My friend Dr. DMR Sekhar, sometime back, wrote a learned paper on genopsych. It was a term coined by him (I presume). Genopsych, as I understand, is a hypothetical property that causes disturbance, propels evolution and directs variations in the genome. It has its roots in second law of thermodynamics. It is a rather an unusual interpretation as it involves physics, genetics and philosophy. It is a very daring exploration. Let me admit, I don’t pretend to understand all that has been said in his paper. My academic background is, to say the least, is wafer-thin. Yet I admired it.
What I have written under is neither a comment nor a direct response to the concept of genopsych. It is just a short note of my thoughts on reading Dr. Sekhar’s article. It is based in my understanding of the concept, as I read the paper. I could be wrong in my understanding.
I am not sure if my note serves any purpose. Yet, I hope it might spur Shri Sekhar to look at the other dimensions of the issue.
A. I read with great interest the article crowded with ideas and concepts. I tried to be focused on Genopsych.
Genopsych, as I understand from Shri Sekhar’s article is that:
- Genopsych is not physical
- Genopsych may directly control/operate our behaviour.
- Our behaviour and many things we do may be attributed to genopsych.
- Genopsych of all individuals is similar.
- All living things at genetic level are same.
- Genopsych undergoes updating and development due to evolutionary reasons.
- Soul is described to exist without physical body whereas genopsych may not exist unattached to genes.
- Meditation, it appears , is the advertent way of communication of mind with genopsych.
As he says, genopsych is not the soul, in the sense it is not the absolute, immutable pure consciousness; nor is it the individual soul jiva either, because the concept of genopsych probably may not allow reincarnation. Yet Genopsych is not dying. There is no death to genopsych along with the body because Genopsych is not physical .And, it continues to survive along the gene flow firmly attached to it; and it controls/operates our behavioural patterns in the next phase of existence too.
Genopsych is not mind, either. What is called as mind is a bunch of thoughts; and has no independent existence. The mind always exists in relation to something gross; it cannot stay alone. When the mind becomes quiet, the world disappears. Sri Ramana says when one persistently inquires into the nature of the mind; the mind will end leaving the Self (as the residue).
B. That reminds me of a much discussed concept in Indian thought – both Hindu and Buddhist.
Vasanas are subconscious inclinations, likes and dislikes, which drive habit-patterns or direct ones attitudes. It emanates from every thought, every feeling or every deed that one has done or does. The Vasanas are ego-centric in the sense they are centred on “I”.
In a way of speaking, Vasanas are ‘fragrance’ of past experiences, lingering memories. (It is just as a waft of air that flows over a flower-bed carries along it the delicate fragrances). They are the subtle impressions; and their effects are long lasting. When Vasanas manifest as desires, they cause agitations in the mind, and the mind becomes restless until those desires are fulfilled. It is thus the other-side of entropy; it causes disturbance and propels evolution.
It is explained that when the individual jiva departs it takes with it the casual body that is the accumulated Vasanas, and gravitate towards a field that is conducive to ones experiences and inclinations (Vasanas).
The Buddhist texts say that Vasanas are stored in a latent form in “Alaya”, a sort of storehouse, ready to be set in motion. Alaya, impressions stored as a kind of seed, is sometimes known as Bija (memory/sowing seeds). Lankavatara sutra, a renowned Buddhist text, says the world starts from seed-memory retained in the Alaya universal mind. The text asks one to be rid of false memories that impede true perception.
ālayāt-sarva-cittāni pravartanti taraṃgavat / vāsanā-hetukāḥ sarve yathā pratyaya saṃbhavāḥ // Lank_10.871 //
It appears Vasanas are not merely individual memories; they are also collective, experienced by all conscious beings. (I am not quite clear on this)
C. Sri Sankara in his most erudite introduction to Brahma- sutra–bhashya also talks about memories that impede the understanding of the true nature of things. He examines the nature of error that prevents us from experiencing things as they really are; and explains it through the concept of Adhyasa, which means superimposing ones memory previously gained in another place and another time. We tend to recognize or interpret our experiences, sometimes incorrectly, by superimposing our past memories.
At another level, it is said; those memories or impressions, formed are the subtle traces or vasanas of events- not only of the present life but also of events of multiple past lives. They condition our sense and experiences.
Another explanation is that Vasanas are born out of samskaras, the accumulated experiential impressions formed out of our actions. The Vasanas (tendencies) in turn, give rise to thought patterns which again lead to attitudes and mental dispositions. These inherent inclinations of the mind are called vritti. The vrittis in their turn influence our actions.
That is, we act as directed by our mind (chitta vritti) to satisfy our desires or inclinations (vasanas) which arose out of the impressions (samskaras) gained out of previous experiences or acts (karma). It is a cycle.
Karma (action) — samskara (impressions)— vasana (tendencies)— chitta vritti (thought patterns) — karma (action)
D. The concept of vasana is also of importance in Yoga psychology. In Patanjali’s text, the term appears to have the meaning ‘Specific subconscious sensations.’ Mircea Eliade in his book Yoga: immortality and freedom interprets the term as ‘states of consciousnesses.
Yoga is the restriction or control of the ‘citta vrittis’, Yogah chittavritti nirodhaha. The chitta vritti perhaps refers to the various modifications or thought-forms. The methods prescribed for evading the grip of the Vasanas and to be thought-free, is complex..
E. As I understand, genopsych is a property (vastu-vishesha) ; and, its attributes can be auspicious or otherwise; while Soul is said to be beyond all attributes. It, therefore, seems to me, the concept of genopsych is closer to that of the casual body (karana-sarira) the carrier of Vasanas the accumulated subconscious inclinations, tendencies, rather than to the immutable Soul.
[Please read: Yoga, Immortality and Freedom by Mircea Eliade; Translated by Willard R. Trask; published by Princeton University Press. And, please also check
F. Dr. Sekhar also talked about meditation and control of mind; and said meditation appears to be an advertent way of communication of mind with genopsych.
The texts believe that breath is the gross form of mind. And, the exercise of breath-control is regarded an aid to render the mind quiet (mano-nigraha).The practice of breath control or watching over the breath therefore somehow became a part of meditation.
When the breath is controlled the mind becomes quiet; and when the mind becomes quiet the breath is controlled. But mind will be quiet only so long as the breath remains controlled; otherwise, the mind will wander as impelled by residual impressions (vasanas).
That is because the mind is influenced by residual impressions (Vasanas).Mind could , therefore, be better directed or controlled by moving away from Vasanas – attachments, eschewing desire and hatred. The real freedom is being free from Vasanas the self-centered desires; and, when that happens one could be free from thoughts. That is reversing the trend of Vasanas towards low entropy.
One has to move away from Vasanas – attachments; and realize ones true nature.
Sri Ramana said, Self is the residue when there is no ego, no attachments (Vasanas) and no mind. That is when there is no “I” thought. That is “Silence”.