Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New Thoughts on Intelligent Life

It's now been nearly three months since my last post. Those have not been easy months for many people, and I combined the stress from the business pages with some personal issues to fall into a deep hole of my own.

At this point I see myself climbing out of my hole but only perhaps having reached eye level. I still need to get out completely, see the hole for what it was, fill it up with love, and plant a tree.
Friends have told me that my low period (that’s actually an understatement) will result in a new approach to life, and I am finally at a point where I can accept and embrace that possibility and view it as inevitable.

Continuing this blog is now part of that process.

In my previous post about Epigenetics, I addressed the apparent presence of “software” in our bodies that interprets environmental factors and switches our genes on and off.

This process, as it turns out, is explained and extrapolated in a fascinating book by Bruce Lipton, “The Biology of Belief”. In it he identifies the cell membrane as the “computer chip” that literally processes the information from the environment and comprises a conduit for the subconscious or automatic (autonomic) functions in our bodies – mainly functions like breathing, sensing and other parts of the so-called parasympathetic nervous system (right brain) that we literally don’t think about.

According to Lipton and many developments in biology and neuroscience, we are not the determined result of our genetic makeup but rather an evolving organism continually replacing our cells and interacting with an environment that switches our genes on and off and affects our inner process through our parasympathetic nervous system.

Beyond the identification of the process as literally data processing like a computer chip, Lipton goes on to state that this subconscious part of our existence, which processes information at an exponentially faster rate than our conscious mind – consider how quickly you blink if an object is thrown at your eye – is also the storage area for our assumptions about the environment - programmed into us by our parents and peers at an early age (and even before birth itself – in the womb).

The book ends with an Addendum on one technique for reprogramming these assumptions in a way that reduces automatic fear (in my case unquestionably a big factor in the intensity of my “low period”) and suggests that a more positive set of assumptions can be adopted that will have beneficial impact throughout the body, based on seeing the environment as not hostile, but rather essentially neutral, and infusing an attitude of self-acceptance and love into one’s subconscious thoughts.

Neuroscience and psychology have come together in a number of new developments to embrace mindfulness (focused attention on the body) as a practice (meditation) that literally reprograms the prefrontal lobe of the brain to effectively integrate the right and left – so that past grief and negative “programs” can be overridden with a corresponding physical re-energizing of the body and in effect, spirit.

Spirit as an element of biology, psychology or indeed neuroscience. Who would have thought?

As Lipton suggests, it happened with quantum physics and it’s inevitable in biology, psychology and neuroscience.

It was about a year ago when my own discovery of the science of programmability of the genome of all life – with its analogous implications in terms of how human software is created (with a conscious intention) suggested to me that life was by no means a random occurrence, but was in fact a reflection of a much higher mental energy or entity, indeed that the universe was conscious.

I suggested that just as Microsoft Word could not have accidentally “evolved”, but rather came about through the conscious efforts of humans, it now seemed that even the complexity of a single celled organism (with a genome not much smaller than that of humans) -- which is controlled by a set of software instructions from the environment (now identified as epigenetics) -- must be the result of not random occurrence but rather intentional intelligence.

While some would make the immediate leap to intelligent design – I don’t – cognizant that our intellectual capacities and very being might be inadequate to truly comprehend the magnitude of such an intelligence and label it in any meaningful way.

In fact, the mystical experiences that assert a connection to such an intelligence inevitably suggest that it is beyond language or our ability to verbally or intellectually describe or identify it.

To me, this confirms the reality that an idea (Plato’s forms would be my humble analogy) exists just as material exists – and indeed Lipton and neuroscientific work in psychology has confirmed that our thoughts are part of an environmental system that affect our very being. Unfortunately again, our conscious intellectual thoughts are inadequate to compete with the subconscious (with its superior processing power) to effect change.

Lipton says that “positive thinking” is insufficient. We need to reprogram our subconscious or at a minimum observe its effects through our body and sensation – the practice often referred to as mindfulness and sometimes called meditation.

We need to either learn experiential processes that allow us to communicate and reprogram the subconscious to change our own nature – or at a minimum begin to observe (rather than react automatically) to the input of our environment and our own negative conditioning, and reintegrate our connection between our right and left brains (notice our automatism and by observing it, slow down and reduce its negative aspects).

Remember that it is the automatic part of the brain that connects through our entire bodies with the environment using the cell membrane to process the information, and it apparently cannot be consciously controlled by our “intelligence”. It literally takes place on the level of software and data processing.

There is another interesting concept in Lipton’s work that I can connect with computers in a literal way.

He says that humans are a community of cells, and suggests that human evolution, now at a crossroads between transformation and extinction, must lead to seeing humanity as a community in harmony with an intelligent environment rather than trying to impose control.

One could make a case that the Internet is evolving as the nervous system of such a community of human cells living in cooperation rather than competition, and that perhaps even social networks (even the annoying ones like Twitter or those that keep pestering you with new connections and friends) are part of this evolution.

As this evolution proceeds, according to Lipton and many others, humanity must drop its own subconscious programming of the primacy of competition and perhaps even rethink our concept of individuality – not as a single cell in a hostile environment but as part of an organic intelligent whole with which we can connect in a loving and cooperative way.

And getting back to my low period, the key understanding that I need to organically embrace (and not just intellectually think I understand) is that as an individual I need to give up the illusion of control over my environment on a deep and fundamental level.

While my conscious mind has been able to think through many problems and create a reasonably comfortable existence, this existence has never been guaranteed, and at bottom, we all are subject to the vagaries of an environment that is likely neutral as far as individual humans are concerned, and possibly intelligently loving and benign with respect to our species itself, particularly if humanity can evolve to respect the environment and ultimately live in harmony (and not opposition or control) of it.

The inevitable results of our struggle for control are becoming readily apparent – both on a global and in my case on a personal scale. While this blog is an intellectual endeavor, hopefully my inner processes are also changing organically to reduce the need for a sense of control and I can effect a reintegration of my conscious thoughts and subconscious programming.

We’ll see.