The Unconscious Mind is a concept, created in language, that was popularized in late 19th and early 20th century psychology. It is widely believed that the “unconscious” was discovered rather than invented, although tangible proof of it remains illusive. How do you prove the existence of something that by definition requires the absence of consciousness?
While it is difficult to comprehend the unconscious, consciously, evidence of it can be found especially among practitioners who have learned how to manipulate it. This includes charismatic leaders, hypnotists, excellent salespeople, coaches and even a good, run-of-the-mill manipulator.
Neuroscientists have another way of describing the existence of the unconscious. By monitoring brain activity, they have come to learn that we often make decisions and react to things in physiologically observable ways prior to becoming conscious of our reactions. That is, often, our unconscious has already made a decision about something before we become aware of that decision. On the surface it looks like we decided of our own free will, when in fact the decision was made before we became consciously aware of it.
Understanding and manipulating this astonishing apparatus is crucial in all mind management systems. Among mystical systems, like those propounded by the School of Divine Sciences and the Silva Method, the unconscious mind has the power to bend reality. That’s right. Anyone who has read the work of Joseph Murphy or Ernest Holmes can attest to their insistence that you can program experiences to occur in your life, simply by embedding images and suggestions in your mind as you drift off to sleep. In the Silva Method, which arrived later in the 1960s, there are several rituals that rely on the same mechanism. The coincidences are meant to line up as if life is just a weird simulation and you’ve just hacked its underlying code.
These ideas are not only demonstrable but impressive. The world really does appear to be responding to our thoughts: that is, we do seem to be able to generate coincidences resulting from our thoughts if we try some of the Silva techniques. So what is happening there?
In the world of psychology, Carl Jung was the first to expound upon this phenomenon of human being in the world with the concept of synchronicity. For Jung, our minds can precede and anticipate events in the external world. Such events are so highly aligned with our internal world that it is extremely improbable to write them off as chance. Jung argued that there was a relationship between our internal world and the external manifestations thereof. They were connected to each other in an acausal way, or else, a relationship involving non-linear causal chains.
A famous story goes that Jung and Freud were arguing in Freud’s office once about this very idea that the psyche can impact the material world, which to Freud is undoubtedly disconnected from the mind and external to it. As they argued, and seemingly out of nowhere, a crack in Freud’s wooden bookshelf interrupted their argument. Jung seized the moment to say to Freud that the crack in the bookshelf was precipitated by the heated argument between them. Moments later they heard the noise from the cracking bookshelf again. Freud was disturbed by the incident and regarded Jung with suspicion after he left.
For Freud the incident, if it did indeed happen, was nothing more than a coincidence. He also reasoned that the incident may not have actually happened at all and that he may have been, instead, influenced by the power of suggestion, planted either wittingly or unwittingly into his mind by Jung himself. They may have had a shared hallucination or he may have been deceived.
Neuroscience is the Algebra to our conjectures about matters of the mind and we can go back to it for a more concrete explanation of the mystical. And Neuroscience has taught us that there is an attentional network in our brains called the Reticular Activating System. Our brains need to filter out unnecessary information and bring to conscious awareness things that it deems are necessary for our survival. In the case of human beings, meaning-making and complex narrative creation are part of what makes us uniquely human.
While the Reticular Activating System may have originally been designed by nature to help the human brain detect threat or opportunities, it now works to help us detect patterns to make up stories that make sense of our lives and world. It is this system along with the dentate gyrus (which is also responsible for meaning-making) that can become hyper stimulated and result in numerous errors of perception like Apophenia and Pareidolia.
In other words, the potential for connecting events and coincidences into a meaningful and acausal chain may actually always be there, but we become attuned to it by programming our attentional faculties to detect what we need to detect to be able to conceive of a synchronicity in consciousness.
Essentially there are two competing models of the world when it comes to Mind Management and the Unconscious: Either we have brains that have a brilliant way of making us hallucinate that our minds have an impact on the external world (the Freudian version), and basically we hypnotize ourselves into having these experiences; or in fact our brains are connected to the material world we traditionally perceive to be outside of ourselves and can actually cause changes in the material world by the thoughts we think (the Jungian version).