The interplay of learning and imagination is the substance of consciousness.

Mind and Models

A shamanic definition of mind is that it is our inventory, the sum of what we hold to be true and how that is expressed. Moods, for instance, are frames of mind. Susan Blackmore points out that the prevailing scientific consensus regards mind as the personalized form of brain functions. And philosophers may define mind as either the individual self which feels, reasons, believes, imagines, etc., or a general non-material, metaphysical substance which pervades all individual minds.34 No matter the scope of the definition, it still boils down to inventory: the conscious and unconscious determinates for what we call to our attention and how we do it. If we include the energy body, we enlarge our inventory and expand our mind.

Most often, we have accepted the condition that the world is made of material, concrete objects. From this mindset we build aircraft and automobiles to enable our energy bodies to travel. In a different version of reality, we might learn to travel by actualizing potentials of imagination. Evidently knowing how to transport their bodies through time and space solely by using internal resources, without a material vehicle, was one of the ancient Toltecs’ great discoveries. They were able to do this because they not only accepted an expanded reality, they acted in line with that worldview.35 They were of a different mind.

Often the first lesson in Toltec training, one that carries forward in many ways, centers on learning that the world we hold to be real is only a description: an inventory. The philosophical underpinnings of worldviews, such as the universe being of material or energetic form, speaks to reality and how that forms. Philosophies as methods of learning give rise to meta-models such as metaphysical considerations which creep into all areas of inquiry. The results of the investigations will be trimmed by what goes into the philosophy in the first place; that is to say, the stuff of science or shamanism—the biochemical circuitry of perception or the cornerstones of perception, for example. The result is that the method of learning acts to produce a self-fulfilling version of reality.

Mind and models interrelate, each affecting the other, both influencing how we perceive our surroundings. Mind includes not only the elements of a consciously created schematic but all the pieces of reality that we have integrated and long since forgotten, the unconscious aspects of a model that are so implicit they guide and determine perception without us realizing their force. The essence of mind is how the conscious and unconscious affect our capacities. Knowing how models form and their relation with mind has direct and immediate bearing on realizing potential.

Once you get a handle on models, learning and imagination enter entirely new realms. This is because your current reality, as well as all other realities past, present, and future, are understood as models, as approximations of what exists. Infinity has been reduced to “reality.” Inventories are about something; they are not necessarily what is. A model is a bag of bits and pieces of reality that fit together, and come in all sizes. They are gestalts formed by culling interrelated elements of an inventory to form a representation of something larger.

Models influence other models. For example, while interest in energy such as electricity and magnetism can be dated back to ancient Greece, the nineteenth century marked a historical turning point in the field of bioenergetics. Many practical discoveries relating to different forms of energy and how they affect the human body were made during that period and the models associated with bioenergetics continue to be augmented. After Michael Faraday learned to harness magnetism to generate electrical current, Elias Smith patented an electromagnetic healing coil, Edwin Babbitt depicted energy fields surrounding the body and presented his work in the treatise The Principles of Light and Color, and Hahnemann developed homeopathy. Over the years homeopathic provings (a method to determine the efficacy of a remedy) have increased. We now have magnetic resonance imaging and SQUID magnetometers. All of the information in this book is a model; that of an extended bioenergetic view of human anatomy. Within this, acupuncture offers a model, as do chakras, as do Western psychologies.

Models come in all sizes. A laboratory bench model might be used to explain and measure the effects of adding one chemical to another. There are paradigms: expansive, wide-reaching models. Then there are realities, entire cosmologies that become so ingrained that they lead us to forget that the world that is being viewed is in fact a conglomeration of interpretations. The difference between a laboratory model that accounts for a chemical reaction and a model portraying a complete worldview is only a matter of scale. The way they form and their effects on perception are constant.

Regardless of their expanse, as measured against infinity all models—be they of shamanism or science—are reduced versions of something larger. They exist as representations, symbols, or images, not reality itself. Any viable model functions as a principal determinant of what can be observed as well as focusing the results of that observation. Without this awareness of the role played by models, any approach to understanding can quickly degenerate into dogmatic fundamentalism. As physician Gabriel Cousens points out in the introduction to Richard Gerber’s Vibrational Medicine, “. . . models are not necessarily real, but serve as conceptual tools to enhance a functional understanding.”36 It is from a specific type of understanding that a technology emerges.


Next Section: Learning and Imagination