Listen to “Medicine Man” by a New Mexico band called “Alohi and the Free Life” that I heard live at a friend’s ranch last fall while you read this. Because it’s inspiring and awesome. If you don’t mind hippy music 😛
Our brains evolved via natural selection and thus aren’t meant to be perfect, just good at keeping us alive and propagating the species in the various environments we evolved in. Yet, inside of our minds we all can’t help but feel like we are special and everything that comes out of OUR minds, that makes sense based on how our brains work, is right. But each of our brains is a product of genetics, epigenetics, and experiences, including culture and upbringing, so the same information can lead to different conclusions in different brains, even if they are all “working” just fine, or even if the two people have the same cognitive capacities for abstract thought and analytic thinking. Not only that, but emotions only make this situation worse, and emotions get involved when our beliefs are questioned and our ego/world view thus threatened (A fairly aside note: self-esteem is a trap), as I mentioned in my introductory post.
My book, the one with the infinitely long reading list, is going to start with this amazing quote from one of my favorite physicists, Albert Einstein, whose work permeates my field and whose vision and creativity I admire and strive to emulate. He wrote this letter to a Rabbi who had asked him for advice on how to deal with the passing of his son.
A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experience himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish the delusion but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind
We are all just atoms combined into molecules, then into cells and organs and bodies with evolved brains that got so big that we started contemplating those atoms, molecules, cells, organs and bodies themselves. We must all remember that we are human beings, even the “unbelievers”, and that understanding where someone is coming from is key to making progress in human relations, not demonizing the “other”. That is another human tendency, tribalism, but it’s an tendency that we can work to minimize as much as possible, if we want to communicate with people who hold different beliefs and actually share ideas with one another, not just throw rocks at the impenetrable walls of one another’s ideologies.
I told my ex boyfriend he was in a cult in our last fight and saw how it only made his ideological walls wider and taller and with even more cannons, so I’m aware that any attack on someone’s beliefs as irrational, especially those intelligent humans who pride themselves on their lack of ideology, myself included, might just make them hold on tighter. Sigh. So, being aware of how invisible your own ideology is to you is key to seeing through it when the cracks begin to show. Or, as Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing”.