the power giving an output. In neither case it is a ‘power’; it simply is an instrument that processes a ‘power’, which ‘power’ exists in some form independent of this ‘instrument’. All this can be done artificially. But by undertaking this task in laboratory, our understanding of mind would completely be changed. By this way we would establish humans’ relationship with Nature in a totally new way; this way humans would transform themselves.

The universe is an ordered whole, and therefore, the universe is a grand thought. Not only the universe as a whole is an ordered apparatus, every constituent part of it is an ordered formation, which human beings perceive in their mind as ‘reasoned thoughts’. Whether human beings are there or not to perceive these ‘ordered formations’ as thoughts, has no bearing on their existence. The formations that we know as thoughts have their own world and are governed by their own rules. Every thought that may ever be conceived by human beings and also the thoughts that can never be conceived by them already exist in universe.

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