What is mind and how should it be used?
For mind, there are various definitions such as ''The apparatus to understand, Ability to think, Intelligence, Reason'' and ''In a material heart and soul, a spiritual light which is located in the ray of the brain.''
Philosophers interpret differently and described it with different ways; but there can be shown no single definition on which they all have agreed. What does that mean? It means that human beings have not yet comprehended the true nature of their minds.
Here is a beautiful definition of mind: ''Mind is an essence independent of the matter with its nature but has to do with it with its actions.''
How is it that it is both independent of the matter and has to do with it? The following example may shed light on the matter.
We can easily touch a working refrigerator or a washing machine and we do not get an electric shock. That is to say, electricity does not exist in that apparatus with its nature but has to do with it with its actions. There is a similar correlation, if not the same, between mind and brain.
So many things have been said about the duty of mind. One of them, which is quite agreed on, is as follows: ''Mind is apparatus to understand.''
If mind is apparatus, there is supposed to be someone who uses it. Obviously, whoever looks by using eyes and whoever tastes by using tongue, it must be again him that understands by using mind. This is nothing but spirit. While warning someone who is doing something wrong, we say, Use your mind.'' We are unlikely to use this phrase for someone's hands, arms or internal organs.
The spirit from which we expect to use its mind cannot define mind. How come? It is even unaware of its own true nature, is ignorant of it too.
Every instrument has a capacity and every scale has minimum and maximum weights, which it could weigh. With a weighing machine of 1 ton, neither ten tones of iron nor ten grams of gold can be weighed. In both cases, the machine would not give us an idea, it would just remain motionless.
Each of man's senses is like a scale. Likewise, man cannot see germs with naked eyes nor the stars, whose lights have not reached our world at all. A microscope, a telescope broadens their visibility a bit but cannot get out of certain boundaries. It is also the case for man's hearing and smelling too.
Let us come to the point of 'understanding'. Man, who thinks of handling every instrument properly, who overloads none of them beyond their power, forgets all measurements and attempts to load everything onto it when mind is in question. He struggles to understand even the subtlest subjects of the metaphysical field, to work out the deepest problems, to discover the remotest realities. However there are particular fields where mind can function. On some points, it is not true for man even to have a guess, let alone speak.
There are so many fields where mind cannot go without a guide. One of them is that: Why was the universe created?
Mind can say something only about how universe was created. The aim of its creation goes beyond the boundary of mind. Man, in this valley, must only listen to reason and the words of Allah (SWT) Who created the universe.
Man can comprehend through his mind that every being was created on wisdom and with a particular purpose and he himself cannot be unsupervised. However, he himself cannot decide what he should do for his Creator. He may understand that every favor requires thanks but cannot have a guess how to do that.
Another field where mind cannot come near alone is the Person of Allah. How man, who has not yet understood the nature of his mind and spirit, dares to speak about this issue?
The other issues are death and the Hereafter; grave, resurrection, judgment, reward and punishment. To have a guess about them is also beyond the power of mind. What reason does necessitate is to comply with the Divine Decree completely on this or similar points.
If your mind is dull, let the sun of the Quran shine on you. Look with the light of belief, and instead of the firefly of your own mind. Each verse of the Quran will illumine you like a star. (Bediuzzaman, The Words)
Those who get touched by the Holy Quran reach the light, they become as if they were born anew. Their narrow minds are immediately widened, their blind eyes open. In the fields where they previously could not take a step, they start to make way, to soar and to fly. But verily this is to some extent because they are limited as servants and creatures.
In reality, there is only one path for mind. This is to follow the Revelation itself by ignoring any others words.
The history of philosophy is full of debates over mind. In those debates, it was considered in detail what mind was, on the other hand, it was not generally taken into consideration how it should be used. Nevertheless, the second is far more significant than the first.
It is well known that if man knows how to use a tool he can easily make use of it. He need not know its subtleties.
Let us read the translation of the following Quranic Verse:
They ask thee concerning the Spirit (of inspiration).Say: The Spirit (cometh) by command of my Lord: of knowledge, it is only a little that is communicated to you, (O men!). (Al-Isra Surah, 17:85)
This divine message absolutely is acceptable for mind too. As a matter of fact, words like spirit, heart, and mind are used to suggest the same meaning. Whereas some regard mind as the quality of the spirit, on the other hand, some others regard the words mind, spirit, and heart as different names of the same nature.
Yes, in both the Holy Quran and in the words (hadith) of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), it is focused on how to use mind rather than its nature. So many exemplary scenes are introduced to human mind such as the creation of the space and the earth, the creation phases of man, the usefulness of mountains and rivers, the worthiness of bees for inspiration, resemblance of the Spring to the Resurrection. Moreover, he is expected to think, to understand, and to be thankful.