Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Intention, Desire, and The Functions of the Mind

Here is a small piece i wrote on the nature of intention and desire.

The content of all of our experiences, our perceptions; whether conscious, or subconscious.... 'we' are that. The mind has a function which can mix memories, reorganize them cut them up, this is what we call thinking. The self mistakenly associates its self with these accumulations of memory. It simply doesn't know that it isn't an idea. For example, we desire to be like our rich uncle; he is funny, has charisma, everyone likes him. We may desire to be like a great kung fu master that we saw once; he is noble and brave, and everyone looks up to him. All these things, these ideas, we create from memory. We have the image of our uncle, or masters, or whatever; our assimilations of how they might act... all this is based upon memory, and the assimilations are simply rearrangements of those memories with other memories to create this image, this ideal based upon our desire to become like them, or not like them (which is the same thing). This is a very simple thing to understand. We can see this in our own lives, this process happening over and over. We therefore create these ideas of what we think happiness or freedom is based upon our experiences.

This brings us to another function that the brain is capable of. It has a very basic function that it uses to do every day tasks. Its easy to understand through example. Lets say there is an apple tree on the other side of a river. We feel hunger and see the apple tree on the other side. The water is quite deep and so we go about devising a plan to get to the tree by building a raft. From memory we know that logs float, we know that vines can be used to bind things, so we go about the forest with these images kind of laid over our perceptions whilst searching for these components to build a raft. It is similar to a filter that is placed between the sensory information and the comprehension that fits our necessity to construct this idea, this image of this raft that is in the mind. This is a basic and necessary function of the mind. It uses this process to accomplish tasks and is completely sane and orderly.

Perception, Mental filters
Picture i made describing the filter overlay of perception.

But there is a problem... at some point the mind mistakenly began to use this same function in the field of the purely subjective, psychologically. Here we can speculate how exactly that came about, but maybe if we go into it a bit further it will add some clues to our present state. What is our present state? The world is fucked up. We are killing each other senselessly, living in pain, fear, and so on. And in our fear, or maybe our ignorance, we use this function which overlays these filters into our perception (purposefully distorting our perception) in a manner that is fractional and divided. Let me explain, and maybe you can see it in your self. Like we said earlier, there is the image we have of the raft, of the right sized logs, of the vines and such, and this is a necessary function that is quite helpful in the process of constructing the raft. We use this same function now in a different realm, where it may soon become apparent that it leads to the mess of the ego and all the horrible things it has done in its quest for accumulation. I say accumulation because at some point the mind has mistakenly taken a self as association to these ideas. Like the memory of the correctly sized logs and vines, we have the image of the rich uncle, the master, the noble one, the compassionate one, and we go about our day using these images that come directly from experience, maybe mash them up a bit, jumble them around so it doesn't look so obvious that we are merely imitating instead of living, and we go about constructing our 'selves' (just as we construct the raft) according to all of our desires, our accumulations of images that we think will make us great (the objective; which is same as the goal of satisfying our hunger via the apple tree).

IPB Image

What we think we are is thought itself. Therefore, we accumulate, assimilate, and impose (almost literally super-impose) these memories in our perception; purposefully distorting our perception in order to assimilate our desires, or rather to cover our inadequacies and fear of the unknown. In assimilating these ideas, we warp our bodies accordingly, most of this is subconscious and shows up in our movements. When we are able to see this whole process is it not the end of it? Do you see our predicament? Any move towards happiness is only prolonging our suffering. We try and escape our suffering by running to the images of the uncle, of the master and so on. The running away is the accumulation, the desire. So we have a predicament. Maybe if you are with me, following along, seeing this whole process in your self, you now see this predicament. Any move towards happiness, or freedom is the self accumulating, imitating. It is fear. It sees what it is, well it doesn't truly see what it is or it would be over, but it has seen pain and hurt, and it doesn't want to experience that again, so it runs to these ideas it has so it doesn't have to feel that thing which it does not know. So really we are afraid of the unknown (but to our minds we are afraid of the known, which is the memories of pain), especially when the mind mistakes itself as known; the memories, the charismatic uncle, the ideas. My girlfriend breaks up with me so i go to the movies to feel good; i have the movies, like the logs, the goal of feeling good, and i strive for that. I dont feel the pain, or whatever it is that i believe is there. I dont know whats there, but im afraid.... so i run to the movies, to the rebound girlfriend or whatever.

We talk of intention, but im not so sure that intention is something that is to be striven for. I think we are putting the cart before the horse. The question of aligning intention with spirit... i see this as a byproduct. Right now we are fragmented, broken, divided. We have all these images, these conflictions that are incoherent... this is misalignment. Strife, desire; this is the division. We associate ourselves with our styles of martial arts, our religions, or whatever ten thousand things it may be, and this is division.Intention is the byproduct of wholeness, and to understand the nature of wholeness is to understand the nature of division, the nature of strife. Im not talking about the perfectly natural goal of getting the apple from the tree on the other side of the river. Im talking about the nature of the goals, or the desire we have psychologically. If you see this whole process, isn't that the end of the process? Its like the hot stove, maybe when you are a child you touched the stove unknowingly, you felt the heat. You saw this clearly, after that, there was no questioning. If i place the hand over the stove there is no question. There is no choice, there is no time. I dont choose to take my hand away from the stove. Seen clearly, and pulled away. When i am walking and almost step off of a cliff, i jump back! There is no time for choice, i dont say, "hmm, well should i jump back?" I have seen the danger of things fallen, and the damage it can cause, i have no room for choice. The confused mind is the one that chooses. So can we see this whole process of the brain, the whole of it at once, the tricks it uses, and how it uses them... Can we stay with that thing, when we experience pain or whatever it may be... can we watch it without calling it something? Cause when we call it something we are really running. Can we watch it, feel it with everything? Alignment of intention and spirit isn't something that can be striven for. It comes uninvited. It comes as the result of watching, of sensing and feeling. If you are with me on this, and not accepting what i am saying, but instead with me... then is that thing happening?