The bond connecting the brain and the mind is one of the abiding secrets of science, similar in effect to the quest for a transcendent unifying theory between quantum mechanics and general relativity. The knowledge in Hinduism (according to me, the most mystical, ancient, and absorbing of all the thoughtful traditions) has been found to contain a shocking parallel to the brain’s functionality revealed by contemporary neuroscience. In this article, we will explore my research about how the Sanatan Dharmic path can bring physical systems (like the brain) into greater harmony.
Mindfulness- Complete Knowledge
As a few of our journalists on NYK Daily have covered in previous articles, mindfulness is defined as careful attention to our outer and inner worlds’ present details. Mindfulness is awareness of one’s environment and body, and lifestyle.
Since our brains tend to learn from whatever gets recorded in the mind’s field of attention, mindfulness is how we supervise our brain toward procuring better habits and forming distinct neuronal pathways. You can understand this better through my volcanic eruption analogy.
Volcano ignites fear among humans. We are scared at the sight of active volcanos brewing water vapor and carbon dioxide. We don’t want to shift our bases around a mountain range that is known for volcanic activities.
But do you know why do people live on unsafe volcanoes? The principal reason is the fertile volcanic soil. People are ready to take high-risk chances for essential things of life — food. When a volcano erupts, the short-term damage by heavy falls of ash, pyroclastic flows, and lava flows can be bad. The amount of destruction usually depends upon the magnitude of the eruption. Forests, crops, and animals grazing, orchards, or browsing on the volcano’s slopes or encompassing lowland can be buried or leveled. But the short-term effect is the keyword. In the long run, volcanic deposits can grow into some of the most productive agricultural lands on earth.
The green splendor and richness of many farmlands of the North Island of New Zealand are situated on volcanic soils of various ages. Volcanic loams have emerged on older (4,000 and 40,000 years old) volcanic ash deposits of the Bay of Plenty and Waikato regions. Coupled with ample rainfall, mild winters, and warm summers, these fields produce abundant crops, including my favorite kiwifruit found worldwide in modern recipes.
Now, after reading this, places with volcanos don’t seem that dangerous, right?
Your brain just re-wired itself after hearing something you didn’t possibly know before.
Our brain can re-wire itself, but it is our duty to give it the best “circuit diagram” to follow. That’s where the importance of ‘complete knowledge’ is propagated in Dharmic Living.
Abhimanyu’s tale from Mahabharata, the youngest son of Subhadra and Arjuna, exemplifies courage yet marks the risks of not knowing something completely.
Abhimanyu had learned the art of archery and broke into the war structure while still in his mother’s body. Once, Arjuna was teaching the art of breaking the swirl to his wife. As Subhadra fell asleep while listening to the lesson, Arjuna could reveal only half the procedure. So, Abhimanyu knew only how to break into it properly; he could never learn the art of coming out of the formation.
Many years later, this event played a crucial role in his death when Kauravas dared Pandavas in a Dharmic war called Chakravyuh. Only Krishna and Arjuna knew the art of breaking into and finishing the formation. However, they both were busy in another war, a maneuver by Dronacharya to capture Yudhishthira.
To save Yudishtira, he went inside the Chakravyuh like a hurricane and killed many great Kauravas warriors. To break the death shackles, Kauravas chalked out a wicked ploy to corner Abhimanyu. Many Kaurava warriors surrounded and overwhelmed the weak Abhimanyu. On Drona’s advice, Karna pierced Abhimanyu’s bow from behind and destroyed the chariot wheel that Abhimanyu used to protect himself. Unarmed, unguarded, exhausted, and tired, Abhimanyu was at his most exposed position. Since Abhimanyu held only half-knowledge of entering the formation, he was not aware of destroying it. This gave a dangerous upper hand to Kauravas, and they finally managed to surround and destroy Abhimanyu.
Abhimanyu’s death is one of the heart-wrenching parts of Mahabharata. However, it also teaches us an essential lesson that ‘Half knowledge is dangerous.’
Virtue – Controlling Actions
Virtue means controlling your words, actions, and thoughts to do good instead of harming yourself and others. And control is one of the brain’s basic functions. The brain adjusts itself and handles other organs through a combination of inhibitory and excitatory impulses, analogous to the red or green needed to control sought-after and unwanted behaviors. The tools involved are both bottom-up (communication from the limbic system and the parasympathetic nervous system) and top-down (the prefrontal cortex).
Wisdom symbolizes learning from experience to recognize what works in life and what doesn’t, and then implementing that preference. Even simple organisms, after proper learning, can select better options. For instance, an earthworm can be trained to move in a specific direction to avoid a free fall and a rat can be trained to escape traps.
Whether we see spiritual awakening as an opportunity to meet our absolute self within or merely a process of substituting destructive tendencies with beneficial ones, an understanding of how exactly the brain operates – and can get distracted – can be amazingly helpful to our growth. And it stands to reason that the brains of seasoned practitioners – those who have traveled the furthest along the Shiva’s path to enlightenment – may shed much light on the perfect physical conditions we wish to develop in the brain.
One of the characteristics we find in such brains, as revealed by several Vedic Books written by Hindu Rishis in the past, is a distinctive electrical activity pattern. Especially when in a deep meditative state, vast areas of the brain present high-frequency Gamma waves cycling in the range of 40Hz, integrating and unifying Exploring the Connection Between Buddhism and Neuroscience multiple cerebral functions. Gamma waves are the electrical indication of an enormously evolved mind, with a correspondingly well-developed brain.
This is 1st part of this article series. We will explore more about Gamma Waves and the third-eye of Shiva next week.