In the post “Resolving the Recurring Quandary of Dissonance Between Mind and Body”, I wrote about the task we face of staying in touch with and balancing the wants and needs of these two aspects of our being. However, we are more complicated than that. I want to reinforce that in delineating two or more aspects of our being for purposes of comparison and understanding, we need to realize that in reality all aspects of our being are part of an inseparable whole. It’s like discussing the lungs and the stomach. Yes they do have different functions but they are part of the same whole and the ultimate goal for both organs is to keep our body wholly alive and healthy. The same is true for the various aspects of our spiritual or energetic being. Although sometimes it can seem as if their goals couldn’t be more opposed. (Any “Amen” to that?)
I think it is a case in which our complex and intuitive body/energy being is playing chess while we, in our developing human mind, are still playing checkers. We’re stuck thinking in black and white terms in a technicolor world. And so there is dissonance.
In this post I’d like to expand upon the simple body/mind dichotomy I drew last time to a three part harmony type of situation. In naming/delineating these three aspects of our being I find myself thinking in terms of the identifiers with which I was introduced to them: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Within this Hindu trinity, Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the preserver and Shiva is the destroyer (of ignorance). The Hindu descriptions and lore around these three gods is quite extensive and I encourage you to explore it. I am going to describe them in the manner in which I was introduced to them; as representing three of the central aspects our human make-up. Brahma represents the lower regions of our body, our sexual energies, our creative energies. Vishnu represents our “heart”, and Shiva is represents our intellect. I avoid using the term “mind” here because along with many other people these days I realize our “mind” is more than simply our intellect (as has been thought by many for some time). Our mind encompasses and is our entire being. We are mind. Our creative energies, our sensual/sexual impulses, our heartfelt emotions, our intuitive impulses, our thoughts, our reasoning, all of these are simultaneously occurring within and part and parcel of; our mind, ourselves.
Naturally, instinctively, these aspects of our being are doing their respective “jobs”. They are receiving input from our internal and external environment(s), then relaying the important messages they receive on to our intellect, our guidance system. Not all the messages received at various receptor sites within our body make it to our intellectual awareness though. Impulses which don’t surpass the level of resistance within our nervous system can and do simply fade away during the journey from receptor to realization. And some messages are within our autonomic systems and usually take place without conscious interference or intervention on our part.
A very interesting, relatively recent development in our understanding of ourselves is that while traditional knowledge has held that all messages within our body are carried along our nervous system, it has been discovered that messages that surpass a certain threshold of urgency may actually elicit a response from us in less time than it is possible for them to have utilized the nervous system’s pathways. So what does that signify? One thing for certain, it lets us know we have more to discover and understand about how we inhabit and interact with our corporeal body.
Once a message has registered within our intellect then we typically note it, analyze it to a greater or lesser extent, then plot what seems to us at the time to be a reasonable response. However, through intellectual disability, intoxication, or conscious decision, we may defer to our senses allowing ourselves to simply follow the feeling of the moment. Doing so can be very “Zen”. While sometimes this practice may prove very enjoyable and/or rewarding, it can also get us into a lot of trouble. We can witness this truth through observing the plight of those who through intellectual disability or intoxication find impulsive reaction their primary or only available response. Context can and does make all the difference.
In this paradigm we are facing the challenge of balancing three main sources of input. Some may ask, but isn’t it only two sources of input and the third “center” is the decision maker? Yes and no. In this case the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Yes our intellect is involved as a decision maker but there is a part of us that also oversees our intellect. There is a part of us that I have heard referred to in various terms; the watcher, the observer, the godhead, the superego, this part of us is watching and evaluating the entire process. We can and do observe and occasionally intervene in even our intellectual processes. We can, on this level, realize there is a deficiency or error in our intellectual content (the input our intellect brings to the situation) and then edit or change that content. This is how we can change any of our established thinking and behavior patterns. Some are deeper, more extensively entrenched within our nervous system than others and generally take more work and time to change; more recursive visits within our awareness. (I very much recommend Bradford P. Keeney’s book; “Aesthetics of Change”) Sometimes though, a particularly intense experience, one that resonates throughout our being, may result in an immediate change in even the more entrenched patterns.
How do we do it? In my estimation we are like infants, we are at the early stages of learning our human capacities and abilities. It behooves us not to get stuck within doctrines and/or dogmas that do not embrace nor reflect an understanding of the totality of our being nor our potential. It is undoubtedly in our best interests to practice thinking and acting in ways which embrace love, compassion and wisdom.
How do we do it? We just do our best, always.