A few years ago, I had a beautiful dog called Brit. She was a Brittany spaniel; so much for giving her a unique name. Brit was a field dog that could find her way home from the most remote places. Because she loved to hunt, I used to take Brit to a field and wooded area in an area near Pittsburgh called Greentree. I would start out with Brit on her leash and walk to my car.
Arriving in the wooded area, I would open the car door and Brit would take off pell-mell. I would walk along a path through the same area, jingling my car keys so she knew my location. Only occasionally would she come zooming buy to check me out, and then she’d disappear again for another ten or fifteen minutes.
Occasionally, some hiker or runner who knew me would pass by and tell me they had seen Brit. They knew she belonged to me. I never worried about her running off. But to this day, I am still amused by a mental puzzle that has always interested me. When Brit was not on her leash, she still belonged to me. There was no physical connection to her. Even though she knew where I was, I was only aware of the fact that she was romping the miles of woodland around me.
What was this connection between the two of us? Brit was aware of it. I was aware of it, but the connection was invisible. From her point of view, she had an extremely strong awareness of her surroundings and that I was the one who fed her. From my point of view, I had no idea where she was; only that I was her owner.
This posed a problem for me back then as it does now. There was a very definite invisible connection between me and that animal. It is not something that can easily be put into words. This connection had no substance or accidents but was nontheless real.
Now comes a greater dilemma. If there are realities that exist, which are invisible to the senses, how can a brain that is a complex of real physical particles, ultimately a substantial whole, not only sense those non-physical realities, but also see relationships between them? I think the answer lies somewhere in the understanding of consciousness, another inexplicable state or condition that exists within the brain.
Here, I am not making a claim for a spiritual mind, but I am suggesting that the complex organ known as brain is capable of more than just managing physical relationships. Does this make me an Idealist? “When we directly observe mental phenomena, such as thoughts, mental images, and emotions, they don’t appear to have any of the characteristics attributed to matter, such as mass and spatial location” (B. Alan Wallace. Immaterial Evidence. Tricycle, 2006. pp. 84-86).
And Yet, Ownership is a physical relationship which can be described by lawyers in terms of contracts-somewhere at home I had papers that showed I owned Brit. But, no, even this was not true. Brit had been given to me by a woman who could not keep her. I don’t recall any paper contract being signed. I just remember her giving Brit to me.
So, let me restate this: When Brit was not on her leash, I was consciously connected to her by an invisible bond. My brain, a purely physical object, was aware of this invisible something. To me, current theories of brain operation seem far from understanding these phenomena. Whatever takes place among the trillions of axons, synapses, and dendrites which zap and fire in our brain gives rise to an aura type phenomena that allows us to think. Such is the case with courage, honor, love, and a host of similar invisible phenomena.
For sure, human existence forces us to deal with any number of dilemmas. I wonder if the paradox of the conscious thinking mind will ever be solved by either the electron microscope or the mammoth CERN collider. Like the magnetic energy in this huge machine which sends particles around a 17 mile loop to crash into one another, it seems that our minds go about in vicious circles-at times, science crashes into philosophy claiming to have answers for the body-mind paradox, at other times, it appears that a more philosophical explanation might be correct. Sting characterizes this dilemma in the “Windmills of Your Mind.”
Round, like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel.
Never ending or beginning,
On an ever spinning wheel
Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnaval balloon
Like a carousell that’s turning
Running rings around the moon
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes on it’s face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind