Question: How do I call this brain my own if this is nothing but a collection of experiences from the past and influences from the outside?
Acharya Prashant: Me and my brain must be called as two different entities. Right? This question surely wouldn’t have been in your mind a month back, today it is there because you have come to see that the brain is nothing but a collection of all your past experiences. The brain is nothing but a product of evolution and it has all the information that life has gone through, has gathered in the course of these million years of being and becoming.
You have also come to see, it has been often emphasized that any external influence is absorbed by the brain. You surely have been told that the brain acts like a sponge. That the brain acts like the sponge, that it keeps on taking in whatsoever comes from outside. If I am not mistaken, you have also seen that all this comes from outside is what constitutes your ego. Correct? Identification with that becomes your ego.
So now you are wondering that how do I call this brain my own? If this is nothing but a collection of experiences from the past and influences from the outside, how do I call it my own? Right?
If this is nothing but some kind of board, a blank board on which anybody can come and write something. What is it that I can really call as my own? Right? What is it that I really call as my own?
Go into it, attentively understand this. Yes, you are right, every bit of the brain is conditioned. In that sense, there is nothing in it that you can really call your own. Every bit, every single cell over here is a preprogrammed cell. And all that programming has not been done by you, and the programming is taking place continuously. It’s an ongoing process. It is taking place now at this moment. It has been happening for a very very long time and it is happening even now.
So, yes you are right, in that sense brain is not really yours. But don’t be disappointed, you haven’t lost anything. There is something that is entirely yours, entirely entirely yours and that is your ability to understand all this. That ability we call by the name of ‘Intelligence’. That does not come through evolution. Neither does any external being hand it over to you. It is yours, it just manifests itself in moments of attention.
So, those of you who are attentive right now, within them a very intelligent process is going on. A very very intelligent process. Now, that process consists of two different subprocesses, understand them. One, The language that I am speaking, the form that you are observing over here, all this is surely coming from the past. So this is an external knowledge which has been given to us by somebody else, by certain factors. Neither you nor I just invented the English language. That’s one thing.
Second thing, you are looking at me in a particular shape and form, this three-dimensional world that we see, that again is coming to us through our brain. Alright? It doesnot have a sepearate existence of our own, its our brain that is projeting it, so again that is a part of the conditioning.
Understand this, what is going on, I am speaking, you are listening, we are trying to break this down into two different subprocesses, understand this very clearly. The first subprocess is that which has to do with the brain, which has to do with the brain, and what is that? That is that certain waves fall on the ears, and then these waves have to be translated into words that have a certain meaning, and all that is very automatic, and all that comes from your past.
You already know what a word like conditioning means, your past has told you, you already know what already means? What always means? And what all these words mean? So, all the past has a great utility in that sense. First process, the first subprocess is dependent on the past, in the first subprocess you are making sense of these words, they are coming to you, you are referring to the database, which contains a dictionary in the mind, and that dictionary is telling you that such and such is the meaning of that word, Right? Are you getting it? This is the first automatic subprocess, this is more or less machine-like. The first subprocess is more or less machine-like. Are you getting it?
Even a machine can do this. Even a machine can do this. You can have a fairly advanced Robot, that can receive sound waves and carry a database that can make a meaning out of them.
You can have a robot which receives words in English but writes down the exact thing in French. It can have the ability to translate. you already have such simple programmes over the internet, you type something in one language and the output comes out in another language. That is happening with us also right now, the first Subprocess as we said is fairly mechanical, very mechanical.
There is the second process happening, the second subprocess which is not at all mechanical. Which is the process of intelligence and which no machine is capable of. That only you can do. And that is the process of understanding. That is the process of understanding. Are you getting it?
The very ability to make sense of these words, the ability to go deeply into them and understand what they are all about, no machine can do it today and no machine will be ever able to do it. That intelligence is what makes you human. That ability to be attentive and understand is what makes you special. That is the prerogative only of the human being. Are you getting it? Yes?
Now, this intelligence too sits in the brain. It is not in the brain, the first subprocess in entirely the mechanical brain functioning, this second process is also dependent upon the brain in the sense that if today or at this moment, our brains are smashed, then obviously we can’t understand, or if one of us is drunk and his brain is not in a proper condition, it’s intoxicated, then also you can’t understand. The second subprocess won’t take place.
So, the brain functions in two ways. In the first process it acts just like a machine, and in the second subprocess, it is acting as the seat of intelligence. Remember, the brain by itself is not intelligent, but it acts as the seat of intelligence. Are you understanding this? So, if you identify yourself with the brain, there is a great problem, because, now you have identified yourself with a machine. That will make life very very dull and boring and mechanical. Very very machine-like, You will only do what you have been programmed to do. And that makes the slaves of you. And nobody wants to live in slavery. And especially young people like us surely abort slavery. Right?
Identifying with the brain is deeply problematic, but realizing that I am that intelligence which just sits upon the brain, that is beautiful. That awareness that I am not identifying with all the identities, conditioning, all the external influences, and I realize myself to be intelligent, that’s one thing. Are you getting it? You understand, Right?
On one hand Yes, all that the brain has, has come from the outside, it is external, and please don’t identify with that. Beliefs, religion, meanings of words like success, life, work, love – all these have been given to us and the brain has just soaked them in like a sponge. And that is what is the process of conditioning. The development of Ego. If you become identified with all that, then you have become mechanical. So, that has to be alertly avoided. That first part, it has to be understood. And in understanding it, you have ordained it.
But the second thing is very very precious, and what is that second? That intelligence. That’s what you are. That’s what you are. And that intelligence also requires the presence of a healthy brain. Remember we said that if our brains are smashed, there is no question of an intelligent output. So, the brain must be healthy just as the seat of intelligence. The brain is not intelligent, but it is the seat of intelligence. The brain by itself is very very dumb, very very dumb. All it can do is take orders, and that also not your order, someone else’s orders. The brain by itself is very very dumb, all it can be is a database. a storehouse reservoir of data, of memories, are you getting it? And it is also preprogrammed. So, its a database and a programme. Both of which make a slave out of it. But it’s also the seat of intelligence.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Is your mind really yours?
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