by Michael Ketterhagen
There are four faculties of our mind—
the sensing/desiring aspect called “manas,”
the deciding, discerning aspect called “buddhi,”
the ego/identifying aspect called “ahamkara,”
and the pool of memories called “chitta.”
--Paraphrased commentary from the Yoga Sutras
In my last blog, I talked about how each one of us wants to be whole and true to ourselves in this life. I mentioned living the “whole life” is living from our spiritual essence—free of animosity, cruelty, jealousy or self-righteousness. I concluded that this is done by disciplining our senses and our body by bringing our thoughts, speech, and action into alignment with our “buddhi.”
Well, a little explanation of the faculties of our mind is necessary for us to understand the complexity of learning to live the spiritual life.
As mentioned above, there are 4 faculties or aspects of our mind. According to yoga, these must be coordinated so we act as a whole, non-conflicted person.
For example, when I see a piece of chocolate cake with heavy white frosting on it, my manas says, “Wow! That looks delicious.” My chitta says, “Remember the pleasure you got from that the last time you had a piece.” My ego identifies with that pleasure and identifies with all the events that surrounded the eating of such a delicious food. However, my buddhi, which knows how important it is for me to stay away from sugar, especially during my recovery from cancer says, “This is not a good thing for you to do.”
My buddhi knows what is best for me. It knows what will sustain the wholeness of my life. Another way of labeling the buddhi is “our conscience.” Each of us knows deep down what is the right and just thing for us to think, say and do. Unless we have killed our conscience or dulled its voice, the buddhi/our conscience is always letting us know the highest good for ourself and others. It is that part of us that brings true peace to our lives when we listen to it.
Deciding to follow the direction and promptings of our buddhi/conscience develops our internal discipline, our will power. Every time I listen to my buddhi, I strengthen my will power. The stronger my buddhi is, and the more I listen to my buddhi, the healthier I become because I am acting as a whole person.
Listening to my buddhi, like for most people, is a challenge. That is why meditation is necessary. It helps me strengthen my buddhi. When I let go of the distractions that enter my mind and bring my awareness to one point, either my breath or an image of the Divine, I am disconnecting from the thought patterns and making new connections. Meditation helps me release my old desires and strengthens my power to do what is best for me. I am able to live the whole life, not the conflicted life, where part of me does what my conscience knows is not good for me. I become fragmented. In Christian terms, I commit sin.
We all need this type of discipline. Whatever the Buddhi says that’s what the rest of us in thought, word and deed needs to think, speak and do.
I pray to the Divinity within You!