The exact function of the mind is a constant source of speculation. There is disagreement
on a variety of theories from different academic disciplines and research projects.
Some approach it from a primarily neurological point of view, believing that the
entire secret can be revealed by understanding the function of the brain. Others
tackle it from a primarily psychological point of view, especially taking into account
emotional and subconscious behavior. Others, drawing upon a rich fund of teaching,
analyse this fascinating subject from a metaphysical point of view, including in
their findings such concepts as the soul and spirit of man.
An in-depth analysis of the mind is beyond the scope of this book. We are concerned
here with one particular aspect of its function die psychic potential in us all.
Since psychic ability is a manifestation of the intuitive faculty, and intuition
is in itself an aspect of mind function, we need to devote at least one chapter to
the mysteries contained within the mind.
YOGA MASTERS ON MIND
Thousands of years before any modern writings on the function of the mind, the yoga
masters known as the Rishis existed, reputedly dwelling in seclusion in the forests
of India. Their findings about the human psyche formed the basis for later eastern
philosophical teachings, which were passed down orally at first from student to student,
and were later written down in the ancient Brahmin texts.
Since the late nineteenth century these teachings have been brought to the West by
yogis such as Swami Vivekananda, who was the leading disciple of the great Hindu
saint, Sri Ramakrishna. Swami Vivekananda's mission was to bring this ancient wisdom
to the West, which he did very success fully, lecturing extensively in America and
Britain. Many of his brilliant lectures are available in published form, and I certainly
recommend them to those who wish to learn about the tremendous potential within us
all. Perhaps his most out standing work was entitled Raja Yoga, in which he comments
on the Aphorisms of Patanjali who was widely regarded as the father of Raja Yoga,
the Yoga of control of the mind.
The works of Yogi Ramacharaka were written an the early part of the twentieth century
by an Englishman, William Walter Atkinson, in conjunction with Baba Barata who had
learnt these teachings in India from Yogi Ramacharaka, his guru. These very readable
books throw a beacon of light on the subject of mind potential, among other subjects.
My favourite teacher is the western master of yoga, His Eminence Dr George King.
His lectures and writings, which are available through The Aetherius Society, are
very simple and clearly explained and, in my view, apply more than any others I have
come across to the modern world in which we live. He has tailored his teachings through
his own personal realisation and demonstration, so that they can be safely practised
and easily understood by those of us who dwell in the hectic, highly pressured lifestyles
of the modern era.
One thing all these teachers have in common is that they are not so much theorists,
basing their findings on deductions and ideas, as proven practitioners of the psychic
sciences in heir own right. Each one has entered the deeper states of meditation
and has discovered along the way a fund of knowledge available through awakening
the faculty of intuition. Experience is, after all, the finest guide to a true understanding
of mind potential.
In addition to these yogis, there are many other valuable sources of information
about the mind. One thing that all researchers are agreed upon is that we have only
scratched the surface in using the full capacity of our mental potential. The mechanism
of the human psyche both on a physical and a metaphysical level, is extraordinarily
brilliant, if we only take full advantage of it.
Spectacular progress has been made in scientific research into the mind, which can
add considerably to our understanding. For example, over the last few years researchers
have dis covered much about the difference between tie right and left-hand sides
of the brain. This is a massive subject about which entire treatises have been written,
but I shall give a brief summary here of some recent findings.
The two sides of the physical brain are responsible for controlling very different
aspects of our mental process. Scientists have discovered that the left-hand side
of the brain is concerned with the analytical function of our mind, such as deduction,
calculation, memory, logic and all things rational. The right-hand side is concerned
with the creative function, all things intuitive.
Researchers believe that, on the whole, the right-hand function of the brain neglected
in the modern world in favour of the left-band function, and that there is a serious
imbalance as a result this. Our educational systems have concentrated primarily on
deduction and memory and devoted very little time to expanding and developing the
creative process. Obviously there are notable exceptions to this, such as the Rudolph
Steiner approach to education and others who develop the creative side of our nature
within their educational programmes certainly the emphasis in most schools has been
on calculation, logical expression and remembering a fund of facts, theorems and
data. This has also been the content of most examinations which mainly test our memory
of data and the ability to present information in a rational way.
But the right-hand side of the brain as equally as important as the left, and this
imbalance can be redressed by developing and using the intuitive and creative aspects
of our mind. In my opinion it would be a very good thing if a basic course in psychic
development was included in educational programmes in schools. Controversial as this
may sound, it would have very practical applications, not only in the personal life
of children and students, but in their professional life as well.
Many business decisions have to be made partly on the basis of instinct and gut feeling.
Those who work in the money markets for example, would agree with this. Despite the
knowledge of economists and bankers around the world, the same information and statistics,
when analysed by different experts, produce opposing opinions about where exactly
the market will go, the future value of different currencies and so forth. Knowledge
and deduction alone, winch are attributes associated with the left-hand side of the
brain, are not enough to make conclusive decisions.
I am certainly not suggesting that we should try to use our intuitive faculty to
make money, although many business people have used methods of divination to assist
them in their enterprises, and still do. I have found that if one's motive is purely
selfish, intuitive attributes are very limited in their effectiveness. They are far
more conducive to unselfish, humanitarian activities. Nevertheless, our obsession
with using the left-hand side of the brain far more than the right-hand side is a
major limitations even in the business world.
Other areas of scientific research into the brain over recent years have also drawn
some very significant conclusions. One particular series of experiments involved
registering the responses of the brain. Before we take any physical action, the brain
has transmitted a mental impulse through our nervous system to cause us to walk,
lift our hand, scratch or whatever the action may be. The experiments were designed
to measure these internal impulses and nervous responses to a fraction of a second,
using carefully devised apparatus connected to the people taking part. It was discovered
that, in certain cases, the apparatus registered a reaction from the individuals
before the brain itself was activated. This reaction took place only a fraction of
a millisecond before, but it illustrated something very significant that thought
impulse within a human being does not necessarily originate in the brain but in another
part of the human psyche.
Some took this experiment to confirm the existence of the soul and others referred
to the existence of 'will' as distinct from the brain. However you interpret it,
it does back up what metaphysicians have said for thousands of years: that although
the physical brain is very important indeed, it is not the fount of all knowledge.
It is not the source of all mind.
THE METAPHYSICAL APPROACH
The word 'metaphysical' literally means that which is beyond the physical. When examining
the mind, the metaphysician does not see it as being contained within the physical
brain. He sees mind as energy, bringing a close interaction between thought and feeling.
For example, inspiration may originate from a feeling and then be translated into
a thought process which manifests itself in literature, science or the arts. The
initial seed of the idea or impulse which actually produced that inspired mental
process may have been a combination of impressions which are more related to feeling
than thought. These feelings cannot be said to have originated in the physical brain,
although the physical brain will have translated them into some form of intelligence.
It is interesting to examine the states of being which produce inspiration. The poet
Wordsworth describes in some of his poems the virtual state of grace in which a certain
oneness with nature is felt, a state he obviously experienced himself. Religious
writings also refer to elevated states of grace or higher consciousness. From a psychic
point of view, these states are created when the vibrations within the aura of the
person in question have been raised to a high level or frequency. In such a state
of consciousness, great inspiration will come to the person in one form or another.
It might be poetry; it might be hearing wonderful sounds in one's imagination, which
culminate in a great musical work. It might be an inspired realisation which can
lead to the invention of an important scientific innovation. It might be a state
which leads to a mediumistic rapport with an advanced person who is no longer living
in a physical body but now inhabits a higher plane of existence and who gives a message
of wisdom and healing. It might be the moment in which a painter sees the interplay
of colour in a landscape in a new way and is able to visualise this to such an extent
that it can be expressed in a historic work of art. These inspirations result from
an elevated state of consciousness, which causes the physical brain to produce great
thoughts. The brain is virtually a translating mechanism which helps to express the
state of being of the individual.
There is still considerable investigation going on into the exact internal functions
that ensue when the brain, for example, causes us to walk or to make any physical
movement. Exactly what mental impulses have been sent and how the nervous system
responds to those impulses to bring about the action is not fully known. Nor is it
known at what stage the subconscious mind becomes involved m this process. These
issues are the source of continuing programmes of enquiry and research. From the
point of view of this book, it is sufficient to note that although the physical brain
is a wonderful mechanism and a source of fascination and mystery even to those who
make it their lifetime study, it is not the sole key to understanding the function
It is easy to see how western culture has misunderstood the exact nature of enlightenment.
Even in the eighteenth century, which is referred to by historians as the Age of
Enlightenment in Europe, it was seen almost entirely as a product of the left-hand
side of the brain. Deductive logic and reason were the hallmarks of this age. The
metaphysician believes that enlightenment is not any single thought, realisation
or even discovery. It is a state of being or consciousness in which thoughts, discoveries
and so on can be expressed. It involves the left-hand side of the brain, the right-hand
side of the brain and more than that, because it also involves the feelings, which
are crucial in all forms of psychic development.
THE AURA AND PSYCHIC CENTRES
For all mysticism, occultism and yogic philosophy, the starting point when examining
the mind is the aura. This is seen as the source of all mental and emotional functions
within the individual. The aura contains a multitude of different energies of a psychic
nature, which, as one develops psychically, one can begin to see clairvoyantly. These
energies arc received through the psychic centres and travel throughout the aura
in an intermingling network of psychic channels which were known in Hindu scripts
as the nadis. In fact the early scripts, known as the Upanishads ,
stated that there are seventy-two thousand of these nadis running throughout
the aura in a complex matrix of interconnecting channels which produce a balanced
flow of energies in the aura, providing we perform certain simple, purifying exercises.
Especially recommended for this purpose was the practice of Pranayama, the
science of correct breathing.
Among the many psychic centres in the aura, there are seven major ones: base of the
spine (muladhara ),sex (svadhisthana ), solar plexus (manipura
), heart (anahata ), throat (viskudda ), the Christ centre or third
eye, positioned where the eyebrows meet (ajna ), and the Crown centre, positioned
just above the head (sahasrara ). I have included the Sanskrit names in brackets
for each of these centres (or chakras, as they were known) because so many
writings on this subject refer to them under these names. These centres are in the
aura and not in the physical body. They are a few inches in front of the body, depending
on the individual, and not necessarily positioned exactly opposite the respective
physical organ - the heart centre, for example, is in the centre and not the left-hand
side. Books abound on this subject, but the illustrations above and below give you
an idea of the human aura and the location of the seven major psychic centres.
These psychic centres have a practical effect on our daily and nightly lives, whether
or not we are aware of their function. The constant interchange of energies which
takes place among the psychic centres and interconnecting channels within the aura
directly affects our psychic development. Any blockages in this flow of psychic energy
will tend to block our psychic perception. Any blockage in the reception or discharge
of energies into and out of the aura will also tend to prevent the free flow of intuitive
It is not necessary to have a detailed understanding of just how these psychic centres
function and it is probable that very few of those who have written about this subject
fully understand it themselves. It is believed by some mystics that those who really
know about this do not share their knowledge with others too freely because the information,
if misused accidentally or on purpose, could be extremely damaging.
Those books that do attempt to describe this interchange of energies within the chakras
and the nadis are very often in coded form for the purpose of secrecy which
was common in ancient texts. The most notable of theme is probably the classic occult
treatise,The Serpent Power, written in the early part of the twentieth century
by Sir John Woodroffe, which was based on a hitherto untranslated Sanskrit text It
is a highly complex and somewhat technical but highly informative work for those
who can decipher its inner meanings.
In addition to the internal transfer of energies, there is a psychic relationship
with the outside environment in which we live. The reason we feel very uplifted in
certain country locations is not just the beauty of the scenery and the fresh smell
in the air, but also the flee-flowing natural energies, or pranas as they
are termed in Sanskrit, which can rejuvenate our whole being by charging up die psychic
centres in our aura. We may not be consciously aware of this process going on, but
we will still feel the natural elation caused by it. On the other hand, a ride on
an underground train in London or some other busy metropolis is not only stuffy dirty
and imbued with unpleasant noises and smells, but there is also an interaction of
energies going on between the passengers, many of whom may be frustrated, tired,
irritated or just looking forward to getting off the train. This interchange takes
place within the psychic centres and channels within the aura and tends to bring
as a result a depleted state of mood and feeling.
If you are in the company of a very dynamic and vibrant person, even if you do not
speak to each other, you will start to feel uplifted by his or her presence. If you
are in the company of a depressed and pessimistic person and again nothing is said,
almost immediately you may start to feel negative and melancholy yourself. This is
a result of the interchange of psychic energies and illustrates the vital importance
of this process to our general well-being, as well as our overall psychic development.
Great scientific discoveries and inventions which have taken place while the scientist
was in a state of elation, and great works of art which have been produced while
the artist was in a highly uplifted state of being, were caused by a positive interaction
of psychic energy. This energy, which was attracted to them by, the vibration of
their aura, affected their psychic centres. Each of these psychic centers controls
differrent aspects of mind and produces an intelligent thought process, which in
an exceptional case would be termed genius.
In ancient writings there is usually a tendency to concentrate very heavily on the
higher psychic centres, particularly the Christ centre ('third eye' ) and
the Crown centre ('Brahma Chakra' ). Sometimes an implication runs through
these ancient writings that the lower centres should almost be regarded as evils
to be avoided as much as possible. More recent writings do not advocate this type
of exclusivity of emphasizing only the higher centres. A more balanced attitude is
generally found nowadays, which is very important to the developing psychic who should
strive to use all his psychic attributes in a positive, but always controlled, fashion.
All the psychic centres have a vital function to perform. In certain ways this concentration
upon the higher centres in traditional writings is understandable. Material things,
which are so valued today, are said to be governed by the lower centres, and sex
probably dominates modern cultures as much as it did in imperial Rome and some of
the other eras an man's history which can only be regarded as decadent Advertising,
pop music, magazines and youth culture are becoming increasingly obsessed with erotic
images, as though the greatest pleasures on earth are found through activating the
sex centre. But the elated states brought on by higher centres, activated in the
correct manner, can bring greater states of ecstasy and, according to advanced exponents
of mysticism, it is only when the Christ centre and ultimately the Crown centre are
activated that true, lasting bliss can be experienced.
We should neither reject the lower centres nor ignore the importance of the higher
centres, which will give us access to psychic ability and intuition, the more we
use them in a careful, balanced manner. When we start to see mind as an interaction
of energies creating a thought process through our psychic centres in the aura, we
shall have a much clearer idea of how to enhance our psychic awareness.
It is interesting to note that research into the minutiae of atomic particles has
shown that the mind of the physicist performing the experiments has, according to
some, had a direct effect upon the results. This is one of the reasons why certain
physicists are rejecting traditional definitions of proof as being an event which
is repeatable under identical physical conditions. They are starting to realize that
mind is beyond the purely physical environment and can actually affect the physical
outcome of their experiments. Mind over matter, which was hotly disputed by physicists
at one time as an impossibility, is now accepted in some form by an increasing number
of modern scientists.
For many of us, academic proof of the power of mind over matter is not necessary.
Our common sense tells us, for example, that if we are sick and being visited by
friends or relatives certain people will cheer us up far more than others. This is
not necessarily because we like them more than others, nor because of their conversation,
which may be the last thing we feel like at such a time. But there are certain people
who radiate a vibration before any words are uttered, which is at once uplifting
and healing. These vibrations are psychic energies channelled through the psychic
centers of the visitor outwards and received by us into our own aura. This process
can cause us to feel better, and is in fact a natural form of healing.