The Three Phases of the Mind
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2010-06-13
Three phases of the mind- instinctive, intuitive, intellectual. Each function in distinct ways: 0:2:45; Instinctive mind, automatic, animal response: 0:6:36; Intellect- Knowledge remembered, external world: 0:9:46; Intuitive, superconscious "mind of light." Actinic or spiritual energy: 0:11:15; Instinctive anger, fear: 0:17:36; Beginning of the spiritual path, Gurudeva's teachings: 0:19:4; Divine Beings, outside flaws, inside perfect: 0:24:59; Control of stress: 0:27:30
Three phases of the mind. I like that one. Didn't that type nice? Talking to somebody says: I am three phases.
The totality of the mind is vast and complicated. However it's helpful to look at the entirety of the mind in three basic phases.
So again we're trying to build a common vocabulary particularly for those who aren't super-familiar with Gurudeva's teachings. You know when we go through some classes, the next four classes up in Koke'e, if the vocabulary, the vocab... Having a common vocabulary is the biggest challenge we'll face. I will use a term and you'll have no clue what it means. It might take too long for me to explain it. So we're trying to solve part of that by this presentation of Three Phases of the Mind so that it's clear what they are. And we make reference to them in the next four classes.
So, the three phases of the mind: The instinctive, the intellectual and the intuitive.
Sometimes Gurudeva says the conscious but in this writing, I was quoting, he used intuitive. They all begin with an "i" which is something I like. They all begin with "in" instinctive, intellectual, intuitive you need to remember?
So what in the world is a phase of the mind? You know phase of the moon, you know that, what is a phase of the mind. Well Gurudeva uses that phrase to talk about how the mind functions. There's three distinct ways in which the mind functions: instinctively, intellectually and intuitively. Would function in three quite distinct ways. One way is quite distinct from the other, they're not even close. So we want to understand what these are and how it impacts us, how it relates to Gurudeva's teachings.
Subtopic: Three phases of the mind- instinctive, intuitive, intellectual. Each function in distinct ways. : 0:2:45
So the instinctive mind is easy to become aware of, relates to the physical bodies. The impulses of our physical body: cravings, desires, digestive system, emotional mechanism that works through the physical body, the systems of elimination, blood circulation, regulation of the heart beat are all within the instinctive mind. For example: Sometimes when I have a diverse meal, eating all these different things, putting it down in your stomach you wonder how in the world does the body knows what to do it [...??] how does this survive? You know, cow eats grass. One thing has a couple of stomachs just to process the grass. So we can through all these wild combinations of food down into our stomachs and still remain healthy.
So, that's the instinctive mind. We don't have to think about it. It happens all by itself. It's going on all by itself. We don't have to think to breath. If we stopped, you know, thinking about breathing we stop breathing. No! It goes on. It's automatic or instinctive.
So animals is a good way to understand the instinctive mind. In fact, if we study animals carefully there's animals that, pets, for examples. You know the animals next door, whatever, you can understand quite a bit, learn quite a bit. Children can learn about the instinctive mind like learning behavior of animals and talking to their parents about it. So, that's a simple way.
So, those of you who are familiar with animals, what would be a dominant, in quality you see animals exhibit? Instinctive mind quality.
[Inner searcher's comment, partly inaudible:]
[...??] Feed me now!
Feed me now. Yes [...??] find the food and some animals, not all are territorial. Birds are, some are territorial, some aren't. You know, very interesting. Whereas the big birds they flew around you know, they flew around, flew around. Then you realize those two birds are always there every morning, on that same branch, singing the same song. They don't fly around, they're territorial. [...??] stay, right there.
Okay, totally different [sheet...??].
[Monk comment, partly inaudible:]
[...??] doesn't seem to be working.
[Bodhinatha responds, partly inaudible:]
[Monk comments, inaudible:]
Okay. Anyway we're alright for here but Koke'e could be a problem.
For one [...??] notice a lot is fear. You know, for example cats. If a cat, cats just love to get petted and they're sitting there. Then there's a loud noise. They have no choice but to become fearful and run and hide. Absolutely no choice. They can't say: I wonder what that noise is. Should I run away; am I being threatened or not? They don't have that choice, right? So, that gives you a sense of the instinctive mind. It's an automatic response to a stimulus. So, we have automatic responses too, just like animals.
Subtopic: Instinctive mind, automatic, animal response. : 0:6:36
Okay, moving on. Intellectual mind. Animals don't have it. So it's a mixture of thoughts about our instinctive nature, knowledge we've gained from others and knowledge we've gained from our own intuitive discovery. At the time of the discovery it's intuition but if you remember it, it becomes intellectual. Remembered intuition is part of the intellectual mind. Cause it's of the past.
So, as we know the intellect loves to organize. Vast amounts of knowledge we accumulate and organize and Gurudeva generalizes.
He says: "Ninety percent of this knowledge deals with the externality of the world in the mind itself."
So we're looking out. That's what we've been trained to do. That's what we've been encouraged to do. You know, how many classes in school say: Okay, let's look within. Oh, you know, this okay, let's look out, look without, let's observe. In fact, let's use tools to observe. So we have microscopes, telescopes, so forth. But, we don't have tools to look within. So that's all our knowledge is about, the external.
The intellect can consume most of man's time through an incarnation and usually does, lifetime after lifetime.
We have a nice practice in the monastery. It happened a couple of times in monastic training, it's a retreat. Either six months long or two years long. But during the retreat you can't absorb any world news. You have to give up on all world news; you can't, you know in any form: internet, publication, television, whatever, you can't watch the news. You can't contact family members and in our case you don't watch any television or video files. We don't have a television anymore, we have video files that we watch from various sources.
So it... What does that do? It turns you within. We're so busy with all this external knowledge all the time. You know, my goodness, let's see. Israel did that was disaster, right. And a blockade and then this happened over there; it's all consuming. And for a family person it's important to keep up with. We're not suggesting any one stop world news. But for a month, what are you going to do with the news, right? It doesn't impact your daily life. You life is so simple you don't need that news. So taking a step back from it can be helpful in terms of detaching from this demand to be aware of all this external knowledge.
Subtopic: Intellect- Knowledge remembered, external world.: 0:9:46
Intuitive or superconscious phase. We were talking about that at the beginning, it's even more complex, organized, more refined than the instinctive or intellectual phases. Mystically known as the "mind of light," for when one is in this state of mind he may see light within his head and sometimes throughout the entirety of his physical body if his inner sight is developed enough. So, just cause you can't see it doesn't mean it's not seeable. Just means you haven't figured out exactly where to look or how to look. Otherwise, it just begins to feel good all over as actinic energy permeates his nervous system.
So, actinic is a word Gurudeva uses. It means spiritual energy. So energy when it first manifests is actinic or spiritual. And then it becomes actinodic or a mixture of spiritual and grosser energies -- astral and physical. And then it becomes totally odic or gross energy. So there's actinic, actinodic and odic energy looking from within out. So here when we say actinic energy we just mean pure spiritual energy.
Subtopic: Intuitive, superconscious "mind of light." Actinic or spiritual energy. : 0:11:15
This was a question I was asked so I here I get to ask you. Okay.
Why do we become angry and hurt others?
[Innersearcher responds, partly inaudible.]
Usually the response to a hurt is [...??] I've been hurt and I want to retaliate. [Bodhinatha responds:]
Yes, but why do we want to retaliate? Well aren't we divine beings?
[Inner searcher's respond:]
Well, I don't remember that.
It's right there, it's the first sutra, right? Not even the second one. First sutra in Dancing With Siva.
We are divine beings, coming from God, returning to God. How in the world could we get angry and hurt someone?
[Innersearcher comments, inaudible:]
[Bodhinatha then replies:]
Yes, yes but in terms of what we just talked about.
[Innersearcher comments, inaudible:]
[Bodhinatha then replies:]
Yes, we, the inst... we have an instinctive mind, right?
It's defensive sometimes.
[Bodhinatha then replies:]
It's defensive, well absolutely. That's the instinctive mind. Where were we responding and, and it's not always wrong. You know we have to protect ourselves and protect others, depends on why. But in terms of the context we're talking about, we get angry and hurt others because we have an instinctive mind. We didn't have an instinctive mind we'd never get angry and we'd never hurt others.
Why do we have an instinctive mind? Cause our soul happens to be residing in a physical body. Yeah, that's why. If we were just in the soul body, boy would life be easy. No instinctive mind, no intellectual mind, we'd just be kind of an angel you know floating around in the clouds or something, you know, totally peaceful. Like a young child when everything's going right, you know.
But, obviously, we're not supposed to, we're supposed to have an instinctive mind and we're supposed to have an intellectual mind. So, the key is to learn to control them. We have to learn to control them, otherwise, we can't experience our soul nature. We're constantly dominated by the disturbances caused by the instinctive mind and you know, the outer emotional disturbances and the disturbances caused by an overactive intellect. We're, you know, kind of frustrated mentally.
Okay, I just explained this one.
Well, looking again at the instinctive mind: main forces, animals, birds, fishes, reptiles, personification of the instinctive mind. Living mainly in the areas of fear they react immediately to change. So we talked about that. They have no choice.
So, fear is a protective mechanism. So, where fear is coming for a good reason, you know, if the building is on fire we should be afraid, right? But, if we're worried about the world running out of oil and we're afraid of that that's a different kind of fear. It's a theoretical fear about something that may not happen. So, fear is a positive thing if there's a threat to us or to other people. So, we don't want to give up fear, we want to control it. So, we become fearful, we have to analyze it. Sometimes rather quickly. Is this fear a legitimate fear? Should I really be afraid of something. If not then we need to let it go.
Same with anger. Anger can be a force that we're generating because we have to protect someone. You know, we have to get up the energy to do so. So, you know, if we're responsible for our family and someone's threatening it, you know, we have to protect the family. That's our duty. We can't just sit there and say: I believe in ahimsa. You know. No! Have a duty to protect our family. So, anger would naturally come up. But again if anger comes up we have to ask ourselves, you know, should I really be angry? Do I need this protective mechanism or not? And usually in the case of anger we don't.
Anger is retaliation as we talked about earlier. Anger is frustration. If we do something, you know, the carpenter. I had a wonderful experience with the carpenter at a distance. He was building the house next door, across from our vegetable garden. (Some of you probably haven't seen it.) There were two carpenters and the junior one had quite a vocabulary. And things, you know, every day, at least once things would go poorly and he'd start swearing and yelling and jump in his car and drive off with the tires squealing. You know, just get terribly angry because he got frustrated that something didn't go right. You know, he was trying to hammer a board a certain way and maybe he spent a couple of hours cutting it and fitting it and put it in, it didn't work. He had to start all over again. So, he would get frustrated, get angry, and express it, and sometimes drive away because of it. And just got so carried away the anger just took over him.
So frustrating, frustration, terms of trying to do something and it not working out is a big cause of anger as well. So that's not a justifiable reason for the anger. Our intellect shouldn't allow that.
Gurudeva puts it quite nicely. He says:
"The first steps on the spiritual path consist of learning to restrain these instinctive forces and transmute their energies into the higher nature."
Subtopic: Instinctive anger, fear.: 0:17:36
First step equals harness the instinctive mind. So this is one of the beauties of Gurudeva's teachings; it actually starts at the beginning. So sometimes it feels like spiritual teachings, you know, the first day of school is high school instead of grade one, you know. You're starting with something that 's so advanced, you know. How can you sustain it even if you manage to do it a few times? Instinctive nature comes up and it all falls apart on you. You don't have any foundation. So, this is a systematic way, Gurudeva's teaching are very systematic. Just like going to school. One grade at a time. Repeating what you learned. You know, at the beginning of the next grade make sure you didn't forget it and going on in a systematic way. So, this is the first grade.
He said that even more specifically:
"The spiritual path begins with the avoidance of wrongful action and can be likened to the early training of a child in which he is told: 'Don't do this, do this instead.'"
So that's the beginning of the spiritual path. Avoidance of wrongful action which is, you know, expressing anger is a classic example. Retaliating!
Subtopic: Beginning of the spiritual path, Gurudeva's teachings: 0:19:4
Okay, so we don't have enough time to get through the next section. So, let's, let's ask if there's any questions on the three phases of the mind. Think we're clear on instinctive, intellectual, intuitive phases of the mind or the way the mind functions? The instinctive mind comes along with the physical body. If it were just the soul body we wouldn't have it. Nothing to control but we need to learn to control it. Intellectual mind tends to ramify. Just goes on and on and on and on and about things. So, intellect is very good if you're focusing it in a productive way but otherwise it's like talking without producing anything. It's just a waste of energy. We want to turn the intellect on and off. Intellect should be like a computer. Properly used computer is a great tool if it's properly used. We sit down, we do something, it saves us so much time. Years ago we used to have to go to a library or even on an island like this have to go to some other library. Library here is small. To find out something you'd have to go to a library. It could take a couple of days to find out something.
Now, you just go somewhere on the internet, you get the knowledge, you do what you're doing and you've got it. So, we want to use the intellect just like we use a computer. We turn it on, we do something useful with it and we turn it off. It shouldn't just be running all the time otherwise it's like going to an internet sites that are distracting.
You think the intellect is so time-consuming because it's constantly trying to rationalize fears that are coming from the instinctive side?
[Bodhinatha then replies:]
Yes, that's definitely one of the reasons it goes on more than it should and that's cause by not having a structure for handling the fear or the concern. I mean we don't know what to do with fear or concern. So, it repeats itself. So we if, thoughts are repeating themselves in the intellect, that we would prefer weren't repeating themselves, maybe we can find a structure in Gurudeva's teaching to stop it from repeating itself. To solve, sort itself out you know.
For example: A major one is being an adult and resenting one or both or your parents for how they raised you. You know that's a...
Rain huh? You okay out there, you're not wet. Okay. Standing in the rain but not getting wet. [laughter] That's the water on the lotus leaves.
But the, the example is: Let's say we seriously resent one or both of our parents for how they raised us; they weren't very nice and we think about it. And that stirs us up now and then. So, Gurudeva gives us a tool for clearing that up. Vasana Daha Tantra: Writing it down burning it up. And also putting a picture of a parent there, putting a flower in front of it for 31 days is one of them.
So, you try and identify the nature of the issue and look for a tool to get rid of it. That's Gurudeva's approach. There are tools to change things and one of them is simply the self, no, self-concepts. Positive self confidence. Yes, profound self-confidence and positive self concept. Switch sometimes.
So, one of the reasons we think about things is our self-concept is not strong enough. There's some doubt there about us. And relates to the kind of thing we were mentioning. And we want to change the concept of who we are. We're divine being. Words, it's right in the First Sutra as I was talking about. You know, we're divine beings, came from God, returning to God, going through all these experiences. So we're divine being, it doesn't mean that which surrounds our divinity is perfect. You know, we make mistakes, we have an instinctive mind, we have an intellectual and but the core of us, who we are is a divine being.
But the problem is we think we're the personality looking in at the divine. And the personality of course, always has flaws. So we can't perfect the flaws in the personality. We have to, instead of being the outer looking at the inner we have to be the inner looking at the outer. Because the inner is always perfect. And then we try and handle the outer as best we can. If we do something wrong we make the appropriate apologies. If we make a mistake, we learn from it and try not to do it again etcetera. You know, the out... our outside is never perfect. And that, but it doesn't bother us because our inside is. Something like that is I think, the answer to your question.
Subtopic: Divine Beings, outside flaws, inside perfect. : 0:24:59
So, it's a shift in perspective. And, plus taking specific tools to get rid of whatever it is that's nagging us. Identifying it, you know, observing it. Identifying it. You know, we have to be able to observe our mind to change it. We have to be able to know we can change our mind to change it. Lots of people, you would say: Well, you're kind of angry. And they'd say: Oh that's the way I am, that's just the way I am, you know, always been that way.
Well, guess what? You can change the way you've always been. Here, we've got twenty ways you can change that.
Would deep breathing help control the runaway instinctive mind?
[Bodhinatha then replies:]
Oh, absolutely. Oh yes, it can. Deep breathing, regulated breathing, relaxing, even just relaxing, you know, it's preceding deep breathing. Just relax and helps regulate the mind. We get so tense, modern life. You know, the pressure of modern life keeps getting worse every year.
I'm not sure how it is here but I think it's worse than Asia. Asia they're just eking out more and more hours without paying you for it. And you have to work them or you're afraid younger person would take your job, you know, it's unfair. And then you've got tuition. You not only go to school in Asia, you go to school after school. The school you went to wasn't that good and you got to go a better school after school to really learn something. You end up going to school all day even when you're ten years old, you know. There's no time to play. Lots of pressure in Asia that you don't have here.
So that all makes us tense. Even kids are tense. So, if we can relax, one way or another. Hatha yoga's helpful, very relaxing. Just a hot bath is helpful. Taking a walk. You know, instead of coming, the example we have in one of our talks is: Instead of coming home from the lawyer's office totally frustrated, showing that frustration with your spouse, why not take a walk through the park first, calm down and end up in home a more balanced person. So, like that. We need to control the stress and relax and breath deeply and all that helps us control ourselves.
Subtopic: Control of stress.: 0:27:30
Okay, well we're just going to touch on this so we don't' get confused on it.
[End of transcript.]