The function of the conscious versus the unconscious minds

The Conscious Mind (aware)

The Unconscious Mind (unaware)

External Internal
Logical Irrational
Thoughtful Emotional
Controlled Wild
Mature Childish
Concerned for others Self-involved/ narcissistic
Strives to be perfect Feels imposed upon-rage
Strives to be good Feels imposed upon-rage
Guilty Unconcerned
Courageous Fearful
Independent Dependent
Self-confident Low self-esteem
Civilised/Moral Savage

The Conscious Mind

(Outer Mind)

The Subconscious Mind

(Inner Mind)

Sometimes inactive i.e. sleep Always active since birth
Organises Instincts and habits
Discriminates Uncritical acceptance. Literal interpretation
Active memory Long term “forgotten” memories
Makes logical decisions Preferences based on emotions
Critical thinking Fantasy, imagination
Concepts Images
Tries to control emotions Origin of emotions
Avoids silence and reflection Prefers quiet reflection

Considering the research into the Split Brain Syndrome it appears that there is indeed some physiological basis of what many psychotherapists have long assumed – the idea that we all have a mind that consists of ‘seemingly’ independent parts that are undoubtedly designed to work together but are often (if not always) in conflict with each other.

However, if one considers all of this from a Buddhist perspective, it is unsurprising that the human brain should have developed in this specialised way. As mentioned earlier, perceived distinction (although Buddhism explicitly says that all is one) gives rise to conflict which in turn provides the necessary motivational drivers for greater development or self discovery as Carl Jung would have likely put it.

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