Lorenzo, the classic literature teacher, broke in on Mario’s story, allowing him to get his breath back . . .
“The guilt complex was largely treated and described in their mythology by the Greeks. Orestes, Agamemnon’s son, committed an awful crime; he killed his mother Clytemnestra. The Erinyes or Furies, who symbolized remorse, haunted him for all his life.”
“I have been plagued by the Erinyes as well,” Mario said, turning pale, “because of my fatal fault. Nevertheless, Orestes committed his crime with intention and premeditation, fully conscious.”
“That’s wrong!” Giovanni, the criminal lawyer objected. “Intentional crime doesn’t exist. All human actions are unintentional. They derive from the frailty of the human being. The external world is like a picture painted by the mind. If it is calm and serene, the painting will be magnificent. Yet, if the mind is uneasy and suffering, it will paint an ugly picture.”
“Do you mean that intentional actions and free will don’t exist?”
“I don’t want to arrive at such a conclusion. Nevertheless, I can say that almost all my clients in the prisons are ignorant with uneasy and dull minds. It is rare to find a scholar in jail. That means that crime is mostly caused by ignorance and fault. Hence, where is the intention? Where is the conscious mind? Everything depends upon our mind. But who controls the mind? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe it is I who controls my mind. Or is it my mind that controls itself? If it is so, I want to know how. If the mind is fidgety, how can it calm itself down? And, if it is peaceful, how can it keep itself calm? It is not possible that the controller and the controlled coexist at the same time. Therefore, we can’t think about the mind that controls itself.”
“It is obvious that it is the ego that controls the mind. So, I can say, with absolute certainty, that at this very moment I, Lorenzo, am controlling my mind, keeping it either calm or uneasy according to my will.”
The discussion in the lounge of The Club of the Noblemen became animate. My Uncle Salvatore also joined in.
“That is not exact!” he said. “If it were true that I can control my mind I would never allow it to become uneasy or dull because I would turn against myself by doing that. Nobody chooses to have a restless or a dull mind. It follows that I can’t control my mind. However, I want to know whether the mind is something material or immaterial. Where is it in our body? Inside the head? Or in another place of the body? Is it just an illusion? Maybe only the body exists, ruled by its brain. Nothing else, nothing else!”
“It is possible,” replied Giovanni, “that the mind or soul, whatever you like to call it, doesn’t exist at all. In this case, we are composed of two elements: the body and the ego, which I define as self-perception, self-consciousness, or the thought of ‘I am.’ I wonder, where is the ego that decides, acts, has self-awareness, and aims even at surviving physical death? Is it inside the brain? Inside the heart? Near the heart? We don’t know. It
is invisible. How can we know? If you know something about this, tell me! Anyway, my opinion is that we act unconsciously and are not fully aware of what we do. Therefore, we can’t label ourselves guilty or not guilty, good or bad. Good and evil don’t exist indeed. We act out of ignorance and unconsciousness.”
This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind