What do we mean when we use the word ‘mind’? In Psychology we talk about mind as a hypothetical construct. We associate it with the ability to think, behave and learn. We assume it is in our heads. We assume it is attached to out brain and bio-psychology and neuroscience are able to provide strong evidence for this assumption. Dictionary definitions and modern origins of mind relate to thought, thinking or memory. These depictions suggest that mind is personal to the individual, that it is somehow made up of our thoughts, memories, and learned abilities.
I do not see how this can be true though, because mind exists before thought. An infant is born with a mind, they are able to use innate wisdom to know how to feed, respond to cues, alert us when in discomfort and show primal reflexes. Yet, they know no thought, they know no language with which to think. To me this suggest that mind is more than the individual.
I had an insight driving home from work watching the birds flying over the fields. It took humans hundreds of years of thought and philosophy and theory and scientific study and experimentation to come up with formulae for aerodynamics and then apply them to moving objects such as cars and planes. Geese, on the other hand, have been instinctively flying in the most aerodynamically effective formations since the beginning of their existence. Any gaggle of geese, anywhere in the world, even if they have never set eyes on another family of geese, will know through their innate wisdom – the universal mind, to fly in a sequence which allow a more natural flow and saves energy.
Doesn’t this give some credence to the notion that mind is indeed a collective formless energy from which all of us, all beings come into existence. We might suggest that mind is spiritual, in the sense that it is intangible, it cannot be physically touched or seen, yet we believe in it, we just know that it exists. It exists for all of us, without discrimination. Without it we are not alive, not conscious.
Looking more closely at the Principle of Mind, we use the verb ‘mind’ in quite a different way… “can you just mind my drink / purse/ bag”, “mind your step”, “mind yourself” We tag ‘Mind’ to caring roles; Childminder, Dog Minder, suggesting that mind takes care of things. Looking further back in history there is even mention of mind being a derivative of an archaic German word ‘minne’ meaning ‘love’. So now it starts to make sense that mind is both universal, before each of us and it takes care of us. But for our personal thinking, we are all able connect with nature, with each other and experience well being. Humans are not separate from nature, we are nature
Perhaps by looking within, to that space before thought, before ideas, beliefs and concepts, we might recognise that we are all part of something much bigger. Perhaps we might see, when our thinking quietens, the connection between all of us. What if we are more deeply connected than our thinking allows us to see? What if we all have true happiness and mental well being within us for the taking? What if our innate love and compassion all we really need to feel fulfilled?
I truly believe there is a firm link between our move towards extreme individualism within consumer society and the increase in depression and anxiety we have seen in recent times. We are, through the vast array of media outlets, constantly reminded of the things that we need to have and change in our lives in order to feel better. To make us invest in the belief, we are reminded to compare ourselves to others, seeing ourselves as distinct individuals who have to takes steps to secure our present and future well being. We begin to feel that we are not okay, because we don’t appear the same as others, we don’t have the same things, we don’t achieve as many goals or we don’t have good relationships like they do.
When we begin to understand that its not on us, that we are taken care of no matter what we have or don’t have in our lives, we begin to see our true nature. We start to see that to access true feelings of love and well-being, all we really need to do is connect more deeply with that which unites us all – the universal nature of mind.
Humans are not separate from nature, we are nature.