The brain and the mind

You may be wondering why we have so positively differentiated the brain and the mind. The answer is simple and obvious, namely that they are different entities. However, you should not accept our word for this, but find out for yourself through the practice of yoga. Modern science is already starting to indicate this distinction and the following are a few examples of the discoveries of modern neuroscience that show this.

Neurological investigations have found that the brain does not store memories in the same manner as a modern digital computer, where each bit of information is in a specific cell (pigeon hole). If one half of the brain is removed or put out of action, then the memory is not erased. The ability of the individual to recall a memory is impaired, but the actual memory remains intact. This may at first seem mystifying, but the answer is simple if one regards the phenomena from a yogic point of view. The memory is in the mind, and the more subtle mind is not directly influenced by the impairment of the brain apart from the fact that the mind cannot utilize the full capacity of the brain instrument. Therefore, interference with the brain does not necessarily affect the mind and memory. The brain is the means for the individual to express mental memories; it is a more gross instrument. The brain is a switching mechanism. Science is starting to discover facts that indicate the difference between the brain and the mind, but they have yet to make a positive statement. At present the words ‘brain’ and ‘mind’ are used almost synonymously; yet soon neurological investigations will prove that the mind is a more subtle instrument than the brain. One researcher has said that the explorers of the brain may discover a new world. Possibly he was not aware of the implications and truth behind his statement, that the new world beyond the brain is the mind.

Neuroscience has also made other interesting discoveries that have caused much perplexity since they don’t fit into existing theories of the brain. For example, medical scientists have not yet found an anatomical brain centre concerned specifically with learning and knowledge. Researchers cannot find any explanation for learning and this seems startling for it is this faculty of learning that is one of the distinctive features of man. Yet they are totally puzzled about the actual location of this learning process. One eminent neurologist has said: “There is no scientific basis for learning… it cannot take place … yet it does.”

This is the point, the dilemma that modern science has reached. It knows, like everyone else, that the learning process takes place, but cannot find any part of the brain that is directly concerned with learning. How can this be? From a yogic point of view the answer is very simple: the process of learning takes place in the mind which is beyond the brain. To find the process of learning, neuroscientists will have to start practising meditational techniques. Then they will realize where the centres of learning and memory are located.

Neurologists are baffled by their investigations into the brain. In one magazine, a researcher writes: “… the brain thinks about itself as it thinks about itself thinking about itself.” This seems to be a riddle and it is, if one tries to understand mental processes by investigating only the brain organ. The riddle ceases to be a riddle when one considers the functioning of the more subtle instrument the mind and consciousness.

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