Exploring the Mind—part 1
In a recent conversation a friend
of mine observed, “Medical
science has succeeded in transplanting almost all the
organs except the brain. I wonder why they haven’t
attempted to transplant the brain.” I presume
that a brain donor would have to be dead before being
able to part with the brain, and the definition of “dead” usually
indicates that the brain has stopped working. Dr.
Paul Pearsall contends in his book, The Heart’s
Code, that the brain’s job is mostly concerned
with the bodily functions while spiritual “thinking” originates
from the heart. According to Pearsall, the heart even
has memory on a cellular level that contributes to
the notion one has of one’s Self.
When we talk about the “mind” we are talking
about a consciousness that is beyond the brain and
body. The mind is that aspect of an individual that
is able to translate both the concrete and ephemeral
world of thought in all its aspects from rational to
non-rational perceptions and communications. Often
the ease and accuracy with which one is able to “think” is
called the measure of one’s “intelligence.” The
concept of “intelligences” consists of
the different ways people interpret and adapt to information
and then mold it in order to understand and apply it.
Renowned Harvard University psychologist
Howard Gardner explains the five “minds” everyone
will need to succeed in the years ahead in his book, "Five
Minds for the Future" (Harvard Business School
Press). They are:
The disciplined mind
The synthesizing mind
The creating mind
The respectful mind
The ethical mind
These different kinds of “minds” are
really descriptions of the different ways people meet
their needs and the needs of others—how they
solve problems and deal with their environment. They
also call into play the different kinds of intelligences
used in thinking and survival. His important work is
really revealing that area crucial to human psychology
that may be called the “interaction of character
and thought.” This could well become the foundation
for a future psychology of human motivation. What Freud’s
psychology was to relating automatic biological instincts
to human behavior, Gardner’s five minds will
be to the psychology of the conscious human being.
The latter recognizes implicitly the burden of human
choice and responsibility, while Freud’s person
was a product of blind urges and drives.
Gardner shows how the next step
after cognitive and scholarly education can only
be achieved by cultivating the five different qualities
of “mind.” He
states, “the five minds…are the kinds
of minds that are particularly at a premium in the
world today and will be even more so tomorrow. They
span both the cognitive spectrum and the human enterprise—in
that sense they are comprehensive, global.” The
implication of his thesis is really a redefinition
of consciousness and human purpose. As humans develop
the different minds they will become the agents of
constructive and progressive human and social activities.
They will become the co-creators of human destiny.
The current problems humanity
is experiencing are largely the products of outmoded
human mental development. Much perception, learning
and the resulting knowledge and behavior have been
governed by adaptive mechanisms of a primitive nature— fear,
prejudice, fanaticism, ideology, aggression and greed.
Consequently, the subconscious forces of instinct
and habit have dominated the mind while emotional
turmoil has acted as a filter blocking clear and
unbiased observation and understanding.
In the future, mind and heart
must act in unison in order for people to develop
the “minds” that
lead to a strong sense of purpose and the skills that
enable them to reach their goals while serving the
greater good. Gardner recognizes that there are other “minds,” but
that those he writes about are the most important for
success in the practical world today and in the future.
I tend to place more spiritual
importance than Gardner does on his discussion of
the “minds.” Indeed,
he views the “spiritual mind” as a separate
mind. When I contemplate the different minds, I take
their development to the ultimate psychological conclusion— knowledge
of Self. When these five minds are highly developed,
integrated, and used for beneficial purposes, then
they become spiritual. Spirit is the life force in
the universe that is the basis for all natural laws.
When an individual acts consciously, knowledgably and
skillfully in accordance with natural laws he or she
is acting spiritually.
In stating that the “heart thinks,” Pearsall
is acknowledging that the heart is sensitive to the
life force in the individual and in the universe. “Mental
activity” is not simply a function of the brain.
It is not a bodily function; rather it is sensitivity
to the energies of thought, of imagination, and of
all interpersonal, physical and non-physical causes
of perception and understanding, and to the requirements
of life itself.
The discussion of “five minds” opens
a door to understanding human potential for creative,
just and responsible behavior. This is the basis for
solving problems that threaten peace and survival,
and the basis of spiritual development.
2: The Poetic Mind
Richard V. Sidy