Personality Development

We intend to do many things – make resolutions to cultivate good habits, to kick certain bad habits, to study with concentration, to do something with a concentrated mind. Very often our mind rebels, forcing us to beat a retreat from our efforts at implementing our resolutions. A book is open before us, and our eyes are open. But the mind has started wandering, thinking about some past events or some future plans. The same thing happens when we sit for a few minutes trying to pray or think of a divine name or form. Says swami Vivekananda: “Free! We who cannot for a moment govern our own minds, nay, cannot hold our minds on a subject, focus it on a point to the exclusion of everything else for a moment! Yet we call ourselves free. Think of it!

According to the Bhagavad Gita, the undisciplined mind acts as our enemy, whereas a trained mind acts as our friend. So we need to have a clear idea of the mechanism of our mind. Can we train it to obey us, to cooperate with us? How can it contribute to the development of our personality?

Fourfold functions of the mind:

Memory: The storehouse of memory and impressions of our past experiences presents various possibilities before the mind. This storehouse called chitta. It is in this storehouse that the impressions of our thoughts and actions – good and bad – are stored. The sum total of these impressions determine our character. This chitta, again, is what is known as our subconscious mind.

Deliberation and conceptualization: Not yet, sure, the mind examines the many options presented before it. It deliberates on several things. This faculty of the mind is called manas. Imagination and formation of concepts are also functions of the manas.

Determination and Decision-making: Buddhi is the faculty responsible for decision-making. It has the capacity to judge the pros and cons of things and find what is more desirable. It is also the discriminative faculty in a person, which enables him to discriminate between the real and the unreal, between what is to be done and what is to be avoided, what is morally right and what is wrong. It is also the seat of will-power so essential for personality development and hence this aspect of the mind concerns us the most

“I” consciousness: Appropriating to oneself all physical and mental activity eg, ‘ I eat’, ‘I see’, ‘I talk’, ‘I hear’, ‘I am confused’, etc, is called ahamkara or ‘I’ consciousness. As long as the ‘I’ identifies itself with the undisciplined body-mind complex, human life is dictated by events and circumstances of the world; we become happy with pleasurable events and miserable with adverse circumstances. More the mind gets refined and disciplined, more does one get to know the real source of ‘I’ consciousness. Correspondingly, a person becomes more balanced and equipoised in his daily life. Such a person is no longer swayed by any event or circumstances of life.

More about the mind:

‘Our’, ‘I’ is represented by the master of the chariot; the body is the chariot and the buddhi the charioteer. The manas is sense organs-ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose-which are the five windows in human being that give him or her the knowledge of the objects in the world.

Important activity of the mind that concerns personality development is our emotions. More the emotions are under control, healthier becomes one’s personality. Emotions can be broadly classified into two types. Viz attraction and repulsion. Love, admiration, aspiration, sympathy, joy, veneration, pride and the like indicate attraction. Hate, anger, fear, sorrow, jealousy, disgust, shame, etc., are the nature of repulsion. As long as one is entangled with the undisciplined mind, one’s personality does not really develop. Buddhi, the charioteer, serves as an effective instrument of self-development by controlling the emotions and raising the higher self from the hold of the lower mind.