The Mind region combines sensing and intellect. It has the ability to see and hear the world, to make sense of things, sort them out, and figure out how they fit together. It also answers questions for the lower regions when they have a problem they can’t solve.
I think the overall purpose of the Mind is to figure out how to achieve our wishes in ordinary reality. Sometimes it takes a skillful Mind to even figure out what our wishes are. Ordinary reality can be very confusing. To understand the Mind we have to look at its three processes, sensing, sorting, and thinking.
Let’s start by looking at sensing. When I talk about sensing, I include all of the senses, including the third eye.
The mystery of using the eyes to see, the ears to hear, or the skin to feel is wonderful. The senses pass information to all the other regions of the soul.
We need to get away from the current Western idea that the senses are just mundane physical things while the “third eye” is totally spiritual and, somehow, more special. All the senses are special and represent aspects of our souls.
I want to take a moment to talk about the third eye because it is so important in current Western thought. When New Age people look at the descriptions of the Mind region found in Eastern traditions, they focus on the third eye. They believe it is how we mystically understand the “deep connectedness between all things.”
Connections are important, of course. The problem with saying the third eye is the major point for deep connection is that it is a tiny spot in the middle of the forehead (or pineal gland). We don’t run all of our connections through one spot in the soul. It isn’t that simple. Every part of our soul connects with every part of every other soul.
We need to study Heart connecting to Heart, Will connecting to Will, and all the rest. To know our place in soul reality, we need to look at all of these. If the third eye has a special function, it is most likely to be the part of the Mind that brings connections between regions into our consciousness. The other sensing that brings the outside world to all of the regions of our souls is more important.
In my model the second process of the mind is sorting. Zen and other traditions believe that consciousness sorts the raw sensory data and passes some of it on. They call it a sixth sense organ. I prefer to leave it separate from the senses as a process of its own. Either way, the result is that only part of the information from our senses gets used in the thought process. Other sensory data get used in the processes of the other regions.
The third process of the Mind region is thought. Dreams are part of that process. When we sleep, the senses are shut off. It gives the other regions of the soul a chance to bring their concerns to the Mind. One reason we need sleep is to give the other regions of the soul a chance to access the Mind. One reason dreams seem so chaotic is that the realities of the other regions of the soul are very different from the Mind region’s view of reality.
The Mind processes the information given to it and, in the end, suggests actions for the other soul regions to consider. I think the final decisions on what to do are made in the other regions of the soul. For example, we don’t think about what we should do in a relationship, we “follow our Heart.” We are usually better off, though, when our Heart is informed by our Mind.
Thought happens when the Mind region of the soul and the physical brain work together. We have a very powerful physical brain that lets us think much more precisely than Mind alone is able to. We may have worked for billions of years to evolve it, or God may have given it to us, or both. When our brain is damaged, we don’t think as well. It’s another case where the physical is an important part of who we are. We need our physical brain to live in the physical world.
I use the word “Mind” to refer to part of the soul. I use the word “brain” to refer to the nerve cells in the head. We probably should add nerve cells in other parts of the body. There is evidence that the 100 million nerve cells in our digestive tract may be responsible for what we call “gut reactions” such as deciding what to eat and how to react to a threat. There are similar nerve cells near the physical heart. They seem to be activated by emotions.
There is clear evidence that the Mind is connected with the brain. There is also evidence that the Mind does things that can’t be explained if the Mind is only in the brain. Let’s start by looking at a fairly typical story of an out-of-body experience.
Phyllis Rodin told me about when she was driving an open-top sports car, probably too fast, and went off the road on a sharp turn. Here’s what I remember of the story: She was thrown from the car and knocked out. At least her brain was knocked out. Her soul, including her Mind, was standing off to the side watching what happened. She went with the emergency crew as they took her body to the hospital. Later, at the hospital, her soul made the decision to go back into the body. From the medical team’s point of view she woke up. Of course, from her point of view, she was aware the whole time.
There are books of near death experiences that tell similar stories. Astral projection and shamanic soul journeys, where the soul travels away from the body, are similar. All of these reports show that the Mind is more than the brain.
Another way we can see that Mind is more than brain is by looking at memory. Western belief is that memories are stored in the brain. Scientists do a lot of hand waving about ideas like holographic fields and neural networks to explain how memories are stored. People who have created artificial neural networks are extremely dubious of any claims that the physical brain and/or the neural connections in it are responsible for memories.
For example, Mark Lawrence wrote about an experiment with caterpillars and butterflies. Caterpillars were taught to avoid an odor. When the caterpillars turned into butterflies, the butterflies avoided the same odor. When Mark sent out his newsletter, several people said it was amazing that the caterpillars could store that kind of information in their nervous system as they became butterflies. The only problem is that there is no nervous system when the change happens. Everything is broken down into primitive compounds. There isn’t any physical structure to store memories. It’s a place where biology based on the physical world is running into problems. However, if we allow butterflies to have a butterfly soul, then there is a place to store memories.
A fair question at this point is, how does the Mind store memories? But there actually is a better question: Do we believe that only the Mind region stores memories? I think the answer is a clear no. Regions store information that works with the life force they process. How are they stored? I don’t know.
What I do know is that the Mind region senses, sorts, and thinks. It connects us to ordinary reality. It also suggests possibilities for the lower regions when they need help with their ordinary reality interactions.
Life Force Processing
The Mind region holds the most complex information and symbology that we can handle. We build up systems to help us plan our actions and predict outcomes. The systems aren’t as complex as the ones we find in insights from the Form region. Still, we can make them complete and self-consistent if we try hard enough.
We store and analyze patterns. Our consciousness, which is our thoughts about ourselves, is handled by this region. This is where we think and remember. It is our connection with the physical brain.
In addition, the Mind region reaches out into the world with the senses to gather information. All regions store their own types of memories, but the Mind memories are the ones we usually use when we talk about remembering something.
The Mind region is able to send and receive some energy. We talk about people having a great mental force. When we say someone can give others creative insights, it probably means the person can transmit life force that contains Mind region energy. Compared to the lower regions, this is not a lot of energy, though. The Mind region deals more with information.
Heart and Mind
In Western culture, we are split on the relative importance of Heart and Mind. Will is sometimes mentioned, too, but usually because it makes Heart of Mind stronger. I think it’s worthwhile to take a moment to compare the two.
Mind is the region intellectuals prefer. They use their Minds to understand the world. They think the Heart and its emotions get in the way of living a life that makes sense. For them, if the Mind can’t deal with something, it isn’t important.
What they leave out is that the Mind can ignore a lot of what is out there. Mind can’t process love, as anyone in love knows. Love only works with the Heart. In fact, any kind of connecting and cooperating needs the Heart.
Others favor the Heart as being more important. They distrust the Mind because it is isolated in one person. They think the connections are what matters most.
I think the best plan is to use both because each has a distinct purpose. Sandra Ingerman and Hank Wesselman point out (Ingerman & Wesselman, 2010) that
In shamanic literature, the words “shamanic seeing” refer to seeing with our hearts rather than with our eyes. The shamans and visionaries of all the world’s traditions know that the spirits make contact with us through the doorway in our hearts, and what we receive through that channel is sent to our higher mind, our intellect, our egoic soul or self, which then thinks about it, analyzes and integrates it, and makes decisions about it…
Everything that happens or is perceived in a shamanic journey is part of the answer to the question we have asked, and the intellect’s job is to assign meaning to the symbols that we have perceived and to figure them out. The heart and the mind are thus in relationship.
It’s not just Heart and Mind. I think all of the soul regions are vital for understanding who we are as creatures living between the chaos below and the gods above.
The lessons for the Mind region look at how we deal with information. There are many possible exercises. We can choose from sensing, sorting, and thinking. For this book, I want to look at dreaming.
One Minute Exercise
Dreams process the questions of other regions of the soul. For this exercise think of three recent dreams. It’s best to use dreams while you are asleep, but daydreams count, too. If you can’t remember a sleep dream or if you can’t find three dreams of any kind, see the note after the exercise.
Write down four pieces of information for each dream.
• A brief description of the dream.
• The wish behind the dream.
• Which region of your soul asked the question.
• What the Mind suggested should be done.
This can easily be turned into a long-term exercise to find out about yourself. Put something to record your dreams beside your bed. When you wake up from a dream, write down the four pieces of information. Add how long you have been asleep. Then go back to sleep.
The question about how long you have been asleep is because I suspect there is some kind of order to the soul regions asking their questions. I’m hoping you will write down 20 or so dreams and send the information about the region and how long you have been asleep to me. I don’t want to know the description, the question, or the answer. That’s private.