[First posted on MyT]
The symbol in the photo, along with dozens of other markings of various types, is on a huge rock near where I live, on the edge of the Boyne Valley complex of Megalithic sites. It is thought to have been made by sun-worshippers around 5,000 years ago – perhaps 200 generations of humanity before ours. Nobody will ever know what it signifies, if anything.
Looking at ancient structures and artefacts always makes me wonder about the minds of the people that made them, and how different they must have been from ours.
We in the West are mentally the products of a couple of thousand years of reason and logic, and the conscious part of our minds reflects this. Each of us tends to think that our body and our thoughts constitute ‘me’ (or ‘I’). The thoughts in our minds encompass our memories, our culture (in the widest sense of the term), our sense of identity and the narrative of a life. We tend to mistake what might be called the body/mind complex for ‘ourselves’.
I believe that there is more to us … that our bodies and thinking minds are a necessary interface for living in this world, but are not the sum total. Religious people and mystics believe this too, although the organized religions often play down the implications, in my view.
It seems to me that the development of the mind has had its price … a blessing is a curse. It has left us cut off from a vast underlying consciousness to which we may gain access from time to time if we can silence the babble of our attention-demanding thoughts, and which may shape our lives unknown to us. This could be seen as ‘God’, but not in the sense of ‘great humanoid in the sky’, which I believe is a human invention.
The world as it appears to us is the interpretation of our limited minds … not ‘the world itself’. The barriers are arbitrary, maintained by long-established custom. I think they would have been far less solid in the psychic world of the person that made that mark on the stone, 5,000 years ago.
Our excessive belief in our ‘island’ status causes problems. Alienation, it can be argued, is at the root of all the world’s conflicts. Our fanatical belief in ‘me’ and ‘not-me’ is writ large in our obsession with ‘us’ and ‘them’, which underpins most if not all wars.
We are capsules of life in self-imposed isolation. Many of us worry about the extinction of our minds … our consciousness … at death, when in fact consciousness may merely rejoin the sea of consciousness whence it sprang … the spirit.
Perhaps we are charged with developing and enhancing the measure of consciousness we have been given in this life, and life hence has meaning and purpose that our hide-bound, dualistic, ‘rational’ thinking obscures.
Maybe we are outcrops of spirit acting in the ‘physical’ world, and it is merely the illusion of separateness … our ‘original sin’ … that will die with death, when the husk of the body is discarded.