What is the mind? Is it the same as the brain or an abstract explanation of the thoughts and processes that take part inside your brain, the physical matter inside your skull? Does it even exist?
Following is an excerpt from the book ‘Transform Your Life,’ written by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, a Nepalise Buddhist monk, founder and former spiritual director of the New Kadampa Tradition-International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT-IKBU).
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso examines the mind in Buddhist terms, explaining its non-physical sense, that which…’cannot be seen with the eyes, nor can it be photographed or repaired by surgery. The brain, therefore, is not the mind but simply part of the body.’
Transform Your Life is a self-help book, primarily aiming to teach the essential Buddhist beliefs such as universal love and compassion, helping the reader to understand the mind and what it really is according to Buddhist teachings, helping the reader to integrate those teachings into their every day lives.
“There is nothing within the body that can be identified as being our mind because our body and mind are different entities. For example, sometimes when our body is relaxed and immobile, our mind can be very busy, darting from one object to another. This indicates that our body and mind are not the same entity. In Buddhist scriptures, our body is compared to a guest house and our mind to a guest dwelling within it. When we die, our mind leaves our body and goes to the next life, just like a guest leaving a guest house and going somewhere else.
If the mind is not the brain, nor any other part of the body, what is it? It is a formless continuum that functions to perceive and understand objects. Because the mind is formless, or non-physical, by nature, it is not obstructed by physical objects.
It is very important to be able to distinguish disturbed states of mind from peaceful states…states of mind that disturb our inner peace, such as anger, jealousy, and desirous attachment, are called ‘delusions’; and these are the principal causes of all our suffering.
We may think that our suffering is caused by other people, by poor material conditions, or by society, but in reality it all comes from our own deluded states of mind. The essence of spiritual practice is to reduce and eventually to eradicate altogether our delusions, and to replace them with permanent inner peace. This is the real meaning of our human life.
The essential point of understanding the mind is that liberation from suffering cannot be found outside the mind. Permanent liberation can be found only by purifying the mind. Therefore, if we want to become free from problems and attain lasting peace and happiness we need to increase our knowledge and understanding of the mind.”
If you are interested in Buddhism and its teachings, or just understanding more about the mind, you can buy the book, here.