Is there a difference between Consciousness and the Mind?

Geetha, 16th June 2013

Hare Krishna,

Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

What is the difference between the Consciousness and mind?

your servant,
Geetha.

Rohini Devi Dasi, 18th June 2013

Hare Krishna Mataji,

All Glories to Srila Gurudev and Srimati Gurumataji,
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept my humble obeisances.

Will try to explain the difference between consciousness and mind according to my little understanding.

Earth,water,fire,air,either,mind,intelligence and false ego are 8 separate inferior energies of the Supreme personality of Godhead.
The gross body also known as the “Sthula Sharira” is made up of 5 elements- earth,water,fire,air and ether often known as “pancha maha bhuta”.  The mind,intelligence and false ego constitutes the Subtle body.  The Subtle body is also called as the “Sukshma Sharira”

Consciousness is the energy of the soul where as the mind is the part of the material body one of the elements of the subtle body.
Just as our eyes have the ability to see and we direct our eyes to the particular object and our eyes sees that object.  Just as the power of seeing is the characteristics of the eyes same way the power of consciousness is the characteristics of the soul.  The consciousness in that sense is spiritual whereas mind is the one of the objects in which the consciousness gets focussed.

Thus mind is material being one of the ingredients of the subtle body and consciousness is spiritual.

From practical perspective we sometimes use mind and consciousness wrongly stating that, my mind is disturbed or my consciousness  is gone down we may use these words interchangeably but from philosophical point of view they are significantly different.

To understand our situation in the material world from philosophical point of view the verse 13.22 explains:
puruṣaḥ prakṛti-stho hi
bhuṅkte prakṛti-jān guṇān
kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo ’sya
sad-asad-yoni-janmasu

The living entity in material nature thus follows the ways of life, enjoying the three modes of nature. This is due to his association with that material nature. Thus he meets with good and evil among various species.
For the purpose of enjoying, the soul gets lodged, gets situated in material nature with the desire to enjoy.eg while watching cricket match our eyes can see the entire room but our eyes and vision is focussed on the television screen. Through the TV screen our vision enters the cricket ground and we start experiencing ,identifying what is happening in the cricket ground and feel the emotions accordingly.  The events that are happening in the cricket ground are like the events happening in the material world and the screen on which the events are displayed is like the mind and what is happening in the cricket ground for eg the video camera captures the event ,the sound recorder records the sound and all different things are integrated and brought on the television and the television screen integrates the various inputs and offers them for enjoyment or suffering for the cricket watchers.

similarly what our senses ie eyes,ears nose and other perceive, all the inputs are integrated by the mind and offered for perception by the soul. The mind offers some objects for perception and soul focusses the consciousness in that objects then the soul desires changes… e.g the picture of the mind is offering the agitating feeling, and if the soul focusses on that picture of agitating, the consciousness also feels agitated ,angry and if the picture is sensually alluring than the soul by focussing on that becomes allure .This way the mind proposes various objects and situations for the material enjoyment for the soul and to the extend the soul focusses on the consciousness on the mind to that extend soul gets affected and thats the reason we say that the best way to deal with the mind is to neglect it.
If tv show is going on in the house and if we don’t look at it it will continue and get over we can continue our work and not waste our time similarly the mind may offer some inputs but as a soul we might decide not to put our consciousness in it then the mind will not affect us.  In this way by thoughtful internal observation we can de-link our consciousness from our mind and not get influenced by the minds feeling and moods and our consciousness will stay good even when our mind is in irritated mood.

In Short mind is subtle material whereas the consciousness is spiritual being an integrated energy of the soul and by careful introspection we can avoid mind influencing our consciousness.

Hare Krishna

your Servant,
Rohini Devi dasi

Ashok Sahu, 19th June 2013

Hare Krishna Mataji,
All Glories to Srila Gurudev and Srimati Gurumataji,
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept my humble obeisances.

Thank you for a wonderful answer. I just have a follow up question.
when we say our consciousness should not focus on mind what it offers us, how can we function in this world?
So is it that we should accept the thoughts that mind offers us that are favorable to Krishna Consciousness and not otherwise?
one more question, when it is generally said that “our heart needs to be purified” does this means our consciousness to be purified by chanting right?
Please explain.

your Servant
Ashok Sahu

Rabindra Das, 19th June 2013

All glories Sri Guru & Sri Gauranga
All glories Srila Prabhupada

What a wonderful, clear and concise description of the mind and soul
My day has become extra enlivened – thank you

your servant
Rabindra Das
Geetha, 19th June 2013

Hare Krishna mataji,
Please accept my humble obeisances,
All glories to Srila Prabhupada

Thank you very much very nice explanation.

your servant,
Geetha.
Shreyas, 20th June 2013

Hare Krsna Mataji.

Dandavat Pranam
All glories to Guru and Gauranga!

I was quite convinced by the wonderful reply above. Just that I couldn’t understand few of the concepts:
1) You mentioned that the soul focuses its consciousness on what the mind is showing or projecting? Is that really true that the soul itself focuses because then there is also another fact that the soul is 100% pure and so is it really focusing,the soul?

This is how I limited-ly used to think of it. The mind hovers and thinks of so many things and there is something(which now you mention as soul) which sees to it ,all this and gets illusion-ed. So Soul being pure, seeing impure things and mind thinking I am not this soul is not quite befitting. So I wanted to know when it is said that the mind thinks I am not this soul, how on a subtle level is this happening? Because if soul is watching the projections in the mind then who is thinking or getting illusion-ed? Who is out of foolishness failing to realize the soul?
My so far thinking was that we interpret or think, etc because of the mind. Obviously, the feeling and sensation is because of the consciousness but I used to think consciousness is just like the facility and because of it we are able to think,etc from our brain, or visual gratification, etc.
Sorry for my complex way of communicating. I can only hope that I am clear.

Kindly enlighten.

Your fallen and aspiring servant
Hare Krsna!
Shreyas

Bhakta Sunil, 20th June 2013

Hare Krishna!

Please accept my humble obeisances
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada

Regarding this question I researched and would like to share the following :

http://vedabase.com/sb/7/15/41

Transcendentalists who are advanced in knowledge compare the body, which is made by the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to a chariot. The senses are like the horses; the mind, the master of the senses, is like the reins; the objects of the senses are the destinations; intelligence is the chariot driver; and consciousness, which spreads throughout the body, is the cause of bondage in this material world.

Humble respects from,
Sunil
Rathin Mandal, 21st June 2013

Hare Krishna,

Please accept my humble obeisances,
All Glories to Srila Gurudev and Srimati Gurumataji,
All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I had something of a similar query which Mahabhagavat Prabhu helped me to understand. So I will give a try to explain this with my limited knowledge.

The soul is always pure, because it is part of Supreme Personality. In it is actual position it is qualitatively same as God, but it is also interacting with the material nature due to which it gets affected by illusion. I will take help of following two verses to explain.
BG 3.5: Everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has acquired from the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.

Sri Krishna has said that everyone is affected by the material modes of nature, and when the one is not aware of his real position then he remains in illusion.

BG 3.27: The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by the three modes of material nature.
Also this statement of Sri Krishna says that the soul gets affected by the mode of material nature.

Now some material example as how even the minds gets bewildered by the environment. I hope you would have seen boys playing video games like driving and shooting games. The player gets so much engrossed into the game that at tight corners instead of making the car move, he moves his body. Or while playing a shooting game, when the opponent shoots, the player tries to duck instead of making his game player duck. The mind knows that it is just playing a game on the computer but being heavily interacting with that instrument, the virtual affects get reflected in the real body also.

So I think, similarly the soul en-caged inside the material body is bound to see and feel through the body. Until and unless it receives devotees assistance, he cannot differentiate between real and illusion.

your Servant
Rathin
Rohini Devi Dasi, 24th June 2013

Hare Krishna shreyas prabhuji,

All glories to Srila Gurudev and srimati Gurumataji.
All glories to Srila Praphupada!

Please accept my humble obeisances.

Prabhuji I m not an expert in this topic,it’s what I have heard from great preachers and senior devotee s of our sampradaya  m writing .Will try to answer your question but m not sure how much of your doubts will be resolved.
Question

1) You mentioned that the soul focuses its consciousness on what the mind is showing or projecting? Is that really true that the soul itself focuses because then there is also another fact that the soul is 100% pure and so is it really focusing,the soul?
Soul being pure, seeing impure things and mind thinking I am not this soul is not quite befitting. So I wanted to know when it is said that the mind thinks I am not this soul, how on a subtle level is this happening? Because i f the soul is watching the projection of the mind who is thinking or getting illusion-ed? Who is out of foolishness failing to realize the soul?
Ans: The Vedic wisdom-tradition states that the soul is by its very nature sat-cit-anand, eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss.

The mind, like our physical body, is material. So it is non-living and unconscious. When the mind appears to be conscious, it is simply prompting us towards actions that we have repeatedly done in the past. Thus its actions are similar to the actions of a competent software program that remembers our past choice among multiple options and prompts us towards making that choice again. When we make that same choice repeatedly, the program may make that choice as our default option. Then, even if we don’t choose that option consciously, still it gets chosen automatically. Eventually, we may feel that the computer program is conscious and is choosing on its own. We may even feel that its choice and our choice are the same. But neither of these feelings is true. And we can realize their falsity by consciously stopping the default choice and consciously making an alternative choice.

The same principle applies in our dealings with our mind. When we repeatedly respond to particular stimuli in the same way, the mind makes that response as our default option. So, for example, when we let our mind go towards thoughts of sex whenever nothing urgent occupies it, then carnal thoughts become our default thoughts. This may give us the misperception that we are innately lusty. But we aren’t. All of us, as souls, are innately spiritual, and the spiritual soul has nothing to do with physical lust.

To correct our misperception, we need to consciously say no to the default option and say yes to an alternative option, that is, we need to take our mind away from its habitual object of thought and fix it on some other object. Many such alternative objects of thought may present themselves before us, but we will soon discover that fixing the mind on them is not easy; redirecting the mind involves dragging and wrenching that strains and drains us. After some struggle, we may even feel that disciplining the mind to be an exercise in self-torture and futility. While this opposition that the mind presents to our plans can be discouraging, it can also serve as undeniable confirmatory evidence that we are different from our mind.
Vedic wisdom facilitates and accelerates the process of redirecting the mind by offering us an object of thought that is empowering, purifying and fulfilling. That object is Krishna – especially in his form of the holy name.

Hare Krishna!

your servant,
Rohini Devi dasi
Mahabhagavat Das SDA, 25th June 2013

Hare Krishna!

My short note, to support what Rohini Mataji has so eloquently explained, is that it is the soul which perceives, sees, observes, etc., subtle body and gross material body are just the instruments through which those sensations are coming into the soul. Without the presence of the soul, the mind or body cannot do anything on their own. It is the living force, the spirit soul, atma, which provides consciousness which is the basic ingredient before any other activity can occur.

Sincerely,
Mahabhagavat Das
Shreyas, 25th June 2013

Hare Krsna!

I first of all thank Sunil Prabhuji, Rathin Prabhuji, Rohini Mataji and Mahabhagavat das Prabhuji for devoting their time to my frustration or misunderstanding and doubt. Yes, it was explained quite nicely and easily. I was over-thinking. It’s very clear to me. I am indeed fortunate to join this group.
I am very clear with this topic and depth now.

Haribol!
your fallen and aspiring servant!
Hare Krsna!

Shreyas

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