- Classification of the Mind Part 4
In Descartes’ statement 'I think, therefore
I am', 'I' is there before the action verb 'think'.
Hence by implication the subject 'I' should be
there independent of what 'I think'. What I think
keeps changing (i.e. is a dependent variable)
while the thinker I appears to be constant (and
is thus independent). An additional implication
of Descartes’ statement is the requirement
that I need to keep thinking in order constantly
to reassure myself that 'I am'.
Thus there are two aspects involved with regard
to the above discussion: 'I am this' and 'I think,
therefore I am'. Vedanta rejects both these assertions
on the basis that 'I am' is independent of 'this'
and 'I am' is present before I can think (i.e.
thinking is dependent on 'I', rather than 'I
am' being dependent on thinking). Vedanta arrives
at 'who I am' is by rejecting all assertions
with 'I am not this' 'neti, neti, not this, not
this'. Thus, according to Vedanta, the ego is
a false 'I' in which the subject is confused
with an object 'this', in the 'I am this' identification.
Vedanta does not say that you are 'some thing'
other than 'this', since any 'something' is simply
another object 'this'. The only way to arrive
at the real nature of 'I' is by intuition, through
rejecting any thing that can be objectified as ‘not
I am’; as 'I am not this'. I can reject
anything and everything as not 'I' but I cannot
reject 'I’- itself, since I have to be
there in order to reject anything. This process
of sublation or negation is called meditation,
where I drop the false I in order to ascertain
my real nature. That is the true conscious entity
'I am'- without any ‘this’ or ‘that’ attached
to it. This is the meaning of the biblical statement
'I am that I am'. This is concerning the first
statement ('I am this').
Relating to the second statement ('I think,
therefore I am'), Vedanta ascertains that 'I'
exist in deep sleep state without any thinking,
since I am there in the deep sleep enjoying the
sleep, where there is absence of any 'this' or
'that' with which I can identify. I get up from
sleep, saying that 'I slept very well', implying
that I was there in deep sleep, sleeping very
well. Vedanta points out that if 'I' really ceases
to exist in deep-sleep, then nobody would want
to go to sleep. However, everybody longs for
a good night’s sleep, after tiring oneself
like a rat, racing for 'this' and 'that'. People
are prepared to take pills in order to get to
sleep. Hence, the deep sleep experience points
out, according to Vedanta, that one can exist
as pure 'I' without any identification with an
object. The only problem in deep sleep is that
I am not conscious of myself in that state.
All problems cease in the deep sleep state;
everybody is happy and nobody complains (they
only complain if they do not get sleep), whether
a king or a pauper on the street. All subject-object
(I and this) duality ceases in the deep sleep
state, with ‘I’ alone remaining without
any inclusions or exclusions, since there is
no 'this' and 'that' that I can perceive. Vedanta
says that cessation of identification of 'I'
with any 'this' is the key to happiness. This
can be done by removing all 'this' as in the
deep sleep state. However that is only temporary,
since once I am awake, all the 'this' and 'that'
will also arise and I am back to the miserable
state of false identification as 'I am this'
or 'I am that', suffering the limitations of
'this' and 'that'. Therefore, the deep sleep
experience points out that there is a possibility
of existing as pure ‘I’, as consciousness
and existence, without any identification with
this or that.
Vedanta says that this cessation of identification
with this and that can be accomplished in the
waking state too, in spite of the existence of
'this' and 'that'. 'I am' is a self-conscious
and self-existent entity, independent of any
'this' and 'that'; independent of the external
world. Hence, the Kantian statement that self-consciousness
depends on object consciousness is to ascribe
reality to the false I, the ego. Vedanta says
that this is the other way round: the object
consciousness depends on 'I am'. Thus, the 'ego'
or ahaMkAra is a component of the mind with a
false notion that 'I am this'. This 'ego' component,
ahaMkAra, is called the notional mind, since
the identification 'I am this' is only a notion
in the mind. When I realize my true nature, these
false identifications or notions drop or, more
correctly, the reality that I assign to the notions
is withdrawn. Then, I will be 'as though' operating
as pure self, without any false identification,
treating the mind as just a subtle body that
I can use to transact with the world, through
the 19 gates discussed earlier. We will address
this aspect again when we discuss our true nature
and the nature of the world with which we transact.
Going back to our classification, the last
component of the mind to be discussed is memory,
chitta. All objective knowledge that is gained
is stored in the memory, which forms the basis
for all recognitions. We can build up our memory
bank by gaining knowledge, storing the information
and retrieving it whenever it is needed for communication
and transactions. New knowledge is built based
on the past knowledge stored in the memory. There
are two aspects involved: the capacity to store
and the capacity to retrieve that knowledge.
Retrieval and re-storage keep the knowledge fresh
in the memory and those that are retrieved less
and less will get buried in the memory and retrieval
will also become increasingly difficult. With
age, the capacity of the hardware degrades and
therefore memory fails, retaining mostly the
long time memory, while losing the short time.
As we get old, we remember all our childhood
experiences and declare to every listener how
things were great in those days, while forgetting
where we put our keys or check-book an hour ago.
Thus we have four components of the mind that
are involved whenever we transact with the world,
'out there' - mind, intellect, ego and memory.
The working of the mind can be classified in
various other ways, and these will be discussed
Proceed to the next