Mind and its mysteries

10 Aug

Took the day off from my normal routine, as I was feeling tardy since I awoke. Remnants of the happenings I had experienced in sleep mode? Do not know.
Was reading all day, on the monitor, that is. First, “The doors to Perception”, by Aldous Huxley. (My son had uploaded for me a sizeable collection of e-books) about his experiments with the drug “mescalin” and his conclusions about the possible effects of “chemicals” on our perception, some of which such as “adrenchrome” may be spontaneously produced by our body. So, poets, painters, musicians etc. whom we refer to as the “gifted ones” may in fact owe their genius to their neurobiology. And mystics too, may be capable of an altered consciousness because of the way particular regions of the brain many have developed or the chemicals produced by their cells and that is perhaps why they become aware of a reality that is denied to the general population.

Went on to read a couple of essays by a guy named Ingrid Solano , that I had bookmarked a few weeks ago , which was also a take –off on the same subject , with relevance to our notions of “right “and “wrong”. The gist of what he says is that our sense of right or wrong can be impaired by the biological condition of our brains, in that, our sense of empathy, which is the basis of moral behavior ( do unto others as you would have done unto you) may become kind of numb and while we may still intellectually understand something as “wrong” , we may not “feel” the effect of our actions on others and hence lose what we generally term as “guilt” or “compunction”.

Then there is Charles Darwin and his view that an understanding of morality is best based on a study of the evolution of Man and that a moral sense can exist even in a person who has no belief in a higher Intelligence from whom the rules of behavior are believed to emanate according to most religions that have existed and are existing. Morality , according to him, can come from an instinctive understanding that if one “acts for the good of others , one receives the approbation of fellow men and gains the love of those with whom he lives.”

James Rachel’s , “Created from Animals:The moral implications of Darwinism “ and Frans De Waal’s , “Good Natured:the origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and other animals “, also propounded on the same issues, as one can gather from excerpts that can be accessed on the internet. Social instincts/morality work towards greater harmony among groups or in other words, what promotes the best interests and harmony in a group is what is generally considered as moral. But there is apparently a hierarchy , altruism first coming into play within the closest kin, then to the group, then to each and every member of one’s species.

As a rule, they say, reciprocal altruism will not occur when individuals are unlikely to meet again and that it requires good memories and stable relationships. To see oneself in the plight of another is the basic building block of morality. So that would mean, that the more “evolved” we are, the greater should be our capacity for feeling a connection with the rest of our species and to other species as well . We should also then assume that for the “evolved”, their neurobiology would be such as to predetermine such altruism and harmonious behaviour would come naturally to them. In other words, it is part of their genetic make-up. As for those whom we consider, ”misanthropists”, or as a “deviant” or “psychotic”, it could just be that they are chemically compositioned that way?

There is a quotation from Marquis De Sade which was quoted in this context in one of the essays I read. “One must feel sorry for those who have strange tastes, but never insult them. Their wrong is Nature’s wrong too; they are no more responsible for having come into the world with tendencies unlike ours, than are we for being born bandy-legged or well proportioned.”. So then, “right” or “wrong” really has no basis for being “applauded” or condemmed. It’s just the way we are. And we owe ourselves some compassion. One can understand that.

Chemical imbalances in the brain can be triggered off by distress and trauma. Accidents and illness can alter the disposition of our brains. Mystics can have a heightened consciousness which gave them a sense of reality, much larger and intense than ordinarily available to the rest of us. All of this one can understand at an intellectual level. But how do we get to be hardwired in the way we are? Why do we get to undergo the particular circumstances that become the cause for distress or sets off a particular mental or “spiritual” experience? Is that where the “karma” theory comes into play? Do we still have something called “freewill” that will determine our evolution , both as individuals and in terms of this homogenous mass of “ human consciousness” in this universe, hurtling itself forward to “God” knows where?


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6 responses to “Mind and its mysteries

  1. Liliana Negoi

    August 23, 2011 at 8:26

    i don’t know if you believe in synchronicity, but i do – and the fact that only yesterday i was recommended to read Huxley’s “Doors to Perception” and now i find the same name here is a mere proof of that…

  2. poetcolette

    August 17, 2011 at 8:26

    Karma led me here today and free will made me read your thoughtful article. I’ve been pondering much of the same rhetoric and love your stance and supporting info!

  3. souldipper

    August 12, 2011 at 8:26

    Nadira – I am amazed at all you bite off while feeling a little “tardy”! As I read your material, I thought of an atheist friend who is a decent, kind, giving and gentle man. He believes that loving kindness serves the world well – plus it makes him feel good.

    I once read the series “Conversations with God”. If one accepts the God messages are, in fact, divine, then the teaching was that there is no “good” or “bad”. There is only “different”. We humans are too judgmental. If we accept “different” we and the whole world is more at peace.

    I’ve practiced this since reading it. I slip up horribly many, many times, but when I remember, I do feel peace.

    Very erudite and thought-provoking, Nadira. Thank you.

  4. surekh

    August 11, 2011 at 8:26

    If one accepts one’s own ordinariness ‘n respects it,s/he accepts/respects others too.That all the others in this world have their own place/space here.Mystics r the people who realised this truth,not just realised but they themslves became the TRUTH(what i personally feel about them).They r just ordinary people who accept/respect their ‘ordinariness’…!!!

    Talented people r those who utilised the opportunity/adversity they got to show off their talent.Every1 in this world r talented in one way or the other.Mentally retarded people show exeptional talent in some area.We read many times criminals showed some gr8 talents when got a chance…Societies(religious,political…) killed their talents ‘n crippled them…!!!

  5. riffraff

    August 11, 2011 at 8:26

    This is wonderful, Nadiraji. I agree about the parts related brain chemistry and the fact that the very idea of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ so subjective. Looking in this context, many of the mystics, musicians, poets certainly had a very different way of looking at things and their perceptions are quite different from what we called ‘normal’. Out of personal experience too, I tried a few drugs sometime in the past and let me tell u the perceptions and creativity in the intoxicated state is completely different and even bizarre that it is impossible to feel that way in a sober state. The points about morality too fall under a similar domain. And I subscribe to the view that one does not need a religious sanction to act morally. Morality is more of common sense and it occurs naturally among people, although all of them are unable to practice what they preach. Gr8 post!

  6. P C JAIN

    August 10, 2011 at 8:26



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