The mind-body problem concerns itself with the relationship between mere thoughts and magical consciousness, and how those ideas relate to the body which may hold these thoughts, this consciousness: Am I in my body in a way that when the body dies, consciousness continues on?
I have never thought any of those things for too long, because they seem irrelevant to me, to my life. I’d rather be here, now, in my body, in my mind, in my consciousness, not tripping myself up with the exact definition of consciousness or the afterlife. Most times in this life, I have believed that my conscious thoughts are just thoughts and that my thoughts are in my body, that there is no afterlife but that it’s beautiful nonetheless..to be alive..to be conscious.
But sometime in the last few months I’ve been grappling with a new metaphor.
Imagine your face. Imagine a sheet of rubber or a saran wrap. Press your face into the rubber/plastic hood. It’s a portal. It’s a clear membrane. When you press your face into it—in my model—your face (your body, your brain) gets connected up to the lower dimension, which is here, where we are now, where my body can be seen to be moving around and thinking.
Imagine a little further: It’s not a piece of foil. It’s some other kind of material or functionality, that not just my face connects to. I live in a higher dimension, or somewhere else in the universe, and what we see playing on around here is a huge game whose players, bodies with minds, with conscious-seeming thoughts are each one of us playing the game “down here” while our actual body is unknown to us, and this feeling of being here, being alive and conscious somehow is a combination of the higher-dimensional being and its play piece, Matthew Temple, who has the senses required to let me see, hear, etc what is going on around my play piece in this world.
Then, when the lower-dimensional me died, our super being (maybe call it your higher power) would detach and no longer watch or play the game. We would float up and see our body from the ceiling, peeling off the 3d sensory hood and returning to the help desk or whatever happens “after this life” which is really “a continuation of this life” but not the lower-dimensional life..I’m talking about the higher-dimensional player’s life. That being can simply take a step backwards and sever the connection (which would be some sort of neurological webbing or hood). Inception‘s characters, running around in their dreams: When it gets to be too much, shoot yourself—your real self will wake up in a warehouse. Some mythologies have it slightly different: If you die in a dream you die in real life. From The Matrix, “The body cannot live without the mind.” No shit.
This would solve the so-called mind-body problem. If my mind was pressed into or woven into the player me, via a sensory hood or fabric, then it would explain why even though I’m a simple little human, I seemingly have sentience. That’s because my experience here is that of a soul (a more abstract or loving self) who has chosen for whatever reason to press himself into the 3d sensory hood. For fun, perhaps—maybe this world is seen this way by some set of beings. My body would not contain my spirit or soul or consciousness—my higher self would. My body would support a visitor consciousness. My player would give me life in tandem with this visitor consciousness. The body could not live without the higher me connected to it. We would lean into this physical world, get born, live, and die—and when we died our physical self would collapse.
It would be like a voluntary Matrix. It’s different than the physicalist idea that the consciousness is “contained within” our physical brains (which until recently had been my entire idea along these lines). But I’m entertaining this 3d sensory hood idea as more likely. I’m not saying there’s a heaven, but the more I live, the more I see, the more I think as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin has said: “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.” That idea surfaces often, as though all seven billion of us keep coming up with the same thoughts.
My friend Shringara and I took ourselves on a shamanic journey almost 20 years ago. We did fasting and meditation for one week. And on our last-night journey with psilocybin mushrooms, we distinctly saw ourselves in space, looking down at the fire as though it was Earth, and we knew exactly how we had gotten here: We sent ourselves here to learn what it was to be human. We temporarily recused our memories and were reborn on this planet. No way to get off except to die. That’s one of the visions we had.
I’m saying all this as the most humble seeker. I don’t have answers. But I thought you might like this intermediate analogy of what is all this going on here?