The Structure and Function of Mind

An Ancient Indian Insight

Human consciousness creates conscious relationship between body functions and mental functions and also can dissolve such relationship. When such relationship is dissolved the right identification of “I” happens. The real identification of ‘I” provides the natural or normal or ground state of mind.
The natural or normal state of human mind is peace; bliss; silence. Mental functions form veil over this natural state and superimpose themselves on this pure consciousness as awareness and pure consciousness transforms into simultaneous existence of consciousness and awareness. The awareness creates self-consciousness also in the individual and then the individual relates oneself to the body, gender, social status, nationality, mental traits etc., and “falsely” identifies with all of them with an egoistic mind. Human consciousness is the source, guide and energy-provider for the human mind and its activities.

Human mind possesses three kinds of awareness consecutively/simultaneously. They are:

  1. unoccupied awareness or pure consciousness
  2. awareness of within of the body and
  3. awareness of without of the body (last two together is known as occupied awareness).

Human mind tunes itself to without of the body through sense organs and acts, reacts or interacts through action organs for cognitions and perceptions created by external stimuli from physical world outside the body. Eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin, stimulated by light, sound, chemical, mechanical and thermal forms of energy respectively, are sense organs. Movements related to hands, legs, vocal chords, reproductive organ and bowels are action organs. Information from external physical world is stored as inner mental world consisting of cognitions, perceptions and cognition-created or related experiences.

All external physical world is projection of individual’s mind, with associated limitations and individuals deal with these mental projections some times in a biased way depending on individual’s ability to know, perceive, reason, feel, intuit, understand and experience the reality. Human mind tunes itself to the within of the body and senses aches, pains, inner mental world and also does intellectual operations. Inner mental world is made up of information known, sensed by sense organs and perceptions and experiences created by such cognitions and knowledge in the form of external stimuli. The same are retrieved by mind to create moods, intuitions in the form of verb, meaning, sense, understanding, insight, intuition, experience, urge, which become thoughts, perceptions and feelings in the form of sentences. The information about individual (self-consciousness with egoistic mind), the languages learnt together with meanings, senses of sounds (words) and utterances, forms of alphabet and objects of external physical world as words, sights, sounds, tastes, smells, touches and the perceptions and insight and understanding gained by the contemplation of perceptions, all form the inner mental world. All this knowledge acquired through sense organs in tune with mind can be termed as biophysical..

Instincts, urges and similar impulses created and guided by hormones and gland secretions-which also constitute the knowledge possessed by the individual organism can be termed biochemical - also inspire and stimulate mind to act, react and interact. Human mind is also capable of being in a state where and when all mental functions and cognitions cease to be or the mind transcends ongoing mental functions and effects of stimuli from external physical world and will be a mere witness to them as an uninvolved and unaffected spectator or seer. This state is the original state of human mind similar to zero in number system and vacuum in physical sciences. Then the state of mind is pure consciousness or unoccupied awareness and exists as peace, bliss and silence. Thus human mind is sourced from human consciousness both materially, energy-wise and functionally.

Human consciousness is always present. Human mind rises and sets depending on the phase or conscious state. Conscious states or phases of mind in terms of virtual mental energy-reflection series and its transformation: Wakeful/Awakened, Dream (Swapna), Deep Sleep (Sushupti) and Wakeful Sleep (Jagrat Sushupti) - are different conscious states of mind creating different phases of mind. They are structure and phases of mental Time-Space and time created by the presence of mental energy source and transformations associated with virtual mental energy reflection. Mind functions or ceases to function in these phases of mind.

(i) Jagrat Sushupti (wakeful sleep):

A series of ‘I -I’ pulses’ issue out and virtual energy creation and transformation, when necessary, takes place. Mind is active if willed. Sense and action organs are alert and ready to function. Through meditation one reaches this state. State of Unoccupied awareness Purport Silence, Bliss, Peace, Pure Consciousness Divine consciousness, Real ‘I’ state etc. Normal, original, natural or ground state of mind. State of Being of mind
(ii) Sushupti (deep sleep):

A series of ‘I-I’ pulses’ issue out and mind is in absorbed state. No transformation of virtual mental energy reflection takes place.. Sense and action organs are not in functional state. No awareness of within or without of the body-cognitions or remembrances-cognition related or created experiences or understanding or insight or intuition or urge. State of cessation of mental activities- State of Being of mind
(iii) Jagrat (wakeful):

Mind is active. Sense and Action organs are active are in working state. All knowing/expressions take place in this state. Meditation starts in this state. (awareness of without of the body) Becoming of mind Excited state of mind.
(iv) Swapna (dream):

Mind is active. Sense organs are in dormant state. Action organs will be functioning if necessary. Meditation becomes one-pointed in this state (awareness of within of the body). Becoming of mind Excited state of mind Manas, Buddhi, Chittam and Ahamkaram are inner mental tools. Experiences created by perceived or retrieved object-energy forms are remembrances and cognitions-stored and retrieved collection of perceived object-energy forms is inner mental world

Jagrat Sushupti (Wakeful Sleep) is Unoccupied awareness.

Knowing / learning expression / teaching, thought, perception, experience, understanding, volition, urges etc., are occupied awarenesses, happening in Jagrat (wakeful) and swapna (dream) conscious states.

Sushupti – State of cessation of mental activities. Humans know / learn and express / teach in these conscious states of mind. These conscious states or phases of mind are the result of transformation of psychic or mental energies in the Unchanging and Ever-Present Consciousness / Awareness present during all these conscious states as Energy-Presence.

Upanishadic awareness calls such awareness as Atman or Brahman or Prajnaanam. Atman is normally referred to as Self. It is already informed above that Atman is present in us and is the result of the breathing process and is the Source of Mental-Energy. In modern scientific terms it is also is termed as a infrasonic bio-mechanical oscillator which issues out psychic or mental energy pulses of frequency10Hz. Thus Atman is the oscillating (with infrasonic frequency of 10 Hz) psychic Energy-Presence denoting and providing Mental Consciousness/Awareness and Time-Space.

As Prajnanam, or Continuous Conscious Awareness, Atman witnesses all our mental activities, related body activities and happenings within and without of the body and body’s reactions as thoughts and organ-movements to these happenings. Present as such a Consciousness/Awareness, Atman provides the energy required for guiding the mind to know/cognize/learn through sense organs, perceive, think, experience, understand, etc., and store such an information and retrieve the same in the four conscious states described above and makes us conscious of within and without of ourselves and ourselves. Such continuous and simultaneous or alternate rise and set of the conscious states or phases of mind is an aspect of psychological time and its flow.

Upanishads term Awareness of Self as psychological time-space. Awareness of the Self is the mental phase without cognitions or cognition-related experiences taking place or retrieved (the Wakeful Sleep Conscious State). The three other conscious states – the Wakeful / Awakened, the Dream and Deep Sleep - Conscious states are alternate super-impositions over this continuously present conscious state. This state of mind transcends both physical and psychological times and time-flows. This is the normal or original state of mind and all mental activities are excited states of mind. Inner mental tools perform various mental activities which are transformations of psychic energy (virtual mental energy-reflection) to cognize and create or retrieve thoughts / perceptions / experiences / understandings / meanings etc., in us.

Thought-flow within us, which is the psychic-energy change during conscious states, also constitutes psychological time and time-flow. Thought process and thought-flow is the becoming of psychic energy which makes us conscious of time and time-flow. This insight is further explained in the following sections.

The mechanics of mind:

The following is an interpretation and explanation of being and becoming of mind i.e., formation, structure and function of human consciousness, formation and retrieval of inner mental world and cognition-created experiences / senses / moods participating in the cognitive processes and explanation of mechanism of sensing / knowing / learning / expressing / teaching / thought process / perception / experience / understanding and experience of meaningful experience and experienced meaning as expressed in the Upanishads.

Human mind has four conscious states or phases, seven cognitive states and five kinds of functional states. They are: Conscious states or Phases of mind: Wakeful Sleep, deep sleep, wakeful or awakened and dream. These are discussed in detail above.

Human consciousness is always on as conscious awareness and only mind rises or sets during these conscious states of mind causing cognition and cognition-related experiences, storing and retrieving them in respective phases. Human consciousness is the form, the structure and the consequence of breathing process and generates psychic energy that does all human cognitions and cognition-related functions.

Cognition and cognition-related functions are the result of reversible becoming of this psychic energy and human consciousness bifurcates as consciousness that is aware of the cognitions and related activities and the occurrence of the activities themselves. When these activities are taking place, such a dual role is played by the human consciousness.

There is also a phase when no cognitions or cognition-related activity is taking place and it is the original or normal or natural state of human mind, the non-dual or peaceful, blissful or silent phase of mind.

Cognitive States of mind:

Seven states of cognition are identified in relation to ego-transcending or egoistic or self-conscious state of mind. These cognition states function around the, ‘I’-consciousness, ‘I-sense, the I-thought or feeling and I-expression or utterance or in the absence of such identification. Then no individual-specific information will be in the mental awareness and the mind transcends to a state or phase when the mental awareness becomes one with the consciousness and non-duality in the form of peace, bliss, or silence is experienced. Cognitions cease to take place but will take place if willed or necessary.

The seven cognitive states of mind are:

Pure consciousness: Normal or original state of mind:

  1. “I” Consciousness – No “I” Awareness of and about individual
  2. Meditative state of mind. One pointed awareness. Egoistic State of mind
  3. “I” Awareness/Sense/mood- Ego Sense - State of verb / meaning / understanding / experience / intuition / urge- Infinite form or present continuous form of verb without subject or object attached.
  4. ‘I” Thought / Feeling (awareness of within of the body)- State of sentence with subject-verb-object-perception
  5. ‘I” Thought / Feeling (awareness of without of the body) in relation to outside physical world. Mind tuned to outside world through sense organs
  6. “I” Utterance / Expression /also reception of stimuli from outside world and expression through action organs.
  7.  No “I” Awareness of or about individual- No Self-consciousness or ongoing of mental functions. State of cessation of all types of mental functions.

Kinds of functional states of mind:

  • Getting tuned to and sensing stimuli from external physical world through sense organs and reception.
  • Actions, reactions or interactions with external physical world activated by hormones or stored information.
  • Perception/thinking/reasoning/feeling in accordance with the stimuli from external world or information retrieved from inner mental world.
  • Conversion of above information into intelligible information as understanding or insight or experience
  • Awareness of Understanding / intuition / urge / mood / experience / meaning / experience. All this happening in the consciousness of Self or Atman or Brahman-the infrasonic mechanical oscillator forming and functioning as human consciousness.

While mind is functioning, there will be a differentiated perception of knower-knowing-known or subject-verb-object, which will be missing and absent when non-dual (advaita) awareness or pure consciousness becomes unoccupied awareness. Experiencing or understanding or getting insight of verb is state of experience and then knower-known or subject-object are not attached to the verb.

Verb will be in a present continuous form or infinite form depending on it is absorption of information or understanding cognition or experiencing cognition or urge (to express or do) or intuition (result of perception or instinct took form or genetic knowledge expressed through hormones or like them) or sense or meanings of utterances received or to be expressed.

We knowingly or unknowingly alternate between non-dual (advaita) and dual (dvaita) awareness while functioning mentally. Wakeful and dream conscious states of mind represent and account for the phase of mind when functioning and then we also are aware of and sense or perceive self-consciousness. Once mind ceases to function, we experience peace, bliss and silence within. If these are experienced our being aware them, the phase of mind then is known as wakeful sleep. If we are unaware, but are conscious of these, the phase of mind then is known as deep sleep.

The phase of cessation of mental functions (also self-consciousness) is similar to zero in number system and vacuum in physical and biological sciences. Vacuum is inherent in matter and holds matter and is manifested when matter is missing or absent. Consciousness is awareness of mind when no mental functions are taking place.

In Advaita (No Two or non-dual) state, human mind possesses consciousness only. As Prajnanam, Atman gives Consciousness and Awareness to observe, be aware of and be conscious of understanding, meanings and senses of cognitions and cognition created experiences. During advaita phase, no transformation of virtual mental energy reflection-no creation, transformation and functioning of inner mental tools takes place but the current of awareness is connected to sense organs and action organs which are ready to function but not in a functioning state.

In dvaita (two or dual) state of mind, human mind exists as consciousness and awareness. Upanishads call consciousness as Aham and awareness of experiences / meanings, perceptions and cognitions as inner mental world - idam. The awareness, the manifestation of human mental functions is transitory and exists or ceases to be depending on the phase of mind.

Awareness is present in Jagrat (Wakeful) and Swapna (dream) conscious states or phases of mind. In Jagrat Sushupti (Wakeful Sleep) or Sushupti (Deep Sleep) consciousness states or phases of mind, awareness of mind as being intelligent to mental operations and doing mental functions will be absorbed in pure consciousness.

In Wakeful Sleep conscious state awareness will be always on and mind functions if willed. We, humans learn, know, communicate, teach, perceive, think, experience, understand etc., when an interplay of wakeful , dream conscious states happen simultaneously making use of dual (dvaita) and non-dual (advaita) conscious states during which time virtual mental energy reflection- maya, the reflected chit energy transforms reversibly to facilitate us to perform mental tasks. This two-way- forward and reverse transformation ofvirtual mental reflection- is technically known as vivartanam (reversible becoming) in advaita thought.

In dual (dvaita) state of mind, sense organs and action organs are active and function forming mental operations and thus enable us to perform all mental functions with the help of inner mental tools (antahkaranas - manas, buddhi, chittam and ahamkaram) which are two-way transformations of virtual mental energy reflection-maya. The alternating and simultaneous rise and set of dual mental state and ever present non-dual consciousness give us cognizing, communicative and other mental abilities.

Human mental process is generally a combination and quick successive transformations of four modes i.e., I Speaker / Teacher: (a) Purport / Awareness (Meaningful Experience or Experienced Meaning (b) Understanding / Experience (c) Perception / Thinking (d) Utterance /Expression II Knower / Listener / Learner: (a) Knowing (through sense organs) (b) Perception / Thinking (c) Understanding / Experience (d) Purport (Meaningful Experience / Experienced Meaning) / Awareness.

Sources for this article:
1. Ramabrahmam, V., The physical structure and function of mind: A modern scientific translation of Advaita philosophy with implications and application to cognitive sciences and natural language comprehension, Paper presented at national seminar on Sanskrit in the Modern Context conducted by Department of Sanskrit Studies and the School of humanities, University of Hyderabad between11-13, February (2008).
2. Ramabrahmam, V., Concept of mind in yoga sutras and vedanta panchadasi: A comparison, Paper presented at Patanjaluiyam, tetradic national seminar on Bharatiya Scientific Heritage Patanjaliyam-Kautilyiyam-Parasshariyam-Bharadvajiyam (Exploration into the interface of Spiritual, Social, Agricultural and Engineering Sciences) held at SDM College, Ujjire-Dharmasthala, Mangalore, 13th-16th May, (2008).
3. Ramabrahmam, V., The infrasonics of human cognition and communication, Paper presented at Bharadvajiyam tetradic national seminar on Bharatiya Scientific Heritage Patanjaliyam-Kautilyiyam-Parasshariyam-Bharadvajiyam (Exploration into the interface of Spiritual, Social, Agricultural and Engineering Sciences) held at SDM College, Ujjire-Dharmasthala, Mangalore, 13th-16th May, (2008).

Image (c) Gettyimages.com


More by :  Dr. Varanasi Ramabrahmam

Top | Spirituality

Views: 3351      Comments: 2

Comment Thank you Satya Prasad garu for your kind words. I am finding you deeply involved in spirituality. I am lucky to be appreciated by you. Glad.

Varanasi Ramabrahmam
11-Feb-2020 07:32 AM

Comment Deep and thoughtful content! One has to light his inner world and search for the Origin of " I "
Dr Ramabrahmam, a Great Scholar and Thinker, is difficult to catch up His Thoughts from the Normal Plane .....

G Satya Prasad
11-Feb-2020 01:37 AM

Name *

Email ID

Comment *
Verification Code*

Can't read? Reload

Please fill the above code for verification.