The Mind As Software

On the way to teach a class I was pondering what angle should I teach about Raja Yoga (the mental yoga) today. The answer came through loud and clear: our brain is a computer; our mind is the software; and our consciousness is the software engineer.  This software could be designed to make or break the computer; it could be of credit or discredit to its host.

Daniel Siegel, author of The Mindful Brain, writes: “The cortex is the outer part of the brain, enlarged in mammals. It enables us to mediate the more complex processes, such as perception, planning, and attention. With many lobes carrying out different functions, there are varied ways of describing the complex capacities of this region, which is not highly developed at birth and thus is very open to being shaped by experience.”

What is interesting is that our brain is not being shaped as much by our environment or our interactions, but rather by our perceptions of them—by our interpretation of our experiences. In order not to have a distorted view, we must clean and fine-tune our mind/brain instrument through meditation. This will allow the inner light (atman) to shine through the mental body (manamaya kosha).

In his new book, The Tell-Tale Brain, Professor V.S. Ramachandran writes:

“Indian and Buddhist mystics assert that there is no essential difference between self and other, and that true enlightenment comes from the compassion that dissolves this barrier. I used to think this was just well-intentioned mumbo-jumbo, but here is a neuron that doesn’t know the difference between self and other.  Are our brains uniquely hardwired for empathy and compassion?”

Mind your mind!