What Is the Difference Between Mind and Brain?


What is the difference between Mind and Brain?

—Self, India


Dear Friend,

The difference between the mind and the brain can be expressed in many different ways, not all of them in agreement with each other. Scientific materialism would say, presumably, that the brain produces consciousness even though it cannot account for why Einstein’s brain produced insights of genius and others do not.

We could say that the mind is thoughts and that thoughts include memories, sense impressions (pain, pleasure, etc.) and responses (like, dislike, fear, desire), images, fantasies, dreams, creative ideas, words, and acts. These mentations (mental processes) are surrounded, like the king and queen at court, by courtiers, retainers, and hangers-on consisting of multitudinous emotions and feelings. Thoughts and feelings, in other words, go together.

The brain could be described as an organ of the human body that allows consciousness to express itself through the vehicle of the mind. The mind, therefore, is “attached” to and in relation to the brain, senses, nervous system and body. Consciousness is the source, we say in metaphysics, of all created things, including thoughts and feelings (wise or foolish) even if consciousness, itself, is untouched by those thoughts and feelings.

The mind could be described as the consciousness element of the body. The body is of three types, each encased one in the other: the causal body, the astral body, and the physical body. The causal body is only somewhat differentiated from God or Consciousness at large as to the idea of having a separate existence. There isn’t really an ego, as such in the causal body, just the general “idea” of separateness. The ego appears in the astral body which, as a body of light, energy, and intelligence, is the prototype of the human body and thus gives birth to the physical body. At all three levels, consciousness is the germ, the seed of intelligence and feeling that is the progenitor and initial spark for them all.

The mind, then, is that aspect of consciousness identified with and necessary for the functioning of the three bodies as separate from other bodies and as having functions of motion, space, time, and the powers of the senses, limbs, and organs.

Mind is divided into four parts: that aspect of consciousness that has access to to the body, receiving and sending messages back and forth:* that aspect that interprets those signals (differentiating, say, a rope on the trail from a snake in the field of vision); that aspect that relates the first two as to the sense of separate “self-ness,” and finally, the feeling aspect that judges as “good or bad” all mental activity that comes to its awareness (whether conscious, subconscious, or even superconscious).

* It may be asked, “How and through what medium does the mind have “access” to reports from the field of the senses? First of all, the body itself has its own innate intelligence that self-regulates breath, heart, and innumerable other intelligent functionings. But secondly, and more to the point of the question, is that consciousness itself resides at the heart of every atom, electron, and nerve impulse and as the brain and heart are vital nerve centers guiding the functioning of the physical body, so too is the ego is vital nerve center and effective “atom” around whose magnetism the astral and physical bodies, like electrons, whirl to create the vibrations necessary to uphold its status of being separate from other bodies. Hence the “mind” in all of its four aspects or functions described above is intimately a part of the entire body. At physical death, these elements, which reside in the astral body of energy, survive and continue on the journey of evolution.

The brain is the astral and physical organ that, with the cooperation of the nervous system, heart and many other organs, acts as the go-between between the mind and body. (Soul consciousness, by contrast, remains apart and undifferentiated even as it is the seed-source of the mind. The mind is thus a filtrate of cosmic consciousness and, in turn, acts as a go-between also.)

As the years go by and communication becomes both instant and universal, cases are popping up all over the planet of near-death experiences that show that the mind is, or under certain circumstances, can be, independent of the proper, healthy or normal functioning of the brain. The increasingly clear and proven separation of the mind from the brain is, while not new to metaphysics, revolutionary to scientific materialism.

Nonetheless, a healthy body and brain can at least set the foundation for clear thinking and perception. But a “good brain” is no substitute for a deeper intelligence differentiating right from wrong and drawing higher guidance and intuition into the mind. Wisdom and compassion (creativity, genius, courage, etc.) may result in measurable changes in brain activity but the brain is not their source!

I hope you find this helpful.

Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA