Asleep or awake, mind and body are al- ways simultaneously active. The body perceives; the mind conceives. The
body feels; the mind cogitates. Our mind receives what our senses transmit in such complex ways that we sometimes suppose the existence of an elusive sixth sense. From the Stone
Age to this hour, human beings have been mono-minded, or single-minded.
Since the earliest known writing was devised around 3400 BC, no fundamental development or change in humankind’s ability
to feel, imagine and think is recorded. Some
people have reminded me of the invention of
tools, the wheel, language, the printing press
and, most recently, the computer. But all those
are merely mechanically sequential, additive
inventions that enhance what we are already
able to feel, imagine and think. The minds of
inventors created those aids, but the mind itself is the same as it was long before the day
the first historians set down an event and a
date. To my knowledge, no person or group
has even conceived, much less willfully and
scientifically pursued, a radical change, employing a method that could train us to feel,
imagine and think beyond the present capabilities of even the greatest of us.
But what might be the end result if such
a method were to set a process in motion
by which we actually train our emotions,
imaginations and intellects, each separately
and all three simultaneously, to function at
much higher levels than we know any person
throughout history to have achieved? Is that
even possible? Most innovations begin with
that ultimate question, and the answer is yes,
at least until proven wrong.
The limits of human nature are well known;
people can not imagine the deaths of 600,000
in the Civil War, nor the six million Jews 80
years later. Our humanity needs to develop
a compassionate imagination, a sort of tow-er-like omniscience, and the ability to be myriad-minded to comprehend such enormous
events. Myriad-mindedness is a goal for future
generations to cultivate — inner space travel,
as we have cultivated outer space travel.
F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two ideas
in the mind at the same time and still retain
the ability to function.” He and the rest of humankind have failed to pass that test. Some
people claim to have that ability already, in
multitasking for instance, but close examination will reveal that they are only moving
rapidly from one experience to another, sequentially. Even the complex minds of geniuses have functioned the way the mind of
humankind has always functioned since the
Stone Age: single-mindedly, mechanically, in
sequences, one idea at a time. Although their
collected works are a matrix of multifaceted
elements, neither Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
William Shakespeare, Johann Wolfgang von
Goethe, nor William Faulkner achieved myriad-mindedness.
Some illustrations showing humankind’s
existing basic potential for achieving myri-
■ The structure and functions of the brain,
inseparable from the body.
■ The operations of the unconscious, manifesting in dreams.
■ The workings of memory.
■ Paintings, in which all elements, such as
color and space, are perceived simultaneously, such as in those by Jackson Pollack.
■ Poetry, its complex use of language.
■ Classical music, the simultaneous use of
many instruments, which listeners must incrementally apprehend.
■ Interdisciplinary teaching and writing, the
vast potential of which is far from realization.
■ The complexity of the organization, purpose, function and coordinated operation
of government, military, business and educational institutions.
■ The myriad-minded complexity of James
Joyce’s Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.
Normally sight, touch, hearing, smell and
taste individually stimulate our emotions, our
imaginations and our intellects, but we are
aware of the stimulus sequentially — not all
at once, not simultaneously. In any situation,
most people see in much the same way and
to much the same extent. For instance, as my
old friend Celeste enters the living room of
the house of a new friend for the first time,
she notices one or two things that leap to her
attention. Gradually, she notices many other
things, including odors and sounds that cause
her to look for and see the source. She leaves
without having looked directly at many objects in the room, objects she might be surprised to see on later visits.
The Gestalt theory (defined as “an organized whole that is perceived as more than the
sum of its parts”) suggests the simultaneity
of the unconscious. Unconsciously, Celeste
responds emotionally, imaginatively and intellectually to everything in the room, not just
that of which she is conscious. Is it possible
to train Celeste to be able to see readily and
consciously almost everything in a room?
Sight enhances all the other senses, so that after methodical training over many years, myriad-minded Celeste can see everything rapidly. She can feel, hear, smell and taste far more
than the most sensitive mono-minded person
The three basic point of view techniques of
fiction — first person, third person and om-
niscience — are derived from everyday con-
sciousness. People around the globe now feel,
imagine and think in three primary modes of
consciousness as automatically as they drive a
car. Waking from nocturnal experiences in the
unconscious, manifested only in a small part
in dreams, Celeste is predominantly a subjec-
tive being, telling herself her own story emo-
tionally. Out in the world, all her senses ac-
tive, she is predominantly an objective being,
imagining the lives of others, her senses even
more acute. In the evening, she is predomi-
nantly an intellectually omniscient being, re-
membering, evaluating herself and others in a
variety of experiences. She is not conscious of
undergoing that three-mode process. Imagine
the consequences should Celeste become con-
scious of that process, and then deliberately,
programmatically further develop skills for
controlling, improving and more effectively
Those three modes operating in those three
activities constitute in great part our humanity, our capacity for interaction with the community of humankind, and the ability to gather facts and understand them in a political,
social and philosophical framework. The consequences will be different for different people. For Celeste, the consequences may be a
greater emotional sense of self; a capacity for
empathy, compassion, and love; an improved
ability to interact imaginatively with people