Monday, November 29, 2010

Some Thoughts About Thoughts

One of the recurring themes I prattle on about on this blog is one of consciousness. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say the fringe elements of consciousness. This is interesting to me because when you stop to think about it, none of really understand all that much about the everyday operating systems we 'are'* to begin with, yet so many of us feel compelled to root around in dreams, the subconscious (are they the same thing?) and altered states when there's a whole mess of stuff we don't really comprehend about ourselves in the waking hours, while we're at work, or running, talking with friends (or enemies), driving, what have you.

So maybe we should stop to think about some of this, eh?

A number of years ago I can remember sitting shotgun in my car as my wife (then girlfriend) piloted us from Chicago to her home state Ohio. I'd been driving for a time and I was still lost in that slightly exhausted, hypnogogic state that accompanies long term driving zone-out mind. As I sat there, in and out of what may have been sleep or may have been something... different (ie trance-like). And all I could think about was where in the hell these things currently occupying my consciousness were really located.

Okay, that may be a bit... these lines of thought are often difficult if not impossible to convert into language so let me try this a bit different.

Think about your head. Now turn your focus to those thoughts you just had at my suggestion. And so on, down the line until there is an entire trail of thoughts you can trace back to their source, the screen in front of you. What you should have is a probably slightly wavering bridge of thoughts, concepts, ideas that bring you to the present. So thoughts occur over time, and you can go backward in time, so to speak, using them. But where are those thoughts, exactly? If you're like me you picture them somehow encased within the walls of your head, but there's also a lot of other stuff in there. Do they take up space? If they occur in time then theoretically one might expect them to be somehow physical, but then how small are they all to fit inside the ol' dome? And where do they go when they're not in use? I can recall a bunch of stuff about, say, junior high school, because that just sprung to mind, but then that probably won't be there for much longer after I finish this post. So where is this in-between space where the thoughts are stored? Try to imagine, if you will, a height, width or depth to the space between your ears. Can't really, right? Kind of like trying to fathom what's in every single room on that skyscraper you see in the photos of a major metropolitan area.

So the question is, why do we spend so much time distracting ourselves with the fringe areas of our psyche when there's all these grand questions about how we actually operate everyday? Essentially, as I understand it, meditation is the exploration of our real time phenomenon of consciousness, the problem of course is in order to analyze thinking you kinda have to stop yourself from thinking, and that, especially in this era of internet-induced ADHD, isn't the easiest thing to do.

Just saying.


Blbej said...

You should check out the book, "The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness" by Jeff Warren.

Shawn C. Baker said...

I will. Thank You very much for the tip sir...