Body vs Mind
Human body differs from human mind at a
superficial level. But the fundamental nature of the
body and mind share similar characteristics. Collection
of those fundamentals describes the universal nature
pertaining to mind and matter. An attempt is made here
to describe some aspects of the nature of the mind
comparing it with the human body.
The physical body requires a continuous supply of oxygen
and nutrients for its maintenance. Oxygen and nutrients
are continuously consumed for the synthesis of bodily
matter. Whatever matter formed is unstable and therefore
disintegrates. But sooner, completely new matter is
synthesized for what is lost. Thus the continuity is
maintained. It is the continuity of a bundle of unstable
matter that appears as a solid body. But in reality, it
is nothing but a sequence of changes: synthesis and
disintegration. This is the nature of impermanence, the
inherent nature of the universe. The same nature of law
governs the mind. Our mind needs a continuous supply of
‘nutrients’ in the form of what we see, hear, taste,
feel, smell and think, for its survival. The
manifestation of the mind during a particular time
period is determined partly by the nature of the
‘nutrients’ supplied during that particular time period.
In other words, a change in the surrounding environment
can bring about a change in the mental status. Just as
doctors find the reason for the drop in oxygen
saturation of a patient as some fault in the oxygen
delivery mechanism, a drop in the mental status of the
patient can be due to a change in the patient’s
“outside” environment. When the nutrients of the mind
are well understood, one knows how to correct them in
abnormal states of mind and regain normal mental health.
For example, a tight oxygen mask irritating the skin may
be a major reason for a patient’s agitation. Simple
loosening of the mask might solve the problem.
Any bodily phenomenon is a result of more than one
cause. Nothing in this body prevails alone, without
being a result of causes. In this sense human body is a
complex machine where every function of it is a result.
The reader may not agree at once that every element of
our mind (consciousness) is a result of nothing but a
combination of causes. Here also, the important point is
that no element of the mind stands alone without a
cause. Then humans are nothing but bundles of psycho -
somatic conditions. When this bundle of unstable of
psycho - somatic conditions recognizes itself with
ignorance, the notion of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ comes to be.
This ‘I’ has wants (craving) and don’t wants (aversion).
When wants are satisfied, happiness results. When wants
are not satisfied misery results. But when one realizes
that this ‘I’ is nothing but a bundle of unstable psycho
-somatic conditions, the ignorance of ‘I’ passes away.
Such a mind doesn’t see things as to be wanted or
rejected. Instead it accepts whatever happens as it is
and acts appropriately without any struggle within. Then
craving or aversion can no longer conquer the mind. As
the mind is devoid of any impurities it remains within
its basic nature - calm and peaceful all the time.
For example, one whose vision ‘I’ persists: says, “I am
seeing a picture.” One who sees cause and effect of
mental elements: perceives that “an act of seeing a
picture” has arisen at this moment (to pass away) as a
result of such cause combination. No notion of ‘I’ is
involved. Then the mental impurities attached to ‘I’
(craving and aversion) will not arise.
This may be an absolute example. However, lesser the
notion of ‘I’ lesser the suffering is bound to be. Such
a patient with a corrected vision doesn’t wish “I don’t
want pain” or “I want pleasant feelings.” But accepts
whatever happens as it is, seeing the causes and
effects, beyond the notion of ‘I’. Then he is living in
line with the true nature of mind and matter. The
consequence is passing away of stresses and
establishment of peacefulness.
When the body encounters an injurious agent (virus) it
develops a defense mechanism for its own protection.
e.g.: inflammation. But at times these bodily responses
do more harm than the injurious agents itself. Then
doctors do medicate to reduce the bodily response by
giving immunosuppressive or anti-inflammatory drugs. But
for the mind this is the truth. When an unpleasant
sensation (= injurious agent) is encountered, out of
ignorance one reacts with disliking, aversion or hating.
The mental reaction (= inflammation) does most of the
harm not the unpleasant sensation itself. Just as the
body switches on a vicious cycle of cytokine production
in the presence of dengue virus and sets up a shock
state, this mental impurity-anger proliferates leading
to confusion and agitation. Initially this aversion is
only towards the unpleasant sensation. Soon it spreads
to any person/s responsible for giving the pain. He may
start hating the non-living materials. Like a fire
catching up any inflammable material, this aversion
burns anything that comes to the mind. Therefore it is
necessary to give an ‘immunosuppressor’ to the mind to
stop this negative thought proliferation. It is nothing
but the correct understanding of the mental impurity
(aversion) and its antidote (friendliness) gained by
examination of one’s own mind.
Physicians gain new knowledge about the human body in
three main ways.
1. Knowledge gained by reading and listening.
2. Knowledge gained by rational thinking or logical
3. Knowledge gained by one’s own clinical experience.
Of the three, the latter has a greater influence on the
physician’s decisions than the rest. The knowledge that
relieves the mental stresses falls into the same three
groups. And the direct experience of the mental and
physical phenomena brings about the real change. For
example, one may have read and listened to the unhealthy
effects of anger (First type of knowledge). One may
predict the harmful effects of anger, having seen people
with anger (Second type). But neither gives the real
relief from anger. It is the direct knowledge gained
through pure observation of one’s own anger and
cultivation of its anti-dote-friendliness that clears
The principle of “do nothing, but watchful waiting” is
applied in understanding the true nature of the
pathological process going on in a patient. Do nothing
because any intervention would mask the true nature of
the process. Watchful waiting is to be vigilant of what
The exact principle holds true when dealing with the
mind. What is needed to purify the mind is pure
observation. Observation equals watchful waiting.
Observation is pure in the sense that no intervention of
liking or disliking is there. For example, if one wants
to know the true nature of anger; he has to see the
anger when it has arisen in his mind, without any
dislike (or like) of the object of anger. One who starts
examining his thoughts without any liking or disliking,
the true nature of the thoughts begins to reveal itself.
Then the law governing the mental elements becomes
clearer. He comes to realize how stress and suffering is
generated within his mind. Then he knows how to escape
from suffering and enjoys peace within.