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This used to be a blog dedicated to one of my interests, dream interpretation. I have decided to expand it to include thoughts about pretty much Everything.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

nature of the mind

I think a lot about the mind, and wonder what it is, exactly.

The current trend is to assume that the mind is a product of the brain and its functions.  The mind springs from the body, not the other way around.  Lots of work in neuropsychology seems to point that direction.  For example, memories can be (seemingly) deleted when certain parts of the brain are damaged. Personality changes happen when other parts of the brain are damaged.  The ability to speak, reason, control oneself, make plans, or feel emotions, all seem to be housed in the brain.

That word, "housed."  I think it's apt. 

I'm not a neuropsychologist, nor a scientist per se, but I want to believe that the mind, the self, is somehow different from the body, though it uses the body as its means of expression.  The body is a "house" for the mind.  Or the body is "inhabited" by the mind, rather than the mind being a side effect of the body, as materialists want to assume.  Of course, I may be wrong, but there are several reasons I "want" to believe this, which I'll explore later.

I don't want to fall into the trap of separating the mind and the body too far from each other.  I know they are very closely linked.  I just want to pose some ideas.

First, what if the mind weren't only housed in the brain, but in the entire body?  What if the mind were more systemic, like a holograph, than local?  Or partially systemic, and partially local?  Instincts, hunches, suspicions, the unconscious/subconscious, certain emotions-- what if those parts of the mind were generally more related to the body below the head, with reports to the control center as needed?  I wonder this, due to reported experiences by many people of memories (traumatic or good) coming back into consciousness during massages.  I myself had such an experience once. It's a pretty benign example, but I was getting a massage once a few years ago, and at one point, all of a sudden, I welled up with tears and had a really strong nostalgic thought appear out of nowhere--"I really miss playing the piano!"  It seemed that this thought/feeling was released, somehow, by the massage. I can't explain it, but I know this is commonly reported among people who get massages.

Second, what if the mind has the power to produce electricity?  We currently examine brain functions by measuring electrical activity in the brain.  When someone is engaged in an enjoyable and provocative activity (such as music, for example,) the brain "lights up" (as they say) with electrical activity in all regions.  Whereas, when someone is resting, depressed, or not fully present, there is not as much electrical activity.  Somehow, the mind has the power to create an electric current in the "wiring" of the brain.  This is one reason I (want to) believe that the mind is not merely a product of material forces, but a force that acts upon, and interacts with, matter.  What if we could figure out a way to harness the power of the mind to generate electricity for practical, external purposes?  I know that the voltage of the electricity that is produced in the brain is so low as not to be usable, but what if you could figure out a way to get a big group--say, the hundreds of people at a concert--hooked up to a generator, and add a few step-up converters, etc.?  Technology isn't there yet.  Maybe it's not even possible.  But something is going on in that mind-to-electricity connection.

This leads me to my third idea.  What if the mind (as I'm conceiving of it--a force that acts upon and in the body) IS actually a part of the observable universe, but we just haven't discovered how to observe it objectively yet? (This would bring us back to materialism, but I wouldn't care.  Materialism has led to a lot of good, as well as the bad.  If it could incorporate the mind in a better way, I wouldn't see a problem with it.)  It's foolish to think we've come to the end of scientific discovery.  Maybe 100 years from now, we will have instruments that can detect thoughts, emotions, or memories.  Or maybe we'll have an instrument that can objectively measure someone's spiritual maturity level.  Or we'll be able to objectively verify the existence of "auras" that some people claim to be able to see.  Who knows? I think something like this will happen eventually.

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