Note: The following is an imaginary conversation with a bright pre-adolescent, a talented dancer whose style evokes comparison with a wild Siberian tiger. Her voice is in regular font, mine in italics.
The Ultimate in Cool
You were up there on stage at the South Coast Botanic Garden. I was? Doing what? Doing your world-renowned Dance of the Wild Siberian Tiger. An elegant, svelte, supremely beautiful beast. Untamed. Master of her environment, allowing herself to be admired but belonging to no one. Super cool -- that’s me! That is you. The beauty and seductiveness of style. The Toast of the Coast. And more. How can there be more when I’m already a star?
An image of two absolutes: absolute authority and absolute freedom. Two of the most compelling and consequential drivers of human thought and behavior in all of history. Forces of nature that ideally no one and nothing can limit. Wow! I knew my tiger was important but not this important! How did this happen?
Something with this much hold on the human Psyche must have deep roots, and it does. It goes all the way back to when our one ancestral Mind imagined that it was many bodies. To our split identity between Mind and brain. But first, does your tiger have a name? If she does she hasn’t told me. Well, while we’re waiting I have a suggestion. “Rousseau.”
Calvin had Hobbes. Who was that? A boy in a comic strip with a stuffed tiger that he brought to life with his imagination. They were great friends and had fun, and they were entertaining. Cool! Thomas Hobbes was a 17th century English philosopher who thought human nature needs to be under universal absolute authority to be civilized. An 18th century Swiss philosopher thought it’s more like “noble savages,” essentially good but corruptible by tribes. His name was Jean Jacques Rousseau. Their philosophies live on in the great political and economic debates of today.
He was a guy. My tiger is a girl. Can we call her “Rose” while I think about it? Of course!
The one Mind that’s Logic combined with Love
So what’s this about minds and brains?
“Mind” and “brain” are two distinct entitles with two distinct sources and two distinct functions. They occupy two distinct worlds or “realities:” one that’s real and the other that isn’t because there can only be one Reality. You’ll need Mind to understand this because brains are matter that depend on their bodies’ five senses. They only see what’s in front of their eyes. The sixth sense of minds -- Intuition -- helps them sense the other world.
Our minds are actually one Mind. Their source is the fusion of two distinct functions in one Relationship. Functions of thinking and feeling with Logic and Love. All the things that our minds do when they make sense and decide, judge and choose. When they stand up for good values and try to do what’s right. Understanding plus conscience.
The Relationship between Logic and Love is between equals that aren’t complete without one another. Mind can’t make sense and do the right thing without the values of Love, and it can’t move forward and get things done if it doesn’t have the direction and discipline of Logic. Neither can Create without the other -- Create new life, new compositions of beauty and joyfulness. Everything that gives Creation its Worth. That makes it worth doing.
Creation that requires Logic and Love working together in harmony but also working with something else that’s necessary: Free Choice. If we think of Logic as Choice and Love as Freedom Free Choice is their Child. With its own distinct definition and function that Creation needs, acting freely without interference. Its own Self along with its own function.
It’s able to choose freely because of two conditions. The first is Order: the laws of cause and effect that apply to everything. Civilization “under the law.” The second is Relationship: the connection between Free Choice and its source, the Mind of Logic and Love.
Connection that’s part of something larger that holds everything together: the Force of Energy that we call “Soul.” Interconnectedness. Everything fitting together in the harmony we call “Order” because it’s all directed and disciplined by Mind. By Logic and Love. Then Rose and I can be soulmates. You can if she’s an agent of Soul and not absolute authority and freedom. To understand that the source of Energy -- of power -- is Soul, and that Soul is Innocence that Interconnects everything, is to begin to understand its true nature. To understand how helpful it can if we make it our friend.
What’s wrong with absolute authority and freedom? Aren’t they good? History tells us that between the two ideals, being part of Soul that Interconnects everything and part of absolute authority and freedom, only one is helpful. The other is harmful. There can’t be a Force of nature that no one and nothing can limit. Like Palpatine and his Galactic Empire, it’s a fantasy. It’s OK if Rose portrays a beautiful but impossible ideal in performing arts. It’s done all the time. Having unlimited authority and freedom is like winning the lottery. But it’s dangerous when we try to make it real. This will take some explaining. I’ll try.
Living the dream
The source of mind’s thinking is one Mind. The individual Free Choice that’s our ancestral Mind. It can’t not exist since it’s part of Reality and it can’t not have Choice if it’s part of Creativity. All it has to do is to use its talents for Logic and Love to take part in Creation. In other words, Mind in Reality is Logic and Love working together to Create Life and Worth in Relationship with their Child, Free Choice. Then what is the brain?
Brain is a copy of Mind in reverse -- Mind’s opposite. It came about when the Mind of the Child of Logic and Love lost consciousness. When it dreamed what we can think of as an alternate “reality” that seems real to us but isn’t. If it’s a dream how can it seem so real? It seems so real because we rely on our brains and their bodies’ five senses to tell us what’s real and they’re part of the dream. And because the Force of Soul that Interconnects Reality is temporarily animating the dream. The dream will end?
Logic says so and so does physics: the energy that powers our universe is headed for inertia. It’s dying. So we think we’re experiencing Reality when all we’re experiencing is Energy activating a dream, with our bodies’ senses providing the 3-D movie projector. All in Technicolor! Real but unreal.
The code that defines the dream
The Mind unconscious and the brains of the bodies that it’s dreaming both contain the same code that defines the dream. The opposite of the Logic and Love that define Reality and Creation, and so it’s always pulling us into the dream away from Reality. Always misleading us into misperceptions, misjudgments, and wrongdoing. Why? Because Reality-Creation is Good and the code that defines the dream is its opposite. Parting with this thing that’s messing with our character and values, our thinking and relationships, is the great task of humanity. It’s why we’re talking about it.
Why did the Child lose consciousness? I’m writing a book about it. A book I read about philosophy and theology said nobody so far has come up with a rational explanation. Then my intuition -- my sixth sense -- started explaining with insights that made sense. That was over three years ago. The book is still writing itself. When will you be done? When the insights tell me I’m done. So far they’re not letting up. I have to ignore the clock.
Are minds and brains both helping with the great task of humanity? They are, but since they’re both deluded by the dream’s code it’s mostly inadvertent. Inadvertent? Unintentional, indirect. Brains belong to bodies and bodies are hard-wired into the dream. They have a different agenda, but their work still adds to our understanding. Minds with their sixth sense are receptive to other perspectives that aren’t hard-wired into the dream. It’s this other dimension that can get us somewhere.
Two contexts, two agendas
What’s different about their agendas? Mind’s context is the individual, brain’s the tribe or the herd. It’s because they have opposite sources: Child Mind-the-one in Reality and Child Mind-the-many in unreality -- in the alternate “reality” or dream defined by the code.
We are equipped with two kinds of thinking -- brains and minds -- because we are two kinds of beings. Not a contradiction because, remember, only one is Real. We are tribes that need brains to disempower individuality for conformity and families of personalities that need minds to empower individuality for creativity. If Mind is one Child creating in Reality with its Parents, brain is many versions of Child in unreality socializing many versions of the beast. Many beasts in humanity’s animal brain that need to be organized and controlled so the tribe-herd survives.
One part of the brain, the amygdala, links us to our distant past when we were animals that hadn’t yet become humans. We’re animals? We still are, only now with a difference. Ape evolved into Homo and Homo evolved into Homo Sapiens. Sapiens is Latin meaning “rational.” The amygdala at the base of the brain acquired a talent for thinking at the top: the prefrontal cortex. Sapiens.
Socializing many beasts
If we’re civilized humans it’s because we have minds as well as brains and because our cortex, generally but not always, tames the beast in our amygdala. It socializes the tribe so individual members cooperate when they have to hunt prey, fight with other tribes, or raise their young. To do whatever it takes to survive in a world of tribes. Without the cortex it would be like herding cats. What does “socializing” mean?
We equate socializing and sociable with agreeable, social life with fun. But what’s behind “social” isn’t intimacy among individuals. It isn’t Love, trust, and honesty that validate our distinctive personalities, empower creativity, and make us soulmates. Brain doesn’t care about any of this. It’s making its members wear mental uniforms to preserve its integrity. Imposing the sameness of conformity so personalities that define our individuality and enable intimacy disappear into a group. So they don’t make trouble by challenging its authority.
Socializing brings the tribe’s beasts under control by imposing discipline on behavior within and among groups. The graphic book I sent not long ago helps to explain the neuroscience. Oh, that book. Right. It’s called “Two Heads: A Graphic Exploration of How Our Brains Work with Other Brains.” Clear evidence from people who study the brain that it’s not concerned with us as individuals. Then what is it concerned about?
Brain is only concerned about us as tribes. And as we’ll see this doesn’t necessarily mean it cares about us. It wants us to belong but once we do it’s not certain that it’s for our own good. Not if tribes get into fights. Not if they start world wars and threaten mass annihilation. The belonging of tribes is not the Loving of individuals. It may not even be the loving of tribes.
Great performing art
So why do we need minds if we’re civilized? We need minds because brains socializing beasts so that tribes can maintain group integrity in competition isn’t the same as civilizing. The wealth and happiness we get from minds is purpose and meaning. The heart of civilization that needs forward movement, led by vision toward a destination that stands for something. Toward a shared ideal. Toward Worth that has substance and consequence. Toward the integrity of individual character and values.
Socializing and civilizing are different functions performed by two different agents with different agendas. If we’re talking about our animal brain It means giving its unthinking will and emotion, its raw energy, direction and discipline. We direct it with reason and values. With conscience that knows right from wrong. And we discipline it with the judgment of Logic that establishes and enforces boundaries. It’s called “governance.” Civilization.
Brains preoccupied with tribes may seem to have our best interests at heart, but do they really? They begin life with play at dominance in competition. When they’re done with procreation they take on tribal competition for real as if looking for something to occupy us. All the while distracting us with style instead of substance, seduction instead of connection. Is that what was happening when Rose and I danced? You and Rose were being seductive with style and it made for great performing art! Great entertainment.
From one to three dimensions
The seductions of “action” consist of physical and emotional pleasure, pain, and winning and losing in tribal competition. Contrivances without purpose and meaning going nowhere. Every man for himself. A script composed by a writer who has no real idea what he’s doing and so he’s making it up. Unaware that his real purpose may not be to entertain and be entertained but to grow up.
Minds come to the fore with contemplation when brains step back after procreation. Individuals released from conformance to groups share wisdom and compassion that adds depth to the purpose and meaning of civilization. A world that had seemed like a one-dimensional comic strip of unfeeling, self-centered action figures takes on an added dimension. The depth of judgment, insight, and understanding from mind’s sixth sense. From the individual’s Free Will.
The servant that must never be master
Energy -- the “Force” popularized by “Star Wars” -- acts at the direction and under the discipline of Mind because it’s the servant of Mind. The relationship between our animal brain and the brain’s socializing function in the prefrontal cortex is servant to master. Without the civilizing influence of Mind our animal will has no intelligence of its own to guide it. To put it to its intended use, which is to supply motivation, passion, drive. To translate thought and feeling into action. To back up civilized thinking with force. With instinct that acts when there’s no time for thought. What happens when servant takes over?
It's what happened to 1930s Germany: thinking, conscience, and judgment of Mind are all taken over by a predator. The human animal reverts to animal, the state we were in before we became human. Before ape evolved into homo sapiens. Only worse because now the animal in us has access to all the ways sapiens can think of to dominate and destroy. Like handing the nuclear code to Frankenstein’s monster. I think I’ve heard this story before. We all have. Technology comes up with new stuff and always it falls into the wrong hands. Germany was working to develop the atomic bomb when WWII ended.
The power of the dark side
To prevent servant becoming master we make sure that Rose, our wild Siberian tiger, hasn’t transformed from an agent of Soul into an ideal of absolute authority and freedom. We make sure that we haven’t transformed ourselves into Rose the wrong ideal. What would happen if we did? We would eventually revert to living in caves and hunting and foraging. Without civilization. Civilization is the rule of law that applies to everyone. The “ideal” of absolute authority and freedom is the opposite: lawlessness. It’s where authoritarian regimes like Germany’s were taking us.
The raw power of beast combined with style, the exquisite gracefulness of beauty that you and Rose portrayed, is capable of casting a spell over the human imagination. So compelling that some would rather let it rule and live under its spell. Who does that? Authoritarians who want our world to be ruled by the Force of will that is Energy ungoverned by Mind. Because that’s who they want to be. “Conservatives” who don’t like democracy because it governs. Because it won’t let them have and do whatever they want. “Traditionalists” who don’t want change because it’s harder to control than things the way they are. That sounds selfish.
Selfish and irrational. To them the “free” in “free market” is an ideal of absolute freedom, a wild Siberian tiger that they don’t want tamed. Arguments over whether this is the best thing divide whole schools of economics and spill over into politics and philosophy. How to handle this compelling image of a wild Siberian tiger, an impossibility, has been a big deal forever. Conflict over whether to let servant be the master when the answer should be obvious.
Hand-me-downs from other lives
Conservatives gave themselves another name when they took over 1930s Germany: “National Socialists.” The Nazis adored their version of a wild Siberian tiger who seduced them with his shining ideal. He called it “triumph of the will.” An ideal of wildness that is a law unto itself. Ruling arbitrarily, doing whatever he wants. Which is no law at all for everyone else because laws structure society with boundaries. If the “boundaries” are whatever the absolute ruler decrees and he can change his mind then there are no boundaries. No structure, only disorder. We can’t live with confidence in disorder. We can only live in fear and hope for our safety if we obey the ruler.
France went through this earlier during the French Revolution. It was known as the “Terror.” That was Germany in the 1930s? For many Germans, yes. And yet many others were glad to obey. As if they liked allying with someone who could be wild and do whatever he wanted even if they couldn’t. As if he were living its ideal for them. Living others’ lives for them? Is that possible?
Psychologically it is, and it’s not uncommon. Ordinary people in England lived lives of unlimited ease and pleasure vicariously through the lords and ladies of nobility, especially when Queen Victoria ruled the British Empire. Many live vicariously through royalty and other celebrities today. “Vicariously?” Your American Heritage dictionary has a nice definition just for you. I would rather learn vicariously through you. Touché!
The human animal
Did Germany’s will “triumph” in the end? It did just the opposite. It led everyone into another world war that Germany lost. It led to mass destruction and total defeat. Who was this guy? Adolf Hitler. He didn’t survive. And his shining ideal of wildness? It died too? No. The tragedy of all our wars: warriors die but the mad ideal of absolute authority just goes on and on. That doesn’t allow independent thinking. That crushes individual initiative and creativity. That prizes obedience and loyalty above all virtues. And all because of Rose? Our animal brain?
You might think so. But animals on their own have survived for hundreds of millions of years. Like the dinosaurs? Yes. And mammals and fish too, even though they prey on one another. Within their herds or species the caring and character they display can put humans to shame. Animals in the wild prey on one another for food and self-protection. If they’re brought up in conditions where it’s not necessary some species lose that instinct. They become domesticated, even playful and affectionate. They deserve our love and respect.
Humanity has evolved from its animal roots into a different kind of animal. One that isn’t content with propagation of its species. “Triumph of the will” isn’t content with live and let live. Authoritarian supremacy wants more. It will have its ideal of absolute authority or take us all down with it. A mindset that’s interested in surviving for hundreds of millions of years but only on its own terms. Which means it places its ideal -- its authority -- even above our species’ survival. It’s fatally self-centered. Hitler and his admirers fought to the last man; their cause transformed from absolute authority to absolute destruction. The act of a human animal.
The inhuman animal
What humanity’s authoritarian mindset appropriates from its animal nature is the wildness. The instinct of a predator ruled by the law of the jungle: kill or be killed. Far from civilization governed by reason and judgment, by gentle loving kindness. The Force of nature represented by your beautiful tiger doesn’t have a dark side. It’s there to serve Mind. If the Force of nature seems to have gone off track it’s because its master, the Mind that directs it, has gone off track. Whether “the Force” is good or bad depends on the use we put it to. The human mind does have a dark side, and it’s made of your lovable Soulmate Rose something that she isn’t. Palpatine and his evil Galactic Empire!
A false ideal that humanity keeps coming back to and every time it’s a disaster. An absurd authoritarian fantasy that releases the worst instincts of humanity. That turns us back into uncivilized animals. Into predators. How can Palpatine be so cruel without feeling bad about it?
You’re thinking Palpatine is human. But in order to live his authoritarian fantasy he’s made himself inhuman. By denying his human qualities: reason, values, conscience, and sensitivity. The ability to relate to others as humans. His galaxy is inhabited by inhumans who can’t feel. Cruelty among inhumans can’t be possible if only dominance and defeat are possible. If you resist Palpatine’s rule and get hurt it’s your own fault. So there’s nothing to feel bad about.
The all-powerful whimpering kitty
Crushing others with absolute power is so unfair, so unjust! Doesn’t Palpatine see that it’s wrong? No. He thinks he’s right. Not causing injustice but righting a great injustice. An injustice done to him that stole his self and all its resources -- mind, heart, talents, functions that gave him life. An injustice that abandoned him to a dangerous, competitive world. That made him a helpless, innocent victim.
Tough-guy authoritarians like Palpatine and Hitler begin their rampage with self-pity and blame. Feeling sorry for themselves and so they take it out on others. 1930s Germany began its rampage of authoritarian persecution by believing that it was the persecuted. But I want to be innocent. “I did nothing wrong!”
We all want to be innocent -- wrongdoers especially who think they’ve been mistreated. And we all feel sorry for ourselves. There’s plenty of injustice to go around that we can’t do anything about. But there’s a better way to serve conscience than imagining we’re helpless innocent victims. How’s that? We’re never helpless. We have Free Will. We have gifts and powers. And every situation has its opportunities to use them. It’s why I think, why I write. Why my tiger and I dance. You have wonderful talents of mind, heart, and body that will be put to good use.
World of individuality, world of creativity
We need minds to take us to the next level of evolution: beyond demonstrating one talent to demonstrating another. From the talent to socialize and civilize to the talent to exercise -- to exercise Free Choice. From developing the capacity of groups to get along to developing the capacity of individuals to be creative instead of self-destructive. To think and act creatively with understanding. With self-awareness that can only come from Relationship with Logic and Love, our Source. The one Mind that we are. The way to Freedom from the confinement of misunderstanding, the strange appeal of absolutes.
Whose side are brains on?
It takes much more than socializing animal brains to achieve our ideals as individuals and as a society. There’s no possibility of Free Choice without the Order of civilization and the governance of democracy. Though brains are supposed to socialize beasts history and everyday experience tell us that they’re not up to it. Civilization has advanced in some ways but in other ways it’s gotten nowhere. The beasts in our animal brain keep getting out of their cage. Our world and our lives are still precarious.
Brains with their bodies’ five senses think this is “normal” and nothing can be done about it. They aren’t moved by true ideals. True ideals are creative. “Triumph of the Will” is destructive. The Mind that we share through our sixth sense is moved by true ideals. It thinks the opposite. A world that’s not making real progress, that’s stuck in a status quo that’s actually taking us backward, isn’t normal and something can be done about it. Mind is Possibility. Mind is Hope.
I don’t have a good feeling about this. Brains that think we should be OK with the beast taking over; that have no ideals; that are content with getting nowhere -- whose side are they on? They have a different agenda so we have to wonder.
Dance of the Big Bang
Here’s one possibility. Since all they can detect with their five senses is the surface of things brains may be using the lure of absolute authority and freedom to distract us. From what? From discovering what’s underneath. Like a magician’s act that diverts attention with sleight of hand. What could be underneath? The Truth that the magician doesn’t want us to know. That appearances are all there is. That they’re all illusions -- magician’s tricks -- and we’re being fooled. There’s nothing underneath. Our “alternate reality” is a movie studio façade.
Minds perform a critical function that brains lack: the capacity to understand with Logic that defines and explains, that structures and orders our situations. Exactly what absolute authority and freedom seek to avoid because it’s all about setting limits. Maybe all about figuring out what brains are up to. Good reason for brains to push minds out of the way? Makes sense.
So we can be friends and soulmates
Then what is Mind’s agenda? To furnish us with the functions of individual minds that tribal-herd brains deny us. Functions that enable us as individuals to make sense of our situations. To learn and grow to maturity. To gain the competence to distinguish between Truth and appearances, right and wrong. So we can understand meaning and purpose, exercise Free Choice, and move forward. Understand personalities and the psychology of relationships so we can be friends and soulmates, get along better. So we will stop being lured by false ideals and return to where there are real ideals. To Real Worth. To where we belong.
It may have been the promise of absolute authority and freedom that lured our ancestral Mind into its dream. To a fairyland where there are no Parents or laws to keep it from having and doing whatever it wants. When you and Rose performed the dance of the wild Siberian tiger you might have been re-enacting a historic seduction. Historic? Me? The seduction of our ancestral Mind that produced our universe. Recognition at last!
We don’t have to be imprisoned like beasts inside a brain. If we are Free Choice we have a choice: Mind and its sixth sense. A hopeful Mind that offers us purpose with a vision. That offers possibility and Creativity -- a way forward. Which will yours be?