If you have not seen Inception and hate spoilers, do not read the following.
In the movie titled “Inception” by Christopher Nolan, you would have noticed the frequent use of word “subconscious”. What does the subconscious mean here? In this post, I will be relating the movie with the book “The Power of Subconscious Mind” by Joseph Murphy and explain you what actually subconscious means. I would suggest you to read the book by yourself. It’s one of the finest book ever written.
What is conscious and subconscious mind
Do you remember the opening scene from the movie Inception where Mr. Cobb talks about what an “idea” is with Saito. Below are the exact lines from the movie opening scene.
COBB: What is the most resilient parasite? A bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm?
ARTHUR: What Mr. Cobb is trying to say…
COBB: An idea. Resilient. Highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain, it’s almost impossible to eradicate.
An idea that is fully formed, fully understood, that sticks. Right in there somewhere.
SAITO: For someone like you to steal?
ARTHUR: Yes. In the dream state, your conscious defenses are lowered… …and that makes your thoughts vulnerable to theft. It’s called extraction.
The idea here are the thoughts that you or others feed into your mind. You think and reason with the help of your conscious mind. Once you have fixed some thoughts into your mind, it’s the duty of subconscious mind to put these thoughts into action. The subconscious mind cannot take decisions like your conscious mind. The subconscious mind doesn’t question any of your thoughts. It takes the orders from your conscious mind and tries to fulfill it.
The conscious mind is the one with which you think and reason. The conscious mind is also referred to as objective mind since it deals with outward objects. Your objective mind is in direct contact with the environment with the help of your five senses. It learns through observation, experience and education. The subconscious mind doesn’t have the ability to argue or dispute what it is told. If you give wrong information to your subconscious mind, it will take it and try to make it true for you.
Let me quote some of the lines from the book itself whcih explains the difference between them.
You must remember that the conscious and subconscious are not two minds. They are merely two spheres of activity within one mind. Your conscious mind is the reasoning mind. It is that phase of mind that chooses. For example, you choose your books, your home, and your partner in life. You make all your decisions with your conscious mind. On the other hand, without any conscious choice on your part, your heart is kept functioning automatically, and the vital functions of digestion, circulation, and breathing are carried on by your subconscious mind through processes independent of your conscious control.
Your mind is your most precious possession. It is always with you, but its most amazing powers will be yours only when you have learned how to use it. As we have seen, there are two levels to your mind - the conscious or rational level and the subconscious or irrational level. You think with your conscious mind, and whatever you habitually think sinks down into your subconscious mind, which then creates according to the nature of your thoughts. Your subconscious mind is the seat of your emotions. It is the creative mind. If you think good, good will follow; if you think evil, evil will follow. This is the way your mind works.
How to put subconscious mind to good use
Let’s again take a reference from Inception. In this scene, Mr. Cobb along with Ariadne are on their way to rescue Robert Fisher from Mal.
COBB: An idea is like a virus. Resilient. Highly contagious. And the smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define… …or destroy you.
MAL: The smallest idea, such as: “Your world is not real.” Simple little thought that changes everything.
A thought can either grow to define you or destroy you. Feeding good thoughts to your subconscious mind makes you better and the opposite destroys you. So, we should take care of our thoughts. Once the thoughts are planted into your subconscious mind, it becomes very difficult to remove them. Your subconscious mind starts working to put them into action quickly.
Some quotes from the book related to how to use your subconscious mind.
Imagine your subconscious mind as a bed of rich soil that will help all kinds of seeds to sprout and flourish, whether good or bad. If you sow thorns, will you gather grapes? If you sow thistles, will you harvest figs? Every thought is a cause, and every condition is an effect. This is the reason it is so essential that you take charge of your thoughts. In that way, you can bring forth only desirable conditions.
Begin now to sow thoughts of peace, happiness, right action, goodwill, and prosperity. Think quietly and with conviction on these qualities. Accept them fully in your conscious reasoning mind. Continue to plant these wonderful seeds of thought in the garden of your mind and you will reap a glorious harvest.
Your subconscious mind accepts what is impressed upon it or what you consciously believe. It does not reason things out as your conscious mind does, and it does not argue with you controversially. Your subconscious mind is like a bed of soil that accepts any kind of seed, good or bad. Your thoughts are active; they are the seeds. Negative, destructive thoughts continue to work negatively in your subconscious mind. Sooner or later, they will emerge and take shape as an outer experience that corresponds to their content.
In the above conversation, the seed that was planted into Mal’s subconscious mind was that her world was not real. Once the idea was planted, the subconscious mind made sure that it was true. So, even when Mal returned to the real world, her subconscious mind made her believe that the world was not real and she was still in the dream.
Your subconscious mind is the seat of your emotions
I will use another reference from inception. In this scene, Mr. Cobb along with Saito and others are planning on how to make Robert fisher leave his Father’s empire. There are discussing about the idea that they need to plant into Robert’s mind.
COBB: “I will split up my father’s empire.” Now, this is obviously an idea that Robert himself would choose to reject…which is why we need to plant it deep in his subconscious.
The subconscious is motivated by emotion, right? Not reason. We need to find a way to translate this into an emotional concept.
ARTHUR: How do you translate business strategy into emotion?
COBB: That’s what we’re here to figure out. Robert’s relationship with his father…is stressed, to say the least.
Eames: Can we run with that? We suggest breaking up his father’s company as a “screw you” to the old man.
COBB: No, because I think positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time.We all yearn for reconciliation, for catharsis.We need Robert Fischer to have a positive emotional reaction to all this.
Your subconscious mind is motivated by emotion. It doesn’t argue with your conscious mind. Whatever thought you feed into subconscious mind, your subconscious mind converts it into emotions. If you think good, good will follow. If you think evil, evil will follow. Eames wanted to plant a an idea which was evil. This evil idea would have changed Robert into an evil person.
Some quotes from the book.
If you think negatively, destructively, and viciously, these thoughts generate destructive emotions that must be expressed and must find an outlet. These emotions, being of a negative nature, are frequently expressed as ulcers, heart trouble, tension, and anxieties.
We injure ourselves by the negative ideas we entertain. How often have you wounded yourself by getting angry, fearful, jealous, or vengeful? These are the poisons that enter your subconscious mind. You were not born with these negative attitudes. Feed your subconscious mind life-giving thoughts and you will wipe out all the negative patterns lodged within it. As you continue to do this, all the past will be wiped out and remembered no more.
Your Subconscious mind is more powerful than you think
In the movie, you can see the characters architecting folded cities, a mirrored city, infinite staircases etc. How they were able to design such complex things? There is nothing impossible in this world and if you have the right idea, you can use your subconscious mind to achieve anything.
Your subjective mind sees without the use of the natural organs of vision. It has the capacity of clairvoyance and clairaudience: It can see and hear events that are taking place elsewhere. Your subjective mind can leave your body, travel to distant lands, and bring back information that is often of the most exact and truthful character. Through your subjective mind you can read the thoughts of others, read the contents of sealed envelopes, or intuit the information on a computer disk without using a disk drive.