Until the early 17th century, scientists, philosophers, and theologians – from both the West and the East – recognized that our subconscious minds influenced who we are and the world we live in. These intellectuals also concurred that knowledge of one’s mind is as important as knowledge of the physical world. But, now, a few prominent scientists (e.g., Stephen Hawking) are declaring that only knowledge obtained from objective sources – implying scientific sources – is relevant and knowledge from other sources – e.g., experience, intuition, or spirituality – are only subjective beliefs or false knowledge. Before we accept this contention, let us ask ourselves: do we know enough about the workings of our inner mind to discard its’ messages as false knowledge?

There are two aspects to our minds: the conscious and the subconscious.
Scientists have contributed immensely to our understanding of the conscious mind. Although Carl Jung, father of analytical psychology, says that the subconscious mind influences who we are and how we act, we know very little about how it functions. Recent advancements, e.g., functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), helps scientists examine the brain and its reactions using a three-dimensional view. Yet, these experiments are unable to explain why there is a disconnect between our mental picture and physical reality. For example, behavioral economists observed individuals investing in stock markets are often influenced by factors irrelevant to a stock’s performance while claiming they are making rational decisions. Scientists and psychologists attribute the inconsistencies between reality and subconscious actions to the influence of our subconscious minds and to hidden forces lurking within it. They emphasize that even a slight change in our mental picture affects how we perceive and how we react. For example, when participants were given two unmarked soft-drinks, they were unable to determine which one tasted better.

However, when the same soft-drinks were marked with a price, one priced twice more than the other, participants claimed that the expensive one tasted better. The example shows that the subconscious mind is not merely recording a physical reality, e.g., taste, but it is also creating an alternate reality for us.

Although the discoveries about the subconscious mind appear new, they are not. Thousands of years ago, Vedic scholars from India had perceived the inconsistencies between our conscious and subconscious minds. They recognized that who we are and who we could be, is influenced by our subconscious minds. They urged us to inquire more into our inner minds at the deepest level so that we could understand ourselves and also evolve to a higher state of being. Therefore, if we ignore our inner minds because they are subjective”, we do so at our own peril. As Physicist Mlodinow says, “if you really want to overcome many of the obstacles that prevent you from living your fullest, richest life, you need to understand the influence of the subliminal world that is hidden within you.”

Dr. Ram S. Sriram