What is the mind? One definition refers to the mind as “a set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, perception, thinking, judgement, language and memory. It is usually defined as the faculty of an entity’s thoughts and consciousness.” Another definition states that the mind is an “element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought.” Interestingly, both include thoughts and consciousness as aspects of mind. One might say that consciousness is a field we have access to and that our thoughts precipitate from and contribute to this field. It is wise when discussing the mind to point out the function of the brain… it is a storehouse for one’s thoughts. What is the difference between the mind and the brain? The Buddhist teachings frame it this way: the brain is an aspect of our physical body; our body is like a guesthouse and our mind is a guest dwelling within it. When we die, our mind leaves our body (and thus the brain) and goes to the next life, just like a guest going on to new dwellings.
If the mind is not the brain, then what is it? It is a very important aspect of ourselves. So important that getting to know the mind can mean the difference between experiencing suffering or peace, confusion or clarity, and ignorance or enlightenment. This week we will dive directly into the concept and experience of the mind in meditation. After all, it is through meditation that we get acquainted with the mind. We’ll cozy up, explore, and get friendly.
Enjoy this introduction to Step 9: Mind.
Downloadable Podcast: Introduction to Step 9 – Mind