Friday, December 25, 2009

About rationality and the rational mind

Before writing about the rational mind, it is more rational to talk about the mind first. The mind, in itself, is an enigma. Where is it located? A layman like me would say it is located in the brain. No not really. The brain is located in the brain. Not the mind. The brain and mind are used interchangeably but the fact is that mind and brain are different entities. As I am writing about something I have not much idea of, I have no idea what I am writing about. Thus there will be usage of words like might, could and can in this piece of writing. Anyways there is no certainty in the thinking of man. But that is a different issue altogether. The thing is that mind and brain can be different entities. Maybe there is no such thing as mind. People just confused it with the brain. A distant possibility. But a possibility nevertheless. Has the perfect making to be called as the great deception though. In popular literature, the mind is connected with thinking and the thinking process. Whereas the heart is connected with emotions and feelings. As if what we feel and emote is due to the heart. All the heart does is that it beats and pumps something or the other, I dont know what , through something known as the arteries and veins. It has got nothing to do with how we feel and our emotions. This might just be a grand misconception that people have. At the most, I can concede, due to physiological reasons, the heart might beat faster when we see a loved one. The exact reason for this is, I dont know. Anyways the gist of what i am saying is that basically mind can be an illusion. If it does exist, it might not necessarily be lodged in the brain. My guess is it is located somewhere near the tummy. The reason is that most of our decisions are based on hunger. Both normal and carnal. Now that we have solidly tackled the issue of uncertainty over whether mind exists or nor and where it is located, we can safely talk about the rational mind. Lets assume that the abode of the mind is infact in the brain. Thus our thought process and generation of thoughts is through our mind. We might know much definitely about the mind but a lot is known about the brain and the workings of it. The brain is responsible for our cognition as well as our emotions. The emotions are created from a source in the brain known as the amygdala or something like that. Now we have to talk about the rational mind. The reason for this is that it is the title for the topic. No other reason to talk about such a dry topic which does not interest even me. The rational mind is an important concept though. Carrying forward our assumption disclaimed previously all our thoughts stem from our mind. Well, mostly all. Some stem from the tummy and the organs nearby the tummy. Nevertheless, the mind is the creator and the originator of our thoughts and ideas. Whatever that has been done has been done because a man has deemed his thought to be rational. This is a complex process though. An “Insane” person will certify even the most irrational thoughts. What is irrational and who is insane, I do not know and am no one to judge. But for argument`s sake, the insane are the people who are residing in a mental asylum. Their behaviour might seem irrational to a “sane” observer, but to the insane people themselves they are behaving perfectly normally. Thus rationality is a matter of perception. If I could hazard a guess, I would say that all of what man does, thinks and says does not really make sense i.e is irrational. This guess is just a gut feeling, an intuition which I have no means to prove.
Some people contemplate suicide. Suicide has easy entry into my list of irrational activities. It might not into yours, but as I said, what is rational and what is not is a matter of perception. For me, suicide just does not make sense. You are just running away from perceived troubles. Your troubles mat not be troubles at all. Take for example the hypothetical case of Mr X. Mr X is in deep shit. He swindled people and now he is caught. He is sentenced to around 32 years in prison. He contemplates suicide and is on the verge of committing it. Pretty reasonable, you might say. I think not. The time spent in prison may still be positive. He and his prospective roommate in prison may turn out to be the best of friends. He might start realising that in prison he has nothing to prove to anyone and he might start doing things for himself rather than for others. Infact he will start doing things just for the heck of it. He might pursue things that he always wanted to. He might start gardening, reading, playing chess or even better do nothing. He will have no desires and no ambitions. A much higher state of authority than me like Gautama Buddha has said that this is the perfect state of being to be in. Staying in prison might turn out to be the most rewarding time of his life. Committing suicide is nothing but denying that such a possibility ever existed. Thus, I believe that suicide is an irrational tragedy. Suicide is being committed for silly reasons like depression or heartbreak. They are definitely not reasons to rejoice and celebrate but they are not reasons for suicide either. Thus I can say with conviction that suicide is irrational.
Enough said about the irrational mind. What can be said about the rational one. Rationality is a matter of perception. Rationality to me is something very difficult to achieve. The word rationality in commonday usage represents the decision making process. Good decisions are equal to rational ones. So rationality is basically the right thing to do.

My interpretation of rationality is different. The normal, real-time, second to second thinking process of man is deeply superficial, if there is any such phrase. This superficiality pervades almost every action of man. Perhaps that is the reason why I called man an irrational being. Being irrational is easy. Just go with the first decision that pops in your mind. Or at the most think of a few other options before you carry out the first decision that pops up in your mind. Thinking is basically a tiresome process. That is why it is said that humans are cognitively miser. And that is why most people do away with it. Rationality is more than just plain thinking. I would put forth it as contemplation. Buddhist philosophy rightly gives high importance to contemplation. As I am practically unversed in either meditation or contemplation, I only have a vague idea about the process and the effect of it. All I have realised is that there is a deeper layer to our consciousness. There is a term for it in pop psychology literature. Something called the subconscious mind. My own experiential learning tells me that it exists. I cannot say it with utmost certainty, but I can say it with definite conviction. Defining the subconscious is a difficult job for me. In vague terms, it is a deeper realm of mind. Accessing or tapping the subconscious leads to a heightened sense of awareness. Mostly awareness of self rather than the outer world. Basically, you are exploring the inner universe that exists within yourself. Rather, within your mind would be a better expression. Huge difference terminology makes. We know more about the outer universe than we know about the inner one. This is one of the biggest pitfalls of science. Science did not give due importance to the machinations of the mind. It mostly concentrated its efforts on the mechanics of machine. An undignified version of science called spirituality took up the mantle to know more about oneself, or as I put it, the inner universe. Exploration of the inner universe has been done by spiritual masters like Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. Through their intellect, they try to gain spiritual knowledge and experience. They were also in pursuit of a very dangerous and explosive thing called Truth. This word should not be bandied about and used lightly just like that. Henceforth, I will avoid using the word too. All mere mortals can do is try to gain deeper understanding of the world around them. All they can is theorise about anything and everything. The absolute truth is hidden to every mortal born on Earth. Even Gautama Buddha I suppose. And he was an enlightened chap.
The bottom-line of this whole essay is that contemplation is akin to rationality is my theory. When you contemplate you reach a higher plane of thought. All hocus pocus unless you experience it. Knowing gets you nowhere in this field. Experience gets you somewhere. Sometimes in the wrong direction, but in a direction nevertheless. Contemplation lets you explore the grey areas. Contemplation is a broader concept than we think of prima facie. It is a part of psychology, philosophy, logic, mysticism, spirituality, religion, neuroscience, sociology and even the arts. The higher plane of thought helps you see the bigger picture that is normally invisible. A rational mind helps one stand out among the crowd, because the herd hardly ever sees the bigger picture. It does things due to impulse or instincts. Never due to introspection, reflection, meditation or contemplation.
SAB and his mind

9 comments:

  1. wonderfully written.. enlightening insights... keep writing dude... u made my day... it's just unbelievable how far your thinking and rationality is stretched to cover the most elusive of concepts so lucidly... its almost as if the divine light has befallen me.. its a bible for mere mortals like.. i'm sure generation upon generation mankind will benifit from the inginuity that u've produced... and not only produced but had the benevlonce of sharing it with the world of us mortals.

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  2. "Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong"-Oscar Wilde. Your agreement, even amidst truckloads of sarcasm, has made me unsure of my own piece of writing.

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  3. u r a master of vagueness... reading this piece felt like walking on water- no concreteness beneath my feet.. u missed the part abt homosexual activities in prison bro, will that change ur opinions on suicide? my head is spinning.. i think im gonna throw up! gotta go..

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  4. Its funny u say this today.....Just when I watched shawshank redemption....the coincidence is funny .....that`s all I can say....

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  5. i've watched that movie... what ur review abt it?

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  6. Awesome movie. One of the best I`ve seen.

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  7. i m vaguely certain that it is yesterday's joints that made me understand your definite conviction behind the uncertainly certain theme.. at the least I think (from my irational mind) it was so you... like I saw u d last time... N now I knw better bout the CHutiyap term.. n m rational.. or irrational or confused.. Courtsey SAB n his mind...

    -A.J

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  8. what the hell did i write???!!!!

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