Tricks of the mind

These days it’s easy to feel submerged by an overflow of information, most of it negative, disturbing or outright shocking. You know exactly what I mean: wars, pollution, corruption, big brother, big banks, big pharma, GMO’s, paedophiles in high positions, etc. etc. Enough to feel depressed or totally cynical about mankind.

And yet, what is the reality of all that? If you think about it with some detachment, all the things you regard as the reality of the world around you are in fact images, sounds, sensations, feelings within your mind. It’s as if a 3D video with special effects was permanently being projected on some inner screen in your mind.

Now try and define exactly what your mind is. Your brain? Nop, many neurones are found in other parts of the body, such as the skin, the stomach, the heart. And many cells other than neurones are involved in our information processing. And all organs generate pulsating electromagnetic fields; for instance the vibrating field produced by the heart extends well beyond our visible body. In fact all our body and its surroundings are full of constantly changing information flows. Our mind is sort of hovering within and around our body.

Let’s dig deeper, and now try and define exactly what your body is. Oh, isn’t that obvious? Nop, the atoms contained in the cells of our body don’t stay put; they change over time. Some are renewed frequently, like the atoms of oxygen you breathe in, or, at a slower pace, the atoms in dead skin being replaced by new skin. After a few months 95% of atoms in our body have changed, and after a year, all have changed. So our body isn’t a well defined semi permanent stack of atoms.

Let’s dig even deeper, and now try and define exactly what an atom is. Most of us learned that it is a tiny nucleus surrounded by even tinier electrons spinning at very high velocity. But then experts in subatomic physics say that the nucleus is composed of minute elementary particles. None of these tiny little things whose existence is assumed in the extraordinary theories of physicists appears to be made of matter. Matter does not seem to exist as such. Elementary particles in the nucleus and electrons are all made of energy. Constantly changing flows of energy controlled by… by what? By information. Intelligent information. Conscious information? Intentional? God ! (sorry) Physics is stretching into metaphysics.

This rushed little walk through physiology, physics, and ultimately metaphysics is only to show that our mind and body are hardly definable from the perspective of fundamental science. And everything else in our ordinary perception of the world is similarly elusive within the framework of fundamental science. The only thing we can reasonably assume is that the universe is made of information and energy. The world as we usually see it is only like a shadow on a wall; the source of information is elsewhere, and it is the light shining on the source that creates the impression we see on the wall.

To the question of what is our mind, you could say it is a piece of software within an infinite ocean of information processing. If you let your software be infected by viruses like fear, despair, resentment, judgment, it will produce disturbing images and disagreeable sensations. If you do your best to have your software full of lucidity, grace, integrity, love, and kindness, it will generate harmonious images and pleasing sensations.

Try it.

And to soothe your mind here is some wonderful music by Erik Satie:

Fear not, work on your software and your body will approve.



Copyright © Leo Foresta 2013


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