How Things Work: Senses, Intellect, & Mind

Here is a breakdown of how it all works, based on Kapila’s sankhya, explained in the final chapters of Śrīmad Bhagavatam’s Third Canto.

The senses feed their data into the intellect.

The intellect has three sub-organs within it. Each performs its own function:

1) Pattern recognition
2) Pattern matching
3) Memory (storage of patterns)

So, intellect can take the raw data from the senses, recognize the patterns, and figure out what the patterns are – by matching those patterns with the information stored in memory. “Education” is the process of putting recognized patterns into the memory.

The mind observes the intellect. Mind reflects consciousness. With this reflected consciousness it observes the intellect, so it observes the processed data from the senses, and the order and meaning that the intellect has digested from that data. Then the mind reacts to it. It also has three sub-organs, each performing its own function:

1) Preference
2) Desire
3) Emotion

Observing a recognized pattern presented by the intellect as an object, the mind develops a preference towards that object, or away from it. For example, the nose smells something. The intellect comprehends the pattern of olfactory data to be the scent of roasting spices. The mind, which always observes the intellect, reacts to this by a perference: “I love this!” or “I hate this!” Or something somewhere in between these two extremes.

Next, the mind establishes desire based on that preference. If the preference is “I love it” the desire is “I want more of it.” If the preference is “I hate it” the desire is “I want less of it”

Next the mind produces emotions based on that desire. If the desire is fulfilled, the emotion is happiness. If the desire is unfulfilled, the emotion is sadness. Other emotions represent various versions of or precursors to happiness or sadness.

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    1. Mind is sattva because it simply experiences. Intellect is rajas because it pulls information back and forth through the senses. I don’t know exactly how the mind reflects consciousness. There are two aspects to it, citta and manas. The citta is the part that reflects the consciousness. Manas is the part that holds preferences or aversions for things shown to it by the intellect, and thereby causes states like happiness or sadness. I think citta is simply a “reflective” substance, and jīva willingly looks at it. I don’t know it in any more detail than this, I am sorry.


      1. Do you find it incorrect also to consider Mind in sattva since it is where we “host” Krishna in our remembrance and meditation even when we are not wholly pure? Just to know your thought about this. Actually you answered something that a got as a question during a BG class ..what is citta? do you have more about it? Thanks a lot, always very inspiring and helpful.


        1. Krishna can also appear in the intellect, in the senses, and in the bhūtas like earth, water, etc. So I don’t think it is too important to say that the mind can host Krishna because it evolves from sattva. Any of Krishna’s energies can host Krishna.

          Citta is Mahāt-tattva, it is the way that māyā-śakti recieves the consciousness of jīva-śakti. It is the entry point for the consciousness. It’s a reflective material, reflecting the atma-jyoti towards external bhūta-mātra (qualities of external substances).


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