Since time immemorial, the topic of mind has puzzled and intrigued psychologists, psychiatrists, philosophers and even the spiritualists. They have held different theories about it and with the passage of time, these theories have undergone many changes.
Earlier, it was believed by the philosophers that there were two different substances: Mind and matter, with the the former occupying no space, and which couldnít be seen, touched or weighed. It was also surmised that the mind was similar to muscles, which were developed by exercise. And, the mind was divided into several faculties such as will, reason and memory. It was thought that the mind was a mass of thoughts, memories, feelings and emotions, that is a sum total of all personsí conscious states.
Subsequently, the scientists began to believe that mind and matter were not separate, as evidenced by a blow on the head, which disturbed a personís mind. And, that the mind was not different from the brain and the central nervous system; rather, it was their product in a different name. The part of the brain which did feeling, thinking and willing, was thought to be the mind.
Later, it was discovered that the mind controlled bodily functions, just as the body affected the mind. For example, a hungry man would get disturbed. Both the mind and the body, according to them, existed and interacted; that is a human being was made up of two distinct principles.
All human emotions had two sides: Physical and mental. For example, one smiled with pleasure. The mind affected the functioning of the brain; that is, our thoughts determined what kind of chemicals were secreted by our brains - just like electricity could be used for both heating and cooling.
What do the spiritualists believe? If we go by the Indian scriptures, mind is part of our subtle bodies, or astral bodies, along with the intelligence and false ego. Mind is spread throughout oneís body, with its center in the heart and, therefore, emotions have so much to do with our mental states.
We exist in two states: Physical and mental, with the latter stage being higher. There are two substances: Gross and subtle, with the latter substantially affecting the former. No wonder it is so crucial to control the mind.
Dhyan, which is a function of the mind, is done to get a control over the mind, as also for God-realization. All the senses are grouped around the mind (Bhagavad-Geeta 15.7) and the mind controls them. Our life impressions or sanskars are stored in the brain; after death, these impressions are transmitted to the new body through the agency of our subtle bodies Ė the carriers of our souls.
According to an English dictionary, mind is defined in various ways: The ability to be aware of things and to think and feel; the source of oneís thoughts and feelings; the ability to reason; oneís intellectual powers; the ability to remember; oneís memory; a personís thoughts or attention; and a personís normal mental states. And according to Freud, the famous Austrian philosopher, the human mind has three parts: The ego, the id and the super ego.
The latest researches confirm that the mind can convey or transmit thoughts. Mind has energy, which can also affect the outside world. No matter what theory we accept mental control is crucial for happiness, peace and other positive emotions.
If we believe the spiritualists, we achieve liberation when our attachments disappear, which otherwise cause repeated rebirths. Then, the subtle body is terminated and along with it end the mind as well.