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The conscious mind

Updated on July 1, 2017

Having acquired some understanding of the twofold nature of the mind let us now further explore the workings of each component of the mind so that we have a better understanding of the mind and its workings. Let us start with the corporeal mind or the temporal mind, or the mind which in most cases and instances is known as the conscious mind primarily because it is the mind that operates during the waking state and continues to operate until the body is asleep or enters the transcendental or meditative state.

Before we go any further I am going to briefly explain the practices of the ancient Hindus to show the order of precedence and to explain where the emphasis lies with regards to faith, when it comes to deciding which mind is more important or choosing between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. As far as Hindu ascetics and monks are concerned, the latter or the subconscious mind, is far more important that the former or the conscious mind.

In the beginning, the early Hindus (we are going back to the Indus Valley civilization and the years preceding that) all Hindus were first and foremost ascetics i.e. they existed first in the meditative or the transcendental state.

The Mohenjo Daro and Harappa cities, for example, were built to facilitate worship and this is evident from the city itself. It is the first civilization in the world or the earliest civilization in history to have a sanitation system and cleanliness not only of the mind but also of the body is important in the Hindu faith. The legacy that has been left behind by the Indus Valley civilization is found in many aspects of the Hindu faith today.

Initially the conscious mind was the subservient mind and the Hindus in this ancient civilization spent most of their time in the meditative state and the conscious mind only came into play when the body needed to fulfill its bodily requirements and activities related to that for example eating and fulfilling other duties that perpetuated existence like tilling the fields or ensuring that there was sufficient water for the crops - both the Mohenjo Daro and Harappa cities had a complex and sophisticated irrigation system.

However with the passage of time, other factors, many of them external began to influence the ancient people who inhabited these cities and that led to a collapse of their ascetic way of life and the emphasis changed to a more temporal or a more corporeal existence and this change triggered or perpetuated the collapse of the civilization.

The conscious mind began to play a more prominent role and in time usurped the role of the subconscious mind relegating it to furthest corners of the mind and material needs began to take precedence and come to the forefront. With each generation the reliance on the conscious mind increased and the use of the subconscious mind decreased until it came to the point that normal Hindus were not even aware of the twofold nature of the human mind and confined it to the purists and the ascetics.

The conscious mind as we know it is also called the infant mind or the reactive mind and these characteristics aptly describe the conscious mind.

The conscious mind is an infant not only in terms of age i.e. it only exists for the duration of a lifetime but it is also an infant in terms of its cravings. It is a very materialistic mind and when the needs of the senses are not satisfied or fulfilled in tends to display a range of emotions that vary from sadness to anger but rarely understands that there is a higher order that sometimes dictates or influences the outcome of things and one of those factors that come into play or part of that higher order is karma (the sum collective of all our actions from our past existence).

The conscious mind is easily disheartened and because of its unwillingness to accept and make the best of any given situation it easily succumbs to illnesses and a body that overly relies on the conscious mind will more often than not fall victim to some sickness or other and it tends to shorten one’s life. Therefore the conscious mind has to be curtailed and just like a child has to be told “no” to prevent any sort of harm from befalling the child; the impulses of the conscious mind have to be likewise restricted.

The conscious mind is also called the reactive mind because it reacts to situations often without giving the matter much thought and sometimes because of its impetuous nature it finds itself in a fix. Therefore in any given situation it is best to rein in the impulses of the conscious mind and to think the matter through before reacting.

The conscious mind is more concerned with temporal existence and while it does accept that there is a life after death it fails to explore it further because it is afraid of what it might uncover and it is afraid that if the body it belongs to spends more time exploring the other facets of existence, it might eventually be relegated to a secondary role and the subconscious mind may come to the forefront.

© 2017 Kathiresan Ramachanderam and Dyarne Jessica Ward

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