As economic development progresses, the consumption of energy is also increasing at a fast rate. As a result, man is engaged in exploring new sources of energy. The use of atomic energy for the generation of power has given some relief though it has serious environmental problems. However, since it can solve the problem of the energy crisis to a great extent, the subject of atomic energy becomes important for all.
When my son was preparing for the class X examination, I guided him in science. When I went through the chapter on atomic energy, I found it very interesting and drew some very interesting lessons from it. This is what I am going to share here. Here, some background of the concept of atomic energy is required. An atom consists of three basic particles, namely, protons, neutrons and electrons. The protons and neutrons are located in the nucleus and the electrons revolve around the
nucleus in different orbits. A large amount of energy is released when the nucleus of a heavy atom is broken into two or more smaller nuclei. Similarly, when the nuclei of two or more lighter atoms are made to merge into each other, resulting in a heavier nucleus, then also a large amount of energy is released. The former is known as Nuclear Fission and the latter is known as Nuclear Fusion. Such reactions take place under certain special conditions. If we are able to create these conditions, the reaction can take place on a large scale also. The energy, thus released, is known as atomic energy. If controlled, this energy can be used for running a power plant and if not, the same energy can turn into an atom bomb.
So far, the control of the reaction has been possible in fission and not in fusion. The fuel or the radioactive substance commonly used in fission is uranium. When the nucleus of uranium is bombarded by a neutron, it breaks into two smaller nuclei and simultaneously, three neutrons accompanied with a large amount of energy are produced. These three neutrons again bombard three other nuclei of uranium and the process is repeated again and again. If the number of neutrons bombarding the uranium nuclei is controlled, we get energy at a constant rate which can be used for good purposes, otherwise the same device can have a disastrous effect in the form of a bomb. The control of the reaction is done by controlling the speed and the number of neutrons and for this we use a moderator and controlling rods in the reactor. When the reaction is in total control, the energy is released at a constant rate and can be used for power generation.
I shall now compare this phenomenon with the human mind. The human mind is also like a radioactive substance which keeps on emitting various thoughts. The thoughts are of various kinds but we can classify them in two categories. Some thoughts are active in nature while the others are passive. Active thoughts make the mind act and in the process, the power of the mind is made use of. Such thoughts may be called desires. Passive thoughts, on the other hand, do not make the mind act, but are simply observed by the mind. Thus active thoughts or desires can be compared with moving particles like neutrons, protons, etc., and the mind with a heavy radioactive nucleus, like uranium. When active thoughts strike it, tremendous energy is emitted by the mind like that in Nuclear Fission. However, to make good use of this power, certain conditions similar to those in a nuclear reactor should exist.
First of all, we should have a neutral attitude towards desires like the neutrality of a neutron. It means that an attitude of detachment should be developed towards our desires. It does not mean that desires should be absent but that they should be controlled. Only the neutral or detached thoughts are in a position to make the best use of our tremendous mental energy. Secondly, the speed of a neutron has to be at its optimum level. Either too much or too little will lead to no action. In the same way, active thoughts should neither be very fast nor very slow. That is to say, that moderation is required in our thinking so that our thoughts are able to tap the maximum energy of the mind which exists in abundance. This condition suggests that our lifestyle should be moderate in order to make the maximum use of our power.
The third condition is also very important. In a nuclear reactor, each neutron gives rise to three neutrons which have to be controlled after a point. The human mind also generates more and more desires which then strike the mind harder and make it release more power. Up to an extent, this increase is healthy because the mind’s potential is used in a positive manner. However, beyond a point, the generation of more desires becomes destructive. Therefore, it is necessary to absorb or control these additional desires to make the best use of the mind, very much like controlling the number of neutrons in the reactor.
Thus, detachment, moderation and regulation are three essential conditions for making the best use of our mind power. If any one of these is missing, the mind’s power will either remain unused or will become destructive. How to achieve these conditions is not the subject here but achieving them is certainly possible. It is up to us to use the mind either as a ‘Power Plant’ or as an ‘Atom Bomb’.