How often do we stop to consider that magnificent faculty – our mind?
Tucked away somewhere within our marvellous human brain, somehow there dwells our mind – the centre of our thinking. Are the thoughts that we’re thinking good thoughts or otherwise? Are they relevant, useful, productive, peaceful, reactive – or even distressing thoughts?
To contemplate our mind poses many questions. Is mind everlasting? Is mind the product of our physiology – or the other way around? Are we, in fact, our mind? And what would we do without our mind – for mind in itself, perhaps, is life-giving. Our mind is the receptacle of our entire life experience, the keeper of our secrets, thoughts, wishes, hopes and dreams. Our mind can contribute to conversation and discussion … the mind is our communicator and our communication.
Our mind gives rise to action and reaction so therefore our mind can enrich or debase our humanity. Our mind analyses and discerns; it allows us to see the world both visually and emotionally and to make moral or immoral decisions. Our mind can appreciate art and music and beauty while similarly dismissing whatever it decides to reject.
Our mind experiences imagination, creativity and experiential phenomena. Our mind monitors our body, speaks to us in our dreams and permits times of peaceful stillness while also helping us become mindful. Great minds produce insights and discover facts that can change the world. Some great minds have produced terror and suffering. Some great minds may never reach their potential or be empowered to contribute as meaningfully as they might. And, as with our entire being, our mind can fail us, too.
Perhaps the earliest tabled examination of mind comes from the Greek philosopher Plato (429-347BC). Plato identified the mind with the soul, arguing that the soul pre-exists and survives the body through the process of reincarnation.
The basis of Buddhist philosophy is to understand the function of the mind – as quoted by the Buddha – ‘all things are preceded by the mind, led by the mind, created by the mind.’
Descartes, the ‘father of modern philosophy’, concludes that the nature of the mind is totally different from that of the body and that it is possible for one to exist without the other.
From the twentieth century, here’s a thought from the piercing mind of Carl Jung: ‘The pendulum of the mind alternates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong’.
And now, leaping closer into the present, what about the amazing Dr Seuss and “Oh the Thinks you can Think”. What a mind! What an imagination – and what powerful connections he makes in exploring a range of possibilities within mental activity. His communicating style, where fun, and puns, and perfect supporting images trigger the imagination, provides ‘thinks’ that practically tickle the mind!
Yes, our mind most certainly matters. How timely that the popularity of meditation in today’s active world provides the very nurturing necessary to help take care of that irreplaceable and precious possession!
Article by Pauline McKinnon
Founder, Meditation Australia and Stillness Meditation Therapy Centre