Mr. B & ... "Mind"!?!
Updated: Mar 8
In this segment Mr. B moves past his examination of "beauty" and begins to consider the truth of the translogical statement, "I know in my heart." This is a truth that exists beyond the ability of the human mind to fully comprehend, a truth so big and all-encompassing that it can only be held within the vast container of the human heart. Join Mr. B as, here, we start to unfold the process of reconnecting with the heart of our most true selves.
"Right now, you are missing the vast majority of what is happening around you. You are missing the events unfolding in your body, in the distance, and right in front of you.
By marshaling your attention to these words, helpfully framed in a distinct border of white, you are ignoring an unthinkably large amount of information that continues to bombard all of your senses: the hum of the fluorescent lights, the ambient noise in a large room, the places your chair presses against your legs or back, your tongue touching the roof of your mouth, the tension you are holding in your shoulders or jaw, the map of the cool and warm places on your body, the constant hum of traffic or a distant lawn-mower, the blurred view of your own shoulders and torso in your peripheral vision, a chirp of a bug or whine of a kitchen appliance"
"Part of what restricts us seeing things is that we have an expectation about what we will see, and we are perceptually restricted by that expectation. In a sense, expectation is the lost cousin of attention: both serve to reduce what we need to process of the world 'out there.' Attention is the more charismatic member, packaged and sold more effectively, but expectation is also a crucial part of what we see. Together they allow us to be functional, reducing the sensory chaos of the world into unbothersome and understandable units."
"One trouble with being human -- with the human condition -- is that, as with many conditions, you cannot turn it off. Even as we develop from relatively immobile, helpless infants into mobile, autonomous adults, we are more and more constrained by the ways we learn to see the world."
An Attention Experiment...
In 1999, Harvard researchers Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons conducted a now-iconic selective attention experiment. If you have not seen this, please, watch the first video ... in which six people -- three in white shirts and three in black -- pass basketballs around. Keep silent count of the number of passes made by the people in white shirts. Ready?
Well, what did you see? Here's Daniel Simons ... discussing his findings on the cognition of selective attention and the implications of this experiment. Enjoy!!
"Measuring instruments and tools greatly extend our view, whether of the very small or of the very far. They allow us to 'see' invisible bacteria, electromagnetic radiation, subatomic particles, and exploding stars billions of light-years away. High-tech devices allow doctors to visualize tumors inside our lungs and brains, and geologists to locate underground oil reservoirs. Still, any detection or measuring technology has a limited precision or reach. A scale measures only with accuracy up to half its smallest graduation: if the ticks are spaced by one ounce, weights can be stated only to within a half-ounce precision. There is no such thing as an exact measurement. Every measurement must be stated within its precision and quoted together with 'error bars' estimating the magnitude of errors. High-precision measurements are simply measurements with smaller error bars or high confidence levels; there are no perfect, zero-error measurements."
"[T]his is a key point, technology limits how deeply experiments can probe into physical reality. That is to say, machines determine what we can measure and thus what scientists can learn about the Universe and ourselves.... [S]cientists can grasp only what happens at energies within their experimental reach."
"[T]he essence of empirical science is that Nature always has the last word: data cares little for our yearnings for aesthetic beauty.... It then follows that if we only have limited access to Nature through our tools and, more subtly, through our restricted methods of investigation, our knowledge of the natural world is necessarily limited."
"What we see in the world is only a sliver of what's 'out there.' There is much that is invisible to the eye, even when we augment our sensorial perception with telescopes, microscopes, and other tools of exploration. Like our senses, every instrument has a range. Because much of Nature remains hidden from us, our view of the world is based only on the fraction of reality that we can measure and analyze. Science, as our narrative describing what we see and what we conjecture exists in the natural world, is thus necessarily limited, telling only part fo the story... We strive toward knowledge, always more knowledge, but must understand that we are, and will remain, surrounded by mystery...."
"To think of science as separate from spirituality to me is a big mistake.... There is nothing that says that science should be dispassionate about the spirit or the life of the spirit. And to me it's quite the opposite. It's exactly because I feel very spiritually connected with nature that I am a scientist. And to write equations on a blackboard and to come up with models about how nature works is, in a sense, a form of worship of that spirituality."
"There is no logical way to the discovery of these elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance."
"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift an the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."
(Here's a definition of "intuition" from the Online Etymology Dictionary: "mid-15thc., intuicioun, 'insight, direct or immediate cognition, spiritual perception,' originally theological, from Late Latin intuitionem....")
"It is not too much to say that the more deference men of science have paid to logic, the worse it has been for the scientific value of their reasoning.... Fortunately for the world, however, the great men of science have usually been kept in salutary ignorance of the logical tradition."
"When you are asked what you are thinking about, you can normally answer. You believe you know what goes on in your mind, which often consists of one conscious thought leading in an orderly way to another. But that is not the only way the mind works, nor indeed is that the typical way. Most impressions and thoughts arise in your conscious experience without your knowing how they got there. You cannot trace how you came to the belief that there is a lamp on the desk in front of you, or how you detected a hint of irritation in your spouse's voice on the telephone, or how you managed to avoid a threat on the road before you became consciously aware of it. The mental work that produces impressions, intuitions, and many decisions goes on in silence in our mind."
"[I]t might be time to pause and reflect. Holding to the old [scientific] faith that everything is in principle knowable or comprehensible by us is a little like assuming that every human structure or artifact must be based on yards, feet, and inches. The notion that the universe is constructed, or we are evolved, so that reality must finally answer in every case to the questions we bring to it, is entirely as anthropocentric as the notion that the universe was designed to make us possible.... While the assumption of the intelligibility of the universe is still useful, it is not appropriately regarded as a statement of doctrine, and should never have been. Science of the kind I criticize tends to assert that everything is explicable, that whatever has not been explained will be explained -- and, furthermore, by their methods. They have seen to the heart of it all. So mystery is banished -- mystery being no more than whatever their methods cannot capture yet. Mystery being also those aspects of reality whose implications are not always factors in their worldview, for example, the human mind, the human self, history, and religion -- in other words, the terrain of the humanities. Or of the human."
"Who are you? You are a separate individual among other separate individuals in a universe that is separate from you as well. You are a Cartesian mote of consciousness looking out through the eyes of a flesh robot, programmed by its genes to maximize reproductive self-interest. You are a bubble of psychology, a mind (whether brain-based or not) separate from other minds and separate from matter. Or you are a soul encased in flesh, separate from the world and separate from other souls. Or you are a mass, a conglomeration of particles operating according to the impersonal forces of physics."
"Here are some of the principles of the new story:
* That my being partakes of your being and that of all beings. This goes beyond interdependency -- our very existence is relational.
* That, therefore, what we do to another, we do to ourselves.
* That each of us has a unique and necessary gift to give the world.
* That the purpose of life is to express our gifts.
* That every act is significant and has an effect on the cosmos.
* That we are fundamentally unseparate from each other, from all beings, and from the universe.
* That every person we encounter and every experience we have mirrors forth something in ourselves.
* That humanity is meant to join fully the tribe of all life on Earth, offering our unique human gifts toward the well-being and development of the whole.
* That purpose, consciousness, and intelligence are innate properties of matter and the universe."
'The fundamental precept of the new story [what in my podcast I called, the "Collective Self"] is that we are inseparate from the universe, and our being partakes in the being of everyone and everything else. Why should we believe this? Let's start with the obvious: This interbeing is something we can feel. Why does it hurt when we hear of another person coming to harm? Why, when we read of mass die-offs of the coral reefs and see their bleached skeletons, do we feel like we've sustained a blow? It is because it is literally happening to our selves, our extended selves. The separate self wonders, 'How could this affect me?' The pain is irrational, to be explained away, perhaps, as the misfiring of some genetically coded empathy circuit meant to protect those who share our DNA. But why does it extend so easily to strangers, even to other species? Why do we desire so strongly to serve the good of all? Why, when we achieve a maximum of personal security and comfort, are we still dissatisfied? Certainly, as a little introspection will reveal, our desire to help is not coming from a rational calculation that this injustice or that ecological disaster will somehow, someday, threaten our personal well-being. The pain is more direct, more visceral than that. The reason it hurts is it is literally happening to ourselves."
"The desire to serve something transcending the separate self and the pain we feel from the suffering of others are two sides of the same coin. Both bespeak our interbeingness. The emerging science that seeks to explain them, whether it invokes mirror neurons, horizontal gene transfer, group evolution, morphic fields, or something further out, doesn't explain them away, but merely illustrates a general principle of connection or, dare I say it, oneness. The science is beginning to confirm what we have intuitively known all along: we are greater than what we have been told. We are not just a skin-encapsulated ego, a soul encased in flesh. We are each other and we are the world."