The human mind and brain (1)

The original human brain seems to have been little different from the brains of our animal ancestors. Then, a cosmic catastrophe may have triggered, through mutation, the addition of that extra layer our brains now possess. Alternatively, those extra-terrestrials who allegedly created ‘the Adam’ (refer Christianity’s Bible) may have lifted us to the top of the totem pole of life forms.

Our impressive capacity for conceptualisation, manual manipulation, and cultural expression is evident, in spite of the reality that human greed and the associated accumulation of material far exceeding normal need display our collective ‘clay feet’. The human mind obviously requires some quality ’re-boring’ (so to speak).


Is intuition an extension of experience?

During my study of psychology, I learnt that intuition is an ‘ah, ha!’ event; that this event Is an insightful glimpse of the past, or the present or the future; and that this glimmer of understanding would have been drawn from accumulated knowledge.
Since I had no background experience of reference to my ‘gut feeling’ about my bowel, is the human mind able to tap into, or draw upon, a warning in ‘cloudland’ saying “There be crocodiles lurking here”?

Knowing intuitively

Is this what some of us refer to as a ‘gut’ feeling? About 25 years ago, while waiting for a gastroscopy, I had a persistent feeling over the waiting period that I should also have a colonoscopy; that is to have my bowel examined as well.
The surgeon found a pre-cancerous polyp. It would develop into cancer. I have had 5 such polyps, found through 17 colonoscopies. These were carried out every 2 years; sometimes more frequently.
Was my ‘gut’ feeling evidence of intuition?

What one knows (Part 3)

How about study and direct observation? As for study, how does one filter out any egocentric defence of a prevailing but challengeable explanatory position? With observation, are the human being’s five senses and their processor, the brain, even when assisted by equipment which can register forces operating beyond human perceptual capabilities, able to perceive and measure all the forces and influences ‘out there,’ including acquiring (perhaps) the maths needed to manipulate this potential ‘evidence’?

An example is consciousness. Neuroscientists rely on neural traces established in the brain through experience to explain the workings of the brain, but cannot pin down the location of consciousness, or the sub-conscious, or even the mind which told them about such matters. Hinduism’s Upanishads claim, on the other hand, that the mind is not conscious; and that it is only an instrument of consciousness.

This suggests that consciousness is outside the physical operation of the brain. Is it a force, or facility, or an ‘atmospheric’ influence?

What one knows (Part 2)

Knowledge can hit one on the head (usually the brain) in the guise of a conscious intuition; does it originate inside or outside the brain? Knowledge can be imposed upon one through a dream; who has not experienced that when seeking to solve a significant problem? Confusingly, knowledge can be imparted through a psychic phenomenon, such as a dialogue with the spirit of a dead person (through a clairvoyant) or through a near-death experience (n.d.e.) or through a spiritual experience. The usual path to knowledge is, however, through study and observation (including measurement).

Anyone who has had first-hand exposure to these paths will be the first to admit that psychic and spiritual (including n.d.e.) experiences are personal, non-repeatable, thereby non-verifiable, and possibly unreliable. But then, how reliable is the human brain? As the evidence from neuroscience is not encouraging, what reliability can one place on intuition and dreams?

What one knows (Part 1)

To want to know is ubiquitous. Yet, mankind may be the only species in the animal kingdom whose wants exceed its need – to know, that is. Like all animals we seek to know where to find sustenance, security, and peace; but we also seek to know just for the sake of knowing.
To know just for knowledge brings forth those who want to know how we know (a most complex issue), and the reliability of such knowledge. The path to knowledge is, of course, multifarious.

Creating the Creator

Those who believe that there has to be a Creator of the Cosmos –because of the complexity of all that is, their inter-relationships, and the beauty of it all – can be challenged by some as to who created the Creator. To me, this is a semantically meaningless question. Would we then be looking for a creator of a creator of a creator, ad infinitum?

To me, the Creator is a pre-existing, ever-existing essence (but not an entity), from which everything arises, flows, materialises, effervesces, distils, is projected, and so on. This concept had nothing to do with Creationism (as traditionally expounded); one cannot also seek to specify whether what was created was in its final form or capable of evolution from simpler structures (self-improvement). So, accept – or reject!

Dispensing with the concept of a Creator could lead us to a belief that everything that we know exists, or has existed, without being created. Things just happen – then change – and then vacate the scene. There would then be no point in looking for meaning in existence, especially human existence, would there?

While Stephen Hawking has recently stated that there is no need for God, because everything has been explained; and there are other operational scientists seeking a Theory of Everything, we cannot explain black matter/black energy, and the mental and ephemeral realms. Our knowledge is restricted to the material realm operating in a mechanistic manner.

Yet, even if the material realm is only a projection from an ethereal realm, the latter can be construed to have existed beyond all time, without having been created. Is this any more than the other mysteries of existence?

Is this to suggest that we will never know about origins – ours and that of everything else in existence?

What if the universe was not created?

As inconceivable as it appears, does everything need an origin, a beginning? Or, could some acts of apparent creation be akin to spontaneous combustion? What if, instead of a Void of nothingness, there has existed, forever and ever, an uncreated Void – containing not vortices, fields or forces (as various scientists have asserted over the years) – but an insubstantial fragrance-like aether (as has been claimed recently by scientists who are not committed to a mechanistic material universe)?

Is it any more credible to accept all space being filled with this seemingly insubstantial aether, from which (ultimately) arrived all kinds of matter, forces, and whatever else we have identified, than to accept that a tiniest speck of something (without any origin), enabled by an inherent vast blast of energy (source-less?) formed the universe that we think we know?

The Big Bang Theory is not credible unless it is a temporary facet of the kind of cosmology offered by Hinduism; and that is impossible to prove or disprove! Yet, cycles of bangs and crunches in the physical realm make sense of a kind; pity about the ‘suspension’ of human existence during the cyclical periods when the whole machinery is running down. But, why not? Do we know any better?

Then, there is that other theory about the rise of mankind to head the pantheon of fauna. That is another theory based on more belief. The alleged creation of ‘the Adam’ (refer Genesis in the Bible; and the Sumerian writings of a few centuries earlier from which it seems to have been drawn) raises interesting questions, as do such simple matters as the ability of the chameleon to change the colouration of its hide at will; or, is it an automatic reaction? But, how did it evolve? By chance?

The bottom line in this speculation about origins is how an unstructured aether can result in the complex structures (with their interconnecting forces) constituting the universe we inhabit.

What then of the other dimensions of existence which apparently cross the boundaries of our universe? Are they intersecting overlays? Our spirit world must be one of these dimensions. Since indubitably it exists, our ‘Hereafter’ has to be real!

Celebrating one’s culture

In the early 1980s, that great Greek composer of music, Hadjidakis, arrived in Melbourne. My 2-i-c, a Greek Australian, confirmed that our Greek community was looking forward eagerly to meeting him. I had always enjoyed his music; it set my soul soaring and my feet feeling frivolous.

At a very large gathering, which I attended, both as a representative of my department and to satisfy my own need, we waited for 45 minutes before the great man arrived. We had a splendid evening.

On another occasion, I attended a meeting of the Greek community. I was greeted warmly as the government representative, and then taught how to dance in the traditional style. The warmth of my relationship with Greeks has led me to feel that I may have been a Greek in one of my many lives on Earth.

During the 1980s, officialdom made a great fuss about multiculturalism. While British Australia was becoming multi-ethnic and less sensitive to skin colour, the federal government sought to manage multiculturalism; to tell us ethnics how to get along with one another, and with the host community. Really!

Having contacts with a large variety of immigrants, and participating extensively in civil society, I know this: all of us got along well with one another without government involvement. We are free to pray as we wish, and to celebrate our cultural festivals in the company of those of other cultures, while living day-to-day like everyone else.

As Prime Minister Howard and NSW Premier Carr showed later, we are also connected THROUGH A SHARED CITIZENSHIP, and our pride in being Australian. We are indeed on the way to being the Family of Man.

The on-going mind (Part 3)

In general:
• while memories seem to be located in specific areas of the brain, it has been claimed recently that the path to the memory bank may involve the while brain
• the brain is known to be plastic. It adjusts, with or without conscious effort, to new experiences.

• with dementia, short-term memory is clearly affected. My experience with a neighbour showed that she was not registering her questions addressed to my sister, and my sister’s responses; but her long-term hates were durable.
• recent research apparently shows that the capacity to appreciate music or art is not lost through dementia.
• could joy from loving letters and interesting stories not be lost as well?

• Hinduism claims that the mind is an instrument of Consciousness. That is, mind is not tied to the brain. Yet, it taps into the brain.
• when my uncle died with his mind and memories intact, and was thus able to display both after his brain had been cremated, how much of any mind and its embedded long-term memories are reliably known to be lost through dementia (in its various forms)? Perhaps only the previous link has been suspended, not lost.

• could isolation from loved ones damage an individual with short-term memory problems? There is so little known as to what happens within the brain. Yet certain academics claim otherwise, but only in a speculative manner!

We humans are more complex than we know. And Consciousness seems to explain us, whether dead or alive – death providing a temporary respite to the soul from Earthly experiences. And (possibly) each soul remembering each bodily past: and occasionally allowing the prevailing mind in the current body to obtain a glimpse of a relevant past (as has happened to me).