The Mind Is Its Own Place

The mind is its own place,

and in itself can make a heaven of hell,

a hell of heaven. — John Milton, Paradise Lost

In the course of my life, I come into contact with a wide range of people. They come from (and many still live in) any one of the continents of the world except Antarctica. Men and women. Wealthy or not-so-much.

Many ask how certain people groups can say what they say. “Do they really believe that in the face of all the evidence to the contrary?”

“Yes,” I reply. “The mind is a marvelous thing. It will believe whatever you tell it. They will not change their minds because of logical argument or the display of irrefutable evidence.”

It takes self-awareness to be able to look at your beliefs in the mirror and admit to yourself that you have been wrong and vow to change.

Self-awareness and courage.

We used to have cinema with that theme. Now everything we see reinforces whatever belief set we have.

In the late 1960s PBS produced a limited series TV show called The Prisoner. It is so old that I will give away the plot. Patrick McGoohan, who played secret agents in other series, plays a secret agent trapped in an idyllic little city. For 12 weeks he tries either to escape or to meet No. 1. The best he can get to is No. 2. And every time he almost escapes, he is captured and returned.

Finally, episode 13. They promise to take him to No. 1–the person behind the captivity. There is a big celebration. A throne. A crown. They place him on the throne and place the crown on his head.

He was his own captor. He placed himself in captivity.

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

Time for reflection?

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