Difference between Mind and Consciousness | Mind according to Vedanta

Where do you feel mind is located among the following options?

Man is trapped by the mind. The mind is the aggregate of opinions, thoughts, feelings, emotions, convolutions of various kinds and what not. This trapping of the mind is what we called the world. When man is trapped by the forces of the mind, one experiences the world. He experiences the world at various levels. He experiences His own thoughts, feelings and emotions. He experiences his body. He experiences other people, things, time place and circumstances. One should know that the duality in all this, the expression of the many arises from the mind. However mind is inert. Mind is like a dead fan or light bulb. It requires power. It requires electricity to trigger it. Similarly the mind is like an appliance. When consciousness touches the mind, the world comes alive. But then there are two distinct physical entities which come alive. One is my body and whatever I imagine as “Me” and then there is the rest of the world “Out there”.

Man tends to define life as an endless interaction of his physical “being” with the rest of the world. This is his limited understanding. It becomes vital for man to understand his position in the world of objects and people. This can help him regain some sanity and sanctity in his dealings with the world. The world is a simple projection of the mind, which is in itself a movement in consciousness. We shall try to explain the concept through an indicative diagram as shown below.


The Green Circle in the diagram, is the source of creation, beyond which there is no entity, which is the container of all entities, known or unknown to living entities. Consciousness is the only entity which is the subject, the Knower, the eternal witness of all happenings. Consciousness is the eternal subject, unaffected by time, life or its processes. It is Consciousness that is the source of life. Consciousness can never be known because it is the one that knows. However one can experience pure consciousness when its pure reflection falls on a clean, purged and clarified mind. The goal of a living entity is to get established in that consciousness which is pure and undiluted by variety. Consciousness is beyond space and time, and the one who is the source of all intelligence. It is consciousness alone that defines the eternal law. Sanatana Dharma is all about getting established in that “One” consciousness, beyond which there is no more search to undertake. The purpose of all Yoga is to go beyond the concepts and veils of the mind. When these veils are completely annihilated, what remains is verily consciousness, the eternal witness. However the expression of pure consciousness can be two. This is possible when the mind is completely purified and purged of all its worldly scum which consists of incorrect understanding, distorted view, insensitivity, morbidity, lack of morality, selfishness and a host of other frailties. When purification has been attained, pure consciousness reflects through such a purified mind in two ways. It reflects as immaculate and infallible intelligence. It reflects as firm establishment in Dharma. It reflects as commitment unmotivated by selfishness. It reflects as Equanimity. This is the reflection of Consciousness as Jnana or Pure unsullied knowledge. There is another manifestation of unsullied consciousness. This manifestation of consciousness is in the form of all-acceptance, as universal, unhindered, unbiased compassion. It reflects as universal love, unmotivated in all respects. This is the reflection of Consciousness as Prema or Pure unsullied love. One should not make any distinction between these two possible reflections or aspects of Consciousness. Jnana and Prema are two sides of the same coin of Consciousness then how can they be different. One who is exhibiting “Prema” is knowledgeable and extremely intelligent, but that intelligence remains apparently unmanifest; but if situation demands it can get manifested, One who is exhibiting “Jnana” is full of love and extremely compassionate, but most of the time it remains hidden; if situation demands it may spill over and can become evident.

The Graded Blue Circle in the diagram, represents the sum total of all minds. The gradation indicates that there is immeasurable variety in the minds of people. Consciousness is ungraded and pure. But when pure consciousness undergoes transformation on its own accord, variety of an infinite kind emerges. The one component of consciousness gets divided into graded minds of infinite shades and then the original pure consciousness too remains keeping itself intact. The Vedas say “If Infinite gets divided, the Infinite still remains intact”. The limitless variety of the mind represents the coloration of consciousness. It represents duality and the movement of consciousness. It is the Universal mind or the aggregated mind-variety that gives rise to nature.

The Images of the people and the triangles represents the objectification of the Universal mind or the conglomeration of the mind variety. It is to be understood that the living entities as well as non-living entities are the byproducts of the mind alone. The experiences of the world including experience of space and time is an expression of the Universal mind. Thus the one Unity of Consciousness becomes many in the form of people, objects, time, space and events.

It is important to note that spiritual realization is the reverse journey from objects and people back to the source of pure consciousness. This is obvious because all secondary entities are contained within the field of Pure Consciousness alone. When one commits oneself to spiritual practice, the first thing that is to be realized is that, the world of thoughts, emotions, time, space and events is a representation of the varied mind-field and hence does not represent the original reality. As one progresses through spirituality, layers of duality get cleansed and purged and one can witness pure consciousness reflected on the clarified subtle layer of the mind. One thus gets the glimpse of one’s own Reality.

4 thoughts on “Difference between Mind and Consciousness | Mind according to Vedanta

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  1. I like this sentence. Consciousness cannot be known since its the knower of all things. Clarifies alot.

    Once we come to the understanding that the world is born in us and not us born in the world changes ones perspective. You’ve explained it so well in a way I’ve never heard before. That the mind is dead and when touched by consciousness comes to life and so does the outside world or reality.

    Is the narrow path which few will find referenced in the holy texts this awakening and connecting to spirituality? Is the path knowledge?

    We indeed are trapped by the mind and in the body. Realizing the said spirituality frees us right?

    Where does self talk come in this? Can it be used to change the vibration and frequency hence altering ones perception of the world and in turn their reality?

    From your illustration of the mind and its many subdivisions, you said despite the Infinite mind dividing it still remains whole. And it’s the one mind. Does this mean we all experience the divine and each other or rather all forms that exist as ourselves but somehow all this is suppressed unless activated or retrieved somehow?

    1. Your understanding is sharp and I appreciate your conscious deliberation on the subject. We have to realize that the scriptures do not directly allude to many of the realizations that I have tried to express, which is direct and verifiable through only personal experience (I say experience for the lack of a better word in English and yet this is not experience it is Anubhooti in Sanskrit). I will try to elaborate a few points. The vibration and frequency aspects are more or less a western concept however such allusions are very useful for getting an idea of reality. Yet the frequency and pitch theory is rooted in kindergarten science of consciousness. Consciousness can be so fast and liberating that if you merely get even a sense of what is being communicated, you are already getting there at hurricane speed. Its not like waves and particles which are like the speed of a snail when compared to the speed of a comet. Now, lets see the practical side. I have expressed a deep experience that has been a part of my reality; although I claim it to be my reality, it comes as direct experience and can be directly accessed by you too. As you delve deep into the words I express, your mere “deep and committed acceptance” has the capacity to create an astounding and direct shift of consciousness which can help you circumvent years of spiritual practice. This is the power of Dharma. Since I humbly speak from a position of Truth, even if you trust these words, you shall have transcended many layers of the mind and shall be able to see the Truth unraveled. Its a deep realization of yours when you say that everyone that you see or experience is your own form at a graduating level of consciousness. You said it. As you deliberate on the nature of consciousness, the mind shall start to release you from its grip. I say this with certainty only for you because I understand from where you are coming. The mind is also one and undivided. Yet it stands as the only impediment that separates you from “yours”. The moment you are able to witness that all minds are essentially one, for eg your boss’s reading of some matter could well have been just your point of view. If your depth of understanding the other’s point of view is so deep that you are able to resonate with it , from that other person’s point of view in all humility and position of truth is in fact the acceptance of the Universal mind. When this situation starts repeating frequently you would have distilled the universal mind and managed to see the operation of pure consciousness. Again , as I write I am not able to see whether I am able to make sense, because I see it that way and I am only able to see it that way.

  2. True, the scriptures offer very limited information to the bigger truths. I’ve searched several and different interpretations to better understand some concepts and the more I searched the more I learned how much I do not know and understand.

    And yes, frequency and vibration is elementary but nevertheless a stepping stone to the right direction. I was happy when I learnt about these concepts which pushed me to new findings such as the quantum world where everything is in the comet speeds you’ve referenced compared to the speed of waves. I am still at a very elementary stage of all this and I am willing and open to learn, to remember.

    My biggest challenge was to shed off my limiting beliefs since I discovered I had so many and were blocks to my new reality. Like a set of programs that I had to rewrite.

    I understand you when you in the bosses view example. I understand that the external is the projection of our own selves. From the people, situations and experience that we encounter. They are all part of our thought forms and inner realities. We projects our securities and insecurities alike, awareness and ignorance. But knowing this helps me see this for what it is but I find it a challenge since as much as I know this but with very little control of my mind when it comes to this ‘quantum’ reality I many times feel like a child making noise in a big new world.

    Thank you for your replies, as I said earlier I learn so much from you. In regards to my situation expressed above. I would be grateful for any guidance on the same. I so humbled to read of your experiences mentioned above and it gives me hope on this journey I am on.

    1. Kevin, the great thing is that you have the innocence of a child and that’s what is the enabler for the big leap. When I started discovering these things, I simply surrendered myself and sat at the feet of seers who would just talk and I would listen with tears in my eyes. Well, thats all that is required. You need not “do” anything. If you are simply eager, things shall get revealed. Our wrestling right now is just the struggle to shed away deep ignorance. That shall anyway happen with your simple alignment to the Truth. The more you align, the more perspective you shall attain.

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