I am reading Strangers to Ourselves – and it is doing a good job of helping me understand my unconscious minds and my conscious mind.
I have discovered, once again, when I learned how to meditate – that the conscious mind is continually preoccupied with random nonsense.
Meditation practitioners believe that ignoring the conscious mind and concentrating on the unconscious mind will provide immense benefits – the nature of these expected benefits varies from school to school – but Insight Meditators have learned – from bitter experience – that its benefits are limited mainly to calming the mind, so that it doesn’t go completely berserk – which it sometimes does. Insights sometimes happen (as they did to the Buddha) – but they may not be of lasting benefit – as the history of Buddhism itself amply demonstrates.
To get ahead, the conscious and unconscious minds must be used together.
Any social animal has an unconscious collective mind – that works very well. The tiny ants (with their tiny brains) who explore my apartment continually, are good examples. They will be here long after we are gone.
We became the dominant species on earth because of our huge brains – that made Language and Consciousness possible. The conscious mind can think – it can remember what has happened in the past, and can use that information to plan its future. It can time-travel.
I can also go crazy – it can take some of that random nonsense and think it is real. If this happened to a species of ants – if they developed inaccurate perceptions of reality – they would immediately become extinct. But for humans this can happen gradually – we can become crazy about some things, but remain sane about others.
This is the situation we are in now – we have incredible technical skills (such as the computer I am using now) but woefully inadequate social skills. We have a global economy and television – but don’t begin to have the social skills to manage them.
We have bitten off far more than we can chew.