This article is a follow-up to What is Mind, exploring the consequences.
We know from physics that the world around us does not look the way we perceive it. Our senses pick up a narrow range of certain spectrum only. We don’t see vibrating fields but solid objects. We hear movements in the air as sound. We feel surface tension as solidity.
Our senses take in narrow bands of the available spectrum of information. Yet even within those ranges, our senses take in vastly more information than we “notice.” The mind compares everything to past experiences, filtering heavily for hazard, relevance, and interest. We screen everything else out before the information reaches the conscious mind.
We’re also designed for one-at-a-time experiences, what Buckminster Fuller called special case. We can experience a very large and inclusive thing but can only notice one detail at a time. For example, we can’t have distinct conversations with multiple people simultaneously (some beings can) nor look at every star in the sky at the same time. We can look at an area of the sky or a star but not both at once.
The mind uses a model of the world and processes sensory input into that context. We have a shared reality baseline. This means we share a similar vision of the world with those around us. However we each interpret that experience distinctly and live as if in our own world. We only notice the distinctions when comparing our perceptions with others.
If we spend time in another culture, we discover ways in which their shared reality differs.
I suspect we inherit the world-model from our parents in a similar way to how we model them energetically. We evolve our model through life experiences and choices. But it’s very difficult to see outside the box we live in. How do we process an experience that changes our sense of reality?
Essentially, our perceived world is a mental appearance that allows us to function in the world and interact with others. But the assumption that this is reality is an error. An error that leads to untold suffering.
To be clear, I’m not saying the world is an illusion, although that point can be argued. Only that a mind-based perspective is very limited. We’re capable of so much more.
To understand this, let’s look at what mind is. Mind is lively consciousness that has become dense enough to create a stable field. Because consciousness is nested, mind also is. There is what I call a cosmic mind, a universal mind, then progressively more localized layers. The group consciousness of a community has what others have called group-think or group mind.
Our local mind is a field that surrounds our whole body. Yet we experience mind as being “in the head” because of the dominance of our senses there – 4 of the 5 sense organs are in the head.
More accurately, our body is an expression of more subtle layers, including the mind. We don’t experience the mind itself until we can look back on it from a higher level. What we usually experience is the content in the mind. We notice thoughts, ideas, and impressions as they move through the mind.
One of the most important impressions in the mind is the self-sense. At an early age, the intellect learns to distinguish self from mother. We develop a mental concept of self, an I-sense. Then we attach many related concepts to that like I am small, I am good at math, I like figs, and on and on.
It is useful to have that self-sense so we can relate to the world around us and make good choices. But if we don’t have a sense of our deeper reality, we get caught in that child’s sense of self and become attached and identified with the passing content of our mind rather than what is behind all that.
The world is vastly greater than what we can perceive with our physical senses. Our true nature is as well.
The adult self-sense is an amalgam of overlays on the inner child. A complex of interrelated self-concepts develops, many of which are no longer true, or were based on false assumptions. I am small, for example, can persist long past when it was true.
All of this is founded on a narrow perception of reality and our place in it. Typically we don’t learn our larger context but learn to resist the things we don’t want and grasp at what we do. This leads to suffering.
Mind tries to control emotions, notice things that confirm our internal model, and steer the intellect. The resulting list of cognitive biases is large and affects our beliefs, choices, and behaviour. The current trend to “alternate facts” and irrational extremes is another example. But the world is so much more than a personal mind’s story. It is a vast cornucopia of possible experiences through many layers of reality.
This story-driven way of relating to the world leads to a constant conflict with life as it doesn’t appear to be cooperating with us. Yet it is us that is not cooperating with life.
The mind and intellect are excellent tools but they make poor masters.
Awakening from the personal sense of me moves us outside our old model of the world and introduces many new ways of experiencing life. But it takes time for our old habits to fall away. Typically, we lose them bit by bit as they’re made conscious and seen through. The fetters fall away. Our potential is astonishing.
Last Updated on January 12, 2020 by Davidya
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Yes, Thank You, “Our potential is astonishing.” Indeed, like night vs. day, death vs. life, and endless suffering vs. immortality. Not to put too fine a point on it – lol
The awfulness of being trapped in one’s storied mind is that we are paying for a mansion, but living in a hovel. Even our greatest immediate pain is far more real and worthy, than another perfect crypt as scripted by the ego.
We are so much more. 🙂
Well put, Jim. What most people consider normal is a tiny prison of suffering. But this is mostly unrecognized until we exit the box.
And then, are we in for a surprise.
The ‘prison of suffering’,-indeed an apt expression, and as if that were not bad enough, we throw ourselves ever deeper into despair by incarcerating ourselves into the ‘box’, or prison hole.
Strangely, that experience of seeming isolation and separation from wholeness can be a way ‘we exit the box,’ — upon seeing how our attention is so readily placed upon anything other than our conscious-presence of being.
Yes. Some people also exit by having the box collapse in on them. Tolle comes to mind. But thats doing it the hard way. (laughs)
‘Some people also exit by having the box collapse in on them.’ Hahaha, David, I like that image, most amusing, although it brings to mind those of us (myself included) who keep insisting on rebuilding the box around ourselves, hence the continuation of a kind of madness.
As mentioned, we do need something of a box to be able to relate to others and function in the world. But if we can shift our sense of self outside the box, then we can carry it as a tool rather than being limited by it.
Of course, it’s not the person who shifts outside the box. It’s touching into our deeper nature that triggers the shift. In the meantime, there is attachment to the box and a coming back to it, even when we step outside a little. The process does take time, partly because of all the threads that tie it together and partly the clarity of what is beyond the mind. We can’t become what is unknown to us.
Very good, thank you, David.
You’re welcome, Vandana
“Extensive as the ‘external’ world is it hardly bears comparison with the depth- dimensions of our inner being, which does not need even the spaciousness of the universe to be, in itself, almost unlimited. It seems to me, more and more, as though our ordinary consciousness inhabits the apex of a pyramid whose base in us…broadens out to such an extent that the farther we are able to let ourselves down into it, the more completely do we appear to be included in the realities of the earthly and, in the widest sense universal existence, which are not dependent on time or space.” Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926)
Apropos quote, Ron. Thanks.
Just as a general point, the blog has a policy not to accept quote-only comments. We’d like some personal feedback in there too. 🙂
Great photo; an inspiring visual metaphor. Thank-you for sharing that.
Thanks for mentioning, Scott. I thought so too. 🙂