When we prepared the lecture topics and I proposed one on the MPC, Robyn asked me why anybody would want to know about it? My MPCs self-esteem got bruised and I began to defend it by making my case to her not only why it is so important, but also that unless she was a reptile, she likely benefited from her MPC desperately trying to make itself heard right then as we were speaking. Once the lecture was advertised, Robyn sent me an email and asked: What on earth am I going to write about the MPC? To which I responded: A lot of sand, pebbles and dirt. I seemed to have been inspiring to her, because her way of rethinking Yoga through the perspective of the MPC in her post is really interesting and wonderfully refreshing so much so that I felt I had little more to add. So where do I turn now???
One little sequence of words jolted me in Robyns blog. Since in the lecture I already told you about the functions of the MPC, I thought this little jolt might be a good direction to take my blog. Indeed, thanks to the MPC we are capable of awareness of awareness. We are capable of an advanced form of meta-processing thanks to the highly integrative function of the MPC. The seduction is to then deduce that the MPC is the seat of awareness, as Robyn does in her blog. Thats where my sympathetic nervous system went into slight over-activation. Oh mindfulshemindfulhe, not mindfulhemindfulshe as you know from my lecture I dare not criticize the superior gender, and in fact there is a grain of truth in what she says. Without the MPC we would not be capable of the kind of human meta-awareness (a fancy short form for awareness of awareness) we enjoy. And yet, this being said, seeing it as the seat of awareness can lead our minds into the wrong direction.
As I read Robyns blog before writing this one (my sneaky way of letting her MPC inspire my lazy one), I felt my MPC was expanding into and infiltrating my whole body and beyond it the world around me. What may seem to originate from a place in the forehead, through her text became alive in my whole body and the environment I live in. This is Robyns genius, of course, but it also means that there is something to explore with regards to where awareness sits.
Awareness is a process, not a thing, which involves at least three aspects: a known such as the object or the thing (a rose, a rotten apple) that you are aware of and have a sense of; a knowing which is the subjective sense of being aware that something is in the spotlight of your attention; a subjective felt sense or the subjective quality of that of which we are aware, such as your sense of the wonderful scent or color of a rose or the disgusting appearance of a rotten apple this subjective quality forms a bridge of sorts between the knowing and the known in the form of a quality of experience that defines the way the known is bound or appears to the knowing. Does this process of awareness occur in the MPC? Partially.
The way the known, the knowing and the subjective quality of it all appear as awareness involves every part of the organism all the way down to the cellular and molecular level and all the way up to conceptual thought. Awareness is the result of a process of awarenessing that begins at the receptors that respond to stimuli from the external world and the interior of the body, moves through many layers of processing all the way up to the MPC and cognitive thought, and includes the myriads of resulting adjustments and actions the organism engages in as a way of adapting to the demands of the circumstance. In scientific parlance we say that awareness is an emerging property of the living organism as a whole. Were you a cockroach with a completely different set of receptors, organs, cellular organizations etc., you would experience (or maybe not experience but be enveloped by) a very different awareness sense (I can tell you from experience in a previous lifetime when I had to pay for past sins!). To make this more intelligible lets take the example of Beethovens ninth. You would be hard-pressed to come up with an answer to my question where the seat of Beethovens ninth is. As you sit in a concert hall, there is the hall, the audience, an orchestra, a choir, many different instrumental sections of the orchestra, many individual players and their own views on the music, the director, the music score, Beethovens intended imagination and finally the act of performing. All these elements contribute to the emergence of something that appears in your consciousness as the experience of his ninth symphony, yet that experience is not seated in any of the aspects that give rise to your sense of marvel at this exquisite piece of music.
Such is awareness. It does not have a seat anywhere as it roams everywhere. It sits everywhere you pay attention to in your left big toe, in the red Sumac bush, in the feeling of love for your child, in your math homework, in the most distant galaxy you see through Hubble, in the most unlikely non-existing world of your imagination. It has no color, no attributes, no characteristics you can pinpoint and is transparent and clear. It is the coming together (1) of the known (2) and the knowing (3), yet beyond all three. You cannot create, expand, change, lose or find it because it is always already there. You can only get out of your own ways of obfuscating its presence with the help of the MPC.
I am glad I have your MPC on board, Robyn.