Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Two minds

It's really hard to sit here and concentrate when my family (read: hubby) are home chattering in my ear or someone else's.

Here is what I wanted to write about last evening: two minds are often in discussion or at war inside me. Yes, dear, that's called bipolar! Or is it split personality?

But seriously: One mind I will call my self, or, to add distance, the ego. The other is a much broader mind from "out there" somewhere: the objective observer (OO), the voice of reason. I would also suggest God, though that doesn't mean that He is always there hanging with me or that I am hearing the Divine Voice. Maybe yes, maybe no. I'm not going to declare that voice to be God Himself (Herself), exactly. But that voice is internalized. It's not something I need to hear from someone else, though sometimes that's the only way it can penetrate my dense skull.

I know philosophers use the concept of an ideal, objective observer as a proof for God's existence. How else to explain the OO's presence in the vast majority of human minds from every culture and place on earth? The innate knowledge of right and wrong that seems wired into people? (I would argue that an ethical system of some sort is wired into every living thing created by God.)

When anything happens in life, there are many possible ways to look at it. Everyone sees things through their own eyes and processes events through their kaleidoscope of experiences, feelings, personality: the ego. Some books have captured that uniqueness of human experience so vividly. "The Sound and the Fury" comes to mind.

I think at least a dual, if not multiple, reality is quite easy to visualize. There is an individual's sense of reality, versus the collective, God's perspective. I don't know that anyone has complete access to God's perspective, but we certainly can reach outside ourselves and grab old OO that I mentioned above.

Now I know that Christianity stands firmly on the tripod of Father, Son, Holy Ghost, but I think that three-way stuff gives a lot of people fits. Like how Austin, my first-born son, was explaining to his dad last night that God was never a human being -- that was Jesus, God's SON. Well now, that clears everything up. And that breath of God, the Holy Ghost? Who or what is that, exactly, and why was it just flitting around while Jesus was here, not really available to mere mortals yet? That really muddles it up.

Father Rohr speaks of a "third way," but I think many symbols reflect a dualistic thought: yin-yang, black-white. He says that dual thinking is too limiting to encompass God. But what I am talking about is not always oppositional or mutually exclusive, though it can be.

Dualism also indicates paradox. There is an object, and its shadow. Both must exist together, can't have one without the other. One gives meaning to the other. So humans are always a mixed bag, and we won't be able to chunk that wicked, sinful shadow self that we have to drag around. This could explain the presence of evil, sorrow, etc., in the world. Can't know the good stuff without experiencing the opposites. The Garden of Eden is impossible, because someone living inside would not be capable of knowing that it was all good, and would have no meaningful life or choices available. It would all be a whitewashed world of no contrasts. Which does beg the question, what about heaven then?

The OO is very helpful when it's there reining in the raging ego, or just to provide a reality check. This is where the two minds war with each other.

For example, I have been called a sensitive person, which is a good and a bad thing. (Duality, again.) It's not too hard to trample on my feelings. (Ask hubby.) I received a bit of a reprimand during a recent mission trip, just the slightest thing -- that journey is a whole separate post for a bit more distant time -- and the ego starting chewing away on that, and the feeling that I, Julie, was not accomplishing much. Put me to work, please, don't make me stand idle! It just kills me.

OO (or God), though, immediately intervened, pointing out that this was a group of people working for a common purpose, and accomplishing it, and never about me and my feelings! Thank the Lord for that! But my feelings, once turned downstream, could not recover immediately, and my self was right in the middle of that raging torrent. I was literally on the verge of tears, barely able to hold a conversation, for a while. Self-pity, thy name is vanity! (The opening of Ecclesiastes is echoing in my thoughts.)

Somehow, the thought came into me that I just had to be patient with myself and wait a bit. I could not humanly force an immediate change of attitude, but I could just step away and wait. Think of something else; take a mental break from the broken thought that is leading me astray. I think this waiting is often a prayer time. This happens to me all the time, stinking thinking that leads to trouble, so thank God again that I am usually of two minds about everything! Sure enough, I pulled out of it after doing a bit of hard work. Nothing like work to cure the blues.

So that long-winded aside was an example of the two minds at war. But sometimes, the ego wants to go bathe in the cosmos for a bit. Then it jumps in with OO/God, maybe while producing or enjoying art (music, drawing, writing, you name it), worshipping together, outdoors enjoying the beauty of creation, or enjoying a moment of harmony with family or friends. This is an electrifying experience, and can be frightening if a person loses sight of the self. Many great artists have gotten there with the use of mind-altering drugs of all sorts, from peyote to alcohol. I think it's impossible to create anything important without being in that connected-to-the-cosmos channel, plugged in and firing on all circuits. That's why procreation is on the list of transcendental experiences (it seems to be right up there at No. 1) that can join the ego to everything else.

This was quite the long post, and I don't think I made it back up for air enough! But this is what I feel compelled to write about, God knows why. (Really, God does.) Glad someone knows! I have no clue why these rambles come out the way they do, but I usually find them interesting enough.

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