It took me over sixty years to recognize my Physical Reality ~ Human Mindscape divide perspective which in hindsight seems rather self-evident, after all the "mind-body problem" has been the source of endless philosophical speculation for millennia, I've thought about it since I was a kid, I thought most kids do.
I have been fortunate to have one active critic Write over at CenterForInquiryForum, but he's also frustrating in that too often his bias create assumptions and claims that are straw men, perhaps well meaning, but still too often avoiding what I'm actually trying to enunciate.
I hope this short bio-sketch that describes the trajectory that brought me to these writings will offer an introduction to help orient readers before embarking on my road less traveled. (visit CFI Forum if you want to share your ideas, critique.)
Being an element in Earth’s Pageant of Evolution
Although I’m a family man, with my share of friends, along with being community-minded, there’s a part of me that rarely fully connects, leaving me with an impression of being on the outside looking in and trying to make sense of the self-destructive impulses that are driving us towards disastrous outcomes.
Over the decades I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to understand what makes my fundamental outlook and instincts so foreign to the general mindset. It’s only recently, with the hindsight of six decades, and coming off of this “Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-gravity project” with all it’s side trips and then discovering the light at the end of the tunnel with Dr. Mark Solms enunciating the outlines of Neuropsychoanalysis and a rational approach to understanding our minds unfolding within our bodies.
A body of work which convincingly demystifies Chalmers’ “Hard Problem” (and all the distracting intellectual mischief that’s given rise to) and points the way to a biological understanding of consciousness. Neuropsychology and neuropsychoanalysis brings us face to face with the reality that our consciousness is basically the inside reflection of our body/brain interacting with its environment. Think of it, consciousness as ‘interaction’ not a ‘thing.’
Now there’s something worth chewing on if you’re looking for intellectual or spiritual challenge.
Back to my struggle to make sense out of myself. A year ago I was able to enunciate the thing I believe makes me different. Basically, I possess a visceral awareness of, and appreciation for, being an element in Earth’s Pageant of Evolution.
That left me wondering about what it was that opened up such a potential for me? Why did all those religious mindsets feel so foreign, if not plain wrong, to me?
Recently I finally nailed that one too. It goes back to my early childhood, even before starting kindergarten at John J. Audubon Elementary school in Chicago. I’d been playing in the pool of warming sunlight streaming through the window onto our living room carpet, the light was making the floating dust specks look like stars. I remember focusing on their movements, then watching ‘em whooshing after my mom, when she passed on by. I was already fascinated by the night sky full of sparkling lights and these dust motes transported me into a space filled with stars and distant galaxies.
Then I hear myself asking my mom: “What is God?"
I like to think it took her a few beats, then she answered: “A speck of dust that wanted to be more.”
I must have been primed because it blew me away, literally permeated my entire being. After the initial shock wore off, it didn’t provide any sort of answers, it was more like a suggestion, a question, even a challenge to do better. God as a speck that simply wanted to be more. It was beautiful, awesome, and this little boy carried that conception right into school and it has remained with me for the rest of my life. Like a mantra echoing in the distance. It’s taken over 60 years for that echo to fully blossom and for me to appreciate, not just how, but the why that set me on my singular path.
I believe what happened was that the notion of ‘a tiny speck of dust wanting to be more’ wound up filling in and satisfying my "God" niche’ - that thing that, I believe, resides within all humans and that parents, caregivers, society fills in with their gods as a child grows into an adult.
In a couple years when the self-serving Abraham inspired God was presented to me, there was no place for it to grab hold of in my brain or heart, I was free of its shackles and free to make my own sense of the world.
This sense of self and spiritual connectivity with Earth emerged out of a little tree-hugging and a lifetime of curiosity, learning about myself, Earth, deep-time’s amazing evolutionary story, the development of life and creatures, our biosphere and ourselves.
Especially realizing how the components of my own physical body had their origins eons ago. Not an intellectual knowing, but literally up close and bloody personal. Viscerally learning first hand how, for the most part, mammals have the same skeleton and organs I do, of course in different proportions. Just the same, it’s a profound realization that illuminated the deep kinship between my own body and other creatures.
Or taking it even further back in time and realizing how Earth herself had to go through intense processing before promising molecular building blocks and biological solutions to life’s challenges would have the material resources at hand, within appropriate environments, to allow them to be put to the test and prosper.
It’s a long, amazingly complex story that keeps evolving as more evidence gets collected and processed into shared scientific knowledge. Folds within folds of cumulative harmonic complexity flowing down the cascade of time.
In the end, the thought of being an intelligent self-aware element of creation, one who is capable of savoring the pageant of Earth’s amazing Evolution is more than comforting.
It provides me an unparalleled spiritual foundation and solidity in the face of challenges, inevitable failings and my coming death. Not that I'm above any of it, I still live the dramas and struggles of being me, but I understand the music and it doesn't scare me anymore. The mindset of the kayaker striving to find the best line through the successive cascades of my life and being rewarded with a transcendent depth of experience, peace and security no Holy Book, or fast-talking pick-pocket preachers can get close to offering.
It's good news worth passing around to those who are honestly curious about understanding themselves within the context of Earth’s Evolution and the realities of scientific knowledge.