June 11, 2017, John Æonid
I've become convinced that in inner reflection we only observe the mind according to the behavior of the mind, and a mind that is perfectly quieted exhibits no behavior, and thus appears invisible, absent, missing, or nonexistent.
Why is this important? Well, there are those who say there's no such thing as mind. If they expect it to be like an object, then no, there isn't. Or, at least, there is not a mind that can be observed when it's at rest. Why? Because the mind is not an observable thing; it's only known through its behavior. Something fuels that behavior, but I doubt anyone will find it through inner reflection. Reflection is the activity of the mind, and when you quiet that to an absolute level, there is nothing going on to do the observing.
When we pursue knowledge of a thing, we need to be mindful of how things work. We do not get to observe our own minds from outside. We only get to know our external appearance in the mirror. And, we only get an inkling of how others perceive us by what they reflect back to us in their behavior.
By existing in a limited consciousness, we are limited in what we can know and have direct experience of. We only have direct experience of our own thoughts and perceptions. The senses through which we perceive will always have some margin of error. And, if we do not take care to understand these limitations, the things we call truth may be grave errors—even to the point of inciting inquisitions and holy war.
When we are unconscious, there is no observer to observe any mind. When we are conscious, there is something that observes, but there is no mirror to observe that thing that observes. And when we think, we can observe the thoughts, but there is no thought that creates a mirror, and the observer still cannot see itself.
In technology, we can build into a system diagnostic tools capable of providing indicators of how various components of a system are operating, but often there are not diagnostics for every component. We now have tire pressure sensors in our cars. We used to have to manually check with a hand-held gauge. But, we still have to manually check the oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant, and wind-shield washer fluid.
The only thing that evolution gave us along these lines was self reflection. That is, self reflection is the only self-diagnostic that we've evolved. And still, it's possible for a person to go crazy and lose their mind. But, we probably wouldn't notice without social interaction. If we didn't have others to compare our thoughts with, we wouldn't have much reason to question our sanity.
Imagine coming across a childhood friend after some number of decades. The recognition in such meetings provides us with a guage of how much we have an identity, as well as how well that identity persists with the changes we go through over a lifetime. We really aren't one person throughout our lifetimes, we are many. But we experience this as a progression of changes, in a developing personality and changing body. That progression does not split at any point to become multiple beings. Nor does it merge with another being to become something new. We recognize that this is part of the human experience. This is the reason we allow a person that changes over time to have a unique identity one that they can retain throughout their entire lifetime.
Social interaction is in fact very important to our concept of mind and consciousness. If we weren't interacting with others, we likely would not ponder these things. Societies don't have names for things that aren't useful. For instance, a culture will only have names for colors that are useful. There are tribes that only have the colors black and white. Why have names for other colors if it's not useful. We have named mind and consciousness because it's useful. It's useful in deciding if our culture is sane and heading in the right direction.
Some other very important words that have come into being include constructiveness, collaboration, cooperation. There is also sympathy and empathy. Ultimately, we get to the greatest words: Compassion and Love. This search for the mind is only an examination of our own sanity, and meditation on the mind is only an examination of our spiritual sanity. That is, are we really doing Love and Compassion right? Whether we really have a mind or not is only as important as the degree of Love and Compassion that it brings out.
Peace, Blessings, Insight, and Clarity