“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.“
―Morpheus, to Neo in The Matrix
I believe the vast majority of humanity today is unconscious, even though to all external appearances as well as in their own minds they are awake. As I define it, the conscious mind is one that is aware of the layers that make up its existence and the processes that drive its decisions.
At the core of my mind is the whirlpool of thoughts and plans that are the drivers for my actions, and which take in and react to events in my external environment. Underneath this lies the foundation of my evolving beliefs (what I believe is true), built on a bedrock of my values (what I believe is important).
Just as most people do not understand the processes by which their thoughts drive their actions, so too are they ignorant of the construction of their minds, believing that they are a singular identity. I believe however that my mind (and all others) are built of layers, representing the evolution of the human brain, and that these layers have specific purposes, and influences, on thinking.
At the core of my identify is my lizard mind which drives my survival instincts, mediating and reacting to the external world through the senses of the body. Atop that is the voiceless ‘monkey mind’ which makes up the bulk of my consciousness and is the home of my emotions. Lastly is the thin veneer of my articulate rational mind, the voice in my head.
All these layers influence the ones above them, like sock puppets within sock puppets. By the time sense inputs from my environment reach the layer of articulate thought, they are an amalgam of the influences of the minds below, instinctual and emotional. Knowing that this is occurring allows me the opportunity to question my thoughts to see if they are truly rational, or are instead rationalizations, reflecting the desires and influences of my lower minds.
It is the voice of the rational mind that misleads people into thinking that they are awake, simply because the rational mind is the voice they hear in their heads. I believe that for most people, that voice is a reflection of an unconscious mind. Instead of reflecting true rationality, it is instead giving voice to the impulses that arise from our emotional and instinctual minds. What we believe are rational decisions are instead rationalizations driven or derived from these voiceless minds, because people do not realize that there are layers to their minds and that these layers influence their thoughts in specific ways.
Likewise, it seems most people’s beliefs and values, if they are capable of articulating them at all, are not the reflection of rational thoughts and decisions, but are instead the accumulation and hardening of feelings built up throughout their lives. Instead of demonstrating rational thought, they demonstrate solidified feelings, (“this makes me sad, that person is bad because that is what I was raised to believe, that experience makes me feel good therefore it is good, I am good (or bad) based on what others think of me, etc.”). Their beliefs and values are the dust bunnies that have turned into dust dinosaurs, the emotional plaque on the arteries of their consciousness, built through neglect and unexamined accumulation of the experience of daily living, and with no thought or awareness of whether these experiences are either true or valuable.
Becoming conscious for me is the process of understanding what makes up my mind, what drives my thoughts and actions, and what is the most effective way to align these toward living a good life. I will strive to become more fully awake through out my life, and where possible, will work to help awaken others. Call me Neo.