“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.”

— Mahatma Gandhi, The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi



How we understand the world influences how we try to change it. And our understanding of the world is informed by our understanding of the mind – the intrinsic why and how of what individuals, groups, and societies do.

But maybe the nature of the world can help us cultivate a better understanding of the nature of the mind.

The physical emergence of life involves subatomic, atomic, molecular and cellular levels of interaction. Subatomic particles give rise to atoms, atoms give rise to molecules, molecules give rise to cells. What if the cognitive emergence of mind follows a similar pattern?

We know cognition involves perceiving the world, making associations, conceptualizing ideas, and interpreting meaning. It’s possible these functions represent levels of cognitive emergence.

Using a framework for describing the basic organization of emergent processes, we can outline how perceptions give rise to associations, associations give rise to conceptions, and conceptions give rise to interpretations. That is, we can describe how the mind emerges from physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels of cognitive processing.

This perspective of cognition reframes the mind-body question and provides a framework for understanding the integral relationships of body, heart, mind, and spirit.

With a new way of looking at ourselves, we have a new way of looking at, being in, and possibly even changing the world.