This is the Key to Understanding the Impressionable Human Mind

Every perception leaves an impression on the mind. This perception could be through the senses or through the memory of a perception. Every action also produces a mark on the mind. That is because while performing an action, the mind refers to previous perceptions and also makes new ones. An action could be one that produces some material effect or one that produces knowledge.

Understanding the human mind

The action that produces a material effect impresses the mind not only by the action itself but by the qualities of the material produced by such action. For instance, if one is engaged in the action of cooking, it involves the mind broadly at two levels: the process of cooking and analysing or assimilating what has been cooked.

The recipe is remembered and the earlier or previous experiences regarding such cooking come to mind—how the food tasted, smelled, and looked like. The mind relives the entire experience. Some experiences are accentuated, some others attenuated.



Thus the first part of the action of cooking is to remember or draw from memory the previous cooking experiences. However, this memory shifts into action again. The recipe and the related experiences in the mind come out as action. Only this time, there are many changes. So, every time one cooks, one also modifies one’s memory of cooking.

This cycle of unending retrieval of memory and its modification enforces and adjusts the impressions of such actions that the mind holds. So, the experience one has of any kind of action is not an isolated memory or even a series of memories, but a constantly modified version of what is derived out of various instances of recalling and re-acting. Hence, no experience is made up of just one incident.


Human experiences or life experiences are complicated and so are their memories. Though we’ supposed that when one cooks, the previous memories of cooking alone are recalled. But in reality what is recalled is any experience that resembles any of the experiences that occur while cooking. If the cook sees a particular colour of food, they are reminded of the object with same colour. The same is true for appearance and smell of the food that is cooked. That would mean that even if a person were to cook for the first time, there would be numerous experiences that that person would recall.

Mind impressions happens for three reasons: what the mind is made up of, its dual nature, and primal ignorance. Once created, impressions on the mind work in cycles, creating further impressions till it is rid of all dualistic leanings. Mind can be free of suffering only on its annihilation. Control of thoughts and practice of detachment are all some of the several methods to kill the mind. The search for spiritual knowledge is an attempt to lose one’s individuality and get identified with the one whole.

Author: Swami NarasimhanandaA monk of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Swami Narasimhananda is currently the editor of Prabuddha Bharata, an English monthly journal devoted to the social sciences and the humanities, started in 1896 by Swami Vivekananda. He is a visiting faculty at the Jadavpur University, Kolkata and an adjunct faculty at the Hindu University of America, Orlando, USA. He regularly speaks at institutes of national importance like the IITs and interacts with the youth in various academic institutions. Besides working on philosophy, social sciences, religion, Indian Studies, Spirituality and Management, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda, and Vedanta, he has edited a volume of Swami Vivekananda’s teachings titled Vivekananda Reader. He writes in English, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, and Malayalam and is currently working on English translations of Svarajya Siddhi and Maitrayani Upanishad.

1 thought on “This is the Key to Understanding the Impressionable Human Mind

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons