Friday, March 31, 2017

My own Search for Spock


If you really want to know...

I'm a very flighty person, never satisfied with the view.  I like to explore, look beyond the next hill. That's why I became a geographer. This is particularly true of the mental realm, the landscape of ideas. It's gotten me in trouble.

The problem is, unlike the material world where the ground feels solid beneath me, it didn't take me long to realize the landscape of my mind is quite different. I can simultaneously be situated in completely contrary ideas and not even know it for years.  When I discovered this apparent flaw, I didn't take it well.
Most of my really important finds, have come in stages, like for example, the notion that belief itself has much to do with the physical.  My body, through feelings and emotions, shapes my thoughts in a way that counter what I was taught in school. The physical and mental, are not separate realms, rather they connect through my body. To live and be healthy one needs certain things from the physical world.  Science tells us the human mind developed as an evolutionary strategy to insure those needs are met. My feelings (pleasure, discomfort) and emotions (desire, fear) shape my beliefs far more powerfully than I ever imagined. Yikes!
My initial understanding of the biology of mind made me question many things. Our society, economics, politics, the law, science are based on the premise that we are fundamentally rational beings.  I asked myself, is a search for pleasure and comfort all there is? Is rational free will largely a cruel delusion?
There had to be more to life than a self-serving venture aimed at survival and comfort. I dove head first into religion and spirituality... a search for meaning.  Being quite the science geek, a problem arose right off the top.  I had no idea how to reconcile spirituality and science. My only option was to leave the latter behind and go off half-cocked into the realm of the metaphysical.  I can't tell you how much fun this was - ESP, ghosts, higher beings, and of course, God. I was raised Catholic but because of my flighty nature I had to seek out as many gods as possible. What a wild ride.
In the mental landscape of religion and spirituality there are many countries and many continents. My search began in the capital cities: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc... Not having much luck, I broke orbit and headed for the realm of the occult, spirit healing and ultimately mysticism. Somewhere along the way I rediscovered earth, that is, I began to embrace science again. This time, however, I felt more optimistic that it was possible to bridge the gap, to reconcile science and spirituality.
It has been my own personal search for Spock. Did I mention in all that time I never stopped being a geek? For those of you who don't share that predisposition, Spock's rebirth represents an integration of the logical and the mystical.
At their best, science and mysticism are both transcendent endeavors. Through exploration and the acquisition of knowledge, they take us beyond the self and help us embrace greater realities. They are both ultimately interested in fundamentals, in truths.  Their seeming incompatibilities mostly come from method and the way knowledge has been categorized historically.  Using slightly more erudite lingo, the reductionist/holism paradigm stems from a false dichotomy that established itself in Western thought as science challenged the hegemony of the Church. (please excuse the jargon).
If you want my advice, don't get hung up on the terms god, spirituality, logic, rationality or whatnot. These concepts are like imposed national borders on an integrated biosphere. Their only purpose is to divide for political and administrative reasons.  Like any boundaries, you can't simply ignore them, but I suggest paying at least as much attention to the view of the astronaut gazing at the earth from high above.
And in that spirit, I hope you enjoy this blog, the Wonders of Nature.