Inquire into

Travel to or penetrate into

Examine minutely

All hail man, the great explorer

Come on, we have to give ourselves a round of applause to start this topic off. We have explored more than any other species on the planet. We have explored the depths of the oceans and discovered wonderful new creatures. We have explored into the earth’s crust and found wonderful minerals, we have explored the skies and created amazing aircraft to carry us many meters above the land, and finally we have started to explore space and have created satellites and spaces stations. Oh yeah, and some bloke went to the north pole and another to the south, and one guy went up a tall mountain. The end.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that all the exploration that man has done, save for a few expeditions over the artic tundra and up some exceptionally high mountains, has been to benefit himself; for his own wealth. He didn’t just mine the rock to see what it was made from; he mined it because it made him wealthy. I can hear some of you thinking out loud already:
“What nonsense is this?” If it hadn’t been for all man’s exploring we wouldn’t be where we are today,” to which I reply:
Others will be saying:
“But look at our achievements! We have done so much. No other species has come close to what we have done,” to which I reply:

Thanks to our wonderfully big brains and our insatiable desire to explore everything, we have, whether we like it or not, made a bit of a mess of this planet of ours, and the governments with space programs will probably do the same with outer space given half a chance. We just can’t stop exploring can we? But soon, there will be nowhere left to go. All will have been discovered, all will have been mined, trawled, and polluted, then we will only be able to sit back and explore with our big brains where it all went wrong.

Perhaps then we should start with the mind before we destroy everything, because that is where it all begins. When we have been exploring it has always been external. Of course, we have thought about the exploration in our minds first, but we have always looked outward. We have always explored with our eyes and our hands. We have built sailing ships and traversed the globe, but we have never once thought to mount an expedition to the interior, which would surely be a more fascinating journey than ever before. That all been said. Let us begin.

A journey to the centre

“But where do we begin? Is there a starting point? And anyway what is the point of all this?” I hear some of you asking. Perhaps there is a starting point. Perhaps there is a point to it all, but we will never know until we look. So where is the centre of your mind? Is it the bit between the left and right hemispheres of the brain? If you think, then what side does it come from? Is the thought above you, to the left a bit, or maybe panned to the extreme right? Any ideas? Perhaps you can hear your voice as you read this. Where is this thought coming from?” Did you hear it? “Why am I talking in my own head?” “Why can I hear my voice, but my lips aren’t moving?” Ok, you get the idea!

If you ever get to see a brain, it looks kind of greyish with lots of bumps all over it. It certainly doesn’t look like the kind of thing that allows a man to explore space or his sexuality, does it? In fact it looks just like any other organ in the body (pretty disgusting), and although there are massive electrical pulses along the neural network that is your mind, you can’t see them to the naked eye. I won’t start using technical terms here, as I’m afraid I don’t know any; so if you want more detail, you’ll have to head down to your local library!

So our brain is a bit of an enigma. You can’t really see it in action unless you look at another human or study yourself, but if you watch a man chatting up a girl in a bar you can see that his brain is definitely hard at work. But these thoughts trouble me. I can hear them in my own voice but they do not appear to be coming from anywhere. A true mystery! Are thoughts real then? Do they really exist? Can anyone else hear them, or are they locked inside my cranium (the part of the skull that encloses the brain)?

Perhaps this is the reason that man explores outwardly. Perhaps it is a little too complex to understand something if you can’t actually see it working. If I look in the mirror, I can see my face moving, I can see that I can move my mouth, and if I look down I can see that I can move my hands and that I am still alive, but there is no way to really see inside our own brains.

Sure, the scientists have concocted clever little machines that measure electrical impulses – amongst other things – but they can’t visually map the territory. Unlike the science fiction films where observers are able to see into people’s minds by way of a television screen and some special cables, our observations at a scientific level are should we say, slightly lacking! So how do we map the brain? How do we see what is going on in there? Unfortunately we only have one way available at the moment and that is to turn inward on ourselves, like pointing a video camera at a television screen.

As we try to watch for our thoughts, they become elusive, jumping around, so we can never really catch them, or hold them for long enough to see what they contain. Some people recommend meditation for this process where (through chanting or some other method) they are able to empty their mind long enough so they can see what’s going on. By all accounts, it’s a difficult and long process, and doesn’t ever really answer all our questions. So where are we?

We have said we aren’t sure where our thoughts are coming from, we couldn’t draw them if we wanted to, we don’t know what colour they are, we can only say we know they exist. Try as we may to get an image in our mind it’s never quite as clear as watching it on a tv screen, unless, that is, we are asleep.

A series of mental images and emotions occurring during sleep

Let’s face it, dreaming has been explored more than most other functions of the brain and psychologists can tell us one thing, and neurologists can tell us another, but when most of us want to know something, we go straight to a dream dictionary where we find out that dying in a dream doesn’t mean you’re going to die in real life; and if you see a rat in your dream then that means someone is going to die in real life or something like that!

Unfortunately, as no one really knows what’s going on in the brain, we have to assume that these dream dictionaries are of no more use to us than the daily horoscopes in the tabloid newspapers; all they are based on, is human superstition and not much insight. Nonetheless, they sell in their millions, to people desperate to know what their dreams mean; because of course, as an explorer, man can never live with the unknown – he must find out the truth, even if the real truth is far removed from what the writers have decided it means.

But we shouldn’t knock dreams. If nothing else, they are great television you don’t have to stay awake for to watch, and man, are some of them weird!

I’m sure you have all had similar experiences with your dreams, as characters and shapes interchange, and speak in different voices. One minute we are in a bar talking, the next we are rolling down a hill as a rock. One second we are in a hotel lobby the next we are in a field! Argh! What does it all mean? The scientists have said that we dream to make sense of the day and file everything away in order, but unless we dream in metaphors I can’t remember having been a rock on hill!
“Ahh so the rock signifies me, because I feel heavy and because I have a great “weight” on my mind, and I am ladened down with debt and I feel like my life is running out of control!”

Thanks psychologists and dream dictionaries, but I think I’ll take my chances elsewhere!

One vivid recurring dream I have is that I am flying. Yeah I know you’ve all had dreams about flying, but what does it all mean? Sure, I am a little bit scared of flying, which, given that I am sitting in a metal tube filled with 200 tons of highly explosive jet fuel gives me some cause to be.

But these dreams are not about being in an aircraft. I am actually flying. In some of the dreams I am standing on a chair and I raise my hands and let myself fall. Suddenly I am free. I am floating about the earth! It is a wonderful experience.

Some people may counsel me that actually in the past man has always flown but his nature has held him to the ground (sorry, isn’t that gravity?) and only when he lets go of all earthly desire will he be true to fly again. Hmm, perhaps I have just watched done too many superman films.

But although I can’t see we were ever flyers on this planet, we could have been in a different life, or maybe we are experiencing what our other self is experiencing in a different dimension! But would that mean he had the same friends as me and went to the same bars, except he didn’t have to take a taxi! Whoa!

This is all getting a bit too weird man, so I think we better anchor ourselves firmly back to this planet and back to “reality” and ask one of the characters in our dreams what it’s all about.

Yesterday I had a vivid dream of my wife, whom I separated from two years ago, and haven’t seen since; so maybe I should ask her what the heck I’m doing dreaming about her after all this time, seeing as the brain is supposed to be making sense of the day’s events. I will ask. But first I have to go to sleep. See you in my dreams!

Asking the dream

Me: Ah ha! Caught you!

Her: What are you doing in your own dream?

Me: I’ve come to ask you a question or two.

Her: What about?

Me: Well, I think it’s kind of weird that I am dreaming about you a lot at the moment, seeing as we split up ages ago.

Her: What do you dream of me?

Me: I don’t know, sometimes we are kissing, sometimes we are holding hands. Once we cried together.

Her: Perhaps you dream of me because you still want to ask me something?

Me: Do I? Perhaps I do. I was pretty sad at leaving and all.

Her: I know you were.

Me: Do you miss me?

Her: What sort of a question is that? I loved you once. But now it is gone.

Me: But I still love you, I think. I think that’s why I dream about you all the time.

Her: But you left ME. Remember?

Me: That’s true, but if only we could get back together again. I could make it right.

Her: It is right. What’s done is done.

Me: But why do I kiss you in my dreams, when I have a real girlfriend lying in bed next to me. Is that cheating?

Her: It cannot be cheating because I do not exist. You kiss me, because you have kissed me before. You remember kissing me.

Me: But doesn’t this mean we will get back together again?

Her: Why would we? We have been apart for such a long time. It is over.

Me: So why do I dream of you?

Her: Because you remember me, and in your memory you have good memories and bad. You dream of me as you once knew me.

Me: But aren’t you still the same?

Her: In the dream I am, because your memory last saw me in the flesh like that. But now I am just a figment of your imagination.

Me: My imagination?

Her: Your dream of me is a connection of memories all jumbled around, and left to fight it out in your imagination.

Me: But is my imagination real? Does it exist? Where is it?

Her: It is in your mind and without. It is part of the whole.

Me: You mean, my dreams are just imagination?

Her: What else? Do you think you really kissed me last night? Do you think I dreamed of kissing you?

Me: Did you?

Her: You will never know, because that is only in my imagination.

Me: So it’s over between us?

Her: I guess so. But if you want to, you can dream of me, if it makes you feel happy.

Me: It makes me feel sad when I wake up and you’re not there.

Her: That is the trick of the dream. That is the trick that makes you feel me, and touch me as if I am real but I am just a memory.

Me: Aren’t memories real?

Suddenly the connection is lost and I’m flying over a field again.

What about you? Did you try a conversation with someone from your dream? I don’t know what is real and what is not. My dreams seem so real, and it is as if I am in my own television show, except for the fact that I have little dialogue, or directorial control.

But it’s no surprise our dreams are so weird, or sometimes so intense that we wake up believing that what happened in the dream was real. Every single second, our minds are recording every smell, every taste, every action, every word, every feeling, and sleep time is the only time it gets to process all the information.

So maybe we read into dreams too much. Maybe we are looking for something, and hope to find it in our dreams, just as we hope to find it in the astrological chart. We all want to know “Is it real, Is it real? We cannot just accept that it is. We all want to know the meaning behind everything, and if you pay someone enough they will always try to find a meaning for you.

Why do we need to have meaning? Because we are never satisfied with the way it is. The earth. The stars. The oceans. The forest. The animals. The fish. The human. That is how it is. Do you understand? But your mind says “No, I must explore more, I must explore and find out whether there is meaning behind any of it.” So we analyse and we analyse with our big brains using thought, which is limited by memory, and imagination, which is limited by thought.

If there is a meaning out there, we won’t find it looking into our own brain using thought as a probe, because it can only see what it wants to see, it has no access to anything more than your memories, your experience and your knowledge. To explore further we need a different tool. That which is indescribable, that which is insight (grasping the inner nature of things intuitively). Until then, we can discuss dreams and the workings of the grey blob that is our brain until pigs fly…

But let me let you in on a little secret. It’s all in your mind.


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