Sunday, August 7, 2011

Purpose and Belief

I realize that I, and humans I know, believe we have a higher/divine purpose for our lives. We think that we are better at thinking than those animals, so "God" must have created us for some purpose. I realize I totally believe this: there is some reason why I am alive. And I think there is some soul or inner higher divine consciousness which will tell me my purpose.

Unfortunately, I have utterly failed to hear anything from this soul. If I say I have, I am actually just making up a story. But as of yesterday, I realize that I am just being. I have said in the past that my goal was to just be. I have in a sense achieved that. As soon as I accept "just being", I am almost willing to accept "nothing" as my purpose. Logically speaking, God does not need anyone to have a purpose. In fact, to be only love means that you have no purpose. Purposes make that person special. They add a coloring of belief that we are special to God. So in a sense, purposes negate love because they make us special, therefore not love alone.

My condition of "just being" means that I have reduced my activity in the world. The type of creativity of a person just being is different because it has less physical interference. I hope that just being leads me away from specialness and closer to understanding my life at its most fundamental concept.

I continue my study of the brain (reading two books at the moment). From "The Believing Brain" (Shermer) I have learned of patternicity and agenticity as behavior controlling modes. Patternicity is the tendency to find meaningful patterns in BOTH meaningful and meaningless noise (experience). Patternicity is association learning. The implication is that we run our lives by pattern recognition and habit, not real thought. Agenticity is the tendency to infuse patterns with meaning, intention and agency. That is, we often impart patterns we find with agency and intention and believe that these intentional agents control the world, sometime invisibly from the top down; instead of bottom-up causal laws and randomness that makes up much of our world. In agenticity, we naturally think there is a "god" controlling everything. Reflect on the implications of this evolutionarily developed capacity for assigning experiences to god and not randomness. Astounding.

So I have been trying to buck the system. If you wonder why I have emotional difficulties, its because I am bucking the system.

I just started reading "The Master and His Emissary" (McGilcrist). His book is starting out exploring the asymmetry of the brain and how the different operating modes of each hemisphere affect our experience of the world. The hemispheres attend to the world in two completely different ways. Knowing these differences, I can begin to use them to change my experience of the world. And then I have to return over and over to the essentially chemical nature. One side responds more to dopamine and the other more to noradrenaline. I do participate in the dopamine reward cycle and the effects of other hormones.

Honestly, I think it is improper to say "there is a God" or "my life is for a purpose" until after I understand something about the brain and how I experience the world (react to it, believe in it, make decisions about it).

So when I sit alone in my apartment in utter confusion about soul or God, its because I've allowed these questions to be raised. I don't accept divine presence or divine life at face value. I have to account for evolutionarily evolved thinking patterns and the biochemistry of the dopamine reward cycle.

Whatever I think is pretty much not true.

But I can burn calories if I want. Today, I slept in; meaning its too hot to do a long run. But working out on ex-machines is actually a more effective endurance workout that struggling slowly along in the heat would be. So now I will face the machines for several hours and deal with forces in my brain wanting to quit. Running outside is mentally easy. Running on a treadmill is mentally difficult; but worth the experience for its reflective value. Why should I care what I am doing?

1 comment:

Larry said...

I am also reading McGilcrist's book. He contrasts the right and left brain hemispheres, where the left brain "knows" via cognitive processes, and the right brain is more about "being." The right brain is more connected to reality and sees the whole picture, and then passes the "data" to the left brain to dissect. It is up to the left brain to pass the information back to the right brain for synthesis into a new whole. Because society values the analysis, it attempts to create a new whole out of the parts. This "whole" is is an illusion created by the de-contextualized process of the left brain. Society operates via these shared illusions, forgetting about the "master", the right brain, which is connected to reality. It's all backwards, and we are better off realizing the illusions that the left brain can create if we leave it in charge.