Earnst Haeckel’s famous phrase, “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”, which means that organisms repeat their evolutionary history during their embryological development, applies equally well to the growth of the human mind from childhood to adulthood.
During a life span, the human mind grows from the primitive instinctive animal form to the highly evolved superhuman spiritual form. The human brain, which is fully formed at the time of birth, is highly enlarged with enormous capacity. This is the only organ which has been given to us in excess of the need. Mind, however, is different from brain in the sense that it encompasses the intelligence of each cell and every organ of the body. The three evolutionary stages of mind, namely, physical or materialistic, intellectual, and spiritual can be achieved in normal growth within the life span of an individual.
The child’s mind runs outwards and seeks information and pleasures through sense organs. As the mind grows, the person starts seeking pleasures in intellectual activities and in creativity. A creative mind pursues higher forms of mental activity, which provide enjoyment more lasting than physical pleasures, which are short-lived and detrimental to the body. Prolonged and intense intellectual activities eventually lead to spirituality which is the highest form of mental development. However, some people have been known to transcend directly from the materialistic stage to the spiritual stage of mind.
Spirituality is a way of life for which renunciation is not necessary. Only a gradual change in habits and day to day activities is sufficient to make one spiritual in the long run. Over a period of time mind starts unfolding its dormant faculties and sense organs become secondary in gaining knowledge. As awareness starts expanding, mind opens new channels of communication and collecting information.
Human brain is designed for Spirituality
Why do human beings possess such a large brain when eighty-five percent of it remains dormant and only fifteen percent is ever used in daily life? It is inexplicable in the light of Lamarck’s theory that body organs grow according to the need and constant use over long periods of time. Why then have we evolved such a large brain only to keep it unused? The phenomenon can not be ‘explained unless we presume that our ancestors were highly advanced intellectual people with a spiritual bent of mind.
But the fact is that the major portion of our brain remains inactive and waits to be awakened through spirituality. Every human being should progress through the three stages of evolution, namely, physical, intellectual, and spiritual. However, most people do not grow beyond the physical stage, some reach the intellectual stage, and very few reach the spiritual stage, which otherwise happens to be the ultimate aim of human birth. Constant change is the law of nature and therefore cessation of growth at any stage is unnatural and invites psychosomatic problems. Deepak Chopra writes in his book, “Ageless Body Timeless Mind” that “People do not grow old but when they stop growing they become old”. In spirituality there is no limit to growing and hence attaining eternal mental youth becomes a possibility.
The following questions are designed to elicit spirituality in your personality. Answers to them in the affirmative would suggest of a mind that has stopped growing at an initial physical stage. Such persons will need to practice spirituality in order to restart the mental evolutionary growth process. Does your mind wander about reckless1y, leading to lack of concentration?
Do you have persistent craving for food, drinks, money and other physical enjoyments, in spite of being in normal use of them? Are you addicted to anything, even when it is a good thing? Do you avoid and fear complete silence? Do you easily give in to strong emotions, like anger, happiness, depression etc.? Are you always pressed for time and are in a habit of looking at your watch? Do you spend more time in talking than listening or thinking? Do you enjoy gossiping? Do you suffer from psychosomatic problems such as phobias, allergies, persistent headache, depression, hypertension etc.?
All these symptoms indicate a personality in which body growth has overtaken the growth of mind. Such people need to adopt spirituality as a means of keeping pace with the ageing process.
Spirituality defeats entropy
Entropy means going towards disorderliness from orderliness. Everything in this universe has a tendency to drift towards entropy. The living system is an amazing thing that resists entropy. Millions of cells die in our body every second but are replaced as quickly. Diseases and ageing are indications of entropy gaining an upper hand. Modem science identifies energy and matter getting transformed during entropy but the ancient yogic texts mention two forces namely Shiva (pure consciousness or intelligence) and Shakti (pure energy) which together function to defeat entropy and keep the universe going.
Without intelligence pure energy remains functionless. The seat of intelligence in our bodies is the super genetic molecule called DNA, which is a coiled highly coded chain of chemicals housing infinite information and intelligence in every cell. It is believed that not even a millionth of this intelligence is used at anyone time. But to reveal this intelligence DNA has to uncoil itself. The ancient yogic texts are perhaps referring to the coiled DNA when they mention of kundalini, the seat of consciousness in our body, which remains coiled like a snake and when uncoiled by spiritual force, unfolds dormant intelligence and releases unlimited energy. The counterforce to entropy is this intelligence housed in the DNA of each cell.
Since all DNA is identical, the combined force forms a unified field of awareness in the body which we call spirit. It is this intelligence that guides thousands of biochemical reactions that take place in our body every second. Death is the highest form of entropy when body contains everything except the force of intelligence. In such situations no life support system can keep the body alive. Our brain communicates with the field of intelligence through the neurotransmitters, about fifty of which are known to be secreted by the brain. Meditation helps in sending positive signals to the intelligence of each cell in our body. For example, the desirable neurotransmitter serotonin is known to increase during meditation.
Spirituality relieves time-stress
Einstein said that time and space are creations of our senses and that time has no absolute value. Time seems to contract and expand to keep the speed of light constant. Time pressure in brain causes release of stress hormones which in turn alter the physiology and adversely affect the intelligence of our body. Our body has amazing capacity to convert a thought into a chemical.
It has been found that the outcome of cancer fighting chemical called, Interleukin-2 is decreased under stress conditions. The renowned philosopher J. Krishnamurthi rightly commented that “time is the psychological enemy of man”, People having deadlines in their work invariably suffer from psychosomatic disorders. It is no coincidence that “deadline” contains the word “dead” in it. People who work under constant stress must take time off to be in complete silence and meditate even if it is for ten minutes during tea or lunch breaks. Meditation alters the frame of reference that gives the mind a sense of time. When senses are withdrawn the sense of time is lost, which is called the timeless awareness. Within ourselves we all have a sanctuary of stillness in which we must retreat from time to time, because total silence is the quantum source of energy in which the mind replenishes itself.
Spirituality provides control over mind
Human mind is like a wild horse which runs about recklessly dragging us along. It does not like to be control1ed. This wandering nature of mind disturbs the harmony in the neurophysiologic functions of body. Every cell in our body is aware of the thoughts appearing and disappearing in our mind and responds accordingly. An aimlessly wandering mind makes every cell in the body function aimlessly. Those who cannot have control over mind tend to become slaves of their senses, desires and addictions. Pranayama and meditation are two instruments through which the mind can be controlled.
Pranayama should be done in sitting posture by breathing in a cycle of inhalation, retention and exhalation in the ratio of 1:2:2. Rhythmic pranic breathing brings vital energy into our body and stills the mind. It sets every function of body in a rhythm. It also purifies the nerves and cleanses the body of toxins. Without pranayama, meditation becomes difficult as mind violently resists subjugation. Meditation can be done in sitting posture or by lying supine on the bed with eyes closed. Mind should either be fixed inwards in the middle of the forehead or should be left free of any thoughts. You should be indifferent to any thought that enters the mind and let it pass by quietly. Repetition of a word or mantra helps in meditating. The effect of meditation can also be achieved by doing your work with complete concentration, without thinking of anything else.
The playing of any musical instrument with single-mindedness is also a form of meditation. Meditation becomes difficult for people who are addicted to sensual pleasures, but just as quitting physical pleasures helps in meditation, meditating regularly also helps in quitting addictions by generating aversion to pleasures. Practicing pranayama and meditation regularly even for 15-20 minutes at a time; twice a day changes the whole personality of the seeker, who achieves pure consciousness in which he/she is no longer the object.
Spirituality is a habit, a daily routine and a highly evolved way of life. Any opportunity to withdraw our senses into the silence and tranquility within ourselves should not be missed because therein lies the source of all thoughts. Just as advancement and refinement are the essence as well as goal of evolution, spiritual progress is the goal of human mind.