The Mind and How It Works – Part 2, The Individual Mind

The Individual Mind  

Mind-Stuff (Chitta)  

The powerful force generated by your consciousness of what is other-than-You, from the view-point of You, is energy. This combination of consciousness and energy is the substance of the mind, or mind-stuff.

If you look up the word chitta, it covers just about everything—mind, memory, intelligence, reason, consciousness, imagining, thinking, noticing, and so on. The list is long. The reason for this is that mind-stuff gets defined along with its functions. Mind-stuff exists because you became conscious of another—the original, perfect, all-knowing and all-powerful You, exercised the ability to be conscious in order to perceive.

There are three processes of the mind-stuff, chitta: manas, buddhi and ahamkara.

The Thinking Mind (Manas)

The word manas is usually defined as “mind,” probably because it gathers data and thinks. Manas is the function of the mind-stuff that flows out to receive impressions of things—images, sounds and so on. We think of this function as our attention, or a flow of consciousness. Once an impression is obtained and determined, manas stores it (memory) for use in thinking, reasoning and figuring things out.

The Determinative Faculty (Buddhi) 

The duality inherent in the relationship between self and other-than-self naturally creates a determinative faculty called buddhi. It is this determinative faculty that receives the impressions brought in by the mind (manas) and determines the nature of the impressions received. Because of this, buddhi is often defined as judgement or discrimination. It is buddhi that sorts things out. Buddhi knows the difference between things. Buddhi knows what’s what.

The Doer (Ahamkara)

When the determinative faculty does its job, the function of the mind-stuff known as “ego” is also activated. Knowing yourself to exist (“I am”), and having become conscious of something from the point of view of you (“I perceive”), you sense yourself as having acted independently (“I do”). The word ahamkara is commonly translated as “ego” but literally means, “I-doer” (i.e., “I am the doer”) and lies at the very core of the mind as a whole.

At the core of this core, is atman, usually translated as soul, self, or “I”.

“I Am”
From this “I” there arises the sense of self, asmita (“I am”). It is from here that you perceive. It is from here that you are conscious of anything that is other than you. This is your your viewpoint, the place you perceive from. 

I Do”
Perceiving seems to be doing something, but who or what is doing it? Enter ahamkara, or ego, the sense of separate self as the doer of action—the perceiver, the seer, the experiencer, the desirer, the knower (”I do”).

NOTE: Keep in mind that the word “ego” as it is used here, is not necessarily consistent with the definition of ego as used in the fields of mental health.


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In the next installment, we will conclude with Part Three on the subject of Mental Activity and Inactivity, next week.

Durga Ma

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