Two Minds

Considerations regarding a possible move closer into town, out of my remote mountain location  – a notion that has rather shocked and shaken me since my return from Africa – have me reflecting on the two minds we as humans seem to house. Appreciating the distinction between these two minds has been central to my work and writing for the last many years.

Indigenous mind is the term I prefer to use in describing the aspect of mind that knows without being taught, that senses far beyond the power of reasoning, that exists within the field of intelligence that pervades everything that is. It comprehends the language of universe, stars, rocks, rivers, trees and animals as well as that of humans. It is our unifying capability and original endowment.

Cultivated mind is the aspect that humans develop in order to live within what Rilke calls “our interpreted world.” It matures through logic and reasoning, analyzing, comparing, evaluating.

Carl Jung wrote an essay entitled “Two Kinds of Thinking” in which he describes what he calls “directed thinking”, that which is linear, adapted and functional as opposed to dream thinking which is mythological and symbolic. Heidegger called it “technological thinking.” Jung was concerned with our overuse of directed thinking, as it is producing a readjustment of the human mind away from what the ancients knew; it is immature and could lead to our demise. The one kind of thinking is difficult and exhausting, the other effortless and spontaneous.

Thomas Berry, one of my greatest teachers, worried that we are closing down the major life systems of the planet because of this imbalance in human development. He called our human situation a pathology and felt that if we do not get back to our prerational, instinctive resources, our genetic imperatives as he called them, we may be headed toward ecological destruction that could eliminate our chances of survival as a species. Buckminster Fuller died with these same concerns.

I moved to live in the mountains after some years of immersion in these concerns. In the middle of it all life delivered circumstances that instigated a nervous breakdown in which for the most part I lost powers for directed thinking during a period of time. As frightening as this was, it delivered a kind of illumination that might not have arrived in any other way. Jesus said that we must lose our life to find it. Similarly, I realized, we must lose our mind to find it. As much as I lost one mind, I was also recovering the other. And so I came to live in wilderness to further advance the recovery.

I have heard indigenous people describe the conflict between these minds, saying that the cultivated or domesticated mind eradicates the other. One cannot have them together. I choose to believe that our evolution will find a way to accommodate both, but that this will require a strong commitment to the process; a willingness to allow for the stronghold of our recently acquired mind to loosen and possibly disintegrate to make way for the new possibility.

Now as I consider moving toward town where that other mind dominates, worry rises in me. Could what recovery I have been able to achieve evaporate in the heat of that other mind, like a mist is dissolved by the sun? I have to trust not. This may be the next step in the call.

8 Responses to “Two Minds”

  1. Laura Says:

    Oh my! Tayria, since I have only known you in your mountain years, I can hardly think of you moving down off the mountain. But I certainly can imagine why you might be ready to do so. Holding you in love and light as you consider these big changes. (Makes me think I better get up there on the mountain with you post-haste!)

  2. Joy Parker Says:

    Hi Tayria:

    You wrote: “I have heard indigenous people describe the conflict between these minds, saying that the cultivated or domesticated mind eradicates the other. One cannot have them together. I choose to believe that our evolution will find a way to accommodate both, but that this will require a strong commitment to the process; a willingness to allow for the stronghold of our recently acquired mind to loosen and possibly disintegrate to make way for the new possibility.”

    This is the question I faced when I edited Malidoma Some’s auto biography, Of Water and the Spirit. It was a dismaying discovery, especially in light of the fact that I had just moved to CA after 18 years of living in New York City and had finally had to leave the city because I was falling apart.

    I think one can have the two minds, move back and forth between them. You and I have an advantage over indigenous people because we are not “born” into their culture and their mindset. We have rediscovered our indigenous souls after decades of living in Western culture. Our consciousness is “different” and I believe we can accomdate more of a living in “two worlds,” a shifting back and forth. We ARE shapeshifters.

    It’s a hard road to becoming such a shapeshifter. I remember the discord I felt in my mind, the extreme disquiet when I first began meeting and working with urban shamans, quite unexpectedly. I felt at first like it was so very difficult to hold the two ways of looking at the world in my mind. Sometimes I wondered if I was imagining everything and perhaps going a little crazy. But eventually I learned to be relatively comfortable with both ways of seeing.

    Regardless of what role I play in this world, as I said in my last blog, once the eyes of your soul are opened, they cannot be closed.

    I know you will find your way and make the right decision for you, for your community in regards to whether or not you leave or stay on the mountain. The natural world will not disappear if you do not live right in the middle of it. You will always be a part of it, no matter where you go or where you live.

    Just look with the eyes of your soul and listen with the ears of your heart. You ARE nature. You will never be separate from it.

    • Tayria Ward Says:

      I know you have been through much with this, Joy. And what a privilege to have helped give birth to Of Water and Spirit, such a classic. Your blog is beautiful, too. Your writing is really flourishing. Thanks for your encouragement with mine.

  3. Sarah Says:

    Ah Tayria what a beautiful summation of the split occurring in so many psyches. And yes, i pray the time is upon us tp repair that separation and disconnect. I sit with maybe a similar dilemma as I look for my next landing. In town, or wildness? I wonder what impulse is stirring you to consider leaving the mountain? (and sad to think I may not get to you there brfore you leave….).
    Gratitude for your continued writing and sharing.

  4. Rick & Rox Says:

    Jules,

    I feel your path in life is taking a new shift. I recommend embracing it, however, carry with you the knowledge and tools you’ve acquired on your current journey and you will be protected from the fears and hurt from the past. We love you kiddo. Rick & Rox.

  5. Tayria Ward Says:

    I love you too Rick, and sweet Rox. Thanks for your recommendation and encouragement, it helps. I will just believe what you say, hold it close.

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