Kundalini Yoga suggests a sophisticated and potent model of the mind to help understand its functioning, how it creates problems and how we can improve and enjoy its use and service. Here are the basics of this concept as a background for later posts and for the meditations in our online sessions.
The model is somewhat based on a classical theory of creation presented in a school of Indian philosophy called Sankhya, which explains how creation unfolds downward in the form of “countable” (“sankh”) elements from the subtlety of the Soul into successively more gross elements of thoughts, senses, sense organs, emotions, action organs and matter.
Universal Mind & Impersonal Minds
The model starts with the abstract, universal mind “Chitta,” which, under the influence of the three elementary qualities (“gunas”), tama, raja and satva, differentiates into three parts, the Impersonal Minds:
- Manas (via tama guna): The abstract capacity to sense, record, sequence, store, act and react, functions usually associated with learning facts and skills, encompassing conscious and subconscious parts of our information and behaviour patterns.
- Ahankaar (via raja guna): The abstract tendency to create boundaries, define limits, categorise, identify, attach, name and contain distinct entities. This is commonly referred to as ego, the sense of self as being different from others.
- Buddhi (via satva guna): The abstract faculty to assess, discern, prioritise and differentiate between true and false, real and unreal in an absolute, impersonal and infinite sense. This faculty is characteristic for what is usually referred to as wisdom (“buddhi”).
The Personal Minds
Now, these three Impersonal Minds combine with and apply on the three Personal Minds (also called Functional Minds) of the individual human being, which are:
- Negative Mind: Brings forward the negative aspect of a situation in order to protect from danger. It is the quickest of the three functional minds since it is essential for survival.
- Positive Mind: Brings forward the positive aspect of a situation in order to find opportunities and possibilities of expansion, experience, expression, creativity, pleasure and fulfilment. It is our constructive, risk-taking and pro-active impulse.
- Neutral Mind: Brings forward the right or best decision or answer within a greater context, with the greatest potential for the best possible long-term benefit for the maximum of involved or affected people or things. It corresponds to our intuition and the heart centre. Since it is susceptible to meditation it is also called the meditative mind.
The combination of the 3 Impersonal Minds with the 3 Personal Minds then results in 9 so called Aspects (Archetypes), specific mental and emotional stances, temperaments, tendencies, characters, personae, sets of skills and approaches, which are named as follows:
- Manas x Neg Mind: Defender
- Manas x Pos Mind: Artist
- Manas x Neutral Mind: Strategist
- Ahangkaar x Neg Mind: Manager
- Ahangkaar x Pos Mind: Producer
- Ahangkaar x Neutral Mind: Leader
- Buddhi x Neg Mind: Preserver
- Buddhi x Pos Mind: Campaigner
- Buddhi x Neutral Mind: Teacher
But the mind doesn’t stop there. Since it is automatic and ever-moving, the mind cannot but apply itself to everything there is (and to everything it produces) over and over again, unless it is under the control and power of the Self (or very exhausted), which is rarely the case. Consequently, every Aspect will be subject to another application of negative, positive and neutral mental processing, resulting, in turn, in 9 x 3 = 27 so called Projections. You can find the names and details of all Projections on the Projections Post.
One of the exciting things about this Kundalini Model of the mind is that it comes with specific meditations, one for each Aspect, one for each Projection plus a couple of extra meditations, providing us with altogether 42 meditations, which we will go through and experience in our Online Meditation Classes!
To continue reading more about the Projections and do all their meditations on videos, please go to the Projections Post:
The Facets & Confusion
But, as already mentioned, if the mind cannot stop, it will continue to apply itself to the next round of negative, positive and neutral processing, and we end up with another 81 specific mental impulses, so called Facets. Here, in most cases and for most people, the mental process starts to sabotage its own purpose and intention, it creates more confusion than clarity by uncontrolled, aimless activity. The results of this additional (and potentially any further) processing is an unhelpful colouring, veiling and distortion of the initial thought and idea and its manifestation.
A Facet can be seen as a habit that is triggered without regard of its consequence, just because our mind was programmed with it. Without enough awareness and control, we cannot make the best use of our mind’s activity and end up with undesired, irrational, incomprehensible and probably painful results. This is one aspect of what could be called over-thinking (another obvious aspect is the relentless back and forth between negative and positive mind).
One of the challenges the nature of the mind brings up is the intrinsic duality between negative and positive. If we stay on this level of using our mind, we will inevitably go back and forth in inner and outer arguments, maybe committing sometimes to one side, but never feeling really sure if we are “right.” A sure sign of this insecurity is the feeling of need to defend our opinion (and, with it, ourselves since we also have the need to identify with our opinions) and of unconsciously inviting attacks and challenges to our position.
The Black Dot in the White Drop
In the context of the talk about an increasingly divided society, I recently thought of the yin-yang symbol. It has a white dot in the centre of the black drop, and a black dot in the centre of the white drop. It seemed to me that the mind is desperately trying to get the dots out of the drops – to achieve much desired simple clarity about good and evil, right and wrong, through separation. However, the higher understanding, the wisdom of the yin-yang symbol, might be that light and darkness cannot be separated, that, due to the transcendent oneness of the origin of everything, the dance between so called good and bad, right and wrong, sun and moon, will go on for as long as time exists if seen through a mind of duality.
Maybe we have to sacrifice the desire for having, associating with and being only so called white, good and right, accepting that the black dot can never be separated out from us, and that the desire to do so might be an immature illusion. The black dot might represent our shadow, the part in us we do not want to see or show. And the desire to have everything neatly divided into good and bad might coincide with our resistance against looking at and accepting our shadow.
One aspect of the solution to this, to greater understanding, more acceptance and tolerance, more peace and harmony, can be meditation and the strengthening of the neutral mind.
Resource: The Mind, Its Projections and Multiple Facets, Yogi Bhajan and Gurucharan Singh Khalsa, Kundalini Research Institute 1998, ISBN 0-9639991-6-8