Is the Mind Immortal?


By Dr David Fawley

While the body matures and ceases to grow around the age of twenty-five, the mind usually does not fully mature until around the age of fifty, and can keep growing as long as one is alive.

The mind’s ability to transcend death is reflected in the phenomenon of rebirth, which depends upon the mind being able to survive death and take on a new body. In the case of ordinary rebirth, the mind falls into a deep slumber and its memories of the previous life are almost entirely lost before awakening in the new life. Yet after following higher yoga practices, one can carry much of one’s mind and intelligence into the next birth and maintain a continuity of awareness after death.

According to yogic thought, the mind is by nature undying, though it does go through phases of manifestation and rest. The mind does not die with the death of the physical body. It simply undergoes a period of withdrawal, followed by a new active phase after awakening in a new body. The inner core mind carries the samskaras or karmic tendencies that propel us from one birth to another. That inner mind survives the death of the body and its tendencies take it on to a new body.

Yet it is only the core of the mind that has this immortality, not our ordinary outer mind and ego, with its personal thoughts, emotions and memories bound to the outer world of the current birth. At the time of death the mind is reduced to its core tendencies, much like the latent state of the mind in the state of deep sleep. The outer aspect of the mind is dissolved and only the inner core of the mind goes on to another birth. this means that the immortality of the mind is limited and broken by the death of the body, hidden by an ignorance that prevents the ordinary person benefiting from it, and making it difficult for them access past life skills and wisdom. Most of us cannot experience our mind’s greater existence beyond the body because we cannot sustain our awareness after death from one life to another. But it is something that we can learn to develop.

Higher yoga practices allow us to contact the hidden immortality at the core of the mind and gradually spread it to the rest of the mind, making it eventually into a conscious possession of our daily awareness. Great yogis carry their personalities and minds into successive births. The more evolved a soul becomes, the more it holds its mind and intelligence through the reincarnation process, not losing it at death. For such exalted souls, death and rebirth are like going to sleep at night and waking up in the morning.

Death is an illusion of our outer experience through the mind, not an enduring truth of our inmost Self. Death is perhaps the ultimate illusion, whose veil we must rend asunder to find our true reality. It is the body that dies, not us as the masters of the body.

Death only affects the body and the mind, which are but the instruments of the spirit, and like any instrument are subject to friction, decay and ultimate destruction. The body is our outer instrument somewhat like our automobile, necessary to take us places in the material world that is the main focus of our outer existence. But the body is not who we really are and its fulfillment is not our true fulfillment. The mind is our inner instrument, something like our computer, necessary for us to deal with information, particularly about the external world. It is crucial for our outer functioning.

God or spirit or consciousness or being, who operates these two instruments (like the person who operates the car or the computer ) is not limited by their functioning.

Death is just a moment in time in which we transition from one realm of experience to another, nothing more than a doorway. For our inner being, death can be a release from the ego and its endless desires. It is a means of purifying our outer nature so that we can grow more spiritually in another life.