Mind and brain ~ Thrangu Rinpoche

The instruction that we need to identify our body, speech, and mind is a particularly important instruction for our time. The reason is that today, many people think that our mind is our brain, or that the brain and the mind are the same thing. The brain is something that can cause thoughts to happen but if we examine it, we see that the brain is just matter and the mind is awareness. Their characteristics are dissimilar. The brain functions as a support for thoughts, but that does not mean that it is the mind. For example, if you pinch your arm, the arm is a support for thought, even though it is not mind itself. It is the same with the brain. The Dalai Lama gives another example: crying out of a strong feeling of compassion and crying out of grief or sadness are very different in terms of motivation, but the brain activity is the same for both, despite the difference in emotion. If one occurred on the right side of the brain and the other on the left for example, we could say there is a distinction the brain, but we do not see any such difference. It is important that we recognize that our mind and brain are different—we should not confuse them. The mind is different from the body and the body is different from the mind. It is easy to see that speech is something different from the mind, but it is harder to recognize that body and mind are distinct.

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