Mind, body, and spirit. I know it sounds tired and overused, but it's the best way I can describe it. I like the word "duality" (as in "the duality of light") but it doesn't come in a "three" version. "The Triad" sounds much better, doesn't it?
This is the idea that We (yes, capitalized) are only one of three "parts" that make us up. The Body, the physical part, is all the cells and tissues that make up, well, your body, but it is not you. The Mind is your thoughts and dreams and ideas, but not you. The Spirit is the actual life force (for lack of a less-geeky term) that animates the body and mind and integrates them. The Spirit is the self. It is you.
I often wonder: who’s running the show? Is it me, or my mind? Or are we the same?
I don’t think we are. I mean, if we were, there would be no issue of control. If my thoughts were intrinsic in myself, I wouldn’t have to school them. This lends to my thoughts on the separation of the mind and body; our bodies do stuff we don’t want them to do, so our bodies must not be intrinsic, in a sense.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that when I think of a person (or really of any living thing) I think of the cooperation (or not) of three separate entities: body, mind, and (*grimace*) spirit. Soul. Whatever you want to call it. It’s the fifth element (fire, air, water, earth, spirit). All five elements (and no, I’m not one of those wackjobs that denies the existence of things like calcium and helium) are in varying amounts in every living thing, so yes, every living thing has a soul. My soul is me. I am my soul. The body is a shell, and to an extent the mind is, too. We tack a possessive adjective in front of these things: my body, my mind, my thoughts and feelings and ideas. I know the possessive thing doesn’t always work, because we say things like my soul, but my point is that I can have/own/possess a body and a mind, but I am a soul. (Incidentally, next time someone tells you you’re soulless, you can agree with them. Just a thought.) Think of old sailors talking about seafaring; you know how when a ship sinks they talk about how many souls were lost?
Enough semantics; semantics and arguing about words is so much fun I often get carried away. (sarcastic: “Really?”) This is important to me, so much so that I’ve spent many an hour lost in my head, thinking about the separation of mind, body, and soul. Theoretically, if something (like spirit) was me, it would be completely under my control. (Better:) I wouldn’t have to tell it what to do. There are a lot of things going on in my body and my mind that I don’t know about or at least aren’t consciously controlling; if you think about it that way, it’s extremely fortunate for us that our bodies and minds aren’t us. For instance, I’m a biology major and so I have to learn about all the millions of molecular and cellular processes going on in our various tissues at any given time. On many occasions I’ve thought to myself: “Isn’t it a good thing that I don’t need to know how my body works in order to live?” Essentially, I’d have to understand every single cellular process and remember everything perfectly if I was going to go about consciously controlling my body. Think of it like a construction site; if I was the foreman, I wouldn’t want to have to know everything, and I probably wouldn’t. I’d have a few electrical engineers, some lumber specialists, and some guys who know all about building the framework and struts, and I wouldn’t have to micromanage because they’d be able to operate independently, but in concert with all the other workers. Read: I’d be totally screwed if my bodies was me. So try to wrap your mind around the statement that our bodies and our minds are just that: our bodies and our minds, not us. (I’ll wait.)
Ready? Okay, next question: am I in control of my mind, or is it the other way around? My answer: both.
What an answer, right? But psychologists and doctors and the guy down the street acknowledge the existence of two minds: the conscious and the unconscious (okay maybe not the guy down the street, but he also wears tinfoil hats, so…). And the unconscious mind is defined [in some cases] as the stuff we don’t even know about, much less control. So wouldn’t it be reasonable to jump from “I don’t control it” to “it controls me?” I think so. That of course assumes that there has to be some controller somewhere in the equation, and I think that it’s mine (not a part of me, as we already went over).
Well sometimes it is me, I think. When an issue is under the purview of my conscious mind, it’s in my control. Therefore I–the soul–am controlling it.
Sum it up, you say? Okay: I don’t think anything can be put in a box. I think that everything falls somewhere on a spectrum. So any thought, any action is a blend of conscious and unconscious. Nothing is certain.
NB this is my 11/23/10 post.