Interconnectedness of the Physical and Mental Aspects of Phenomena
The Mind-Body problem is a central subject in philosophy. It is viewed basically through the perspective of either Dualism or Non-duality. A compelling example of the Non-duality of the physical and mental aspects, presents to us the phenomenon of voice, and in general acoustical vibrations.
The phenomenon of Voice
In the debate about the Problem of Body and Mind - the phenomenon of voice presents a decisive implication. Music is also relevant to this observation, being an expression of highly refined mental contents infused within the strict structure of mechanical vibrations.
Nichiren, a 13 century Japan Buddhist reformer, considered words as a physical expression of the mental powers acting within the speaker:
“Thus one’s thoughts are expressed in one’s voice. The mind represents the spiritual aspect,
and the voice, the physical aspect.
The spiritual aspect manifests itself in the physical. A person can know another’s mind by
listening to the voice. This is because the physical aspect reveals the spiritual aspect. The physical
and spiritual, which are one in essence, manifest themselves as two distinct aspects.” (*)
Voice is created through a physical process of regulating tension of related muscles to modulate vibrating air in the lungs in order to generate mechanical waveforms. Obviously, this is the physical aspect of the observed phenomenon. What motivates this physical process, is the desire to convey an encoded message. The message voice carries to us is two-fold: it reveals meaning and emotions.
The degree of intellect can be discerned through the conveyed meaning - and this is part of the mental aspect, embedded within the vibrations of the observed phenomenon.
Further to that, the emotional component is inseparably carried through the speaker's voice, and this emotional property is also a mental aspect of the message conveyed by voice.
Here is an example of connectedness of mechanical vibrations, intellectual contents and emotional drive -
all embedded within a single phenomenon of voice.
Voice then expresses the interconnectedness between the physical aspect (of related bodily muscles) and the intellectual contents within the voiced vibrations as well as the state of the emotional aspect of the mind.
In folk views about the philosophical concept of body and mind, the consideration extends into the three elements of Body-Mind-Spirt, where the Body is related to the physical aspect, Mind to the intellectual aspect, and Spirit is related to the emotional aspect. It is remarkable that "Voice" integrates these three components into one phenomenon. This may be the background of why voice is regarded with a special value in various traditions and as a "cause of action" - which can produce tangible effects in relationships.
*) The Opening of the Eyes of Wooden and Painted Images. The Writings of Nichiren, Vol. 1. Page 86, SGI, 1999.