Like I said in my last post, I’ve been mulling over the concept of consciousness. It’s been an interest for many years, and one that never seems to dissipate in that regard.
One of the things I’ve pondered over has been memory and how that defines a personality. Is that part of consciousness? Until recently I thought ‘yes’. Now I’m not so sure.
To be honest, there is a bias here. I am Buddhist after all. One of the journeys one takes in Buddhism is in determining and managing ones thoughts, separating them from our present reality. A very difficult process, but–at least for me–one with great benefit. When I’m persistent in my practice I’m left with something much more in synch with the here and now. It feels like a vast reservoir of patience and temperance.
Space and time. Those are the things that shape our reality in the universe. It paves the way for a past, present and future. Our mind and body have evolved to the point where they qualify that reality with respect to our person. After all, the primal code is survival when everything else is swept off the table.
Our minds have become adept at preserving memory, allowing us to reflect and learn. It colors who we are as a personality. Our bodies respond to the mind’s directives and it’s gotten to the point where the side effects influence us in surprising ways. Hormones and other chemicals flow through us as the need arises, but sometimes the dosage isn’t optimum, resulting in a shift or lean in how we review our memories and therefore perceive our present. That, in turn, alters our prediction of the future, which all sets a cycle in motion.
The difference between a pessimist and an optimist is really based on ones memories and what ‘lense’ our bodies provide us to review it. That ‘lense’ does the same for seeing our present, reinforced by the recollections of the past. This is neither good or bad, merely the biological mechanism we possess to interface with this reality, our universe.
So, what is consciousness? Here’s what I think it is. It’s like water that’s been placed in a mold. Memory and the influences of our bodily systems comprise the mold, shaping our consciousness into a personality. But, consciousness is that water.
When I meditate, I can perceive the mold, see how it influences my thoughts and reality. Sometimes it’s just a glimpse and sometimes it’s more than that. That also means I can sense the consciousness that, for lack of a better term, supports my personality. It’s a serene, compassionate thing and very very deep. There’s no inertia within it. But that’s me, right?