Most of us are dualists. We believe we have both bodies and minds. We believe we peer out of our bodies by way of our minds and that the combination gives us our sense of self, our souls, if you will. We don’t think about it much; we just accept the idea that we have an internal mental world separate from the exterior physical world. We believe our bodies are made of the same stuff—atoms and molecules—as the rest of the material universe. We’re not sure what our minds are made of—some sort of nonphysical stuff. Even though we don’t know what mind is, we think that most (though not all) of our physical actions are controlled by our minds rather than the other way around. We refer to the mind that we are aware of as consciousness. We don’t really think about consciousness much either; it’s just there. However, we believe we control our consciousness through our selves, and we call this “free will.”
This is what most people believe, if they think about it at all. But it is not correct, and it is not what I believe. There is no such thing as “mind” or “consciousness” or “self” or “soul” that is in control of our physical actions or that is independent of the physical world. The notion of mind as separate from body is simply an illusion, albeit a powerful one.