The Dynamics of Mental Conflict

Hi, Ted.


I have another question. It’s regarding the workings of the mind. Any insight as to why the mind fights with itself? I mean, say I want a cookie, then I think no I shouldn’t have it it’ll make me fat and then this fight within the mind happens. Like the mind is split in two arguing with itself. Has the ego split itself when this sorta thing happens? I know this isn’t the most spiritual question I could I can’t figure it out!



Hi, Eleanor.


The mind is conflicted because the mind is essentially a bundle of vasanas, a conglomeration of desires that are all crying for fulfillment. In fact, the only reason the person has arisen in consciousness is as a vehicle through which experience—ideally, and more specifically, the experience of satisfying certain desires—can be had. Hence, the subtle body is informed by desires that prompt it to seek/keep the objects that it finds pleasurable and avoid/discharge the objects it finds painful. While the distinction between what is pleasurable and painful would seem clear and, therefore, one that would make it easy for one to determine which action one should take in any circumstance, it is obvious that it doesn’t work out that easily due to the fact that pleasure and pain are present in varying degrees, as determined by the guna-rooted, vasana-based, raga-dvesha-influenced values of each apparent individual person, in every experience/object. In terms of the example of wanting a cookie, the mind harbors both a desire for the experience of sweetness and the desire for a slim body. The ego, which is nothing more than a thought in the mind, does not split in two. Rather, it simply feels the pull of both desires, and whichever desire is strongest wins.


All the best,