Monday, March 14, 2011
Every day I notice myself dating the last 35 years by where I was in the mountains and what I was doing in that time, or what was on the news, or what was new that year, or who was elected that year, like that. It gives perspective of receding time. Or gives that warm comfortable feeling of believing I have some sort of perspective. Of course, I don't. It's faulty memory that forgets context and everything. I think of what a thin membrane over the subconscious mind the conscious mind is and how it's not made of anything but electrical charges. It's so insubstantial as to be next to nothing. The only something about it is a mind continually thinking. When it goes away, it just goes. I saw Jr's conscious mind go away over the course of one week. It was like watching a bathtub draining, a little bit more every day, until it was gone. It went away. Jr's mind was blank from then on. He continued to operate by the subconscious mind, and I knew him well enough that the Jr I knew was more in the subconscious than the conscious. I saw that when somebody asked him a question about a name, place or time, his mind went blank. I couldn't stop somebody asking such a question, so I would throw him a key word to get him back on his track.
I came to understand in that time what we call the conscious mind is perhaps the least part of our minds that we function by. When Jr's conscious mind was gone, he was still there. I saw that his identity had little to do with the conscious mind. It's in the subconscious. I have not studied the evolution of the mind, but I'm inclined to suspect the conscious mind developed over thousands of years by figuring things out. First, you figure out how to throw a spear. Then everybody in the tribe gets it and throws spears, pass it on to the next generations and the people they war against, who need to figure out the spear to keep up with the enemy. Arms race. The greatest motivation known to humanity. Next, the subtleties of spear throwing are learned until it becomes a traditional way of throwing it specific to the given tribe, passed on from generation to generation. Arrows and gunpowder. New things to learn. Possibly the conscious mind is everything we've learned, what we believe we know. When that mind is gone, observer mind continues. Language continues, reading eyes and faces continues. Jr's ongoing complaint was that his mind wasn't working any more.
Interestingly, the part of his mind that sees the conscious thoughts is still there. The part of the mind that sees our dreams is still there. I've come to think the latter is the biggest part of our consciousness, that part that is always awake, sees our mind's activity as we sleep, notes what we say to ourselves, that inner self we talk to when we say something to ourselves, like something a parent said repeatedly, "Nobody wants to hear anything you say." Something like that to inhibit a need to speak. I'm inclined toward thinking it enough to maybe say I believe the spiritual path walks through the vagaries of the mind and long, long index of beliefs our conscious minds know nothing about, through the subconscious mind to the consciousness that never sleeps. Looking at it like this, I have to say I'm not very far along on mine. But, like you, and like everybody else, I am where I am, and that's it. Attempts to convince myself I'm farther along than I am are surely tempting to go with. And it's tempting to go with a blow to esteem and think I'm way back where I haven't been for several lifetimes. Best way I can see is to let it be what it is and not concern myself with it. That's what musicians tell me about making music. You can't think about it. Do, and conscious mind comes in and messes everything up. Too many cooks in the kitchen. Don't think about it and the music happens.