What do we mean by the mind’s eye? How does the mind see?
Transcription By: Shalini Ahluwalia Mataji
Edited By: Murlidhar Prabhu (Murli Thundi)
Question: How exactly does the mind see? You mentioned in the class that the mind also has subtle senses by which we are able to perceive. So how exactly does the mind see and sometimes if we are in a room and some other person has negative emotions towards us say envy or anger then we start feeling uncomfortable in that presence. So is that also something that is perceived by the mind?
Answer: The mind is a subtle element.So there is material gross reality which you can refer to as physical; for example I have a physical eye which is gross. Then there is spiritual, the soul has its own eye. The soul’s spiritual body is now present as “bija, which is in a seed form right now. The soul is presently a “chit-kana” i.e. a particle of consciousness although it originally has spiritual vision. In between this spiritual vision of the soul and the physical vision of the gross eye there is the mind which also has sensory capacity. And that sensory capacity is not spiritual and neither is it the same as the gross material. For example during our dreams we see certain things;how do we see those things when our eyes are closed? Some things that we see are recollections of what we have seen earlier but in some cases we also see things which we have never seen before.So all this seeing is happening through the mind’s eye. So the mind has its own subtle senses just as we have a gross body and a subtle body. Similarly, the senses have their subtle counterparts which are integrated into the subtle body.
So for example, we see with the mind’s eye when we are dreaming, or for example those souls who exist in a disembodied state like ghosts. Ghosts have a subtle body but they don’t have a gross body and thus they see with the mind’s eye. Ghosts don’t see any spiritual reality because they do not have spiritual vision, and hence see only material reality. They cannot however enjoy material reality because they don’t have gross senses; but they do have subtle senses and through those subtle senses they see.
Similarly, in Near Death Experiences (NDE) also they see. I wrote an article on this website on NDE and diagrammatically also explained how such a person sees in aNear Death experience. Normally these three are in one line; there is the soul, the subtle body and the gross body.In Near Death experiences the soul and the subtle body come out of the gross body. From the gross body’s perspective the person is unconscious and the person can’t see. The soul and the subtle body come out and at that time also the subtle eye is seeing.
Now in all these situations, when we talk about seeing, what is being seen is primarily physical reality.But in some cases the soul/the subtle body may also go to another realm. Some people, for instance, have mystical experiences, and they say, I saw Jesus, and some say I saw Yamaraj. It’s possible because the subtle body has subtle capacities of vision, but whether such specific incidents have actually happened or not that we cannot demonstrate empirically. That’s why if one wants to prove scientifically the existence of the subtle body, rather than talking about paranormal experience, where there can be no evidence, one focuses on people who are able to see things which normally they could not have seen.
When we talk about sensing the presence of others’ emotions and their hostilities that is not exactly what we are referring to as the mind’s eye. It’s not that the mind can see into another’s mind and perceive “Oh, this person is angry towards me”.That is not the mind’s eye we refer to although there are people who can perceive the mind of others. There are people with mystic siddhi by which they can read the mind of others.
Generally speaking, when we feel choked in a place where others are hostile towards us,either by the way people talk or by the way people don’t talk. Sometimes if you go into a room and nobody greets us then their silence talks much more! Sometimes the way people look, the people stand or sit, conveys the hostility, because apart from verbal language there is body language. Apart from body language there is the language of silence. Through all these ways we can sense the hostility of others and hence feel choked. It’s possible that in some cases some people may be able to sense the emotions of others but generally it is through non- verbal perception, non-verbal communication. We communicate how we feel through the way we look, through the way we gesture with our hand, through what we don’t speak, etc. Is the mind’s eye involved in all of the above? Not exactly because when we refer to the mind’s eye perceiving things, we are primarily referring to the subtle body, the subtle eye perceiving things without the intervention of the gross eye.Here there is a perception of the hostile emotions but that is an inference we arrive from the non-verbal communications.
We can also use the word mind’s eye metaphorically. “I saw something in my mind’s eye” some people say “I got a vision”. An artist, like Michelangelo would say that “In the stone that I would sculpt I would see the statue, all I had to do was remove the remaining stone and the statue would come out. Sowhat does Michelangelo refer to when he says he sees? It’s not that actually there is some other reality apart from the stone and he perceives that reality through some non-material means. Here, it does not refer to another reality but it refers to a capacity to envision a future event that will then help to make a reality. So here when we refer to the mind’s eye and the mind’s perception we are not referring to the capacity of the mind’s eye to perceive something which is the physical reality but are referring to the mind’s eye’s ability to envision something which is not a reality right now but which can be made into a reality by future intelligent endeavor.
So the mind’s eye can also be used in a metaphorical sense. And that’s why we can sometimes say that through the mind’s eye we can perceive the future. Prabhupada could also perceive, he saw in the mind’s eye – in the future there will be temples all over the world. Now, Srila Prabhupada perception thru the mind’s eye is not like Michelangelo’s perception. Michelangelo was some kind of a genius and Prabhupada was a saint.Prabhupada’s perception is based on awareness of spiritual reality and the will of Krishna and he would be an instrument to make that will happen. So there are subtle but significant differences but essentially the point is that the mind’s eye can be used to envision things which then will happen in the future.