Narach Philosophy

FUNCTION OF THE INTELLECT AND THE MIND


The function of the intellect is discrimination, and it has a bearing on the idea of pleasure and pain as well as desire. There is discrimination when we understand reality; pleasure arises on receiving, and pain in losing a thing; and association with objects makes for desire. But he who is without desire or hope is happy.

There are a number of ways of attaining to happiness; but it would be improper to refrain from performing necessary actions.

Desire is the cause of rebirth; but he who is without attachment attains to discrimination and freedom. However, good advice has little effect on an impure mind.

Discrimination: There is discrimination when we understand reality, as in the case of the King's son. We can also get it from instruction meant even for someone else. But it requires repeated teaching, and a fatherly regard of the preceptor for his pupil.

Pleasure and pain: A person becomes glad or sorry according as he gains or loses a thing. A serpent is relieved when it casts off its skin and a person when he renounces all action.

Desire: Thinking intently on an object makes for its bond, even though there is no means of attaining it. Association with objects, however trifling, is a hindrance in the path, because it creates desires; and that is so even if their number be only two.

The cause of happiness and the means to attain it: He who is without desire or hope is happy; and he continues to be so if he refrains from actions and lives where he can.

There are a number of ways of attaining to happiness. In seeking knowledge from teachers or books, we should glean the very best; and concentration means one-pointedness. But it would be very improper to fail to perform necessary actions, even through forgetfulness. A person should reflect, honour his teachers, and practice continence; and he can achieve success by devoting himself to whatever form or idea he wishes to pursue.

Desire is the cause of re-birth; and even if a person gains all he seeks, he is born again. But he who is without attachment attains to discrimination, for bondage arises from association with objects, and there can be no abatement of desire through indulgence.

An impure mind: Good advice has no effect on the impure minds; at least not commensurate with the character of the advice. In any case, a person cannot realize his goal through wealth or power.

God and nature: Prayer has no necessary connection with the existence of God. If we believe that there is God who comes to our help in time of need, we must associate Him with desire; and if we do so, we cannot conceive of Him as free. We cannot associate Him with action, for all actions are not good.

Action is a characteristic of Prakrti or Nature, and discrimination arises from knowledge. But if we believe that all action is performed by Prakrti, it does not mean that we destroy the basis of Dharma. Dharma implies an idea of reality, which is produced by means of an innate power. We cannot properly describe or prove it, but its existence cannot be denied. It is also dealt with in the Vedas, which deal with the problem of action. The idea of the soul has a bearing on that of the intellect which, in its turn, refers to this innate power. All this means knowledge, and can be expressed by means of language.

The separate existence of the soul and Nature means that there can be no monistic conception of life.

Intellect is the first to arise from Prakrti; but intellect and joy are two different things; and it is only by means of pure intellect or discrimination that a person can make himself free.

The intellect is not all-pervasive; nor is the mind; but it can enable us to understand the nature of freedom. It also enables us to understand the nature of an atom, and attain to peace in the midst of change. It is by means of the intellect that we can understand the nature of our body and its functions; and the four different kinds of creatures that exist in the world; and it is also by its means that we can distinguish between the body and the soul, and understand the nature of action. But it makes us realize that there is nothing permanent in the world.

Belief in God and prayer: Prayer for success has no necessary connection with God. It really means pursuit of virtuous actions, understanding the effects of causes, and following the precepts of the sacred books. The fact that certain effects follow from certain causes does not require belief in the existence of God; for we can succeed through self-help. It is only when we do not think so, that we get the popular idea of God, one who helps in time of need.

But we cannot believe in such a God without reference to desire, which is the basis of all action; and if we associate God with desire, we cannot conceive of Him as free. If we believe that His action arises out of association with the powers of Nature, even that postulates desire. If, however, we believe that there is an essence of goodness in desire, and so we can associate it with Him, we must regard everything as good or belonging to God. But that, as we know, cannot be proved. Indeed, we cannot associate God with action, for the sacred books agree that all action is a characteristic of Nature, and so is performed by it.

Importance of knowledge: Detachment does not arise from ignorance, but from knowledge. Indeed, the origin of the world itself is from knowledge; and if we destroy knowledge, we destroy the whole world.

Dharma and belief in Prakrti: If we believe that all action is performed by Prakrti, it does not mean that we destroy the basis of Dharma. Those who understand Dharma know that it refers to the function of the inner organ; and there is no objection to this on the part of those who believe that it is Prakrti who creates.

An innate power: The idea of reality is produced by means of an innate power; but it cannot be adequately described or specified. For instance, we know that it exists in the growth of a tree, but cannot easily prove it; but if we admit that it exists within a tree, we cannot deny it in the case of man. In every action there must be the association of two things, the signifier and the thing signified; but this does not mean that action is obligatory.

The character of the Vedas: We cannot easily understand the meaning of the Vedas; but we know that the idea of Dharma does not arise from sacrifices, and a person can be freed from bondage by developing his own inner energy. We cannot regard the Vedas as eternal, because they are said to deal with the problem of action; nor do they deal with the real problem of the soul. Indeed, the real state of the soul has a bearing on the function of the intellect, which may be seen in the manifestation of our inner energy, the existence of which cannot be denied.

The use of language: There can be no real knowledge of that which does not exist or cannot be described in words. The meaning of a word is not self-explanatory; and a word is but an effect of a cause, and cannot be eternal. If, however, we agree that an effect follows a cause as a result of action, we must also agree that the action which produces the result must exist too.

Impossibility of monism: When we understand the character of the soul as something different from all that is in Nature, we see that there can be no monistic conception of life. Indeed, there can be no such conception even if we deny the existence of the soul, for it would be contradictory to the evidence of the senses. But a monistic view is not possible if we agree that both Nature and the soul exist.

Intellect and joy: Intellect and joy are two different things, and there is no necessary presence of joy in the exercise of the intellect. The primary object of action is the cessation of pain, and the idea of joy is a secondary one; and it is only by means of indifference to the world that a person can make himself free from the bondage of life.

The mind and intellect: Whether we think of the mind as an instrument of action or an organ of sense, it cannot be regarded as all-pervasive; and the course of action of the intellect is similar too. The mind consists of parts, each of which is connected with an organ of sense.

The nature of freedom: We cannot be certain about the existence of anything except Nature and the soul; and the latter is merely an experiencer of the result of action. At the same time we cannot identify freedom with joy. Freedom is not the elimination of some particular characteristic, or the destruction of some particular form, or even of all things; nor can it be attained by means of some particular mode of life by one who merely refrains from action. It does not consist in possession, of a kingdom, or good fortune, or even supernatural powers, or an Indra like state; nor does it consist in the knowledge of the "elements", or of the six categories or sixteen kinds of things.

This is a reference to the Vaiseshika and Nyaya systems of thought. According to the former, supreme good is attained by means of knowledge of six categories of things; and according to the latter by means of knowledge of sixteen things.

The atom: The atom is not eternal, because it is the effect of a cause, and consists of parts. The law of pratyaksha or the evidence of the senses does not require that a thing should have a physical form; and the primary measures are only two, small and large.

Impermanence: Although all things are transient, he who is tranquil can understand the totality of things by means of Yoga and his innate power.

Knowledge and the fact of possessing it are two different things, and there is no permanent bond between them because both of them are subject to change. There is thus no permanent bond between things, because the intellect itself, which perceives Dharma, is not permanent. When we have a proper understanding of things, we find that neither action nor an object of desire is permanent.

The body and its function: The body does not consist of the five "elements" alone; for instance, it has a mind, without which the senses cannot act. The different senses perform different functions; and the function of an object is different from its parts, main as well as subsidiary. This, however, does not mean that a function is a substance. At the same time there is no difference in the material causes of things, even though the countries or places be different. Thus the meaning of a name arises from the explanation of the cause of a thing, and is the same everywhere.

Four kinds of creatures: There are four kinds of creatures, germs, plants, creatures born of an egg, and creatures born from the womb. They are different from one another; but there is one thing common to all, the "element" Earth.

The body and the soul: The action of the body does not commence with the action of prana or vital breath, but with the function of the senses. But the latter do not act of their own accord; and there is something within that experiences their function, because of which we get the idea of experience. That is the soul, which is the master, and the rest are its servants. The soul can understand its true character in a state of Samadhi or profound meditation, when the perceiver and the object perceived become identified, or in a state of deep dreamless slumber, or of freedom from worldly existence. The first two make for action again, but not the third; for he who is without attachment is reborn but once; the rest again and again.

Impermanence: Everything in the world is impermanent; but this does not mean that we deny the powers that can be acquired by means of Yoga. However, no gross "element" has any consciousness or intelligence either by itself or in combination with other things.