Mind, even though has a dependant status, but at the same time, it does also enjoy a certain level of operational independence. For, it enjoys the freedom to guide our actions by choice and discrimination. But whenever there is a choice option in hand, it carries equal probability of use and misuse. That makes the mind vulnerable to act as a double-edged weapon - susceptible to act either way. Mind could lead us conduct rightfully and turn life into a pleasant experience. It could act a trickster as well, which may delude us, and lay down the ground for self-invited pains and sufferings. Owing to this indwelling sense of duality, mind often gets trapped into self-excited conflicting thoughts. This human vulnerability makes a being a mystery by oneself. No wonder, both creative as well devilish tendencies are in evidence all around. This riddle needs to be resolved for a smooth run of life, individually and collectively. That calls for exploring the making of mind and all its functional dimensions. Knowing which, it would be possible for the mind to steer our lives towards the right course due.
Let us now have a look into the construct of human mind. Following Vedantic perception, as detailed in the concept laid down by Kashmir Shaivism, a school of non-dualism, there are three functional dimensions of Mind –Buddhi, Ahaṁkara, and Manasa. All three are empowered by a fourth factor, Chiti (fundamental element of consciousness).
Chiti is ‘the immanent consciousness (the kinetic side of the fundamental element of consciousness)’ available to a dynamic existence. It is the indwelling powerhouse of a being, which animates all human functionalities. It grants us with the ‘Power of Knowing’, whereby one gains cognitive, perceptive, and comprehensive abilities, vital to all our dynamic functionalities.
Inherent in Chiti is Buddhi – the faculty of discriminate intelligence, which is armed with a sense of dispassion. It grants us with the sense of reasons applying which, one could analyse, evaluate, dispassionately arrive at the right judgment, and direct Manasa to accordingly act upon. And the fact that Buddhi carries no bias, more often it would pick up the most appropriate lead.
Inherent in Buddhi is Ahaṁkara. In common parlance, we also term it as ego-consciousness. This faculty brings in the sense of ‘I’ in a being, which wilfully makes choices, commits to the tasks undertaken, and own up all actions on our part. The way Ahaṁkara wills is how ordinarily mind works. It is again this very sense of ‘I’, which makes us identify ourselves with our gross body and mind organism, differentiated from others. That makes us get into comparison, discrimination, differentiation, and comparative rating based on self-assumed standards. Our thought process, thus, gets corrupted by breeding in a strong sense of divide.
Inherent in Ahaṁkara is Manasa – sense aided functionalities of mind - as one’s operational tool working from the front. Manasa is duly aided by the 5 sensory organs of perception, each assigned with their respective functionalities of seeing, hearing, touch sense, taste, and smelling. Manasa is normally supposed to gather outer-field data through its aids; relay it to Buddhi for due diligence; and then react and respond as directed by the latter. Second, it puts into action desires projected by mind as are guided by indwelling Karmic carryover from the past, or under external influences. And if ever unmindfully, Ahaṁkara wills to take things on face value, ignoring the necessity to invoke Buddhi, Manasa could also form its own perception on instinctive judgment and accordingly respond to external stimulus.
The three operative tools of mind are supposed to work in perfect coordination with each other, as an inseparable unitary mechanism. If allowed a free run as mandated, mind comes out with its optimum best. And together they empower us with the capacity to sense, cognize, think, feel, analyse, dispassionately evaluate, reason out and arrive at right judgment. And rightfully guide one’s actions by choice and discrimination. For, it will look at the issues in hand in the right perspective due. It, therefore, will pick up most appropriate lead. Second, one would be able to intelligently react and respond to external stimuli. Third, one would be able to intelligently deal with the challenges coming one’s way. Fourth, one could explore even unchartered territories and comprehend beyond the known, covering even invisible realities. And accordingly improve our skill sets to strike beyond the known. Living in this very mode, we have progressively evolved all through civilisation’s run, from our primitive stage down to the developed world as on date.