Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Short is Sweet

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. -- Ecclesiastes 5:2

In those ancient days of yore when I was a college student, I didn’t give much thought to challenging what I was told.  I believed some things; I didn’t believe other things, but I did not bother much with trying to figure out why I thought a thing was true or untrue.  I remember one of the few times I did ask myself why.  We were in an Abnormal Psych class and there was a professor from the Philosophy department auditing the class.  Somehow he and I got into a discussion of whether or not there was such a thing as the “subconscious mind”.  He argued there was not. 

As time has gone on, I think he was so wrong that he was almost right.  Obviously, we do have an autonomic nervous system (ANS) that runs the various life-sustaining functions of the body such as respiration, digestion, and circulation of the blood.  This control system can be influenced by our conscious mind – when we are threatened by danger, for example, but not directly manipulated.  I can’t order my heart rate to be 72 instead of 55.  Some people seem to be able to do this, more or less, at will, but it likely involves tricking the ANS into reacting in a certain direction.

I don’t think there is a place in the brain where the subconscious resides, like a well or cave shrouded in mystery or darkness.  The analogy we sometimes use is to describe the “conscious” part of the mind as being like a circle from a flashlight in a dark building.  What’s in the light is that of which we are aware.  Attention may be part of the issue, but when someone talks about the power of the “subconscious” mind, this isn’t what they mean. 

I have come to believe that the brain and the mind are not synonymous.  The conscious mind seems more like a communications hub.  Thoughts, interpretations of sensations, the wash of emotions, impulses, and all the rest come through the conscious mind.  It connects the body and the outside world – but not just the material world of our five senses.  We are also connected to the spiritual, and it is here, in the realm of the spirit, of the eternal, that this powerful mystery we call the subconscious resides. 

When we speak of the heart or the spirit, we are trying to get at this realm that both lies at the center of our being yet is as uncontained as the cosmos itself.  From whence came the music of Mozart or Bach or Bo Diddley?  Where did Dante find The Inferno?   How did Milton know about Paradise Lost or Shakespeare Hamlet?  Many men sailed on whaling ships, but only Melville encountered Moby Dick.  The same can be asked of a multitude of musicians, poets, painters, and the various and sundry geniuses of mathematics, physics and other sciences who have brought us treasures from heaven. 

We should be careful of what we say, listen more than we speak for the kingdom of heaven is within us, and among us.  We abide in Christ, and Christ abides in us.  The Lord warned us against babbling vain repetitions for He hears us, both when we pray and when we curse, and most of us can’t say much without saying something stupid. 

(I prove this myself right here as often as not.)

1 comment:

julie said...

One of the things I often find myself saying to my kids is "Stop talking!" Not because I mind the sound of their voices, but because they are often so busy running their mouths, they leave no room for listening. Much less trusting or understanding. Thus many needless tears are shed.

Re. the subconscious and creativity, I like the idea that people "found" their works. It often feels that way to me.