Mind and matter.
June 21, 2017 § 4 Comments
Mind offers an opinion.
That’s what a whirring machine like Mind does. There are so many factors to take into account! Past experience, prejudices, things read in the paper, the weather, how my hair looks today.
Mind is a more-is-better opinion generator, a fun guy, but one who never stops talking.
Today I want to speak up for Mind’s silent partner, Body. If you want an opinion rooted in the present state of things ask Body. And you do have to ask, because, like I said, Body is silent. And rarely in charge.
Mind makes most decisions in this partnership, bossing Body around big-time.
Mind says, do this, and Body does. Body would add a “Yes boss, whatever you say boss,” but Body exists in a language-free state (one of the reasons Mind disrespects it).
Mind never asks for Body’s input, and when Body tugs at Mind with the need to, say, rest, Mind gives Body a quick pep talk. Suck it up! When the going gets tough, the tough get going!
Mind has little respect for Body—that dumb old hunk of meat.
Okay, Body is not perfect. Body develops cravings, addictions. Mind objects, but in its need Body can be overpowering.
But most of the time Mind runs the show–even when Mind should yield to the wisdom of Body.
Some of those times are obvious. Body should take charge when Mind is pushing Body’s limits. Mind says, sure it’s six hundred miles away, but we’re going to make Pittsburgh tonight!
Fine for you Mind, but Body is the hands on the wheel, the eyes that keep closing—but just for a second! (That last phrase belongs to Mind. Mind can justify anything).
And it isn’t just those Herculean demands that Mind makes, but the demands that repeat and slowly wear both partners down. Keep doing this job you hate, Mind says, not acknowledging the fact that the reaction to that hateful job lodges in Body and Mind, doing damage to both. And that damage can’t be reasoned away.
Then there are the moments when Body saves the day. Sudden danger? Body grabs the controls. Body knows there is no time for Mind’s usual farting around: Will that school bus really plow into my car if I don’t swerve right now? Body executes that swerve and leaves Mind going, whoa, what just happened?
Body is good at sudden.
But here’s something less obvious. Body knows in a completely different way than Mind. Mind is in a constant state of second guessing, reframing, explaining, often creating elaborate detours that bypass an obvious reality that Body gets precisely because it does not spend its time tap dancing around.
Say you’re asked to do something you really shouldn’t do, but you like the asker, you want them to like you. Mind immediately begins finding its way around the road blocks, the warning lights, the dangerous curve signs, working itself around to YES.
As Mind does its workaround. Body begins flashing signals of its own. Notice a change in your breathing?
Okay. Body throws in sweating, upset stomach, racing heart. If Body had language it would yell, “You want me to drop dead on the floor to make my point!”
If Mind pays attention it will deliver a “No,” cloaked, of course, in its usual 10,000 excuses, but the decision was made by Body, not Mind.
The phrases “gut feeling” and “gut reaction” are Mind’s grudging nod to those judgments that come, unbidden from Body, and if Brain is as smart as it thinks it is, it will pay attention.
Most of the time it isn’t. Mind trusts reason, not instinct, and Mind has goals. Body is the just vehicle Mind will drive hard. But mind needs Body to execute any of its crazy plans so it should show a little more respect.
What if Mind gave the opinion of Body equal weight? What if it honored a wisdom that does not explain itself, that never says, let me put that to you another way, a wisdom that simply is?
Mind is smart.
But if it is also wise it will promote Body to full partner. And yes, Body will gain from that partnership as well; as Mind so often points out, eating the whole bag of Doritos is bound to do some harm, as is lighting that cigarette, or drinking the whole six pack.
The thing is, wisdom inhabits the whole being, not just the fatty mass between the ears. (Mind has asked me to note its objection to that last description–Body is fine with it).
There are times when Body knows what Mind doesn’t, times when Mind should listen to its silent partner.
Note: While looking for an image for this I found an article that relates to this post, if only tangentially. It seems that understanding the wisdom of the gut is a nascent, but real scientific idea.
Darn. Those other Minds are always stealing my ideas right before I have them.