‘That’s a great idea!’ ‘I have a better idea…’ ‘A company built on ideas.’
Everything we’re aware of is made from ideas. Everything we can possibly know about will be in the form of ideas. Our thoughts and our emotions too are just collections of ideas.
Where do ideas come from? What exactly are they?
From everything outside of us. And yet, paradoxically, ideas aren’t simply ‘out there’, ready made, waiting to be plucked. They depend on what we are: conscious awareness, aka a non-physical mind.
NOTE: (If we let the premise that our mind is in some way manufactured by physical processes intrude into this, we risk thinking – however irrationally – that our consciousness and physical things – our brain for instance – somehow smear into each other. That idea is what clouds all progress in so-called ‘mind science’.)
Ok. So, as a non-physical mind, ideas are what we make from non-conscious physical things that have no awareness of their own. But the ideas aren’t already there as ‘ideas’ in physical things outside us. We have to look at physical things, and then create the ideas from our perceptions about physical things.
NOTE: (I’m using the concept of physically real things to keep this simple; in fact we create our ideas from anything outside our own conscious awareness, and much of the stuff outside our own conscious awareness isn’t physically real. But our human understanding of ideas about things can only reference material phenomena.)
See what happens when you try to clarify stuff? You make it more complicated.
But anyhow, the ideas that we create from, and about, physical things, are then exclusively in our conscious awareness. What’s more, by creating ideas from things outside ourselves, we become those ideas.
So…we don’t simply ‘have’ ideas – we are ideas. Ideas are all that we are. We’re nothing else. As conscious awareness, we are ‘idea gathering and processing plants’. What we do with the ideas becomes the shape and content of our mind. We then turn those ideas into the shape and content of our world and our reality.
Emotions as ideas.
When we create ideas from perceiving physically real things, it’s not a cold, mechanical or strictly intellectual process. As conscious awareness, we’re a living environment in which all our ideas – including those about physical sensations, feelings and emotions – merge together in a fluid, seamless whole. (This is where the smearing effect from earlier might be misconstrued as a merging of conscious and physical, when it’s merely where the effects of physical processes, and the sensations they cause, interface with, and are perceived by, our consciousness.)
NOTE: To see that, you have to go really small; far smaller than atoms, their smaller component parts, or even the quantum particles they’re made from.
The problem is that it’s pointless thinking about single, isolated particles in a situation where you need to imagine countless megazillions of these particles all working together. There’d be no physical phenomena with just one particle of physical stuff, just as there’d be no conscious phenomena with just one particle of conscious stuff. And this goes infinitely smaller than what we think of as particles.
Fluid’s a good word for the environment of ideas we call consciousness. Our mind is a deep ocean of ideas. The ideas are like the particles of the water itself, while our everyday consciousness might be the relatively shallow surface layer. (This could turn into a complicated analogy, but I want you to see ideas the way I’m trying to – not as something abstract but as the stuff of real life, and as the effects that physically real things have on us. Particularly as things that delude us, seduce us, mislead us, pollute our mind, turn us against each other, and generally screw things up for us.) It’s not the physically real things in life that do all that, it’s us and the ideas we have about them.
Another analogy for us and our ideas is a nebula. (A cloud of dust and gas in space.) Each of us is an incredibly complicated nebula of conscious awareness made from ideas about everything you can possibly think of, and then some.
As I said, ideas aren’t just neat, discrete thoughts about things – they’re colored by feelings, emotions, memories, hopes, longings, aspirations, desires, passions and all the rest of it. Together, all these comprize this nebula of stuff that makes each one of us uniquely, humanly what we are. And as I also said, without our own personal ocean/nebula of conscious awareness made from ideas, there’d be no ‘us’.
Of course none of us is a nebula where everything just swirls around in a haphazard mess. There’s an organizing force (evolution or God – you choose) that gives us a physical body in a physical world to reflect us back at ourselves and lets us create ideas. Our physical bodies are a collection of processes that evolve to do specific things, but with one purpose: the replication and reproduction of our genes. We know these things because we’ve perceived them as ideas, and processed those ideas to create yet more ideas in our environment of conscious awareness.
It’s because we are this environment of conscious awareness that we don’t think of ourselves as that collection of physical processes; that would make us less than human. We do, however, overlook the fact that on their own, the processes that comprize physical bodies are less than human; it takes our conscious awareness to make us human.
We also overlook the fact that our feelings, emotions, memories, longings, desires, passions and the rest are all just a result of mindless genes copying and reproducing themselves – with our conscious help. All of those distinctly ‘human’ feelings, emotions, memories, longings, desires, passions and the rest – are not human in the consciously aware way that we think of ourselves. They’re just countless numbers of mindless atoms and mindless forces colliding: the unknowing, uncaring physical consequences of evolution. We – the conscious awareness – only imagine those mindless, non-conscious, unknowing and uncaring physical processes are part of our conscious selves.
Naturally you might well have other ideas about all of this…