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three brains
Our Three Brains and Personality

What are the Three Brains and Five Centers?

"Perfect mental equilibrium is of vital importance for those who want spiritual progress. Almost all the aspirants of esotericism easily lose their mental equilibrium and usually fall into the most absurd things. Whosoever yearns for direct knowledge must ensure that their minds are in perfect equilibrium." —Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony

Psychological Equilibrium

To have equilibrium is to have balance. Someone with good balance retains their posture even when surprised or impacted by terrific force. To do this physically is very easy. To do this psychologically is not.

Psychological equilibrium requires education, training, and practice.

First, one needs to know what needs balancing.

By observing oneself, it is easy to see that we have three primary areas of psychological activity:

  • Thoughts, ideas, concepts, reasoning, comparing
  • Emotions, feelings, sentiments
  • Impulses, sensations, movements

We are constantly dealing with these three aspects of our psychology, but they are not organized or balanced. We do not know how to control them, or use them at the right moment, or — perhaps most important — how to turn them off, and let them rest.

These three types of psychological activity each have their own mechanism, a machine that processes them. They are called our "three brains."

Three Brains

Esoteric psychology explains that humanoids have three brains:

  1. an intellectual brain
  2. emotional brain
  3. a motor/instinctual/sexual brain

These are not "physical brains" or physical matter. Rather, they are psychological divisions of organized activity managed by a kind of psychological machine: a tool designed to handle a certain task. Each brain functions and operates independent of the others, and each one has a host of jobs and duties that only it can accomplish.

The intellectual brain is how we experience thoughts. It does not and can not handle emotions. Likewise, the emotional brain is designed to process emotions. It has nothing to do with logic or reasoning. So, these two brains are totally distinct from one another.

The third brain handles the psychological functions of the body, such as impulses, sensations, and movement. When analyzed in more detail, the third brain is understood as having three distinct functions. Thus, the three brains can also be called the five centers.

Five Centers

  1. intellectual center, located within the brain: processing of thought; reasoning, logic
  2. emotional center, located in the solar plexus and in the specific nervous centers of the grand sympathetic nervous system: emotions, feelings
  3. motor center or the center of movement, located in the upper part of the dorsal spine: activities of movement, habits, actions of the physical body
  4. instinctual center, located in the lower part of the dorsal spine: root impulses and functions of the organism that are not conscious: digestion, survival instinct, etc.
  5. sexual center, located in the genital organs: creation, reproduction, growth, and much more

It easy to understand these functions intellectually, with our intellectual center. It is something else to observe them in activity, and something even greater to learn how to control them all from moment to moment.

Herein lies our problem: we may be aware that we have thoughts, feelings, and impulses, but we generally identify with one of these over the others. Each of us has learned to rely on one brain. That is why people tend to fall into three modes of behavior:

  • intellectuals who try to manage everything logically
  • emotional types who make all decisions and actions based on how they feel
  • impulsive types who act before they think about it, or know how they really feel about it

And these three types do not understand each other.

All three are mistaken, not only because they have neglected two important parts of themselves, but because they have neglected the most important part.


Consciousness is the root of who we truly are. Consciousness is the root of perception, awareness, and understanding.

  • Consciousness is not thought (intellect).
  • Consciousness is not emotion (heart).
  • Consciousness is not impulse or sensation (motor/instinctual/sexual).

Consciousness perceives all of them, but is beyond them.

The only way to balance our three brains is to become centered in our consciousness from moment to moment. This is to be aware, awake, watchful, constantly. This occurs without thought, emotion, or impulse.

This requires many years of training, constant observation and continually expanding awareness of oneself.

The best way to learn to use the consciousness and control the three brains is by learning self-observation and authentic meditation.

Suffering and Our Three Brains

Each brain or center is a machine that utilizes and transforms specific types of energy. When utilized consciously and intelligently, they harmonize and elevate the human being. Yet, when abused or misused, great disequilibrium, suffering, illness, and even death can result.

"In general, all sicknesses are the outcome of the wrong use of the three brains." —Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah

All of us are suffering many sicknesses, not just physically, but psychologically: sadness, loneliness, anger, depression, resentment, manias, obsessions... all are sicknesses due to disequilibrium.

The antidote for all of our sicknesses is to strengthen our consciousness, and learn to use it from moment to moment. The consciousness is the seed of the soul, and our connection to divinity. It is our symbolic "David," the small child that must conquer our inner "Goliath": our many psychological defects, our many "I's."

We learn about the causes of our suffering by studying our defects, and how they control our three brains.

"The "I" exercises control over the five inferior centers of the human machine. [...] Whosoever wants to dissolve the "I" must study its functionalism within the five inferior centers. We must not condemn the defects; we must not justify them either. What is important is to comprehend them. It is urgent to comprehend the actions and reactions of the human machine. Each one of these five inferior centers has a whole set of extremely complicated actions and reactions. The "I" works with each one of these five inferior centers. Therefore, by deeply comprehending the whole mechanism of each one of these centers, we are on our way to dissolving the "I." —Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony

From moment to moment, learn to observe your three brains, and study how they behave. The question is: who is controlling them? Why are they bringing these thoughts, emotions, and impulses? And instead of mechanically reacting to whatever your three brains are doing, learn to respond consciously, with willpower. You can choose to think what you will. You can choose your emotions. You can choose to act or not to act. But to do this, you must first be conscious of your self in the present moment, and capable of restraining your three brains from acting mechanically, automatically.

Balancing the Three Brains

"A perfect equilibrium between personality and Essence, the harmonious development of thought, emotion, and movement, and a revolutionary ethics are what constitute the basis of a fundamental education." —Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education

"In the staged arts of long ago, the individual would receive information in his three brains: motor, emotional, and intellectual.  In the schools of today however, only the intellectual brain receives information. Neurosis and the sick states of the mind are due to this. Mental disequilibrium is avoided by balancing the three brains." —Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah

The Right Tool for the Job

In your self-observation, learn to use your three brains for the tasks they are suited to do.

Most people use one brain for everything.

  • The intellectuals try to handle everything with logic and reasoning.
  • Emotional people try to handle everything with how they feel about it.
  • Impulsive people are controlled by their impulses, by sensations: chasing what feels good.

Each are mistaken.

To have equilibrium is to have balance. It is to know how to use each brain for the right task at the right moment.

  • It is mistaken to use intellect to understand how someone feels.
  • It is mistaken to use the impulsive brain to solve a problem that requires logical thought.
  • It is mistaken to rely on emotions to take care of something that requires physical action: for instance, taking out the trash or taking a shower only requires the movement of the body, but some people find such actions emotionally irritating or distressing, and will not do it. They are imbalanced.

When you know how to control your three brains consciously, you keep your psychological balance even when things get difficult. When our consciousness is awake and active, we can choose to use each brain when it is needed, otherwise it is at rest. In such a person, there is no chaotic constant stream of random thoughts, contradictory and confusing emotions, and surging impulses. Instead, their psychological atmosphere is quiet, open, receptive, serene, and capable of handling immense difficulty with grace, patience, intelligence, and compassion.

Use Each Brain Every Day

Over the course of each day, be sure that you have used all three brains equally and consciously, and that you also have time not using any of them.

  • Use your intellect consciously to handle situations that require logic and reasoning, and when you are done, turn the intellect off. It is also good to nourish the intellect daily with good and useful knowledge. The best way to do this is to study the practical spiritual teachings every day.
  • Use your emotional brain consciously to handle situations that require understanding, empathy, intuition, compassion, and when you are done, turn that brain off. It is also important to avoid negative emotions. For instance, do not watch shows that disturb you emotionally, or that display negative values like violence, lust, cruelty. Instead,  everyday nourish your emotional center with superior emotions. Chant mantras, listen to superior music that charges your heart with inspiration and love, do good deeds to help others, etc.
  • Use your motor/instinctual/sexual brain consciously to handle situations that require action, work, labor, movement, and when you are done, let that brain rest. It is also good to nourish this brain daily with exercise, good food, and clean water, and sexual transmutation practices, such as pranayama, rites for rejuvenation, runes, etc.

All of this can be very challenging, especially since many jobs require the use of one brain for many hours at a time. Someone who analyzes data or code all day may be using only their intellect for 8-10 hours at a time. Someone who deals with angry customers all day may be using their emotional brain all day long. A laborer or a cook will be using only their motor/instinctual/sexual brain all day long. Each of these situations lead to exhaustion of that brain, and great disequilibrium. So, when not at work, use your other brains to balance yourself. If your job requires the use of your intellect all day long, it is foolish to go home and continue using your intellect. Such a person should dedicate time every day to using their emotional brain and their motor/instinctual/sexual brain.

Finally, and very importantly, it is essential that you also learn how to rest all three brains: to turn them off. The best way to do this is to learn authentic meditation. In real meditation, one does not use any of the three brains. Each one must become perfectly still, motionless, leaving only the consciousness active and awake. In this way, you strengthen and develop the consciousness, the very source of your spiritual potential, and the only thing you will take with you after death.

To learn more, read the book Fundamentals of Gnostic Education by Samael Aun Weor.

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