There are, broadly speaking, two experiences of mind.
If I might be pressed to use other words, the mind performs two particular functions that we directly perceive.
Ok, so your brain does two things.
And they are these: to sense, and to think.
Of all life’s mysteries, it would be no exaggeration to consider the phenomenon of sensation among the most perplexing. Don’t be turned off if you think I’m being melodramatic. Mountain peaks have been scaled, ocean depths explored -- we landed on the freaking moon!
And those problems don’t even sniff the challenge of figuring out what sensation is.
How it is that we can see, feel, hear, or touch remains… well, just out of it. Sure, there are scientific mechanisms which explain it -- explain the process, that is -- but not the phenomenon! What amount of words or descriptions could ever truly capture… blue? Or soft? Or embarrassed? What makes a particular sensation a sensation? People ponder whether they could explain sight to a blind man. Well -- can you explain it even to yourself?
One thing is for sure: at the root of the mystery of the senses, lie the answers to reality itself. Because so far as any one man can know, reality and sensation cannot exist without the other.
But no matter the mystery, sensation exists as a phenomenon.
However it does it, that’s the first thing the brain does.
Second: to think. Let me ask you: do you know what thinking is? You may think that you do. You may feel it.
Do you know?
Allow me to put forth an idea -- resonance.
An initial impulse, followed by ever-decreasing aftershocks. Vibration.
This pattern, or metaphor as you may call it -- I believe most adequately sums the nature of thinking.
If you are inside, think about a warm, sunny day.
Don’t you see the grass? Hear the birds? Feel the sun? And yet of course, no such things exist in your immediate surroundings. Yet you perceive some impression, though deadened, perhaps muffled, of the same sensations. Look closely and marvel! How can you “see yet not see”?
That is what I mean when I say “resonance.” What the mind has sensed once, it can “play back” -- totally independent of further stimulation.
Imagine a life without thought now -- an experience consisting only of sensation, of taking in -- ingesting but not digesting. You experience that reality when you are engrossed in film, or music, or dance. How wonderful it is!
Though by this I really shouldn’t imply thought to be some enemy to the unencumbered beauty of thoughtlessness -- let us save pejoratives for another article.
For now, we stick to a more objective look.
Returning to the notion of resonance, we must also consider a distinct phenomenon that accompanies it -- which is abstract thinking. Now, the meaning of this term can often feel… abstract. Let us mend the pain of confusion.
Abstraction is symbolism. Symbolism is one thing standing for another. A clover is not merely a clover -- it also evokes ideas of luck and the Irish. There you are -- symbolism -- one thing standing for something else entirely.
You should appreciate that this is a phenomenon made possible by resonance alone. In reality, a clover cannot bring about a physical Irish person, nor can it create luck. But in a reflection of reality, senses can be mixed and matched, joined with feelings, correlated and bound together, such that the sensation of one produces a resonance of another.
This is thought.
Abstract thinking enabled by resonance.
See now, how such abstraction is a requisite for language?
A letter, take “s” -- a visual form, is paired with a sound. Not one heard physically, but resonated from an earlier hearing. Combining this sound with others forms words, which themselves are sounds paired with meanings, which are images or sounds or smells.
It all breaks down to sensations, all referring to each other.
Meaning is abstraction. Paired senses, resonating with each other.
I suppose when the eastern mystics say, "all life is vibration," their observation rings true.
(And here you thought you'd get a single post without a spiritual reference shoe-horned in. Didn't you get the memo? It's all connected, baby!)
So that’s your brain. A bit simpler now?