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October 30, 2013

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“It is our sense of agency, ownership, and a unique sense of self that propels both our need to understand our uniqueness and the concurrent sense to make this determination”.

It should be part of our understanding by now that we are no more special than anything else. But many diehards, particularly religions have a vested interest in exploiting our sense of being special. The belief is still rife that we are god’s special creation.

Our brains do the admirable work of helping us to survive. From a basic biological ‘me’ and ‘not me’ instinct the brain has produced the feeling of a ‘me’ or ‘I’ that is separate from the body and the rest of nature, and is felt as being ‘special’. This of course aids survival but taken to extremes we become attached to certain ideas and concepts and become full of ourselves.

Religion is simply engaged in exploiting our sense of self (our sense of specialness) to maintain its structure. Similarly all institutions, organisations – and our own minds – are part of this ‘self’ perpetuating processes. But can we, dare we, and should we expose the ‘self’ – us – as being not special?

But can we, dare we, and should we expose the ‘self’ – us – as being not special?

We are special. There's no other species like us. Because of our capacity for conceptuality, we have art and science and technology...not to mention warfare, systematic destruction of the environment, and religion.

Our being special might make us the most horrific species on the planet, but we are special, nevertheless.

Special is another relative term. No big deal. The special, the more special, and the most special.

Living in Las Vegas, I am the most special. Sorry, I meant to say the chosen enlightened FEW.

I need to be worshipped.

We are certainly different, not special. Though we weren't designed to be different, it's just the way our brains evolved; we have no more claim to specialness than anything else. In fact, the crocodile has survived for millions of years - that's a good life design - not special.

Life is all about surviving, and our brain has evolved the ability to conceptualise for that purpose, not to glorify specialness That's just the unconscious ego/mind in action - which is how religions work.

But are we now slavishly allowing the conceptual mind to run us like automatons? The way we are conducting ourselves through our divisive concepts may hasten our demise.

Turan,

Good comment.

To be certainly different, is another way to be special. Yes, life does go on, and much out there is certainly different. The mind can decide that.

The "special" word, is just a word.

So religious type people feel special. Maybe this gives them the impetus to survive and not to commit suicide.

Thanks Brian, for allowing me to share my thoughts on your blog.

Further thoughts about religions and belief systems. Unfortunately some religions encourage martyrdom. Not good.

One belief I hang on to from Sant Mat is karma. I would never take my own life because I would come back and do it all again in probably even worse circumstances. A bit like the myth of Sisyphus.

An old satsangi belief I am moving away from is that having a big ego is bad. Am now substituting ego with a feeling of being unique. Wow, even better :)

The way we are conducting ourselves through our divisive concepts may hasten our demise.

Isn't "divisive concepts" a redundancy? Are you suggesting we should learn to live without concepts?

You ask if we might be "slavishly allowing the conceptual mind to run us like automatons", and it's a question posed by conceptuality, an automatic, self-correcting process. Yes, we're automatons pretending to be spiritual, ethereal, special.

The 'divisive concepts' referred to are the ones that well, divide us - such as 'my country/race/religion/beliefs are the true ones and I'll fight to protect and maintain them'.
The above also describes why we 'slavishly allow the conceptual mind to run us like automatons'. Yes, the question is posed as a concept but, before a ‘divisive concept’ arises it can be preceded by – wait for it – a feeling! And yes, that originates in the brain but is not a concept.

We have a natural empathy towards others as when we empathise with their suffering. This though, can be over-ridden by a concept such as a belief. Neuroscience understands this natural empathy as the result of ‘mirror neurons’.

Here’s a piece from BrainFacts.org (20/2/13) re Mirror Neurons.
“Before the discovery of mirror neurons, scientists generally believed that our brains use logical thought processes to interpret and predict other people’s actions. Now, however, many have come to believe that we understand others not by thinking, but by feeling.”

We have a natural empathy towards others as when we empathise with their suffering.

And a natural antipathy toward those inflicting suffering. But these feelings are based on perceptions that may be mistaken or manipulated, so they have to be questioned, examined, so as not to act impulsively. Sometimes it turns out that it was best to shoot first and ask questions later, but usually, it's better to hold your fire and give the matter some thought.

We're motivated and directed by emotions, feelings, but they are no more reliable and true than the deep-seated perception-altering beliefs that give rise to them.

"But these feelings are based on perceptions that may be mistaken or manipulated, so they have to be questioned, examined, so as not to act impulsively".

Point is, the feeling, the empathy arrives first, thinking, (concepts) arrive later. Who says you have to act on the feeling of empathy; just to feel the connection is to recognise the other - then you can shoot them if that's the concept you have been programmed to comply with.

Yes, empathy/antipathy arrives first, and if exercising restraint (or as you see it, complying to a program) is beneath you, feel free to shoot and explain away the effect later. You can learn to respond appropriately, or you can learn to rationalize.

Yes, empathy/antipathy arrives first . . ." (So far, so good).

'Exercising restraint' is a conscious act conceived after the feeling of empathy.
'Complying to a programme' is to be programmed (conditioned or brainwashed as some terrorist acts may be)where the natural empathy has been superseded through being subjected to a particular concept - a belief.

And of course, all the above happens through the brain - and interestingly, such changes in behaviour also describes brain plasticity.

I'm not sure these Brain surgeons have got the slightest clue about what goes on inside the human brain, sure they might use their FMCG isotopes and X-ray imaging techniques but what the fuck of they actually know?

Now don't get me wrong the mystic know even less

Why the fuck humans gotta make out they got any clue about what is going on when they don't really have the first iota , and that's all off them, especially the so-called gurus, they the very worst of the worst.

Quite so Georgie, but it's fun commenting here and good brain exercise - I prefer this to crosswords and the like. Some of the blogs and comments I find interesting - and there's always the chance of learning something.

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