There is something that lies behind your outward ego – a mysterious thing called the unconscious/subconscious mind, and it’s this part of us that provides the best rational clue to the underlying essence of what we are. First of all, it’s clear that we have an unconscious mind. There are many expressions of it in life, if we only look.
It’s possible to drive a car whilst daydreaming (although I don’t recommend it). One day, shortly after moving house, I accidentally drove home from work to my previous house; I was right at the driveway before I realised, “I don’t live here anymore!” What happened was my unconscious mind followed a pattern that had been imprinted by habit, while my conscious mind was busy thinking about something else. When I type on this keyboard, I don’t think about what my fingers are doing. Words flow out automatically, from my thoughts onto the screen. I’ve been typing for so many years that I don’t have to consciously concern myself with my fingers any more; my unconscious takes care of it for me. The unconscious is also what regulates our bodies; we don’t have to consciously think to take each next breath; we don’t have to consciously control our own heart-rate to keep the blood circulating. The unconscious also plays a huge role in emotions; phobias happen when the unconscious mind associates a negative feeling with a particular experience. It’s possible to be afraid of something in a completely irrational way, simply because of something that happened in the past. And the unconscious is responsible for a lot more than just these issues.
Here’s my favourite example of how amazing the unconscious is: When a person has a hemispherectomy (the complete removal one side of the brain), this paralyses one side of his body, because the side of the brain controlling that side of the body is gone. However, it’s possible to re-train the paralysed limbs to function again, simply by trying to move them. At first, nothing happens. But eventually, the limbs start to work on their own. The brain starts to rewire itself to reconnect with the paralysed limbs. It almost seems like magic, because you don’t have to consciously do anything except wish it to happen. But under the surface, the unconscious mind is listening to the conscious mind, and the unconscious mind is able to do what needs to be done. It’s like you have your very own qualified brain surgeon inside yourself! The unconscious mind seems to be immensely knowledgeable and powerful.
It almost feels like there’s another person inside you, a mysterious hidden servant who is vastly more intelligent than you. But I think it’s more true to say that the unconscious mind is the deeper you, while the conscious mind is an aspect of you that is existing in a state of amnesia from the full magnitude of who you are under the surface. But what is the purpose of this amnesia? Why don’t I know consciously how to rewire my brain, since there’s a part of me under the surface that does know how to do it? I have a speculative answer to that, which fits perfectly …
Imagine the only thing that exists is one single eternal consciousness that never had a beginning and will never have an end. “God” is the word that jumps into most people’s minds at this point. I hate using that word, because right off the bat your mind may start to attach all sorts of religious ideas to the concept: worship, original sin, judgement, redemption, etc. Ideas that are nothing to do with the concept itself, but are adds-ons that come later through holy writings and such. Leave all that stuff at the door for now and concentrate on the core idea. Instead of God, we might call this being The Source, The Whole, or Infinite Consciousness. The name doesn’t really matter. Right now, I’m using “God” for convenience. Imagine that God created the universe, then put himself into a human body to experience it. There are certain problems with this scenario. Imagine yourself standing at an ice-cream counter, trying to decide whether to buy vanilla or chocolate. Now imagine yourself as God doing the same thing. The trouble is, if you’re God, you already knew what choice you were going to make before you made it. In other words, there could be no experience of free will. “I knew I was going to choose chocolate, so I’ll just pick vanilla just to thwart my foreknowledge!” This cannot be because your foreknowledge would have let you know you were going to thwart your foreknowledge. Get it? In order for God to experience free will, he has to forget the totality of what he is. In other words he has to manufacture an amnesic barrier between his eternal all-knowing awareness and what he wishes to experience. I think this is the underlying truth of what is going on with human experience. And I think the edge between the conscious and unconscious mind is where we find the clues to this speculative scenario.
If we delve into the realm of the apparently paranormal in relation to the mind, the clues become even stronger. I’ve spent the past nine months experimenting with telekinesis, and my results suggest that there is a powerful unconscious “me” doing my bidding, a me that may not be entirely brain-based by virtue of its ability to affect objects at a distance. I’ve also made a start to telepathy, attempting to “mind read” drawings that have been placed in envelopes. It’s early days for this one, but the results I’m getting suggest more than accidental likenesses. How is telepathy possible if we are all individuals, completely distinct from each other? Upton Sinclair, in his excellent book Mental Radio (see my review), offers this hypothesis: “It seems to indicate a common substratum of mind, underlying our individual minds, and which we can learn to tap.” A strong pointer to the notion that beyond the physical realm, there is a single unified consciousness. Aldous Huxley, his his book The Doors of Perception (see my review) talks of his experience with the drug mescaline, and how it made him aware of what he termed “mind” and “mind at large.” He saw these two things as being joined by a conduit. Mescaline allowed him to widen the conduit for a period, temporarily squeezing more of “mind at large” into “mind” and providing a unique experience.
There is no you, me and everybody. We only think there is because we have forgotten our totality. There is only one. Your mind is the thing that makes you believe you are separate from everyone else, but the self-awareness inside you is the same self-awareness inside me. We just have different personalities possessing different memories, each one closed off from the other, experiencing its individual perceptions. Imagine two people dying at the same time, and suddenly they become aware that they have two sets of memories. After death, it will not be a case of two sets of personalities fighting for control of a single consciousness. Infinite Consciousness has no personality because it is everything that was, is, and ever will be.
Ultimately, I can’t connect enough dots with this material to prove my view to someone who lives exclusively by reductionist, evidence-based thinking. I believe we are all one consciousness through intuition, and I think there is more to intuition than imagination and wishful thinking. Assuming these egos of ours are limited expressions of a God-like Infinite Consciousness that knows everything, intuition may very well be a means of obtaining reliable information from that Infinite Consciousness via the unconscious mind. I’m doing a complete rational bypass here, which I understand is abhorrent to many people. But whatever you may think about the “one consciousness” viewpoint, it’s clear on purely rational grounds that our conscious minds are connected to something very powerful outside our awareness, and this lends value to intuition. I intuitively believed that there was only one consciousness long before I put all the rational building blocks together. I don’t consider these building blocks as proof, because they’re incomplete, but they provide the most coherent picture for me of what’s really going on with life.
Atheists will say, “Of course you’re just a brain in a body, because we can show it scientifically,” and there’s a sense in which that is true because mind is physical. Religion says, “Of course you’ve got an immortal soul, otherwise life is without purpose,” and that also is true. Yet these belief systems are opposed to each other. The truth is not found in one archetype or the other, but in rejecting hand-me-down belief systems and figuring it out for yourself.