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Multitasking - Our Mind is the expert on that


What is multitasking

With the invent of the computer, we were able to do things we never thought would be possible fifty years back. When the first computers that used floppy disks only, with few kilobytes of disk capacity to play around, did anyone at that time think of something at a range of the now freely available 500 Giga byte range Hard Disk Drives. Probably not. Then the speed of a CPU or simply the 'processor' of 33MHz was unbelievable. Now you have computers with processors of the GHz range to play around with multi tasking features.

Well, all these came up just to mention the word multitasking, which came into prominence mainly due to computer usage. It means that the computer can manage to execute several performances in a very short time which seems to the user that it is performing several functions at the same time. We say the CPU is very fast and can do multitasking jobs easily. In fact the processor does all those tasks separately in ultra quick time.

But the real champion of the multitasking are the we, Humans. Have you ever thought of the multitasking functions happening with in you? Probably not. From the day you were born to this world, and up to this very moment, you were breathing, breathing and breathing, never stopping. Your heart pumped blood continuously like a pump without a pause, all these years. With all that happening in the background, you lived your own life to your hearts content.The list of functions will be immense that are a part with in your self that functioned throughout all these years. But you never gave it a thought. Did you? As the bodily functions are happening independent to each other, it is the activities of the mind that is beating everything else in the human being to a distant second and beyond. Just think of this. You got into the car after work and drove that many kilometers all in heavy traffic, but all the time your mind was pre occupied in something else, so that you can't remember a thing you saw during the drive back to home now. How did you manage to come safely home doing all the correct things while driving even without giving a thought, you even don't know. So aren't you the real champion of the multi tasking? Well, the important component here as the processor to the computer is the mind to the human being. It is indeed the mind which coordinated all those functions during the drive while you were pre occupied with your thoughts with something else.

The Mind can process things so rapidly , one cannot single out a function often but it appears as a chain of events , bamboozling a human to the illusions of the mind. Things are happening at such a terrific speed inside the mind , that one is not able to single out these processing inside without applying certain methods as disclosed by Lord Gauthama Buddha to understand the behavior of the mind. Lord Buddha has disclosed that the Mind, an inner sense organ which cannot be seen by the Eyes but whose whereabouts are within the body of a human being should be well understood and needs to be tamed for the good to be beneficial for the man.


Slowdown and see within yourself

Did it ever occurred to you to search within you to find out the so called self with in you? This is a good mindstorming session for anyone who is curious enough to begin some fact finding within yourself.

The life of a person of the modern day is busily spent so most of the time we all behave like machines engulfed in daily chores of activities. Even when we are relaxed, we never part from the mind's non stopping thinking process with imaginations populating us in that relaxed environment. One hardly wants to scrutinize the activities within self even at a time like that. Using the word self here is to figure out what really is inside us. The main reason for this inability is that we don't know of such a thing unless you are being told by someone that there is such a thing we need to find about. Lord Buddha is the person who showed these activities normally hidden to the mankind with the knowledge he gained becoming a Buddha, or being the enlightened one. It is the knowledge given by the Buddha through his disclosures, that we bring forward these concepts through our day to day activities for an easy understanding

The eye as a sense organ, comes to the forefront of the body's activities which utilizes the mind's resources optimally. Of the five sense organs [ excluding the 6th sense organ, the mind ] the activities of the eyes are so rapid that the mind has to be well synchronized to grasp the messages conveying through the eyes. When you look at a thing, for a fraction of a second, the eye conveys the properties you see at that time to the mind which processes and give you something as an image. Within a second, an untold number of images are formulated in your mind. This process happens continuously as much as you use eyes to observe the outside world apart from you. Plainly speaking, the eyes utilizes most resources of the mind and it will be hard for the mind to utilize its resources efficiently for the other tasks while the eyes are quite active. Minimizing or stopping the processing's done due to the eye contact will leave mind's resources available for any other thing most efficiently.

One can compare the video camera of the computer here for a comparison. To get the image on the monitor of the computer coming through a video camera connected to the computer, needs the computer's processing unit to work very hard but feeding some data through a key board and to get the results on the monitor can be done by lower power of the processing unit. The analogue here is as follows.

video camera represents the eye sense organ

processor represents the mind

monitor represents the 'knowledge' or information understood through a sense organ

key board represent one of the other inner sense organs either the ears, nose, tongue or the body

Like the computer's CPU is hard at work to get the video information put as images in the monitor, our mind works hard to gather all the information coming through the eyes to present details for us to recognize in the form of a image with colours and shape.

Like the computer's CPU is unburdened at work to get some input coming through the keyboard at slow pace to present some information appearing on monitor, our mind works less hard to gather the information coming through the other sense organs for us to recognize in the form of either sound, smell, taste or feeling.


Lord Gautama Buddha stressed the importance of one being relaxed in an isolated place away from the distractions like people, noisy environment etc. and in a relaxed sitting position, to concentrate on one's breathing with closed eyes. What was described here is a most basic statement , of one of the famous methods of how to practice concentration with mindfulness as taught by the Lord Buddha. It is generally called as one of the methods of Meditation in Buddhist practice

In many disclosures by the Lord Buddha, he has explained at length regarding the six inner sense bases. A sense base is called as ' ayatana' or ' faculty' and these six inner sense bases are called as the 'six inner faculties' in Lord Buddha's teachings. They are the Eyes, Ears, Nose, Tongue, Body and Mind. Since everybody is aware of what we normally call as the Eyes, Ears etc. no great explanation is needed at this point. Later these needs to be talked about in more details.

The challenge is to understand about the mind which cannot be cognized as easily as the five other sense bases. So the task in front of us is to understand some aspects of the mind which can further be developed to understand in detail as we move on.


The first lesson

Would you like to be relaxed and to do a little experiment yourself?

Here's how. The bed time will be ideal for this and one should have been devoided of alcohol or any such things with a healthy comfortable status of the mind. One needs to be alone , say in the bed lying face up, with a palm of a hand placed above stomach and the other palm placed over the fingers of the hand touching the body with a relaxed body posture , with closed eyes and with lights turned off. You are so relaxed now . There are no distracting sounds like noisy fans, big noises by the wayside traffic, music by your neighbors at high volume for instance. Though your eyes are closed, you should not let the sleep come in. Do not try to concentrate or follow the thoughts coming to your mind. Little by little, you will notice your mind start recognizing things. Since your eyes are closed, your other sense organs will come into play more prominently now. You will start to hear subtle noises around you which you did not hear earlier like a distant barking of a dog or the faint sound of the refrigerator whining at the pantry. If you direct your mind towards the nose, you will feel the breath in and breath out of your lungs and the movement of the stomach with the breathing. The quality of the air surrounding you through smell will become more noticeable now. Also you will feel the wetness of the tongue and any movements of it being positioned inside the mouth. Your body will notice the coolness or the hotness in the room or the breeze coming from the air conditioner. You will feel the touch of our hands on your body also. Being in this way for some time will make you aware of yourself with the mind being more relaxed than when you were awake and at work. This is not a meditation method but a stepping stone to the inner world of yourself.

Now try to think what took place in the above scenario. Your eyes were devoid of letting your mind getting messages through it but was allowed to get messages through ears, nose, tongue,body and thoughts. You noticed some sort of function done by the mind you usually miss when you are involved in your normal day to day activities.


Being a Slave of the Mind

The way we act on our usual way, it is the mind which controls us without we being aware of it. The mind is such a clever thing, it fools us completely if we let it become our master. The mind craves for satisfaction or demanding pleasant things always. That is the nature of it. We always want to gratify it giving into it's demands. The eyes will be pleased if they can have a glimpse of pleasant things that the mind craves for. To gratify that demand, you will try to find those resources by taking your body physically to that place or the event. To hear the pleasant sounds by ears, your mind is craving for, you will try to find those resources by taking your body physically to that place or the event. To gratify the craving of the mind for the pleasant smell through the nose, the body will avoid all the places that you get any foul smell. We use perfumes to overcome the unpleasant body ordure coming to our nose. One will close the nose immediately by fingers in a quick reflex to avoid any foul smell reaching the nose. Throughout our life , we avoid to live in places the mind will react adversely on the smell. The desires of the tongue are so immense, that we crave for delicious food all the time. How much we spend to eat delicious food and drink beverages will be no secret to anyone. Even at the risk of getting into unhealthiness, people crave for food and drinks that the mind will demand for. All that food and drinks is to touch a portion of the small organ of tongue to convey a pleasant feeling to the mind for that duration the food is in contact with the tongue. To have a heartful of Taste bud satisfaction, we will take our body literally even hundreds of kilometers with great expectations to satisfy the pleasure of the mind. One is well aware that the body will always crave for pleasant feelings. Any severe physical pain will be the last thing a person might want. All of us are afraid of diseases because they bring us harm to our body. It is to make the body's craving for pleasant feelings, that humans longs for a comfortable home, Air conditioning, clothing, and transportation to move your body to places without the need of carrying the burden of the body weight on your legs. To fulfil the sexual desires the body craves for, you will need fellow humans as partners. Through out the life, great amount of time , resources, effort and means will be spent by humans for satisfying this desire which sometimes even leads to the downfall of a person.


Well, we need to deliver what the mind demands if you correctly followed the previous situations described. If we cannot deliver what it demands, then we become Unhappy! If we can make the mind happy, at all the times, then no one needs to read stuff like these anyway. Alas, we fail to deliver the goods the mind demands and become a failure! Then Unhappiness creeps in and makes life difficult for us. Here we need a solution that should be 100% foolproof. Are we getting that? How about you? Was it always the happiness you experienced? No unhappiness? Did you have good solutions that worked well always for your unhappiness? If so just fine. Or else we need to look for a solution.


Who monitors the Mind?

Now back to the First Lesson again. The setup is as earlier but this time we will do four different things.


Concentrate on your ears and listen for the sounds coming in for a minute or two.

Concentrate on your nose and feel the breathing and air through the nose for a minute or two.

Concentrate on your tongue and feel the status of it for a minute or two.

Concentrate on your body and feel the touch due to the surrounding atmosphere, hotness or coldness, softness of the pillow or the mattress, the touch of the clothes you are wearing and touch of the each hand etc. for a minute or two.

Repeat this once or twice again.


Now there were several activities done by the mind as described above. Is not all those activities manipulated by something else apart from the mind? What instructed the mind first to focus on all those activities one by one and to repeat again? Did not it proceed to do it in that sequence. How did the mind get manipulated? Was it not under your control to make the mind to do as you wanted? Did you have a glimpse of something which could inform, send a message, ask the mind to do something or direct the mind?

If you got a feeling of such a thing, that is going to be the most important discovery you make on yourself. If one discovers this latent facility , the utmost hidden talent within each one of us, one would bound to be the master of one's self using this facility to the goodness of that person. You can call it the free will if you like.



Found the Monitor of the Mind - The ' manasikara'

The Gautama Buddha, self discovering the ultimate truth and the nature of this universe, all by himself, without a teacher, gave everything without holding back any of his knowledge to the Buddha's disciples.

The ability to control the mind at own will of the man was shown and greatly explained by the Lord Buddha. The above facility which has an ability to direct the mind to its requirements, is called ' manasikara' . This is a most important factor Lord Buddha has disclosed, as the beneficial aspect of this Manasikara or the ' yoniso manasikara ' is made used to reach the ultimate goal in Buddha's Teachings, leading one to Nibbana or the Enlightenment.


More on Mind and Consciousness from Buddha's Sutta Discourses


from the Known to the Unknown- way the path to be treaded


Consider that you are learning a subject matter in the hope of becoming, say a professional in that field. If you were to sit for an examination on the subject, and if the exam paper consists with eight questions needed to be answered in two hours and you are to answer all the eight questions. How would you tackle the task if you only knew answers for five questions and had poor knowledge on the three tough questions.

If you started to answer the toughest questions at first, you will struggle all those two hours without answering the questions you knew well. So the outcome might be that you will not even get the minimum pass marks to that paper since you have not written the answers for those questions that you even knew of. Having no chance to pursue the subject matter further , you would not be able to achieve what you have aimed for.

What if you answered the five known questions first and trying the the tough ones last ? You will probably secure well above the pass marks and get even a credit pass and would be able to pursue the subject further as you get qualified for the next stage of the subject. Ultimately you will be able to learn the subject thoroughly to fulfil your aim.

Two approaches and two different outcomes. Which one would have your approval and liking ?


So with correct approach you can get positive results for a problem. The choice is yours but your intelligence also matters here.


Think of Buddha's Teachings the same way. Try from what can be understood and agreed upon at first and get familiar with the basics clearly and proceed towards the more elaborate later. Do not be haste. Unless you have confidence in your teacher, you cannot become a successful pupil.


'Ehi Passiko" - One can come and inquire with mindfulness on Dhamma

It is one of the six factors of the Dhamma.


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