What Remembers?

Students of Eastern philosophy such as Advaita Vedanta are encouraged to engage in self-inquiry, asking "What is the I?"   What is this distinction all about?

Both Eastern and Toltec teachings identify the mind as "mirror".  In the context of our conversation on lucidity, we find that we sometimes look into the mirror of the mind and identify with the efficiency of implicit memory.  Then again we might identify with our explicit memory as we explain or teach.

The implicit ability to act automatically is an indispensable tool; getting through the day without it would be a truly laborious task.  The explicit memory is also a tool, without which we would never know why we did anything.  But if these are tools, what is the "I" that uses them?  Just as we know we are not our physical reflection, we find we are not this mental conditioning that we notice. 

A 2005 research study using MRI scans reveals that implicit and explicit faculties of the mind each operate in totally different parts of the brain from the other. That means being able to act automatically is not a progression or refinement of what we think we know.  The same research goes on to report that a third region of the brain, independent of explicit or automatic memory centers, lights up the moment one intends to retrieve information, something we do when we are noticing the mundane. Both the implicit and the explicit minds respond to that intent.

It seems that even science might say there is a self other than what we think we know (the explicit I) and what we don't know that we know (the implicit I). This Lucid I is differentiated from memory by intention and awareness.  The end-goal behind the practices of Lucid Change like noticing blue bunny markers and mundane sequences, is not to simply help you capture what you know, but to help you let go of what you know and experience being lucid. When practicing, look for those lucid moments in between what is noticed.  That's the prize!

Look in the Mirror Practice:  The mind is a mirror of what we see.  When we identify with the mind we lose sight of the true self.  This exercise is not about looking at yourself in the mirror but to see how you mistake yourself for the mirror.  The first step is to notice a mundane action such as walking or sorting through some papers, or pouring a cup of coffee.  Notice too that until you did you were just "pouring a cup of coffee".  When you notice you can see your hand holding a pot of coffee that is being poured out into a cup and we begin to see thing differently. 

Lady Flora with a Mirror by Edmund Joseph Sullivan courtesty of Cea on Flickr.com