Bare Bones Biology 248 – Instinct and Learning

“One essential step in learning to more genuinely see each other is to bother to look. . . if they don’t make much of an impression on us … it is all too easy to look right through them.” – Sharon Salzberg., “A More Complete Attention”

Bare Bones Biology 248 – Instinct and Learning

When you raise a child, you try to give it the knowledge that it needs to lead a successful and rewarding life.

150308-WinterP-ASC_3821RLSs copyIn the first stage of life, humans and also other higher animals learn about the world. All organisms have instincts that are in our genetic code. Higher mammals, such as ourselves, grow bigger brains, and as we grow up, our brains are able to merge the instincts that come from our genetic makeup and the experiences of our early days, to grow a worldview that will guide our successful and rewarding lives if the world stays pretty much the same as what we experienced growing up.

Our instincts and our experiences become entwined into our worldview, and we keep adding to this awareness throughout our lives. It is our world view that makes it possible for us to survive in the world, and by the time we are about ten or twelve years old we have an image of reality that will or will not help us to lead successful and rewarding lives – depending on whether or not our worldview matches the world we end up in.

We are barely aware of our worldview. It just feels to us as though it were reality – just what is now and always will be. But it’s not reality; it was our reality when we were growing up. But meantime the human world changes.

There are so many humans on earth today, with so many different worldviews, that we are causing the world to change so fast that nobody’s feet are firmly planted in reality, and the young people who are raised so carefully and conscientiously by their parents must go out into a world that does not match the world they grew up in.

I think you know all this; you are aware of a myriad of “different opinions” held by the people all around you, arising from what they believe to be reality, and because our parents wanted peace among all the people, most of us were taught that “everyone has a right to his own opinion.”

150320-Canyon-ASC_3953RLSsLike most sound bites, that one is not true, because some opinions are harmful, but it is true that everyone in modern times does have a somewhat different worldview, basically because we all were brought up in different realities. And pity the children who were raised in a television world that never was real and never can be.

Nobody knows everything about reality, and therefore everyone makes mistakes, and so people evolved to live in social groups, because a group of three people, for example, knows more about reality than one person alone. Each person of a group or a culture has a different skill-set and wisdom-set to offer the group, and the society is more or less successful according to how it takes advantage of the whole set, using that set to grow a successful and rewarding cultural worldview within the reality of Life of the time.

But no society understands all of the mind of God, or reality, or the Biosystem, because each of these entites is bigger than all our worldviews combined. That’s why societies make mistakes and fail in the same way that individuals do. And as an individual, when your social belief system – the worldview it has engrained into your brain so deeply that you believe it to be ultimate truth – when that turns out to be wrong – it feels like God died, and our first reaction is denial. Then we cling with all our might to our limited little window/view of God’s reality rather than deal directly and responsibly with what is happening. That seems to be just how it is – how human minds are made to operate.

Though if we think about it, we could probably do a little better.

A boddhisatva is a person who knows all this and nevertheless reaches out her hand to share in the world of the sinking ship.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS radio, 89.1 in Bryan, Texas.

A copy of this podcast is available at:

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