How the soul, false ego, intelligence and mind interact with each other

How the soul, false ego, intelligence and mind interact with each other

( – How the soul, false ego, intelligence and mind interact with each other

How the soul, false ego, intelligence and mind interact with each other?

Chaitanya Charan das: The soul is spiritual. The mind, intelligence and false ego are all part of the subtle body. In general, they are differentiated, based on function rather than structure. The gross elements namely the earth, water, fire, air and ether can be differentiated in terms of structure because they are made of different things. However, the subtle elements, as described in the third canto of the Bhagavatam, in the chapter titled, ‘Fundamental principles of material nature’, are differentiated in terms of their functions. In this regard, we can take the example of a computer. In a computer system, there is a hardware, software and then the user. The hardware is a physical structure that we can perceive with our eyes. The software is an interface between the user and the hardware. The software itself can be of different types – (i) the operating system (ii) the pre-installed apps inherent to the device (iii) the user installed apps. Using this as a rough example, we can say that basic software with which the soul exists in the world, is the ego. Then there is the intermediate software which is used for accessing and functioning. Intermediate software are the pre-installed apps that come with the device. These are like intelligence. Finally, the user installed apps are like the mind.

From the software’s perspective, whether it is an operating system or a user installed app, all of them are just codes. We cannot differentiate between codes by the structure. We differentiate them by their function. That is one of the reasons why in certain analysis Krishna does not talk about the false ego but in other analysis, Krishna talks about the false ego. For example, in the third chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna talks about a hierarchy in verse 3.42

indriyani paraṇy ahur
indriyebhyah param manah
manasas tu para buddhir
yo buddheh paratas tu saḥ

Krishna says here, that above the body are the senses, above the senses is the mind, above the mind is the intelligence and above the intelligence is the soul proper. Where is the mention of ego here? Here, Krishna does not have to talk about the ego as he is talking about how lust is situated in the senses, mind and intelligence and how we have to understand that as souls we are beyond that. In different frames of analysis, at times these three may be talked about analytically. We may be able to differentiate between them sometimes, but generally, there is no point in getting too analytical.

When I refer to ego here, ego is basically pride. At one level it could be said that ego is the basic tool with which the soul interacts with the body. That is ahankara. This subject is slightly technical. The Bhagavad-gita uses the word ahankara in two ways – (i) as a concept (ii) as an object. For example, the Bhagavad-gita says ahankara-vimudhatma kartaham iti manyate (3.27): Because of delusion the soul thinks, I alone am the doer. In 16.8, Krishna says, ahankaram balam darpam, ungodly, demoniac people are filled with ahankara. Krishna is talking about ahankara here as an emotion or as a conception that is present which makes me think that I am so great and I am so powerful. However, Krishna also talk about ahankara as one of the elements of the subtle body. In 7.4, Krishna says

bhumir aapo ’nalo vayuh
kham mano buddhir eva ca
ahankara itiyam me
bhinna prakrtir ashtadha

Ahankara, here, is described as an element of the subtle body.

When Krishna says, nirmamo nirahankarah sama-duhkha-sukhah kshami (12.3-4): Those who are free from possessiveness and those who are free from ego, they will attain peace. Does this mean that for those who are free from ego, the ahankara element from their subtle body will disappear? No, the ahankara element is a function. It’s a functional unit in the body and it is always required. As long as I am in the body, for functional purposes I need to identify with the body. I do not need to fully identify with the body. However, for functional purposes, I need to recognize what kind of bodily situation I am in. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, at one time when he heard someone singing the Geet Govinda, he started running towards that person to embrace them. Then, his servants stopped him saying that he was running towards a woman. Mahaprabhu then stopped. Therefore, despite being a soul purely devoted to Krishna, when I am in a particular body, I need to be aware of that and the ashram that I am in.

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  1. I think the comparison of the gross and subtle body to the computer and the software is interesting. It lends the conclusion that the software differentiates only by function. Perhaps it important to consider the subtle elements in relation as to how much they have influence over the soul’s consciousness and actions.

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