What is mind? It is frequently asked by people who are fascinated about the power of their minds to affect the universe. Does it exist? And how one can access its powers?
The mind is the most powerful portion of us. It is much more powerful than a computer or a super processor. Though much more complex than an ordinary super processor, the mind has the potential to unlock unlimited potential in human beings. In fact, the mind is the set of mental functions and activities that underlie our entire existence. The brain produces various types of thoughts and our behavior is guided by these cognitive functions.
There are various ways to approach the question, what is mind? Some of these approaches are linguistic, physical, developmental, philosophical and behavioral. However, all of these approaches misconstrue what is mind. For instance, although many philosophers talk about the importance of consciousness in effecting human behavior, they do not necessarily define consciousness as mind. Similarly, the physicists’ view of what is in mind is highly confusing since they conceive of the mind as a purely physical faculty existing independent of the body.
On the other hand, all the above questions are not as difficult as they seem. You do not need to be a physical scientist to understand the answer. Once you have a clear idea about what is mind, you can easily find out how mind impacts various physical functions. A simple example will make this clearer.
When you take a look at any normal person, you will observe that their brain functions in two major channels: (a) the conscious mind which functions through various functions such as language, memory, analysis, planning, etc., and (b) the unconscious mind which does all the non-conscious functions such as movement, breathing, digestion, intuition, imagination, etc. Now, if you ask anyone how their brain operates, they will have to give you a lot of answers. Therefore, it is quite natural for them to ask: “What is mind?” This question is also very difficult to answer as no one can define mind or its functioning mechanisms in a precise manner. The best possible way is to look at it from the other angle.
When you try to understand the mind, you come to realize that it is nothing but consciousness interacting with physical, physiological, chemical and emotional systems. All the above functions are nothing more than a means of communication occurring between mind and body. If you ask someone to explain the mind, they would first have to explain the concepts behind consciousness. This is because understanding consciousness entails understanding all the functions of mind.
Once we understand the functions of consciousness, we can come up with a very clear and detailed definition. It is just an exaggeration to say that the mind is some kind of mysterious entity. If you take a physical mind and try to describe its every single function, you will not be able to give any reasonable explanation. On the other hand, you can explain the functions of mind very precisely as unconscious functions of mind. This will help us arrive at an accurate definition of mind.
Answering the question “what is mind?” requires us to step inside the mind. This is where we will get a glimpse of the mind’s functioning mechanism. As you step inside your own mind, you will come to know what is going on and how your mind functions. When you finally understand the working of the mind, you will be able to answer the question, “What is mind?” easily.
As we discussed briefly above, the functions of mind include all the cognitive functions like logic and the capacity to organize thoughts. The other functions of the mind include our emotional functions like memory, perception, judgment, imagination, intuition, and so on. These are just a few of the functions; there are many more. All these functions together contribute to the functioning of the mind. So, if you want to answer the question “what is mind?”
Now let us return back to our original question, “What is mind?” In this case, we can confidently say that consciousness arises from the mind’s activities. Because consciousness emerges from the mind’s activities, it can clearly be said that consciousness is a superspace entity separate from the mind itself. In other words, mind and consciousness are two different entities arising from the same core or foundation. So, in this case too, we can say that the mind’s activities are what is mind and consciousness is what is consciousness.
Now that you have learned the answer to the original question, the next logical question is, “How do you use your mind to achieve your desired goals?” In fact, this is the real reason why most people are confused about the meaning of mind. They think that the only purpose of the mind is to entertain us or distract us from our goals. But the reality is that the mind has many uses and purposes.