Sunday, July 3, 2011

Spirituality and materialism

Both spiritual and materialistic ways of looking at life are created in the thinking mind. Advaita-Vedanta, Marxism, Catholicism, Mahayana Buddhism and Empirical Positivism, delusions, explanations, great theories, political opinions, idiotic ideas, clever ideas, silly jokes, they are all creations of the thinking mind.

If the speech center of the brain is damaged by a hemorrhage, you’re no longer able to create explanations, theories and opinions. Hallucinations, dreams, daydreams, reveries and visions emanate from other parts of the brain. Anger and fear are created in the reptilian brain and love is created in the limbic system. So what? Why bother?

Where is the observing self or the sense of I located? It’s apparently not created in the speech center. Someone with a damaged speech center because of a brain hemorrhage will still wake up in the morning and feel that they are. To me it doesn’t matter. To me it’s not even particularly important if my sense of I is located in my brain or somewhere outside my body. I think that there are many much more important issues to be considered, for example: Where did I put my bike key? What shall I cook for supper? Should I drop my resentment towards Ms X though she is still full of shit? How shall I live my life?

Right now

What you are experiencing as the present now, is actually something that happened a quarter of a second ago. The now has to be processed in the brain before you can experience it. This means that the now, the past and the future are made of the same stuff, neural activity.

If there had been no brain substance in the world there would have been be no present now. There would have been almost nothing at all, just dark, endless empty space, with a few electrons and quarks or strings here and there.

Such discoveries are useless, I think. What difference does it make to you if the world in reality consists of almost nothing? What difference does it make if it takes a quarter of a second to process sensory input or if the processing is instant?

What difference does it make if consciousness is created in the brain or somewhere else?

What difference does it make if the sense of I am is just a hallucination, some kind of weird mirage, or if it‘s the eternal soul?

Why do we fill our heads with so much irrelevant information? We are ruining this planet with our greed for more money. This is a fact. Our fantasies about what will happen to us when we die are of secondary importance. We strain gnats and swallow camels?

What is the ego?

When we use the word ego in modern everyday language, we often mean the greedy, competing and selfish part of our mind. “He’s very egotistical. It’s his ego who controls him. It’s your ego who fabricates those explanations.”

The original Latin meaning of the word ego, however, was I. The word I was originally neutral. There was no valuation in it. “I am hungry. I am at home. I will meet you later.”

Freud used the word ego to denote the conscious executive part of our mind.

“To hell with wife and whining kids. I need to have some fun, not just endless harping and complaining. I shall go to the cabin over the weekend, with Monica. It’ll work out somehow with the money.” This is the ego’s voice.

“No, I’m not going to the cabin with Monica, even though she’s wonderful. I shall not cheat on my wife now when she’s going through all these things. I shall stay at home and play with the kids.” This is also the ego’s voice, as Freud used the word. Ego and selfishness was not the same thing to him.

Some people believe that ego is something bad which we have to get rid of, or that it will fall away, somehow, when we’re waking up. Others believe that a big strong ego is something good and that it’s important to strengthen it. They believe that a competitive ego is good in the struggle for a position in the hierarchy. In our modern societies many people are totally possessed by ego. In the old days, in the agricultural societies kids learned early that they could not have things their way.

Eckhart Tolle defines ego as the mistaken belief of who you are. You are not a miserable looser. You are not supposed to be pushing. These are ideas you have.

So, what is ego? What is it made of? What would happen if the ego disappeared? Which ego? What do you mean with the word ego? Are the ego and the observing self the same thing?

What is a memory? What does a memory consist of? Electric and chemical activities in the synapses? Isn’t it amazing that you remember who you are in the morning when you wake up?

Without an observer there would be no awareness of anything. Without an observing self nothing and nobody would exist. Nobody would be there to be aware of anything. From this point of view is the ego crucial.

Confusion arises when we use the same word in so many different ways.