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ESP: ExtraSensory Perception
Tackling The Subconscious Mind
Neurophysiology of Meditation
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Tat Tvam Asi
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Karma Yoga In the Gita
India's Contribution to the World
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Tackling The Subconscious Mind
We all know something about our conscious mind. At least we can make certain presumptions about our consciousness. Consciousness for most of us is the fact of the awareness of our thinking, feeling, and doing. Although, the reactions to the stimuli may differ from person to person, or even in the same person from time to time, the fact that everyone is capable of reacting is taken as a sign of consciousness. These conscious acts are sometimes termed as conscious mind.
Similarly, certain acts are performed reflexively or without conscious awareness. For instance, mind goes on thinking bad thoughts despite attempts to control them. From where such thoughts as of anger, lust, jealousy, hatred, and even desire to harm others, come? Same is the case with good or noble thoughts also. Selflessness predominates in some persons to the extent that these persons give up everything and start working for the welfare of world. From where do such thoughts arise?
They arise from the subconscious mind. Subconscious mind is the sum total of our past experiences. What we feel, think, or do forms the basis of our experience. These experiences are stored in the form of subtle impressions in our subconscious mind. These impressions interact with one another and give birth to tendencies. We become prone to react in a particular way to a particular situation or stimulus depending upon the tendencies in our subconscious mind. The resultant of these tendencies determines our character. Depending on the strength and nature of their character people respond to the same stimuli or the situation in differing ways. The reaction varies according to the character of the individual.
Let us explain the concept with one example. The hot summer dries up everything, including the weeds, in a farm, and the field appears barren. Apparently there is nothing but black soil. Soon the rains soak the land and the imbedded seeds sprout up and fill the field with unwanted weeds again. The farmer never desired to have them, but when certain conditions were fulfilled the weed came to life. The rain water, the weather, and the seeds were sufficient to cause the weed to appear above the ground. However, the weed did not come with rain-water or from sky, or somewhere else; the weed was always present in the seed form in the soil itself!
Same is the case with us. There are impressions in the subtle form in our subconscious mind. On coming with contact with certain external factors the necessary conditions are fulfilled and these subtle impressions surface in their manifest form.
For instance, suppose there is silent unseen and unknown tendency to take alcohol, or to smoke, in our subconscious mind. Necessary conditions in the form of a friend, a bar, a cigarette vendor, etc. would bring forth the desire to drink or to smoke; and we are in there!
Another person has a latent or dormant tendency to seek God. The necessary external stimuli in the form of a scriptural text, meeting a Holy person, visiting a temple (or Church,) etc. attracts him/her, and what a wonder! the person is totally immersed in various spiritual practices, he becomes God centered.
There never was any conscious effort or desire or thought to drink, to smoke, or to seek God. But fulfillment of necessary conditions was responsible for activating impressions in subconscious mind, and thus followed a particular behaviour.
But what about free will? Can we not choose the way we will react to a given condition or circumstance? Yes, we can choose; but the will is not absolutely free. The will, by which I make choices, behaves in accordance with my character, that sum total of all past deeds, thoughts, and feelings: The impressions not only from the present life, but also the whole record of many past lives that the subconscious mind carries.
Then is there no way out? There is. It is to follow the 'psychology of spiritual science'. We have to empty the mind of all unwanted subconscious impressions and tendencies: the weeds. It is almost an impossible task; almost but not totally impossible. It is possible to change the contents of mind (just as it is possible to sow groundnut seed so as to start replacing the weed). And as we have seen that the conscious experiences get stored up as subconscious impressions, we have to control and handle both conscious and subconscious mind. Our actions, thinking, and feeling should be such that the subconscious mind is cleansed of its dirty contents.
Suppose you have the problem of cleaning a dirty ink bottle that is fastened to the table. You can't pick it up and empty the ink out. What will you do? You pour clean water in the bottle, and the ink and the dirt will come out. You keep pouring in the clean water until all the ink and the dirt have been washed out and the bottle contains nothing but clean water. In the same way, although it is not possible to empty the mind by throwing out the contents of consciousness and making it blank; what one can do is to keep pouring clean water of pure thoughts of God, divinity, spirituality; virtues like love, selflessness, altruism, etc. into the mind until all the dirt of past impressions spills out.
During spilling out of this dirt, our character may appear miserable and suspect, but that is natural during the cleaning operation. The dirt of hundreds of past births may take quite some time to clear. Therefore, patience and perseverance are essential. One may feel dejected and depressed, and therefore, a Teacher, and Holy company is necessary. Sympathetic friends and attachment to a spiritual group are helpful.
Purer the mind better is the reflection of Divine/Truth therein. And to the degree the impressions on the mind are reduced, to that extent purer it becomes. Restlessness of mind and the number of desires have direct relation. Therefore, we have to reduce and control our desires. But this may create vacuum. And hence, it is better to desire for Grace of God, or for ability to discriminate and to have dispassion. In short, to tackle the subconscious mind, one should start filling the mind with noble thoughts by way of practice of meditation and yoga, discrimination and renunciation, selfless work and devotion.
c s shah