Examining the Difference between the Brain and the Mind

The brain – reactive

Mind- Proactive, an emotional scale

Everything is always suspended in the mind until received – manifested through opinion, expectation, or intention. The brain functions on a logical systematic process similar to a computer. Information is stored and retrieved in the same way as a computer. The long-term memory can be viewed as the hard drive where all forms of attention are solidified waiting to be retrieved when cued by aspects of the environment. Short term memory could be viewed as RAM (Random Access Memory) where information is temporarily stored until it is determined through emotional intensity which part of the hard drive the information will be permanently stored; the mind determines the level of emotional intensity and will group similar intensities together for easier access.

The eyes can be seen as the monitor, as you may have already realized there are literally billions of operations processed at a remarkable speed and efficiency to manufacture the picture that we see in front of us. The brain is impartial and does not take a position on any of its activities and like the body simply reacts to environmental cues.

The brain cannot tell the difference between imagination, such as a dream, or reality. If you close your eyes and imagine yourself ordering a pizza and then you open your eyes and actually order the pizza, your brain will go through the exact same neurological processes, accessing the exact same parts of the brain in the same order. It is the mind that discerns the difference between the two states by attaching to it a certain sequence of emotional tags drawn from a scale based on your position on an event (do I like or dislike etc.) this is opinion, expectation, or intention.

Brain memory will disappear after 7 to 9 years but the minds emotional imprint will be there indefinitely waiting to be brought forth to reconstruct an attachment to the moment, then recreated through conscious attention.

It is the act of trying to reconcile the mind and the brain that is the poison of humanity. The mind is not the brain although the mind is what structures the brain. The individual is neither the brain nor the mind but the embodiment of the process by which the two interact. I often use my hourglass analogy to display what I mean:

Imagine there to be a current of energetic movement passing like sand through an hour glass. As sand falls through the hour glass it is important to observe the forces that perpetuate or restrict its motion. The mass of the sands matter in conjunction with the gravitational pull of the much larger body of matter beneath from years of outpour, will determine how quickly the sand passes through the hole. Also, the smaller the hole, the slower the flow, and sometimes the hole gets so small that a single grain of sand stops the entire flow altogether. In contrast if the hole opened wider the sand would flow faster until it started to pass completely unrestricted. (Keep in mind that if everything was going the same speed then nothing would be moving, all motion would then be relative to the position of the observer, and it could very well be the observer that is moving).

There are four points in this model to observe, the sand itself (future/unknown), the gravitational pull of the body beneath it (past/known), the glass tube that opens and closes to allow or restrict the flow (witness/mind), and the center by which everything passes (present/all activity).

Now take a moment and picture this hour glass in an infinite pile of sand that appears to be coming from a bright light and slowly materializing into its grains; these are all possibilities coming into fruition, the future or the unknown before it becomes the known through the labelling process. Below is a massive pile of sand, the result of a lifetime of outpouring; the size is dependent on how tightly we hold on to the grains but is usually much larger than the mass above. It still disappears into the same body of light (the unknown). This of course is all the memories, fragments of familiarity and conditioning, the past or the known. We can relate to the almost gravitational pull of the past as a result of how tightly we hold on to it.

The clear hourglass shaped funnel opening and closing to allow or restrict the plethora of sandy excitement is of course that which is observing all of the activity, the witness this is the mind; this is where confusion between the mind and the brain comes in as the mind tries to be both itself and its idea of itself. Many people try to separate this process as the self.

And of course the center or hole by which everything passes, the point of the most attention and focus, the present this is the place of all activity. We may even say that “I” is a statement of position within the body of light that is a result of the relationship of these four components working together.

The mind has no opinion, expectation or intention either, yet it is the source of all happiness and misery which is the paint with which we color our experiences. It is the idea that the brain and mind are in are the same that causes all imbalance and in fact creates time and space by manifesting the physical world.

We do this by discarding the minds emotional elasticity by attaching it to the brains immovable rigid memory structure. I felt this way about a situation that appeared similar, so I must hold onto this and identify the new situation in the same emotional shade (opinion). This does not allow for personal growth and expansion of consciousness as we fail to allow every moment to be a new and unique experience. We are simply limiting ourselves and this restriction builds up pressure and resistance.

The four parts of the mind:

1. Memory

2. Thinking, yogis called Manas

3. The decision maker, which they called Buddhi

4. The ego or personality

A lot of spiritual practice and psychological methodology is trying to take one part of the mind and have it deal with another part of the mind. There is never any real progress as all you get is a lot of reshuffling in the mind. This is what predominantly happens in any sort of therapy, but the mind cannot resolve the mind as the mind is never trying to be anything.

It is important to recognize that one perfect sense (feeling/connectedness) which we are born with is slowly divided into five sensory perceptions (empiricism) from the moment of birth. Memories that are more prominent in the brain are easier to remember or recall because they are of higher emotional intensity. For example, on September 11, 2001 everybody knew exactly where they were, what they were doing, who was around them and what they were wearing because of how emotionally intense it was when the two towers came down, it created a state of super focus. As was the same when JFK was assassinated, or when your child was born, or when a loved one dies.

The five senses all act in the same way to a lesser extent; you will be able to recall intimate details of a certain moment if there was a distinctive smell, an abnormal sight, a loud noise, an odd taste or a weird feeling (touch) or be instantaneously transported back to that moment if these senses are tickled again in the same fashion.

These will serve in the same way as markers of previous statements of position. It may be an interesting exercise to observe the senses that seem more prominent in these highly emotional moments, it has been my observation that one or two senses seem to hold the emotional marker which seems to follow Pereto’s 80/20 principal.

For example if you have a moment that you find yourself in emotional turmoil, feeling the loss of a person in your life perhaps, you may remember times in your life when you felt connected to them, but you will notice that even the memory will be primarily held in place by one sense… a lot of the time it is sight. A picture will immediately bring an emotional response. It can be any of the senses though, for example if you recall a really intense session of love-making, it will be more the sense of touch that will hold the moment in place… I challenge you to try and remember the details of your intimate partners face during one of these sessions, these moments are usually eyes shut. You will also realize the power of uniting the two senses such as making eye contact at the point of orgasm! Now imagine uniting all 5 senses!

In concrete fact I have no other self other than the totality of things of which I am aware, conscious, subconscious or unconscious. If all that I am is where I have been and what I have done, and this is the only bases for prediction as to where I will go, then the sum total of all of this awareness is the “I” I feel in this moment.

As you can see the brain is just the hard drive that holds the information. It is the mind that needs to be observed and understood, how the parts of the mind interact and instruct the saving of the information, it is not the brain but the mind that can unite the senses.

It is also interesting to observe that most of today’s mental illnesses are treated by altering the way the hard drive (brain) accesses the information with drugs instead of spending more time on reconstructing how the information is put there or drawn upon. This is of course because it is very difficult for even the most intelligent of people to grasp that there is even a difference.

When our mind becomes still, the movement is then just the brain unfolding, releasing itself, the known into the unknown.

Gregory Phoenix


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