Saturday, 28 February 2009

Mind, Conciousness, Ego and Nature

Reflections, paraphrase or direct copying of part of Ecopsychology (Roszak, Gomes and Kanner. Sierra Club Books, 1995) that I have picked up to continue reading again:

The concept of the "Mind" is usually usually seen as a label for the "psyche" or "mental processe" that is unique to any individual and doesn't exist beyond their existence.

There is a line of thought that has suggested that the Mind is the sum of all the natural processes and the information that emanates from an individual. Mind is also an immanent (existing or operating within; inherent; (of God) permanently pervading and sustaining the universe) property of the universe. Thus Mind is not just the property of an individual, but exists beyond it. Mind is more fundamental that consciousness, it encompasses all consciousness. Buddhist philosophy reflects this, apparently.

Do I agree with that? How do I feel that my mind may in some way extend beyond the property of my being? Can I exist beyond my physical nature? How about the idea of a universal consciousness that is so often talked about? Is God the Mind?

Consciousness would therefore be a property of the Mind that allows us to have a self-reflective experience. It arises out of Mind and exists in various relationships with it. In our urban-industrial Western culture consciousness is often experienced as being separate from Mind. We have developed our modern culture and society through being conscious of our actions, creativity, developments and life enhancing abilities. But has this ability to self-reflect, be addicted to knowledge and to process information taken us too far and have we become alienated from the grounding to the earth around us?

Then there is the Ego (a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance; the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity). We could consider the "Ego" as a collection of cognitive (the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses) abilities that quite simply exists to serve our various need-fullfilling activities. So... we have needs and our Ego enables us to fullfill those by our desire to be something...

So if our Ego takes over much of our thought processes - it can get overstimulated and used to excess and this is the cause of our split from natural processes or rather it would lead us to believe that to be so. Our urbanised and industrial culture tends to reinforce this conviction.

Our culture seems to have inflated "distinction making" so that it dominates our Ego and entire consciousness. We could say that our conscious is split from Mind - and I am not now really understanding this passage - and this reinforces our separation from Nature even though we are immersed in it. Domination of Nature occurs, and exploitation - because of the imbalance caused by our Ego......

Thus when we have wilderness or deep nature based experiences psychological changes take place within us that is a shift from that which is culturally reinforced - dualism-producing reality becomes more of a non-dualistic mode. Consciousness becomes dominated by the need-crazed Ego leaving a simpler "nonegoic" awareness in its wake. This seems to encourage a greater openess to Mind - that is, to the more natural flow of information from nature. If you open you mind to natural processes then nature reinforces itself; likewise cultural processes reinforce culture.

This can make the transition between being out in the wilderness/countryside and returning to the urban world difficult (don't I know it!) because of the widely divergent forms of egoic processing and accompanying different modes of consciousness. People can feel "open" and "airy" in wilderness and "tight" and "turgid" (swollen and distended or congested) in urban culture.

How do people enter the wilderness experience psychologically? Some may cross it physically but not psychologically - they may take cultural comforts with them and not really cross the boundary to the extent they could do. Some wilderness experiences are designed to develop skills dictated as "useful" or "empowering" by our culture, and if that culture is destructive towards nature then there is a problem. Nature is exploited to meet the voracious needs of culture.

Humans have the idea [...] that we are above natural processes rather than immersed in them. We have thought, and continue to treach our children to think, that we can control nature, at least most of the time, and we have felt validated in the belief by the modest success of some of or own inventions.

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