We have spent some time describing three theories of the mind. It was not meant to convince you of anything; only to open your eyes to new possibilities beyond the normal realms of thought. Also we wanted to show that previously irreconcilable scientific ideas and mystical or yogic ideas are fast approaching each other. Only a few years ago they seemed so distant and contradictory in most cases, yet now they are beginning to say essentially the same thing.
In order to explain or at least indicate the direction that meditational practices will take in relation to the mind, we will adopt a modern psychological division of the mind. Remember, it is only arbitrary in definition, it is a means to an end and not intended to describe the mind as it really is. However, it is a very convenient system to adopt for a reasonably clear explanation and understanding.
The mind is divided into four realms: the lower or instinctive, the rational, the illuminative and the collective unconscious. Let us define these divisions in turn.
The lower mind: This section of the mind is concerned with coordination and activation of the different parts and organs of the body. It synchronizes the systems of respiration, circulation, digestion and other processes. It is the computer which ensures that all the different parts of the body function harmoniously so that the body acts as a coordinating unit.
It is also the source of our instinctive urges such as hunger, thirst, procreation, self-preservation and other basic drives. These instincts are often so powerful that they overwhelm the rest of the mind. This part of the mind is the source of our complexes, phobias, conflicts and other mental problems that can make life miserable. These obsessions are generally charged with intense emotions. It is the storehouse of the compulsions that motivate most of our actions.
The rational mind: This is the part of the mind from which we generally operate during the waking state. This part is the most accessible to our awareness. It is the reservoir of rational thinking, for it is here that data accumulated from everyday experience is stored. It is also the region where the incoming data is analyzed and compared with previous memories so that logical deduction or thoughts arise to conscious perception. In fact, the very thoughts that we are thinking right now are probably from this part of the mind. It is the problem solving realm of the mind, which gives us answers as we require them. Most of this problem solving occurs without our awareness. For example, many of us have had a question which defied answers at a certain time, yet without our knowing it, the problem was being tackled in the rational part of the mind, so that at a later time the answer suddenly flashed to conscious perception. Or one tries to remember someone's name and cannot, then suddenly it surfaces at a later time. This is the work of the rational or logical mind.
The illuminative mind\ This is often known as the realm of superconsciousness or of genius. It is from this part of the mind that we receive intuitive flashes or inspirations. Without this region the great artists would not have been able to create their masterpieces nor scientists to receive insight into the phenomena of the universe. It is from here that the great saints and yogis gain their revelations, deeper knowledge, bliss and transcendental experiences.
Very few people are aware of this part of the mind. We tend to be imprisoned by the chains of the rational lower mind. This region has been generally and sadly neglected by psychologists in the past. It is only recently that there has been a wide interest in this area. For example, notable psychologists such as Frankl and Maslow are propounding height or depth psychology, and have made steps to investigate this aspect of the mind scientifically.
The collective unconscious: This is the part of the mind that was brought to light in psychological circles by Jung. It is that part of the mind which contains a complete record of our evolutionary past. It is a realm of unimaginable and immeasurable depth that contains the information and activities of our ancestral past. It is the reservoir of archetypes that has accumulated or perhaps guided us over the period of millions of years, though we could say that it is beyond definition in terms of time. Some people regard it as the inner equivalent of the story of creation and the universe. In short, it is an infinite blueprint of the inner and outer cosmos. Actually, whether it is outside or inside is a debatable point, as we have indicated in the description of the infinite and the atomic mind. Certainly it is that which links all of us together.
We must emphasize again that this classification is only a means to describe the mind. It is not intended that this description represents the mind in real terms, for this is impossible.
The lower and rational aspects of the mind contain the traits that define our individual personality. The superconscious and collective unconscious realms are, on the other hand, suprapersonal. That is, they transcend indivi duality and are the common ground of all of us. Actually, the superconscious division can probably be regarded as an integral part of the collective unconscious, but we have divided them for convenience of description. The superconscious realm is that part of the collective unconscious from which we get our most sublime illuminations. The rest of the collective unconscious contains the accumulated experience of existence: that which is beautiful and that which is ugly, that which seems relevant and that which seems irrelevant to our lives. Of course these are subjective responses, for the collective unconscious is really neutral in its nature; it is no more than a recording of that which has happened and that which is. It is the voice of tbe universe without personal preferences. It is designated good or bad only by our individual tastes, likes and dislikes.
The reader should be careful not to assume that the collective unconscious and the superconscious aspects of the mind are fenced in and situated in a certain location. It is in a sense everywhere, under, above, within and without; it transcends the individualized mind.
Further, there is an increasing tendency to understand that the collective unconscious (cosmic mind) not only contains the blueprint of the past but also the blueprint of the future. Thus, each of us has the potential not only to be aware of our ancestral past, but of the future, of things to come. We don't ask you to believe this, but this easily explains the widely experienced phenomena of prophecy. A person who tells future events is merely a person who manages to be aware of this particular part of the collective unconscious.
The reader should also take care not to presume that there is a rigid demarcation between the personal and impersonal aspects of the mind. This division in fact does not exist; each merges into the other as imperceptibly as the earthly atmosphere blends with and fuses into the surrounding space.
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