Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Big Split

Yesterday I was at the market and a chance comment sparked a conversation with another guy in the salad area. He seemed like the kind of neurotic, Jewish guy I usually relate to, and he was probably in his fifties. He mentioned to me that he was in his first true long term relationship and that the woman had just told him that he was the first guy who didn’t bore her.

“You’d better dump her,” I said sardonically, “You definitely don’t want to be with anyone who really appreciates you.”

He laughed knowingly as we both intuitively understood our respective natures, in which our perennial voice in the head judges every person or situation--and we don’t know whether we can find a level of comfort with another human actually invading that persistently pervasive and negative, yet comfortable (in the sense of knowing nothing else) space.

Then he asked me if I minded if he did some networking, and whether I ever needed some help with my PC. I told him I write articles and books on Windows and Office software and basically earn my living by solving the many irregularities and annoyances that the software presents.

We exchanged cards and since older neurotic Jewish guys are a dying breed, we kept talking and he mentioned an interest in neuroscience. I ventured my interest in the work of Candace Pert and Bruce Lipton, which I've mentioned here before, who suggest that a higher intelligence is at work in our brains and in our cells—a force which has also quite likely shaped evolution.

He shook his head and said something like that there are always "isolated scientists and theories like that, but in general there is no real evidence for that sort of thing."

I said I was intrigued because of my interest in computers, and I asked him how he could imagine computer software existing without (human) consciousness to create it (and implying if genetic software is similar, where else did it come from?).

He said that he believe that computers would evolve consciousness through artificial intelligence in the foreseeable future—a common assumption among technologists. I shook my head, because based on my internal experience I sense what consciousness is, and it lives through organic life and tissue, not through computer chips and silicon. It’s beyond code—it’s what created code.

I gestured around the store and suggested a wider frame of reference and asked him if he ever thought about where all of this (existence) came from, and if it’s just “random.”

He shook his head and just said, there’s no way of knowing and it’s probably too complex for us to understand.

I nodded and said that we’d probably never agree on this anyway, but it was nice meeting him.

We exchanged a few emails later that day and maybe our paths will cross again. Nice guy.
I have long since given up trying to convince anyone else of the possibility of higher intelligence or any other things that I muse about but that can’t be proven as “facts.”

Later on that day I visited Clara Berta’s art studio and of course, she’s an artist, and a female, and she understood my own propensity for being “in my head” and yet realizing the limitations of such a perspective.

Her home is like a little museum and we chatted as she gave me a tour and sat down later over tea.

Having read some of the works of Eckhart Tolle, Clara has done some work on getting out of her head, as have I, in terms of connecting with the body, heart and whatever else is in there or out there through mediation.

While I didn’t happen to mention my friend at the market, I admitted that my own method of trying to “figure things out” is left brain first; my epiphany regarding the possibility and in fact the likelihood of higher intelligence came when I watched geneticist Juan Enriquez explain how the genetic code is not like computer code – but works exactly the same way.
(So where did it come from, I wondered).

Apparently its implications did not cause Enriquez any second thoughts either—he just calmly explains the economic and scientific consequences of genetic engineering, but skips any discussion of the meaning because, presumably, “it’s just too complicated” and cannot be factually ascertained.

So that’s the split—between a belief system that suggests that whatever is not scientifically knowable “factually” (left brain) is not relevant to our lives, and should be ignored, and another belief system that can accept the “unknowableness” (mystery) of higher intelligence but posit its existence based on what the left brain has already found—that life itself works in a way that implies the existence of consciousness.

To beat a dead horse—could Microsoft Word exist without consciousness (i.e., an intentional mental effort to create a specific utilitarian, systematic set of code) and if not, how could life (which we have found works exactly the same way) be any different?

Right-brained beings—artists, women and others who have no trouble “trusting their feelings” have no problem embracing such ideas.

But as Tolle says, our civilization is run by left-brained (egoic) analytical beings who trust only their thoughts—so unless their thoughts can shift and suggest to them that something else (higher) is out there and accessible and ultimately significant, they will continue to dodge the big questions and see existence as largely random.

I was there too, until I saw Enriquez’s video; Bruce Lipton describes a similar experience when he discovered individual cells are intelligent and intentional. (A key experiment showed two bacterial cultures with identical genetic code behaving differently and even mutating differently under different environmental conditions—suggesting to him that there was “intelligence” or “consciousness” at work on some level directing their activities).

So how can this split be resolved?

Well the left-brain beings can continue to build more crap until civilization crumbles or we blow ourselves up, and then it can begin all over again (as Lipton believes it has already happened six times in earth’s history), thereby decreasing the influence of our thinking brain to basic survival matters and putting the rest of the organism back in touch with our natural environment and the source of our being.

Or, more and more people can figure out the fallacy of relying exclusively on our thoughts and identifying with the egoic mind, and experiment with another point of view and experience the results.

I can tell you from my own experience that going against what the ego is yacking at you is not easy and it can lead to issues, not the least of which is feeling a bit isolated from more “normal” people.

(But there are more crazies waking up all the time).

The thing that happens is that when you observe the internal chatter and disengage from it, you feel better for first short bursts (which you distrust) and then longer and longer.

Whether to experience the discomfort of the split and continue or stay in your head is personal choice; one which my friends at the market and many others like him have already made.

I make no judgment about it. He may be right; existence might be a bunch or random molecules doing things that can’t be understood so let’s just make a pile of money and drive big cars.

But as my friend Freeman Michaels, a spiritual psychologist asks, “How is that working for you?”

For many people, it has stopped working. For many, it took the economic rug being pulled out from under them to recognize that their love, fulfillment and their families are more important than their incomes—a lesson that the Dalia Lama suggests is the reason and the lesson of our current financial turmoil.

The random theory wasn’t working for me. I saw no meaning in anything before my left brain suggested something else might be going on, and I was pretty unhappy and spending my time either trying to earn enough to feel fulfilled and safe, or spending it on things and experiences that never satisfied me.

I was operating largely on automatic, subject to a set of beliefs and assumptions about the world and other people that I had never examined or questioned, and which I began to see were a big part of my unhappiness.

I can’t say that beginning to experience a shift has been a panacea and my life is beautiful and perfect; it doesn’t seem to work that way.

Connecting to your heart and emotions is a big shock at first, and you tend to interpret the sensations as things being “wrong.” It’s scary and those sensations can’t be controlled—they need to be accepted.

But ultimately once you get a sense that higher intelligence must exist, there sometimes grows a need to connect to it, even in a fragmented, mysterious and uncontrollable way, because if the universe isn’t random, connecting to its source and meaning is probably the only real game worth playing.

Experience suggests that there are a different set of rules at work than those that your analytical brain has concocted for you to follow—and they don’t make logical sense—but little glimmers of experience and how you sometimes feel inside suggest that coming from compassion and forgiveness (the right-brain/heart perspective) is what Freeman calls “a better bargain”, and worth a shot.

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