The ‘self’ has got no transactional activity with this world. It just is. Then how do we see movements and happenings in this world? Sri Adi Sankaracharya explains in the Atma Bodha that the inert body, the highly volatile and active mind and the comparatively steady intellect are all dependent for their functioning on the consciousness that emerges from the source called the ‘self’.
The body draws its raw physical power to move about and do a million activities within and without its frame, using power from that same source. How is it possible? Try not eating or drinking water for a long period of time. You will realise how weak the body becomes. So it draws its power only from food then, you may argue. Try taking food specially for this observation and see what happens.
How does the chewing happen? How does the mouthful get swallowed by the throat? How does it go to the stomach? Understand and observe what happens in the stomach. What kind of acids are produced, how the food is churned, how the nutrients are absorbed and circulated and how the waste is finally ejected. The body is so simple and compact, and yet it accomplishes work on a daily basis that even giant machines cannot do so with such great finesse, continuously and in such a short period of time.
The mind too draws power from this consciousness. By itself, it is inert. However, when activated by consciousness, the mind becomes a dynamic entity. While we sleep at night, the mind is withdrawn from its favourite field of objects that it reaches out to through the five sense organs of action and perception. When it is withdrawn, even though consciousness enlivens it, it is not functioning. Yet we see dreams which are nothing but a mental activity of throwing out undigested thoughts. We see a dream and understand it is a dream only because of the presence of consciousness which enlivens it.
The intellect is the feeling deep within the recess of our heart. This feeling creates a thought in the mind. The thought gets spelt out a little more concretely as words, and the words finally consolidate themselves into actions. When the action is done, they leave behind a residue in the mind called an impression which is nothing but a feeling or a thought again.
The Acharya says that the three equipment—body, mind and intellect—continue to do their work in the presence of consciousness just as in the presence of the rising sun, the physical bodies of plants, animals and humans go about doing their day-to-day routine day in and day out.