There seems to be agreement that there is a spectrum of consciousness in our minds, and that all parts of the spectrum are ‘hard wired’ into the human brain, are part of what we’re given, and are therefore both available and, in principle, trustworthy.


The spectrum of consciousness includes the following:

[1]      Problem solving orientated thought using information from the 5 senses

[2]      Feelings and relationships

[3]      Use of the imagination

[4]      Waking dreams and visions

[5]      Dreaming

[6]      Intuitions

[7]      Revelations of the unconscious

[8]      Spiritual experience

[9]      Silent contemplative being


Different societies place value and trust in different areas of the spectrum. Western, secular society places great emphasis, for example on problem orientated thought using the five senses. Other societies have given more credence to visions and religious experience.


Moreover, there will often be a variance between what people acknowledge publicly and what they practise in their private personal lives. For example, leaders of the past have often made major public decisions on the basis of dreams and visions.  Any political leader today announcing that a decision had been made on that basis would be publicly ridiculed. But many people, myself included, regularly make decisions that affect their private lives on that basis.


Every society assumes that its own pattern of trust and distrust across the spectrum, is normative and therefore ‘correct’, and may ridicule and even persecute alternatives. But there is no obvious reason for accepting that the assumptions of any one society are ‘correct’, or even ‘better’ than those of another. They are simply different.  It might be more fruitful to ask: ‘Do the assumptions we as a society and I as an individual take for granted, serve us well?’ Do they make our lives meaningful and richer?’   To do that we, need to cultivate a degree of self-awareness and detachment.


The ideal scenario would be to have equal access across the spectrum, and to be sufficiently self-aware as to know which part of the spectrum to go to and when. So, for example and put very crudely, if you want to catch a train to see a friend you need to use [1]; if you are deciding who you want as a life partner you’ll go to [2] and maybe [6]; and if you want to achieve inner peace you’ll learn to meditate by activating [9].


Few decisions are in fact made using only one part of the spectrum, but one part may drive the decision.  I remember when we were looking for a house to buy we had a series of ‘tick boxes’ drawn up using [1]: the house we bought met some but not all of those criteria, for they were overridden as soon as we walked into the house we eventually chose as we ‘knew’ [6] that it ‘felt’ [2] right. We’ve not regretted our decision, and are not unusual in having made it in this way.


The worst scenario is to be so exclusively wedded to one part of the spectrum as to be blind and dismissive of the others and the wisdom they access. Not least because if our brains give us the whole range its reasonable to assume that we need all of it. My hunch [6] is that we all use most of the range more than we realise; and that if there are parts of it that we don’t use, then we could train our minds to do so. My experience is that most parts of the spectrum will usually grow with practice.


The spectrum divides basically into three areas: firstly, the rational thinking side of the mind located in [1] which deals mainly with verifiable information; secondly the feeling, side of the mind mainly located in [2] which deals with our relationships with others; and thirdly, the imaginative side of the mind mainly located in [3-9] which deals primarily with acquiring meaning in life.


Each area deals with a different aspect of human living, so that to function well we actually need access to all of them, but many of us will feel more comfortable dealing with one area over the others. The solution is for everybody to trust the expertise of others in their respective specialist fields, and to a degree we do that.


Our society rather specialises in facts and information. We have the technology to give us instant access to as much information and more, than we might need. And we expect, in a rather fundamentalist manner, that everything will do ‘exactly what it says on the tin’. It’s in our feelings and relationships with others/Other that we seek meaning in our lives. We use our imaginations in leisure pursuits like gaming and reading, but we’ve largely lost the assumption that our imaginations might be valuable guides to questions of meaning, like those I raised in my previous post.  I think they are in fact very reliable guides, and that our loss of trust in them leaves us much impoverished.