I often hear you saying that every child comes to this world with an empty mind, as a tabula rasa. How is it possible that we, in spite of this, carry memories and conditionings from past lives? Would you please say something about this?
One distinction has to be understood, the distinction between brain and mind. The brain is part of the body. Every child is born with a fresh brain but not with a fresh mind. Mind is a layer of conditioning around the consciousness. You will not remember it; that is why there is a discontinuity.
In each life, when a person dies the brain dies; but the mind is released from the brain and becomes a layer on the consciousness. It is non-material; it is just a certain vibe. So on our consciousness there are thousands of layers.
Whenever I have said that a child is born with a mind as a tabula rasa, I meant the brain. The mind is very ancient, as ancient as existence. It has no beginning but it has an end. The day you are able to drop all those layers accumulated over centuries, mind dies. It has an end.
In the same reference it has to be understood that enlightenment has a beginning but no end. Then you can connect them both. Mind has no beginning; it has always been there with you. Then at a certain moment you drop it. And the end of the mind is enlightenment. Then enlightenment continues. It has a beginning but no end. Together they cover the whole eternity, from the past to the future.
But the brain is born every time you enter a body and it dies every time you leave the body. But its content – that is the mind – does not die; it remains with the consciousness. That’s why it is possible to remember your past lives – even when you were animals or trees or rocks. All those minds are still with you. But because psychology makes no distinction between mind and brain, and science accepts no distinction, in the English language mind and brain are almost synonymous. That’s why sometimes I forget and instead of using brain, I use the word mind.
In languages where a deep search has been made into the inner reality there are many words describing different phenomena. In those languages there is a word for brain which cannot be in any way confused with mind. The English word has also come from Sanskrit, manas. It has come as mind, but manas means each layer; then there will be animal manas, vegetable manas, as many different stages of evolution as you have passed.
And in Sanskrit the whole is not called manas, the whole is called chittam. It is called chittam because it is not part and parcel of the body, but part and parcel of consciousness. Consciousness in Sanskrit is chetana. Because it clings to chetana it is chittam. Those languages are clear-cut about the words, their meanings. But the reason is clear: they have worked and found these differences.