Three Important Mind Tools

Three Important Mind Tools

by Jayaram V

Emotion, reason and belief are the three most important tools of the human mind, which assist us greatly to comprehend the world and deal with it appropriately. They play a vital role in cognition and critical functions of the mind, which determine how well we adapt to complex situations and circumstances. They alert us to situations, prepare us to deal with them and help us to communicate with others. In short, they are critical to our survival and existence.

All the three operate within the mental realm but in different ways. They have positive and negative aspects. Together they enable us to relate to the world and deal with It. Our ability to use them changes with age and circumstances. Each of the three tools of the mind helps us in different ways to comprehend the reality and deal with it. They also shape our behavior, character and personality.

They are influenced and shaped by both external and internal factors. Society and social conditioning play a predominant role in how we use them. To some extent we can regulate them and gain control over them. Indeed, our lives largely depend upon how we use them and how successfully we control them.

They are also interconnected and inter dependent. For instance, emotions arise from beliefs and beliefs influence reason. It is wrong to think that reason is free from the influence of beliefs. Beliefs are responsible for twisted and faulty logic and irrational beliefs passing as rational.

Emotions, reason and belief represent three levels of consciousness and awareness in us. They are responsible for the modifications of our minds. They also correspond to the animal, human and divine aspects of our personalities. All the three carry a great significance in our lives. We cannot say one is better than the other because we rely upon them and make use of them according to the circumstances and the problems we face.

Beliefs extend out thinking and comprehension beyond the sensory realm. They help us to fill in the gaps left by the senses and reason to make sense of the world, and understand what cannot be easily explained with mere intellectual knowledge. On the negative side they are responsible for our irrational beliefs, prejudices and faulty thinking.

Emotions bring vitality and drama into our lives. We recognize them regardless of cultural, national or linguistic barriers. They make us human. They are experienced as "anger, fear, disgust, surprise, joy and sadness, " in addition to "shame, embarrassment, pride or guilt." Our emotional experiences may be mild or extreme. While we may not recognize it, we remain perpetually in some emotional state.

Reason is a higher faculty of the mind, which helps us to resolve complex problems of life and discern things correctly. It helps us greatly to analyze and comprehend complex situations in life and learn from them. Our success and happiness depend a great deal upon how clearly and logically we can think and reason.

Together these three stabilize our intelligence and enable us to live our lives meaningfully.

At the microcosmic level they constitute the micro Trinity. Emotions symbolize Lord Brahma, reason symbolizes Lord Vishnu and belief symbolizes Lord Shiva. Emotions help us to experience the joys and sorrows of life and find the ultimate purpose of our mortal existence through inquiry based upon reason. When this realization dawns upon us, we turn inward with belief and achieve our final liberation. to solve the problems of our existence, while belief help us to transcend ourselves to reach the world beyond.

These three tools of the mind have their own limitations. Emotions bring people together through the power of love or the joy of being together but do not sustain them for long. Emotions make us unstable. We know emotional people find it difficult to cope with problems and relationships because of their inability to control their emotions and reactions.

Reason helps us to cope with problems and people intelligently, but by itself would leave us cold and calculated in thinking and attitude. Rational people are good at problem solving, but do not make good friends since they cannot empathize well. Beliefs by themselves do not guarantee a stable life because in the end we need to go by the facts of life and the reality of each situation.

Emotions play an important role in pleasure and pain, reason in knowledge and learning and beliefs in religious and spiritual practice. Individually they have their own limitations. Blind beliefs bind us to superstition, dogmatism and unrealistic adventurism.

Pure emotions may harm our physical well being and impair our relationships. Pure reason by itself may make us dry and insensitive to the beauty and vibrancy of life. However, collectively they complement each other and serve us very effectively.

In life, all the three are important. We must be wise enough to know how to use them to our best advantage. We must know when to use and when not to use each of them. If you learn to use them intelligently and appropriately you will find peace, harmony, happiness and equilibrium in your life.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Introduction to Hinduism
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Brahman
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Selected Upanishads
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The Bhagavadgita Complete Translation
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