Definitions include the following: a person's attention, a memory, the intellect, awareness of thoughts, emotions, sensations, memories; but also fantasies, dreams, and creations. In other words, our mind is a storehouse but also a function of our being that solves problems and projects a future, a glimpse not only of who we have been but also of who we yet may be.
But we have lost our mind. Why do I say that? Because we are at odds with ourselves. We are not of the mind to consider that future in which a healthy society finds meaning creating. This is what it means to EXIST, not just to live. Many creatures "live," but as far as we know, they do not experience the meaning of human existence in its fulness of human CONSCIOUSNESS.
When we are conscious we dwell within the far reaches of human potential; but when we lose our mind, we experience unconsciousness. To be unconscious is to dwell within the stupor of depression, anxiety, anger, aggression, envy. We might say then that the aim of human existence is consciousness. Looking at this from the perspective of human evolution, the time-line in which consciousness arose would include these developments:
- 4.5 billion years ago, planet earth evolved as part of our present solar system.
- 6 million years ago "Life" appeared on planet earth.
- 5 million years ago, approximately, creatures that walked on 2 legs with crude tools appeared.
- 200,000-300,000 years ago, our more recent ancestors evolved, making possible a function of what we would come to call "mind."
- 70,000 to 100,000 years ago, what we might describe as the first modern human beings made their way out of Africa and began to spread on planet earth. Life evolved with the development of the human brain, making possible the evolution of mindfulness. Over time, our ancestors came to exist in search of meaning, and consciousness emerged as we might describe it today.
Of course, this "time-line" is quite simple when compared to the more detailed descriptions of humanity's emergence. My intention, however, is to describe most simply the backdrop to our present-day crisis: the loss of our mind. In other words, I want to make it clear that I am not talking about our present political craziness, of which there is plenty in our 24/7 parade of political stupidity.
But I am not talking about our present insanity and its mindlessness. I am concerned that we as a society seem not to be conscious. We have lost our mind. Consciousness is the TRUTH of our existence. To hold a truth is the most blessed of human experiences because truth separates the REAL from the UNREAL. How incredibly wonderful this is, to realize TRUTH exists, that it has its home within consciousness, and is guarded and enjoyed by our mind.
Now, however, we are in danger because we lost our mind. Consciousness has dimmed, and truth is mistaken for lies, misinformation, irrationality, all of which fuel the obsession of power that is available for the highest bidder. The intoxicating allure of power threatens our personal lives when our society has lost its mind.
Where will we find our lost mind? In MEMORY. Memory is a bridge over forever, and memory is the great Mother. She has given birth to our greatest triumphs as well as our most tragic defeats. She has inspired humanity's greatest artistic achievements and informed the warriors who fought our world wars; she has witnessed our footprints on the moon, and mourned the burial of our dead in the catastrophes of our epidemics.
Within memory's legacy, we may find our lost mind, as we recall George Santayana's warning: "A country without a memory is a country of madmen."