Mind thinks. Thinking is mind action. Thought is the result of mind action. This is a statement of what mind does, but it is neither a description nor a definition of mind.We know about mind only through our consciousness of its action, but because of this consciousness we know what we mean when we speak of mind and say it is that which thinks.
In seeking for the sources of activity we find that in all human actions thinking is first in the order of occurrence; that is, we do not act unless we have first thought.
A word, even the most idle or habitual, noticed or unnoticed, must exist in the mind in the form of a thought before the vocal organs can utter it. Thinking may precede utterance only by a space of time
It may be well to note definitely that thinking is not itself a thing, but is only an action. Mind is the thing, just as the hand is the thing, and its motion is only its action. Too short to be measured, nevertheless the thought of the word was in existence in the mind before the word could be spoken; and the same is true of every other action. This statement is necessarily correct because an expression, whatever its form, is always the utterance, or outward indication or manifestation, of some intention, emotion, thought, or feeling, and can never precede what it expresses; hence an act never precedes nor outruns thinking, but must always follow it.
Willing is the result of choosing, and both choosing and willing are modes of thinking.
This order of occurrence is fully illustrated in the simple act of lifting the hand. Contraction of the muscle causes the motion of the hand; an impulse from the nerve causes the contraction of the muscle; some action in the brain sends the impulse along the nerve; thinking is the motive power, and without it there would not be any action of brain, nerve, or muscle. These are only parts of a machine; over them all is the power of mind without which the machine could not move; just as without the fire there could not be any steam in the boiler, and with- out the steam there could not be any motion of the piston, and without the motion of the piston the machinery of the factory could not move.
Frequently something outside of the mind causes the mind to act; but had the mind not acted, there would have been no bodily action, or had the mind acted differently, the bodily action would have been different also. It was the mental act which caused the bodily action and gave to it its peculiar character. But the mind may act independently without any provocation or stimulation exterior to itself, and the motion of the body will occur just the same, showing that mind action alone is the essential in the process.
If we grant all that may be claimed for the influence of external things upon the mind, it still remains that the mind is the power behind all else in moving the body and that without it there would not be any motion. Additional and final proof of the truth of this proposition is found in the fact that if we remove the mind, as in death, the body cannot move. The nerves, muscles, tendons, and bones are parts of the machine — wonderful though inert — which the mind uses. In itself alone no portion of this machine has any more power than a crowbar when it is not grasped by the hand of the laborer. “All acts are due to motive, and are the expression design on the part of the actor. This is as true of the simplest as of the most complex actions of animals, whether consciously or unconsciously.
The action of the Amoeba in engulfing in its jelly, is as much designed as the diplomacy of the statesman, or the investigation of the scientist.” But motive is a kind of thinking or a state of mind, and thus this statement by Cope, while it includes all the actions of the entire animal kingdom under one general proposition, declares that they are ail due to mind and its action. The investigations of physiologists show how surpassingly wonderful is the force of mind when acting in connection with motion of the hand, even when looked at from a material point of view. The forearm, considered mechanically, is a lever.
The distance to the fulcrum from the point where the power is applied is, we may say, an inch. The distance from the fulcrum to the point where the weight lies in the hand is, say, fifteen inches. Then, in accordance with mechanical laws, the power put forth by the muscle to raise the weight must be fifteen times as much as the weight itself. An ordinarily strong man can raise a weight of fifty pounds. This means that the mind, acting through the muscle, in this instance exerts a force equal to fifteen times fifty, or seven hundred and fifty pounds. This is the force, represented in pounds, which the mind exerts in such a case.
But this is not all. If this same muscle which has operated under the force of seven hundred and fifty pounds should be removed from the arm and one end of it should be supported from a beam, a weight of fifty pounds attached to the other end would tear it asunder. This shows that the mind not only exerts a force of seven hundred and fifty pounds in lifting the weight, but at the same time a nearly equal force in holding the muscle together. A similar condition exists in connection with every muscular movement of the body.
There is an intimate and most wonderful relation between mind action and the action of the brain and nerve tissues, and between the nerve tissues and the various bodily organs. This relationship is such that certain actions of the mind set the nerves and muscles into activity. No one knows how the mind affects the brain to control it, nor how the nerve affects the muscle either to contract or to relax it. No one knows what the medium is between the mental and physical systems, nor even whether there is a medium. We only know that after the mind acts in its appropriate way these other actions follow in a certain order.
There is an extensive literature on this subject which sets forth many different theories and explanations. Some insist that no connection whatever exists between mind and matter, and therefore they claim that it is too much to say that these actions stand in the relationship toward each other of cause and effect; yet, practically, all admit that there will be no muscular or other bodily action if the mind does not act. This admission is sufficient because it sets forth exactly the condition which exists in connection with other cases of acknowledged cause and consequence. Thus, astronomers say that the sun causes the revolution of the planetary bodies, but they have never been able really to show that any connection exists between the sun and those bodies, nor to give any satisfactory explanation of the phenomenon.
Even if it be granted that the relationship is not that of cause and consequence, but merely uniform sequence, the sequence follows substantially the same form and order as cause and consequence. It makes small practical difference whether we call it a chain of sequences or a chain of causes and consequences. Therefore it is sufficient for the purpose of this discussion to say that mental action is the cause of bodily actions for the reason that bodily actions always follow appropriate mental actions, and never occur without their initiative.
It is universally admitted that the facts of sensation prove the action of the body on the mind, and in like manner the facts of volition just as conclusively prove the action of the mind on the body. For instance, pain may be claimed to cause a movement of the body; but between the pain and the movement was the mind action perceiving the pain and directing those bodily actions. With this direction and adaptation pain has nothing whatever to do. It may be said that man eats because he is hungry, and that in this he is governed by physical sensation; yet the consciousness of that sensation is a mental act of perception without which he would not eat, nor would there follow any of those complicated actions connected with digestion and assimilation. Thus analyzed it appears that it is mind action which sets the whole train in motion.
In the normal person the mental control of muscular action is wonderfully developed. The muscle moves in exact obedience to the mental command, as seen in the delicacy and accuracy as well as the strength and force of the movements. Note the forming of a letter with a pen on the written page, the strokes of the artist’s brush upon his canvas, the exactness of touch of the musician’s fingers upon the keys when he produces the precise tone that is required for the expression of his music — everywhere that delicacy and exactness are desired in the muscle they are produced by the mental action. It is called the result of training the muscle; in fact, it is training the muscle to obey the mind. If the mind has such control over muscular action, why may not its control over the other functions of the body be equally influential?
It may also be well to note right here a distinction that has often been overlooked. The movement of the arm is not the result of will power. A man may will his arm to move as much as he pleases, but unless the mind itself acts in a manner different from simply willing the arm to move — unless the mind thinks something entirely distinct in character from the thought of willing — the arm remains stationary. Even if it should be contended that the motion of the arm is caused by will power, the fact still remains that will power is mind power because willing is a form of mental action and the result of choice, and choice is itself a mental action; therefore the general proposition that bodily action is the result of mental action is still correct.
These facts, clearly recognizable by every one, prove that the mind is not simply a group of physical conditions and combinations in action, nor is it a product of them, but that it is something entirely distinct from the physical system though acting on it, controlling it, and conferring on it powers which, in itself, it does not have; and since every bodily action may be resolved into elements closely similar to these here considered, if not identical with them in character and relationship, the proof becomes complete.
That which thinks is the master power which moves, directs, controls. The combination of brain, nerves, muscles, ligaments, bones — these constitute a most wonderful machine that the mind builds and uses.
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