I recently heard a great analogy of human awareness. It points towards the illusions our conscious mind creates and what's really going on behind the scenes as we operate as individuals. I’d like to share my twist on it with you.
But first some science
Apparently, the human brain is processing over 11 million bits of data subconsciously every second, yet conscious awareness processes only around 60bits of data per second.
This means that the mental narration and conscious awareness of things around you such as smell, sight, taste etc are only a very tiny fraction of what’s going on between your ears.
We remain unaware of what’s going on behind the red curtain of the subconscious mind. As a result, we assume that what is conscious is all there is
For example when you see a juicy mango. You don’t just think “Oh I’d like to eat that juicy mango”. In reality, your subconscious mind actually thinks something more like “What is a mango? Is that a mango? What do mangoes taste like?”. It will assess memories of mangoes good and bad. Consider the quality of this particular mango, if it’s mango season, the estimated value, if it's healthy, will I get fat etc. Thousands of thoughts and assessments will subconsciously be taking place, unknown to the conscious mind.
Eventually, this may lead to you having the conscious feeling and thought that “ I would like to eat this juicy mango”. Everything else remains subconscious and all you are left with is the feeling. It really feels like “you” chose to eat the mango.
This is the illusion of free will at play. We remain unaware of what’s going on behind the red curtain of the subconscious mind. As a result, we assume that what is conscious is all there is. And so the ultimate illusion is created. The illusion of “me” the chooser and decider. The illusion that I chose to eat the mango.
It’s possible that this may seem scary to you at first. The idea of not being fully in control. But the good news is that in reality, you never were anyway. In fact, this idea that you were in control and needed to continue attempting to maintain control has been responsible for much of the psychological stress you have experienced throughout life. It’s truly liberating and life-changing to come to this realisation. A wave of relaxation washes over us when we finally let go of the wheel. We can watch what happens in the beautiful dance of life and know that we will, learn, grow and respond automatically to life regardless.