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Mind Games
The Mystery of Consciousness

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

Mind is a mystery. Consciousness, our most common experience, cannot in any way be explained by scientific understanding. Historical and current theories, that the mind arises from the brain, all fall short. Then, although tens of thousands of attempts have been made, the mind has never been localized in the brain.

Since brain surgery is performed with the patient awake, the surgeon can "play around," using tiny doses of electrical charge to stimulate the brain, causing the patient to see, hear and move. In cases of extreme epilepsy, the surgeon attempts to localize where the seizure begins, and then cut out that part of the brain.

In all this surgical exploration the higher functions of mind have never been found. Never has this probing been able to stimulate the intellect. Never has the patient reported a heightened sense of self, self consciousness or thoughts regarding meaning or values. Nor are there ever intellectual seizures, where the epileptic is plunged into one or another uncontrollable type of thought, for example, where he can't stop doing mathematics.

If the mind comes from the brain, then we should be able to find it through our manipulation of the brain, and we can't. If the mind is located in the brain, then there ought to be individuals who have intellectual seizures, and there aren't.

There are comatose individuals whose brains are damaged and/or shrunken from accident or lack of oxygen. These persons are in persistent vegetative states. They lack clinical evidence for any mental activity. Yet, when a researcher asks them a simple math problem, "How much is 6 plus 8?," and then speaks a series of possible solutions, their brains, measured by fMRI, light up when the researcher utters the correct solution. This is further evidence that the mind does not arise from the brain.

One highly regarded scientific theory suggests that mind is a primary cosmic force, like gravity or electromagnetism, That it is not derived from anything else. This theory suggest that mind just is, like gravity, everywhere, not just inside our heads.

I've been reading Michael Pollan's book, How to Change Your Mind . In it he details the tremendous power that psychedelic drugs have to alter our consciousness, not just while we are tripping, but in a lasting way, long after the drugs have exited our brains and bodies: addictions are broken, terminal cancer patients lose their fear of death, depression lifts, mystical revelations alter emotions and attitudes...

Broadly, we have two ways of using our minds.

One is ego-controlled. In this phase the very many things competing for our attention each moment are filtered down to those which are important to our physical survival. Of these we take note. Those cavemen, who paused to admire the way the sunlight gleamed off the fang of the saber-toothed tiger did not live to reproduce.

The ego (a measurable part of the brain named the Default Mode Network) focuses our attention on what is immediately important. "Focus" is the operative word. We zero in on a problem.

The other way of mind is a more childlike, inclusive, holistic. It expands out of the box in which the ego normally constrains our consciousness. We perceive, feel and think more and in new ways. The drugged-out ego loses control. Our awareness becomes expansive rather than focused. Neural inputs and activities normally dampened down make it to our frontal cortex and so enter our conscious awareness. Brain centers normally isolated, start communicating with each other. In this phase we see relationships and connections, we are networked.

Addiction, depression and an active fear of death are hyper-focused states. The psychedelic experience offers those who suffer from these obsessive conditions a grander vista. The drug, freeing the mind from the pathological dominance of the ego phase, presents a larger perspective to these sufferers.

How we navigate the two phases of mind is the key. We all know people who are stuck in one phase or the other; too narrowly focused or not focused enough; not open enough to other possibilities and interpretations or so open that they cannot make a decision, cannot act in their own self interest.

Buddha said, "Everything changes." Being able to change the channel, to use our whole mind, both phases, the focused and the expansive, is the practical goal. Being able to see things from other perspectives is wisdom.

The author Vladimir Nabokov referred to the "marvel of consciousness, that sudden window swinging open on a sunlight landscape amidst the night of non-being".

In our ego-dominated, work-a-day life, we take it for granted, but mind, our minds are mysterious, rare and beautiful. The full flowering of our consciousness, Buddhist Mindfulness and Awareness, is with us every moment, at least in some small way. The mystic goal, hidden in plain sight, is our most common, ever-present experience, our mind.

Buddha's first words on the first morning of his enlightenment were, "How wonderful. How wonderful. All beings are already enlightened, just as they are."

Consciousness already enlightens us. It is the miracle that we all already are, right now, this moment, reading this word. Not dependent on the material (neither brain nor body), mind is collective, everywhere, immortal. It is the soul of the universe.

Now that ought to cheer you up.


Psychedelic experiences and therapy, facilitated by veteran guides and therapists, are available in SMA.
Contact Dr. David at the email below and he will relay the information.



photo: Alessandro Bo (cropped)

Dr. David welcomes you to San Miguel Sunday. Anyone with any interest in contributing articles is heartily encouraged to contact him at the email below. The "Best City in the World" deserves a good Lokkal magazine.

events @ sanmiguelevents.com

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