Trying to Explain
(An occasional paper of the Journal of (Very) Speculative Philosophy)
The Problem of Mind
dimension of mind is not just vast, but profoundly
varied—near-infinitely so. Its complexity is of a whole ‘nother order
from the complexities of matter and energy in space. This complexities
involve such variables as context, degrees of seriousness, relevance,
interest, “awake-ness,” the balance of right and left-brain input, the
vast-sub-areas of myth, poetry, illusion, dream-symbols, all the
various forms a given archetype can express—many of them partaking also
of other archetypes—, and then there are the multitudes of human
archetypes. The archetypes of other sentient beings occasionally cross
over, too, and many not-so-sentient forms. All these are modified by
the level of consciousness, intelligence, temperament, and many aspects
of historical and personal background of each mind-occasion.
So in a
sense, as shown on the left, symbols operate within their own category of criteria and must
jostle for position in each moment of subjectivity, as consciousness
bubbles up from unconsciousness and through semi- and sub- and
pre-consciousness. Even then there’s the problem of how to sort out
what comes into consciousness because we can only recognize that which
we have a matrix of associations for in order to make it meaningful.
Stuff that doesn’t fit tends to be screened out, and drops back into
sub- and then unconsciousness. Ripples in the pond.
So when I asked my guides to explain how it works, one of them favored
my request with this diagram. After some pondering I confessed my
cluelessness. Patiently he tried to explain, but most of it went way
over my head. I could almost feel my brain fizzing at the edges.
Happily I recognized certain patterns and s/he reassured me that even
this could help to enlighten our species. It overlapped with the
profound function of mandalas in consciousness evolution, their
balancing of seeming diversity, and integration in the emanations of
The more peripheral forms were reminders that alphabets and other
symbols for “language” is but a limited mode for expressing idea,
image, emotional tone, and states of expanded awareness, but I guess
for now it must do. One can only advance the growth of a young child or
a species in terms of what it can handle, what it can build upon
is an old fable in many religious traditions, and expressed also in a
19th century poem, about several blind men in India who encounter an
elephant, and, each one feeling a different part---the tail, trunk,
side, one of the legs, tusks, ear, etc.---interprets it according to
his own associations---a rope, snake, wall, tree-trunk, sword, fan,
etc. It is meant to suggest that the whole may not be apparent to
those who approach it and can only perceive a part.
To the degree that the blind men dispute over which version is right,
they are fools; to the degree they agree to try to generate a composite
picture noting the perceptions as reflecting different parts, they may
be closer to wise.
I want to note also that there are part that no blind man can touch,
the inner parts, the internal anatomy; and beyond that, the microscopic
anatomy. And beyond that, the ecology and behavior, relations with
other elephants, childhood, and so forth.
So, too, each of the symbols on the "blanket" or side of the elephant
may represents yet another facet of reality. We may be foolish to think
that what we can directly perceive, even with the extensions of our
senses made possible by our current state of technolog, all that is
operating in our world. To presume that we have exhausted all discovery
woud be an act of overweening pride.
The fact that we can discern many facets should not succeed in tempting
us that we know in some final sense. There yet may be many other facets
that we have not yet learned to perceive or correctly interpret.