Mind and Body Struggle for Supremacy in the Manifestation

A subject of never-ending study and debate is the question of the primacy of the mind or the body in terms of our psychological actions. Psychologists have taken positions on both sides of this question, and everywhere in between. There are those who believe that the body is first, primary and the underlying cause and foundation of the emotions, the mind and our creative expressions. They try to explain everything by combinations of amino acids and the physical and physiological organisation of the body that means that mind is a function of the brain.

Others take the position that the body is more or less illusory, and despite a habitual pattern of thought, which leads to habitual bodily responses, it is actually the mind that creates the form and thus, the body can be changed or adjusted by changing the mental framework.

Still others, as we see in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, who busied themselves with this question, see a spiritual being evolving through time utilizing both the mind and the body as instruments of its expression and evolution.

Because of where we start in the physical body and its imperatives, we tend to look at things as based on the physical, and thus, we start with an immediate bias in our viewpoint toward the physical foundation, and then we struggle with the issue of how consciousness can arise and exceed the limits of the physical. This same issue was taken up in the Taittiriya Upanishad when the student was asked to meditate on the cause and basis of the world. His first response was the physical basis. When asked to continue his meditation, he successively saw that it was the vital life force, then the mind, then the knowledge consciousness and eventually the consciousness of bliss at the level of Sat-Chit-Ananda. This reorients the viewpoint toward the primacy of the spiritual being and has enormous consequences for how we understand psychology, the meaning of our lives, and the mode of our action.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 1, Indeterminates, Cosmic Determinations and the Indeterminable

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