Our Self-Conscious Mind

I searched with my mind how to cheer my body with wine—my mind still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, until I might see what was good for mortals to do under heaven during the few days of their life.  Ecclesiastes 2:3

Dear members and friends,

As we are entering into the age of artificial intelligence (AI), there seems to be some hopeful expectations as well as concerns and worries. One of the key attributes that is expected for an AI to be “real” seems to be self-consciousness, because humans are believed to be self-conscious. According to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Human beings are conscious not only of the world around them but also of themselves: their activities, their bodies, and their mental lives.” What does it mean to be conscious? The word itself originated from Latin conscius “knowing with others or in oneself” plus -ous. The English suffix -ous means “full of.” Thus, conscious could mean “full of knowing others or oneself.” Philosophically and spiritually, the focus of understanding consciousness has been more towards the state of being “fully knowing in oneself.” In a way, being self-conscious, therefore, means being able to acknowledge and be aware of the state of fully knowing what is within oneself, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.     

In Ecclesiastes, King Solomon states several different ways that we modern people might describe as a psychological pursuit of spiritual meaning in life. King Solomon mentions the word “mind” as the means with which he was doing the search for deeper meanings. To King Solomon, this mind was the vehicle to do the inner search. Consequently, the mind is what would enable us to be self-conscious. At the same time, the mind is what cultivates the state of being content and joyful, while our concerns and worries are also generated in our mind. Self-consciousness was endowed by God, according to Swedenborg, because only through self-conscious choices could humans achieve their purpose of being, which is to become the image and likeness of God. 

My brothers and sisters in God, let us take a moment of prayer this week. While praying, let us be conscious of what we are praying for and to whom we are praying. May your consciousness guide and lead you to the state of being connected with the presence of God.

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee