The Ascent of the Mind
Everything in this universe, manifest or unmanifest, abstract or matter, is the playful creation of Prakrti. All entities are the different expressions of the endless dance of Shakti (Supreme Creative Principle) on the vast body of Shiva. Is Puruśa a mute witness in this playful creation of Prakrti? Is it only Prakrti who functions? Is this dance the sole responsibility of Prakrti alone? Puruśa is certainly not a mute witness. When creation is in a dormant stage, Prakrti’s dance remains merged in Puruśa. It is only when Puruśa exercises His hypnotic power that Prakrti receives the inspiration to dance. Prakrti betrays Her total surrender to Puruśa with every cadence of dance and resonance of rhythm. She makes it clear that She is fully subservient to Puruśa. It may appear as if the dancing Prakrti is independent, but actually this is not the case. Even when creation is manifested Prakrti is not entirely independent in the strict philosophical sense. It is only due to Puruśa’s slackness that Prakrti appears to be independent. It seems as if Prakrti does everything through Her own independent volition, but actually She only does that which She is permitted to do, nothing more. It is with Puruśa’s consent that She acquires the power to bind Him. In this way Prakrti continues Her playful creation with Puruśa as the fundamental stuff.
In individual life, too, a microcosm seems to be under the influence of Prakrti, but in reality this is not true. If Puruśa checks the movement of Prakrti, She loses the capacity to function independently. At this stage jiiva (microcosm) becomes one with Shiva (Macrocosm or Puruśa). The conscious endeavour to elevate microcosmic consciousness beyond the influence of microcosmic operative principle (Prakrti) is called sádhaná or intuitional spiritual practice. Puruśa is the seed of both the manifest and unmanifest universes.
When the universe is unmanifest Puruśa is predominant. Even when the universe is manifest Puruśa is predominant; but it appears as if Prakrti is dominant (in certain schools of philosophy the term Pradhána is used for Prakrti).
Both the expressed and unexpressed universes are the play of Prakrti. In the former Her play is conspicuous; in the latter it is dormant. But even in the dormant stage, when the triangle of forces remains balanced, Prakrti cannot be said to be completely inactive. She still continues Her dance, but being under Puruśa’s hypnotic influence cannot modify Puruśa in any way. Puruśa remains absorbed in the bliss of His witness-ship while Prakrti dances within His vast body. This hypnotized Prakrti cannot create any rudimental factor.
In the expressed universe Puruśa gives Prakrti plently of latitude to move within the periphery of His vast body. Prakrti works according to the freedom granted to Her, exhibiting Her dexterous art of dance, rhythm and posture. Puruśa remains in a state of absolute bliss as the witness of Her masterly dance.
In the first half of Prakrti’s playful creation of the manifest universe Puruśa is a little slack. Consequently the noose of Prakrti’s bondage becomes tighter and tighter, causing creation to move from subtle to crude. This half of the Cosmic Cycle in which Puruśa gives more latitude to Prakrti is called Saiṋcara.
Thereafter, when Puruśa begins to reassert Himself, the binding influence of Prakrti starts waning and creation moves from crude to subtle. When Puruśa fully asserts Himself, He brings Prakrti under His complete control, thus curtailing Her freedom to dance according to Her own sweet will. Hypnotized under Puruśa’s spell, She takes creation back to the previous dormant stage. This movement from crudity to subtlety which terminates in the original unmanifested state is the second half of the Cosmic Cycle or Pratisaiṋcara.
In both Saiṋcara and Pratisaiṋcara Puruśa seems to be bound by Prakrti, but actually it is Puruśa who grants Her latitude so that She can continue Her playful dance. Although Puruśa is metamorphosed into multiplicities in Saiṋcara, those multiplicities remain embedded in the Supreme Singularity. When Puruśa curtails the freedom He granted to Prakrti and returns to His original stance, then Prakrti is compelled to return to Her own original dormant stage. Hence it is better to say Prakrti and Puruśa are one. They are both manifested and unmanifested, or, more logically, they are neither manifested nor unmanifested.
So the analytical phase is the phase of manifestation in which the Singular Puruśa appears to be transformed into many by Prakrti. The greater the influence of Prakrti, the greater the number of pluralities, and the greater the degree of crudification. But when creation reaches the nadir point of crudification, Puruśa starts decreasing the latitude He granted to Prakrti and withdraws everything unto Himself, thereby bringing an end to the process of creation. This is the phase of Pratisaiṋcara. In this phase Prakrti is no longer free to continue Her creative flow independently. Creation now proceeds from plurality towards Supreme Singularity, towards the Supreme Cognitive Faculty. This is the path of synthesis.
When pluralities move towards the Supreme Singularity they undergo severe internal and external clashes. In this phase the more the latitude granted by Puruśa begins to decrease, the greater the external pressure on each finite object, and the greater the internal clash within each object. The result of these clashes is the gradual disintegration of the atoms and molecules which constitute a physical structure, and thus the gradual decrease in the degree of static influence on the physical structure. Suppose five hundred people have been closely bound together with ropes. If they start jostling and fighting amongst themselves then naturally their tight bondages will gradually loosen. If their movements become even more violent their bondages will snap open. In much the same way the atoms and molecules within a structure are powdered down and transformed into crude mind-stuff as a result of internal clash. Philosophically, this crude mind-stuff is called citta. As Puruśa further withdraws His latitude there is greater internal clash within the citta leading to the formation of the subtler ahaḿ (doer-I) and mahat (existential-I) portions of the mind.
The major difference between animate beings and inanimate beings is that animate beings have an existential feeling whereas inanimate beings do not. An inanimate piece of iron and a grain of sand are not aware of their existence, but an undeveloped living creature like an earthworm has self-awareness. The mighty Himalayas do not know that they exist, but for a tiny fly existence is quite real. This tiny fly has the potentiality to become a great personality one day in the course of evolution. The fly that you see today is a very insignificant creature, but after hundreds of thousands of years it may become a towering personality of great eminence – a mighty genius. Hence a wise person never despises anyone. There is nothing in the world to be despised, nothing to be slighted or belittled.
Instead of saying that the inanimate world has no existential feeling, it is better to say that existential awareness is dormant in matter. When citta emerges from matter as a result of internal clash existential awareness begins to develop gradually. With the emergence of ahaḿ and mahat existential awareness becomes increasingly crystallized and ultimately I-feeling assumes a preponderant role.
What is the mind? The mind is a subtle expression of matter. Matter is the condensed form of Cosmic Mind. The three chambers of the Cosmic Mind evolve in the Saiṋcara phase of the Cosmic Cycle. First the mahattattva, the subtlest part, which arouses existential feeling, then the ahaḿtattva, a little less subtle, which establishes the correlation between existential feeling and matter, and finally the citta, the crudest part, which takes the form of objects.
In the phase of Pratisaiṋcara it is the citta which initially emerges as a result of clash within the material structure. Citta is unable to fully express its potentiality in the absence of aham and mahat. There are some entities in the world which lie between the animate and the inanimate. They have citta which can take the form of physical objects, but in the absence of ahaḿ and mahat they are unable to apply any power to utilize matter. Some entities have citta and ahaḿ but in the absence of mahat do not have proper existential I-feeling. Their citta can take the form of material objects and their ahaḿ can connect themselves to their objects, yet they have no clear existential I-feeling. Creepers and climbers and undeveloped living beings are in this stage of development. In some of them only citta has awakened; in others both citta and ahaḿ. Only in developed creatures do the three parts of the mind exist. If creatures devoid of mahattattva are bifurcated, each part survives as an independent creature. Likewise, branches and leaves cut off the parent plant can maintain a separate existence.
Ahaḿ develops as a result of clash within the citta. If that clash becomes more intense, mahattattva develops. When the clash within the citta becomes extreme, the periphery of mahat exceeds that of ahaḿ. As long as ahaḿ remains smaller than citta, the psychic faculty is called mánaśa (crude mind-stuff). But when ahaḿ surpasses citta in size as a result of increased clash the enlarged portion of the mind is called maniiśá (intellect). And when mahat becomes larger than ahaḿ due to extreme clash, that enlarged portion is called bodhi (intuition).
Intellect is the controller of citta (crude mind) because it is larger and subtler. Undeveloped creatures and animals are guided by the crude mind. Human beings, however, are guided by intellect as in their case ahaḿ is larger in area than citta; and herein lies their greatness. For undeveloped entities whose citta is larger than ahaḿ enjoyment of crude matter is the goal of life, because their mental power moves within the arena of the crude mind. But in human beings intellect controls the crude mind, checking its unbridled fascination for material enjoyment. As soon as a goat sees a green plant it rushes towards it; but human beings do not run greedily and indiscriminately towards whatever object of enjoyment they see. They procure things either with their hard-earned money, or by applying their intellect.
The development of intuition is possible only in living beings who undergo greater psychic clash. Intuition and the awakened kuńd́alinii (sleeping divinity) are indistinguishable. To arouse the kuńd́alinii through psychic clash and intuitional practice means to develop intuition. A person whose kuńd́alinii has awakened does not belong to the crude world of material enjoyment, but is a true citizen of the world of intuition.
People of undeveloped intellect are mostly guided by Prakrti. But those of developed intellect through proper object of ideation, the Supreme One, through intellectual analysis, and then start moving towards Him. When intellect advances with the ideation of the Supreme, the sensory and motor organs act as obedient servants to the mind. No longer is the mind the slave of the organs. Hence proper ideation leads to intellectual subtlety.
The physical hunger of living beings is basically centred around their bodily needs. As their sole intention is the crude enjoyment of matter, all their crude and psychic functions move towards matter, making subtle ideation impossible. Undeveloped animals, being totally preoccupied with meeting their crude necessities only have one propensity – the gratification of physical needs. Thus it is very easy to understand their psychology. Intellectually developed human beings only use some part of their minds for material pursuit – the rest is used for subtle pursuits. If such people undergo greater psychic clash, psychic movement toward subtlety will increase. The mind’s capacity of subtle ideation will also increase spontaneously. Generally, part of the mind is attracted by the material world, and part by the spiritual world. This results in tremendous mental clash, causing divergences in the mental flow. These divergences are nothing but the various propensities of mind. Thus the more the intellect awakens, the greater the number of propensities; and the greater the number of propensities, the greater the diversity in psychic expression. The greater the diversity in a human mind, the more difficult it is to comprehend that mind. Thus it is very difficult to understand the psychology of developed human beings, but quite easy to understand the psychology of people who run after crude physical enjoyment like mad dogs, because they are no better than animals.
When intellect evolves into intuition, human beings realize that the cause of the varied expressions of this quinquelemental world is the Supreme Entity. They consolidate their innate propensities (vrttis) and channelize them towards that Singular Entity. Hence the gradual unfoldment of intuition leads to a corresponding decrease in the number of vrttis. Ultimately there remains only one propensity – the propensity of bliss (ánanda vrtti). Intuition is sometimes called hrdaya or guhá in Saḿskrta. Dharmasya tattvaḿ nihitaḿ guháyam. “The essence of dharma lies in intuition.” Here guhá does not mean a mountain cave, but intuition. Just as there is only one propensity in the crudest stage of mind, similarly in the last stage of Pratisaiṋcara, after the development of intuition, there remains only one propensity, the propensity of bliss.
The crude mind (citta) remains engrossed in the thought of crude matter. When intellect is associated with the crude thought of matter it helps the crude mind in controlling the material world, thus enhancing its scope of enjoying the physical world. The part of intellect which helps the crude mind is the creator of material science. Material science is virtually unknown to undeveloped creatures and animals. It has advanced proportionately to the development of human intellect. Inborn instinct plays a more important role in animals than acquired knowledge, even if they do have some practical knowledge of material science. But in the case of human beings acquired knowledge plays a more important role. If human beings pursue the path of material science without basing their lives on a spiritual ideology, the constant psycho-physical parallelism will result in a hundred percent possibility of their intellect being degenerated into crude mind. Thus I am constrained to say that if material science denies spirituality, it may be instrumental in causing a major calamity to befall the world at any time.
When intellect associates itself with the material sphere material science develops, but when it functions within the psychic sphere it formulates philosophy. Philosophy emerges at the point where the crude mind ends and intellect begins. Excessive philosophical study makes a person a logician and creates vanity and confusion in the mind. Moreover, philosophy is a creation of the intellect; its confabulations and ruminations are confined to the realm of intellectuality. It is hardly able to step beyond the intellectual realm and is thus unable to attain Parama Puruśa.
When the mind transcends the barriers of intellect the realization dawns in human beings that they cannot reach the abode of the Supreme Entity through material science or philosophy, but through intuition alone. Supreme blessedness lies in the unfoldment of intuition. Those who are graced with intuition, even though they may be totally illiterate, can reach the Supreme rank, thereby establishing themselves in a state of perennial blessedness. The greatest pandits, however, become lost in the labyrinth of logic, and even though they try to find a way out, they finally attain nothing.