The Four Components of Mind

We talked a bit about the energetic system of the Chakras last week and discovered the importance of opening up internally so that the energy of this unseen system can flow free of obstruction. The difficulty of learning to find a relationship with the Chakra System is that we cannot see it as it has a “non-physical” form. The same holds true with the Mind, which cannot be seen in physical form but is very much a living entity.

The Mind is complex and very very difficult to understand. It has, as I see it, four components that have very distinct functions. The ability to rationalize, perceive, resist and observe.

The Four Components of Mind

The ability to rationalize serves a very important function that allows us to think about the myriad of stimuli that enter our senses. This function allows us to consider the value of the things that happen to us everyday. Are our romantic relationships fulfilling, is my job worth keeping, am I making the best choices for myself, do I like this or that person, what is my opinion of my physical body, etc., etc. Opinions are formed from the things that we rationally think about and it is very difficult to change them once they are formed. Our opinions are hard-wired into the neuro-pathways of our brain and become “cemented” into our brains. In essence, our “rationalizing” creates the physical make-up of our brains and if we think and rationalize too much we stuff the mind with an overflow of matter that results in stress and delusions. Just like if someone eats too much bad food, they will create too many fat cells that will ultimately put stress on the physical body as can be seen in things like obesity, clogged arteries, stressed joints, and the like. It is not necessary to try to figure everything out rationally and when we do this it is because we are running from our feelings. Feelings bring us to the second component of Mind, which is our ability to perceive.

Perception takes information that is “up” in our heads and allows it to flow down “into” us for a deeper understanding. When I say a deeper understanding, I mean what we feel about that information for one thing. There is also a deeper “knowing” that occurs from our ability to perceive the information and opinions that we make. Some information makes us feel positive feelings and others makes us feel negative feelings. If we have formed a negative or overly critical opinion of something, it results in negative feelings. The deeper we allow ourselves to connect to those negative feelings, the deeper our “knowing” or understanding of that feeling becomes. This is important because the more we know and perceive about our negative feelings the more likely we will choose the more comfortable positive opinions. When we create more positive opinions, the result is more positive feelings. The only way to wake up to our negative opinions is to connect to how we feel about those opinions. The catch and difficulty in this process is that we do not always want to FEEL our negative feelings. And when we don’t feel our negative feelings we remain asleep and allow our negative opinions to drive us in negative directions in an endless cycle of darkness. We now come to our third component of Mind, which is the ability to resist.

Ah, the infamous resistance, which is the part of us that prevents us from becoming free, enlightened, ultimately happy and reaching our highest potential. I am not saying that our resistance is not important because it most defiantly is important and valuable. Without our faculty to resist opinions, feelings, and choices we would not have freedom of choice. The glory of this Universe is that we ALWAYS have a choice to do something new or stay the same. Of course, if we always want to stay the same, then we don’t grow and are not able to experience the glory of all that makes up our lives. It would seem like the obvious choice would be to feel as deeply as we could so that we continue to grow and expand the essence of who we are as a “self.” Yet, one does not go without the other. Without our “negative” feelings and thoughts, we could not understand the beauty of our “positive” thoughts and feelings. The bad aspects of a romantic relationship for example allow us to appreciate the positive aspects. It is a huge mistake and the essence of delusional thinking to only want positive and happy things to occur. On the deepest spiritual level, we came to this physical realm to experience the opposite of our divinity so that we could have something to compare it too and so understand that divinity more deeply. That being said, if you ever wonder why something is not working in your favor, just remember the infamous saying, “what we resist persists.” If you resist arguing with your lover, then those arguments will continue. If you accept them as natural and necessary, they will decrease. Oh the irony of it aye. The final component is our ability to observe.

I won’t say much about observance other than that it is what defines being awake. When we observe our opinions without attaching to them, we are able to truly see them. If we want to know what our opinions are, then we need to observe our thoughts without judgment or attachment. We need to be able to read the content of our Mind just as we would read the content of a book. When we do this, we are able to then truly decide if it is something that we wish to continue. Finally, when you do observe your mind correctly you will have a corresponding feeling that is associated with that thought. When observance is done this way, you can move through the fear within your heart. Remember, enlightenment is an open mind and heart. Many will observe the mind without allowing their feelings about those thoughts to surface and so prevent themselves from being impacted by what they see. When this happens then they simply stay out of the realm of humanity and in the realm of escapism and avoidance.

A Second Opinion

The specific aspects of mind are; 1) “unrest” which means going out to receive sense objects coming to sense doors as fish, cast on earth, strive to go into water, 2) “moving” means non-calm, sometimes it may be calm, but when it is attacked by sense objects, it is distracted by those, 3) “hard observation” means it is very hard to keep it calm (purified), 4) “hard protection” means it is very hard to protect it from forming an opinion, especially a bad (or selfish) opinion, 5) “hard compulsion” means it is very hard to force it not to fall under the five hindrances (it is likened to a drug addict, it is very hard for him to stop taking drugs) because it always falls under the five hindrances, it is hard to realize it, it is very smooth, and it arises and vanishes very rapidly.

This shows that the mind of human beings is restless, always falling down into the valley of unwholesome deeds. This leads human beings into big trouble. In the Buddha’s time, there was a monk named Talaputa. After he had become a monk, he practiced meditation in the forest. He spent a long time doing meditation, but he could not attain enlightenment, as he wished. Then he searched for the cause and he found that it was because of his own mind. He complained to his mind, saying, “Citta (mind), you begged me for many years to leave lay life, now I am a monk as you wish, why now are you lazy and want me to abandon meditation? You always say to me, the forest is beautiful and peaceful and it is a proper place for meditation, then I leave lay life and all my relatives and have lived here for some time, I have tried to please you for ages but now you still hurt me, and want me to go back to where you used to tell me off. From now on I am going to train you, taking you into the cave, observing you like an elephant or horse trainer, I’m going to chain you with meditation (mindfulness), I know that if anyone is influenced by you, he or she will suffer.”

All the complaints of the monk above show that the human mind is made distraught by distractions or attachments, all of which we have derived from mind, and the cycle of life, also, is from mind. As a result the Buddha said, “The world is led by mind, all things are controlled by mind.”


About Shawn Athanasios

A little bit about me. I received my BA from California State University, Northridge in Speech Communication and my MA in Culture and Communication from New York University (NYU). My Master’s degree was within the field of Interpersonal Communication and Conflict Management and my thesis topic was Meta-Cognition and Human Defensiveness. I wrote about the importance of individuals learning how to understand their defensiveness and negative thinking habits as a way to improve the overall cohesiveness within their human relationships. Curerently, I am an Adjunct Professor at SAE Institute, and my pasrt teaching experience includes several of the top Universities in the U.S. (NYU, LIM College, Pace University, Manhattan College & Georgia State University). My teaching experience includes the following courses: Interviewing Strategies, Intro to Human Communication and Culture, Interpersonal Communication, Small Group Communication, Principals and Theories of Communication, Public Speaking and Theories of Speech Communication I decided to create my own Coaching Business (JAAS Coaching) under the umbrella of Personal and Career Development for those looking to enhance their current profession, change careers, discover their deepest passions, communicate and manage conflict more effectively, achieve high levels of motivation, and find balance with their total self by offering a holistic approach to career and personal development. My eBook, "The Soul Search Before the Job Search," encompasses all of my work as a Personal and Executive Coach. My website/blog is www.JAAScoaching.comLinks to an external site. I have had many fulfilling experiences that include being raised in Laos, Ghana, India & Egypt by parents of the U.S. Foreign Service and Diplomatic community, teaching ESL in South Korea, serving as a Primary Counselor for kids out of Juvenile Hall, and mentoring grade school children through a Psychologist’s referred program. In addition, I am proud to have received a full scholarship for my Masters Degree at NYU, to have been the sole recipient of the Rosenberg scholarship and for graduating Magna Cum Laude upon completion of my graduate degree. I also presented two papers at the New York Speech Communication Association (NYSCA) conference while at Graduate School where I discussed the importance of taking full ownership of one’s shortcomings as essential to inducing change within oneself and one’s environment and how to be an effective interpersonal communicator. And finally, I was voted Faculty of The Year and Georgia State University after just one semester on the job! The article can be found on my website/blog. My volunteer work is reflected through participating in Buddhist Activities as a member of the Soka Gakkai International, the largest Buddhist lay organization in the world. Previously, I was the Young Men’s Division Leader for Houston District, I transcribed the World Tribune to audiotapes for the blind Buddhist members, I published an article in the Soka Gakkai’s Living Buddhism magazine and was a volunteer staff writer for the organization’s newspaper (The World Tribune). I continues to lead group discussions on Nichiren Buddhist Theory.
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