Bare Bones Biology 112 – Thinking

Today I am reposting my own thoughts about thinking – that I thought after viewing Mathiew Ricards UTube

I have developed my mind quite a lot, and I think it’s a good idea. My belief for a long time has been that the so-called “right brain” part of the mind contains the more basic inherited human characteristics. That means we can’t change them or lose them — so it’s better to use them well.

From what we know up to now, these basic qualities seem to be the emotional realities that have been so elegantly studied by Buddhism over the centuries, plus I think the stages of mourning and of meditation are inherent human qualities, and of course many things we do not know.

I learned long ago that any major culture shock requires at least (and about) a year to work through to the point of acceptance of the new reality, and I do believe that the stages of this accomplishment are those same stages that have been described for overcoming grief. The stages of grief (or other big change): Denial, bargaining (this is efforts at control), sorrow and grief, and finally acceptance.

The development of the “right brain,” that is discussed by Mathieu Ricard in the video above, trains us to use these emotions so they benefit us, both at the individual level and at the population level of human reality.

Development of the “left-brain” traits complements the “right” by making day-to-day sense of our experiences until we grow the whole into our world view. Again, the survival value is that we are able to use our experiences and learning to guide our emotions, and direct our behaviors toward greater good, both for the individual and for the community.

Remember, the ”left-brain” skills are largely learned. If you are delving deep into the “right brain” inherited skills to solve your problems, you are only using half your potential for good in the world of today. We need to understand our emotions and use our love and compassion for the greater good. We also need to understand how our love interacts with human need, for good or for ill. Or there can be no compassion, because compassion IS the intersection of loving others and acting for their long[-term best interests.

Love is not enough. In fact, it’s the easy way out. We need to LEARN what the other requires, especially if the other does not have the same kind of right brain that we have, we must learn how it what it does need to function well and be healthy. Otherwise, considering the level of human power on this earth today — our behaviors are likely to cause more harm than good.

It’s not normal for humans to stay stuck forever in denial of the reality of who we are and what we can’t have, combined with bargaining for the power to have it. That’s where we are today, stuck in denial and bargaining, and our power is enough to crash our culture and our ecosystem if we can’t learn to see what the culture and the ecosystem need in order to be sustainable.

“Left-brain” skills are required. “Right brain” skills are also required. We will need our whole brain to grow out of the mess that we are in. Too often we confine our development to one skill-set or the other. Even if we then work very hard, or very lovingly, bringing half our brain to the problems of our culture, this behavior does not create the combination of love and compassion with logic and knowledge, that we need to address those problems. We believe we are creating love and compassion. Quite the opposite, the harder we work on our half of the solution, the more we are likely to generate envy, competition and deep, deep grief when we discover that our dreams have been built on the sands of denial of our other, equally valid half.

Bare Bones Biology 112 – Thinking
KEOS-FM, Bryan, Texas
A podcast of this program can be downloaded here
Or at http://www.FactFictionFancy.com

“We have destroyed our Mother Earth in the same way bacteria or a virus can destroy a human body. Mother Earth is also a body. Of course, there are bacteria that are beneficial to the human body, that protect the body and help generate enzymes that we need. Similarly, if the human species wakes up and knows how to live with responsibility, compassion, and loving kindness, the human species can be a living organism with the capacity to protect the body of Mother Earth. We have to see that we inter-are with our Mother Earth, that we live with her and die with her.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, for the current issue of the web newsletter Upaya.http://www.upaya.org/newsletter/view/2012/01/09#story11
original source – http://www.ecobuddhism.org/wisdom/interviews/thich_nhat_hanh/; accessed January 8, 2012
Reprinted from The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology (2008) by Thich Nhat Hanh, Parallax Press, Berkeley, California, http://www.parallax.org.

“All this new stuff goes on top / turn it over, turn it over / wait and water
down / from the dark bottom / turn it inside out / let it spread through /
Sift down even. / Watch it sprout. / A mind like compost.”

— Gary Snyder

This is also from the current Upaya, see above

The Four Immeasurables

It is not easy to get a succinct description of anything Buddhist. I really like this blog posted on The Interdependence Project (New York). Where it says “antidote” it means – antidote for.

Even if one doesn’t understand anything else about it, the outline of our various common emotional states is useful — especially with antidotes for the unpleasant ones and some warnings about the “near enemies” that can be confused with the real positive emotional goal. I like to have these things all laid out logically so they are available as I learn in greater and greater depth about the wisdom behind the prescription.

And at the end of the IDP article, you can download a guided meditation.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

“Years ago, I told our monasteries it is very good to learn science,” His Holiness said. “At first there was resistance and skepticism to this, but now after just five years, we have created a whole curriculum. And now we are starting to study non-Buddhist thought, so that we have monks with fuller knowledge. We must also study living traditions, like Christianity, Islam, and modern philosophy.”

I say it’s also good for us American voters to learn science, if we want to save our cultures and our religions and our ecosystem that supports them all. So I have nominated myself to serve on the review board for supplementary science instructional materials at the high school level.

You don’t have to be in school or on a board to contribute to our welfare. The first step is to be sure you REALLY understand how energy flows through the ecosystem to keep the whole thing alive. The second step is to apply this understanding to whatever charitable activities and actions you espouse.

There is Nothing Wrong with Suffering

If you believe in the law of cause and effect, then you must know that suffering is not the enemy. Just as death is necessary to maintain life, so suffering is necessary for us to learn how to live properly in the real world. We would never learn to take our hands off the hot stove if it didn’t hurt. We will never learn to live until we stop trying to defeat death and suffering.

If there were no suffering, we would long ago have defeated life by doing whatever we damn well please, and if there were no death, the biomass of the earth would by now have reached way far beyond the moon. The earth would have perished long ago. The tragedy is that we do know about the law of cause and effect, and we know how life survives on earth (physically) using both the law of cause and effect and death itself to maintain the balance that is necessary for all living things to stay alive. And we are destroying ourselves anyhow.

Living productively cannot be defined as growth; growth destroys balance,* and a productive culture, society, agriculture or economy must maintain a healthy balance (or it fails to be productive). Living productively is giving the real world what it requires to be alive, and the primary requirement for all kinds of life is balance. Think what happens if your body does not stay in physiological balance. You suffer. Or you die. That is the message of the law of cause and effect. I think it’s wonderful that the Buddha and his followers figured this out long ago.

But I don’t see how suffering can be a good reason for raising a shield of any kind – not a shield of disengaging from empathic interactions to reduce our own suffering, nor a shield of misinterpreting the message of the religions into one of power over nature, nor a shield of fake happiness induced by drugs, sex, violence (winning), technology or television propaganda – to shield ourselves from the basic laws of The Creation. Without suffering, we would destroy the whole living earth; with it we destroy ourselves (individually and collectively) unless we decide to stop the suffering by growing a productive (balanced) civilization. Human suffering is exactly what it should be; we know the rules; the choice is in our own hands.

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*If you want to see the process in action watch the movie Ancient Futures.