- Classification of the Mind Part 3
The second level of the mind is the 'intellect'
(buddhi) which is the locus for:
. discriminative thoughts, such as distinguishing right from
. field for logic, reason, judgment, etc.
In contrast to the lower mind, the intellect
can be considered as the ‘officer in charge’.
Being both analytical and synthetic as well as
objective, it can hop from the known to the unknown
in order to gain knowledge. Those that are predominately
intellectual (where this component of the mind
is well developed) are less emotional, more analytical,
decisive, logical, reasonable and determined.
They have the 'will' to proceed and a goal to
reach, with attachments playing less of a role
in their actions.
The third component is the ego. In Sanskrit
it is called ahaMkAra. It is may be defined as:
'aham, aham, aham, iti karoti, ahaMkAra' - the
one who claims 'I am - I am - I am' in all our
transactions involving, of course, our mind.
In our discussions of 'who am I?' it is this
'ahaMkAra' that responds with the answer. In
western psychology, it is the 'ego' that is considered
as the conscious mind. However, according to
Vedanta, ego is just a pattern of thoughts of
'I-ness' that arise in the mind; the identification
with the set of thoughts 'I am this' and with
another set of thoughts 'this is mine' (mamakAra)
Thus, the ego involves two aspects - 'I am
this' (ahaMkAra) and 'that is mine' (mamakAra)
or simply 'I and mine'. In the identification
of 'I am this', there is an inclusiveness of
'this' as part of I. In this very inclusion,
there is also exclusion involved as 'this' is
separate from 'that' so that 'I am not that'.
We thus differentiate 'this' from 'that', and
'mine' from 'not mine'. By inclusiveness and
its mirror image, exclusiveness, the ego tries
to define itself through differentiating ‘I’ from
you, he, she, it, or they etc, and ‘mine’ from
yours, his, etc. According to Vedanta, this ego
is a fake or false 'I', since as we discussed
before, it involves identification of 'I am',
the subject, with an object 'this', where 'this'
keeps changing from body to mind to intellect.
Thus the meaning of 'I' keeps shifting when I
say 'I am six feet tall’ or ‘I am
black or white or brown' (where identification
is at the gross body level) to 'I love her',
'I am envious of him' or 'I hate this' (where
identification is at the emotional level of the
mind) to 'I am an engineer', ‘a doctor,
scientist’ etc, where the identification
is at the intellectual level. The locus of 'I'
shifts from gross body to emotional mind to intellect
level. The essence of ego is this identification
of 'I' with 'this', where ‘I’ is
an invariable but 'this' is a variable; ‘I’ am
a conscious entity while 'this' is an inert entity.
In the statement of Descartes 'I think, therefore
I am', my existence is ascertained by the thinking
process. This was criticized later by Immanuel
Kant (18th Century), whose arguments were no
better. According to Kant, the self-consciousness
or subject consciousness 'I am' is established
by the consciousness of objects - 'this is'.
Thus, 'this is' is required to establish 'I am'
since the mind can operate only in a subject-
object duality. The problem here is not the duality
par se but what is considered to be the independent
variable and what the dependent variable. That
is to say: is consciousness of 'this is' required
in order to establish 'I am' or is it the other
way around? At the ego level, we do operate without
being keenly aware of it, when we say 'I am this'.
Without 'this' to identify with, I do not seem
to have any other existence. Nobody stops their
introductions saying 'I am' without attaching
an object 'this' to it.
Hence Kant's conclusion that self-consciousness
appears to arise only with the object consciousness
seems to be justified. However, we just noted
that the locus of 'I am' keeps shifting from
body level to mind level to intellect level,
and the adjectives that we add keep changing
with the changing bio-data. Thus, there is a
changing part and a changeless part in this duality
of 'I am' and 'this' in the equation of 'I am
this'. It is obvious from this analysis that
'I am' seems to be more substantial than 'this'
since 'this' keeps changing while 'I am' remains
the same. In the case of dependent and independent
variables in mathematics, the one that is changeless
is independent and the one that is changing is
dependent. Hence Kant's conclusion is wrong.
Proceed to the next