Saturday, 29 April 2017

23. The Brain and Its Functions


Pandit Brahm Sankar Misra, M.A.


            42. In the structure of the human frame, the brain is the most extraordinary organ. The functions of all its parts are, however, not quite understood. Different parts of the brain have no doubt been mapped out with references to the parts they play in regulating the lower structure. For instance, there is the speech-centre in the brain, the centre which regulates locomotion, etc. etc. but the knowledge we possess of the functions of the brain is of a most superficial character and is quite incommensurate with the economy of this wonderful apparatus. In support of our statement we would make the following observations. A person goes into the condition of trance, or is rendered senseless by the administration of chloroform. The substance of the brain (both grey and white), which appears to be the source from which all lower nervous centres have been created, also becomes insensitive and shares the condition of the rest of the physical frame. The inference from this observation is that the spirit-centre is not in the substance of the brain, and that its focus is situated in a plane altogether different from the plane of brain-matter. Another inference from the same observation is that the plane of sensory action is also lower than that of the substance of the brain. In the lower animals, a perceptible diminution is traceable in the functions of the brain, and a stage is reached where the animal becomes entirely independent of the brain for its existence. If we go further down in the scale of creation, all trace of the brain entirely disappears, and yet the process of assimilation and other concomitant functions of life exist. In the vegetable kingdom the nerves and the ganglia do not exist, and yet growth and sustenance of vegetable existence takes place. This clearly indicates that the nerves, the nervous centres, and the brain, which is, as it were, the reservoir of nerve-power, have other important functions to perform which are distinct from the functions of growth and sustenance of the physical frame. Those functions are subjective, and perception and volition are the two main branches thereof. The powers of perception and volition are, however, not always dependent upon the nerves etc. for the performance of their functions. This is proved demonstratively in the case of disembodies spirits (vide Articles 11 and 13). The cessation of the functions of nerves etc. during trance etc. which is attended at times by a manifestation of powers which are not ordinarily found in the normal state of human life, corroborates the same truth. These extraordinary powers clearly indicate that the human frame is possessed of potentialities which may by proper training endow the devotee with powers possessed by disembodies spirits and by higher beings. Thought-reading and the power of abstracting articles from such places as do not admit of access are instances which corroborate our statement. These instances are instructive otherwise also, and show that the scope of the subjective economy of humanity is very much wider than what we assign to it. As we shall presently explain, these observations give us a clue to the secrets of the microcosm.

            43. The ordinary functions of the human frame, including the entire nervous system, consist of the life-giving, life-sustaining, and the responsive powers. This proposition broadly includes all the ordinary physical and subjective conditions of human life. Underlying the planes of these functions, there are subtler planes within the nervous system, and the innermost part of each nervous centre is associated with the subtle plane peculiar to it. When these subtle planes are acted upon through nervous centres, communion with the macrocosmic spheres corresponding with them is established, and the powers of the presiding deities of these spheres are imbibed. The brain from which all the lower nervous centres have been created is similarly associated with very subtle planes. They do not belong to the part of the creation within our vision, but to the higher regions of creation, viz, to those of the Universal Mind and to those of the source of the pure-spirit, the true Supreme Being. By developing the latent powers of these planes in the brain, communion can be established with Brahma and the true Supreme Creator. This function of the brain emphasizes the supreme importance of this organ in the economy of the microcosm. We now proceed to indicate with which part of the brain the subtler and higher planes, referred to, are associated.

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