Mind and the States of Our Consciousness


What is mind? Does it have any physical existence? Why do we identify ourselves with it and what would happen if we create a separation from it ?

—Archit, India


Dear Archit,

I will give you the description of mind and the other parts of our consciousness as Paramhansa Yogananda described them. They are the progressive stages of involvement  with maya that are traced through the functions of human consciousness.

Paramhansa Yogananda illustrated these basic functions by a horse seen in a mirror. He said that the mirror is the “mind” (mon) which shows us the image as it appears to us through the senses; the mind alone cannot qualify or define that image. The “intellect” (buddhi) then defines what is seen, informing our intellect, “That is a “horse.”

The “ego” (ahankara) then appears, declaring, “That is my horse”. Up to this point we are not necessarily yet bound by the thought of ownership; the identification, though personal, may still remain more or less abstract. If, then, “feeling” (chitta) comes onto the scene, saying, “How happy I am to see my horse!” true ego-bondage begins. Chitta is our emotional reaction, including likes and dislikes, desires and aversions. It is the true source of ego-bondage, and the essence of all delusion.

This is why the ancient classical exponent of yoga science, Patanjali, defined yoga itself as “the neutralization of the vorices (vrittis) of feeling (chitta).”Yogananda asked a group of pundits in India to state, from their own experience, where these four aspects of consciousness are located in the body. They were unable to do so as this understanding is not stated in any of the scriptures. Yogananda went on to state that the mind is located at the top of the head, the intellect at the point between the eyebrows, the ego at the medulla oblongata at the base of the brain, and feeling in the heart.

We cannot “create” a separation from these aspects of our consciousness, as we are not the creators of them. They are simply who we are. All of this information is taken from the book The New Path by Swami Kriyananda in the Chapter on Kriya Yoga. I hope it will be helpful to you.

In divine friendship,
Nayaswami Parvati