Various Phases of Mind
(Posted on August 1, 2013 by David McMillin)
[NOTE: While serving as mentor for an online version of “A Search For God” study group and working on the Destiny of the Mind lesson, a class member requested a simple definition of mind and how it relates to the brain. Here is my reply. – David McMillin]
… those are great questions. Much may be given. Here is a simple definition of “mind” to get you started:
MIND is the builder; it is both spiritual and physical, and thus has its aspirations, its limitations, its fears, its hopes, its desires. (1947-3)
Since mind is both spiritual and physical, the relationship between mind and brain can be conceptualized as:
Thy brain is not thy mind, it is that which is used by thy mind! (826-11)
With regard to ASFG, the important thing is Oneness with God (which we have considered in almost every lesson). So just as we made our Desires one with God’s Desires in the last lesson (spiritualing Desire), now we focus on making our mind One with God’s mind. Here is how the ASFG book text for this lesson stated it:
Mind is of God. It was given as a grace to us, that we, that soul might be a companion with, one with, the mind of the Maker. Therefore, mind is a creative, Godlike force, is impelled by a spiritual impulse to build an at-one-ness with the Creator. Its various phases confuse many, yet they are made plain as we make our mind, our purpose, and our aims one with our Ideal, and realize that the Lord our God is one Lord. (ASFG, Book II)
For each ASFG lesson there is a collection of quotes from the readings on my website. If you Desire additional information on this subject, you can find more excerpts to ponder at:
You are on the right track by becoming “mindful” (conscious, aware) of your habitual thinking:
What one thinks continually, they become … (3744-5)
The exercises for this lesson are tools for working with Mind the Builder. In the application comes the awareness. Thanks for sharing your questions and observations for this lesson. Blessings, Dave
[A follow-up comment requested further clarification, stating: “So mind is a ‘force’ but still has ‘hopes, desires and fears’? And can these be different from those of the soul? And when I am mindful of my mind, who is doing the watching?”]
… actually, I think the members of the original study group had many of the same questions and confusions that you are experiencing. That is why they included this phrase in the lesson text that I quoted previously:
Its [mind’s] various phases confuse many, yet they are made plain as we make our mind, our purpose, and our aims one with our Ideal, and realize that the Lord our God is one Lord. (ASFG Book II)
In this phrase I think they are suggesting that despite the complexity, mind can be “made plain” or simple if we focus on attuning our mind to be One with God through an Ideal. Thus our thoughts are spiritualized. This is something that anyone can DO without understanding all the details – like flipping a switch to turn on a light instead of being in the dark. We don’t need to understand the physics of electromagnetism or be an electrician to make it work.
But we all do like to “analyze” don’t we – I know I do. So for the analytical part of your mind (yes, there are different parts or levels to the mind, what the ASFG text calls “phases”), here are some additional ideas that you can ponder. Just be sure to do the APPLICATION part too.
1. If we focus on the active, energetic phase of the mind (“force”), it could be like (or actually be) an electromagnetic phenomena. The readings insist that “thoughts are real things.” This is also the explanation of neuroscience – mind (or thinking) is simply electrical impulses within the brain, which makes sense if Mind is using the brain. But electro-magnetic energy can also be used to transmit information of various sorts apart from a body. Think of energy waves that have sound and images encoded within them (radio and TV signals in the air around us) or the digital version that we use in our modern communication devices wherein electromagnetic energy/force is used to express “hopes, desires and fears.” Electromagnetic energy is just for illustration – there are even more subtle forms of mental force by which Mind operates in and yet apart from the physical body.
2. “… can these be different from those of the soul?” Since mind is active in various “phases”, then yes it can be at odds with itself. Just like in psycho-analytic theory – the conscious and unconscious levels of mind may not be in agreement – so the spiritual/soul phase of mind many not be consistent with the physical/biological phase – in other words a split mind. I think we have all experienced this, if we just stop and reflect. That’s where Ideals come into play in making all the phases of mind ONE. Then we have peace of mind, rather than feeling that the mind is fragmented or torn in different directions. That is why we do the Ideals exercise, to make the phases of the Mind ONE with a spiritual Ideal, rather than split or divided. We can be of ONE mind.
3. “Who is doing the watching?” Here you are tapping into the “consciousness” phase of mind. And there are levels or phases of consciousness, as you might expect, considering that mind is mediating between the spiritual and physical dimensions of the psyche. We usually identify with the conscious, surface level of mind, but in dreams or meditation it may be the unconscious (which the readings call the mind of the soul), or even the superconscious level of mind.
As noted in the first reply – “Much may be given” for we have barely scratched the surface of Mind. So we can keep on analyzing – or just put it into practice – IN THE APPLICATION COMES THE AWARENESS. I think this is what you experienced in your beautiful meditation image – just work with it and the UNDERSTANDING that you seek will come as you are able to assimilate it. Hope this is helpful. Thanks for sharing your deep questions and reflections on the nature of Mind. Blessings, Dave
[A little later in this lesson on Destiny of the Mind, another group member shared some powerful “imaginative” experiences – another “phase” of mind. Here is my reply.]
… thanks for sharing your creative use of imagination. Many Cayce readings discuss the use of "imaginative forces" which relate to the intuitive application of mind that was even recommended in the development of children:
"Then, as the development of the mind of the child, develop its imaginative forces rather than the material or objective forces. Acquaint such a mind with the activities in nature, and train especially in the laws of recompense as is seen in nature day by day. Also in those activities that make for a clean body, a clean mind, and the same recompense as in nature should be required in the activities of the developing mind of the individual. A clean, healthy body makes for a better indwelling of a healthy, clean mind, so that the spirit may manifest the better." (5747-1)
This excerpt certainly has implications for the Destiny of the Mind, Body and Soul, if it were widely accepted and applied. Furthermore, "imaginative forces" were often discussed in the physical readings in the context of what we would now call "psycho-somatic" effects (both causative and therapeutic).
So "imaginative forces" are yet another of the many "phases" of mind that play a role in the Destiny of the Mind. Blessings, Dave
[Continuing with the theme of "Various Phases of the Mind" here are a couple of exchanges during a 2015 eGroup session during the Destiny of the Mind lesson. In the following reply, I responded to a group member who was seeking to undertsand the reason for the ordering of the lessons in the Destiny trilogy:
“As we begin the Destiny series of lessons I'm wondering again why they appear in the order they do. Why is Mind first? If spirit is the life, and mind is the builder, and physical is the result then why wouldn't these lessons begin with Spirit and progress to Physical with Mind in the middle as the motivating force? Or even the other way around beginning with Body and progressing to Spirit? … If Mind (upper case M) refers here to the Source of all creation then it logically follows that Mind would of course be studied first before spirit/soul and physical/body.”
After my response to the the lesson ordering question, pay particular attention to the discussion of "mind as a stream" as a phase of the mind.]
That's a fascinating question about the order of the lessons in the Destiny trilogy. I haven't seen anything in the readings or ASFG book text about this, but I understand your reasoning, and I think you are on the right track. [*See comment below.]
Feeling curious about your inquiry, I consciously asked myself the question and knew that I would receive an answer (sooner or later). That was yesterday evening just before I went out and mowed the lawn. Over the years I have found that certain activities can provide access to a light trance state (altered consciousness) and that I can get information when I ask for it. For some reason, mowing grass tends to have that effect on me (when I am in a creative or investigative mode). So I wasn't surprised that after about 30 minutes of mowing I became aware of thoughts in my MIND that addressed your question. The thoughts had a distinctive quality (like a vibratory signature) that was linked to the question, so I immediately recognized the connection.
Here is the explanation I received: Destiny of the Soul is last in the series so that we are led up to it – like a story with a dramatic climax. But the trilogy did not begin with the body, else there might be the impression or conclusion that mind and spirit are simply the result of aggregations of physical matter. As you know this is the predominant view in materialistic, reductionistic science. Mind is just the activity of brain cells, nothing more. And spirit or soul is just a figment of the mind, etc. I think this may be the “wrong definition of mind” that you noted. (if we begin with and rely upon the lower end of the spectrum of mind).
So by beginning with MIND, and with the acknowledgment that mind is not simply physical, we can better comprehend the Destiny of the Body that transcends the purely physical. This may reflect your thinking with regard to “Mind (upper case M).”
In sharing this experience, I don't mean to suggest that I necessarily tapped into Edgar Cayce's MIND or Source, or some universal record (akashia), or such. This may have been entirely my MIND at work. But I am confident that when I “received” the explanation in my MIND, it was not my normal reasoning mind that had asked the question in the first place. And I feel assured that the answer to the question meets my need. Whether it meets your need or not, I cannot say. But you can always ask the question for yourself to get your own answer that will be perfectly adequate for you at this point in your journey (which I think you naturally did at a certain level).
I like the description of MIND as a STREAM – that moves and has layers (upper and lower levels with gradations). Using this analogy, I know that the answer to my question came from a different layer or stratum of mind than I used in asking. Similarly, “stream of consciousness” techniques have been utilized extensively in both literature and psychology (free association, hypnosis, etc).
Here are some excerpts from the Cayce readings that describe the activity of MIND as a STREAM:
“Mind as a stream, not mind as purely physical or as wholly spiritual, but it is that which shapes, which forms, which controls, which directs, which builds, which acts upon.” (4083-1)
“For HE [Jesus] hath shown the way; not by some mysterious fluid, not by some unusual vibration, but by the simple method of LIVING that which is LIFE itself. THINK no evil; speak no evil; HEAR no evil. And as the Truth flows as a stream of life through the Mind in all its phases or aspects, and purifies same, so will it purify and revivify and rejuvenate the body. [Destiny of the Body]” (294-183)
“The soul IS, and lives on; making its record in the building influence, or that stream in the experience of the body, the mind, the soul, called the mental life of an entity.” (954-1)
“(Q) How may I project a counterpart of my conscious awareness to any given place desired and comprehend or even take part in events there?
(A) Read what we have just been giving. This is an explanation of how. For it takes first spirit and mind form, and may be aware of the elements in space. For time and space are the elements of man's own concept of the infinite and are not realities as would be any bodily element in the earth – as a tree, a rose, a bird, an animal, as even a fellow being. Yet, just as the body may in its own material mind visualize, draw, a concept, a picture of an incident that has happened in time, so may the body in spirit and in spiritual mind project itself, be conscious of elements, be conscious of form, by and through spirit mind – as patterned in a conscious mind. Mind, then, becomes as a stream, with its upper and lower stratum, with that which moves swiftly or that which is resting upon either spirit or physical being.
These come, then, as flashes to a conscious mind. They may be gradually sustained, maintained. Just as mind may be projected.
Here we will have an illustration: In a camp near here, near this particular spot or place ye occupy, there has been a gift taken by someone else. There will be a projection of the thought, "This MUST BE RETURNED!" and it will be. For here we have the parties to this physical condition existent – right and wrong, good and bad, spirit, mind, body. They are parts of this happening, and it [the stolen gift] is now being replaced.” (2533-8)
Yes, Mind is the builder – and yet it flows like a stream, shaping and forming all that it acts upon. Its layers form the levels of consciousness that we so often take for granted, and sometimes marvel at (whether in simple intuitions or the Christ-Consciousness that is our Destiny).
Hope this is helpful. And thanks for sharing your fascinating question and reflections. Blessings, Dave
[* Note: As we progressed to the next lesson on the Destiny Of The Body, I noticed that the second paragraph of the ASFG book text actually does provide an explanation for the ordering of the Destiny trilogy, much as the group member and I had surmised. – Dave]
[ Subsquently, during this same session, a group member commented on the psychic power of the mind which can be influenced by the thoughts of others. “I believe there can be also negative or positive influences, which we are not aware of, and we could be thinking other peoples thoughts without being aware of it.” He felt that sometimes he has experienced this and has found the use of meditation, yoga, and affirmations to be very helpful. Here is my reply.]
Thanks so much for sharing from your own experience with this lesson. Your insights into the power of affirmation, breathing, and meditation to focus and elevate the mind are so practical.
Your observations about how the power of mind (at various levels) can influence others does resonate with the reading excerpt from 2533-8 [see above] in which mind can be projected over a distance to influence the thoughts and actions of others. Some individuals are particularly adept at this. For example, Edgar Cayce stated that he was able to do this in his waking consciousness, but also noted that if he did it to control or manipulate others, he would get severe headaches.
Similarly (but at the other end of the spectrum), some individuals can be particularly susceptible to “mind control” by others, especially if the person is suffering from mental illness or conditions that tend to weaken the mind or make the mind “supersensitive to outside influences.” For example, here is an excerpt from a reading for an individual suffering from schizophrenia where the nervous system had been affected, causing her to become a “human radio”:
“(Q) Does she really hear the things she speaks of, or what causes the hallucinations?
(A) We have just described how that the supersensitiveness of the nerve forces opens the body to such influences; or the body becomes what might be termed a human radio, but in giving expression to what is heard may often deflect what is actually said, felt or thought. For, thoughts are things! and they have their effect upon individuals, especially those that become supersensitive to outside influences! These are just as physical as sticking a pin in the hand!” (386-2)
This individual was actually very psychic and yet the physical pathology within her nervous system caused her to lose her balance and the ability to function effectively in the world (making it an illness). Being psychic and having the ability to read the thoughts of other minds is not necessarily a blessing.
So it makes sense to take care of the physical body with its nervous system and brain so that the mind can function properly at the physical level. This is part of the next lesson (Destiny of the Body). And of course, keeping the mind focused and positive, as you have described, is simply good mental hygiene. The example of Jesus (the “Great Psychic”), in which the higher powers of the mind are used constructively, is a good pattern (Ideal) as we evolve and develop higher mental abilities (individually and collectively).
Since thoughts are things that can influence us, our prayers (which are focused thoughts) are with you as you work with the Opportunities of this day. Thanks again for sharing. Blessings, Dave