Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Brain Reflections

Poet Emily Dickinson once wrote:

Sparknotes translates Dickinson's poem as:
“[It's about] the mind’s capacity to absorb, interpret, and subsume perception and experience. 
The brain is wider than the sky despite the sky’s awesome size 
because the brain is able to incorporate the universe into itself,  
and thereby even to absorb the ocean. 
The source of this capacity, in this poem, is God.”

This poem makes me think about how the human brain is so complex...its capacity for understanding is so impressive.

Over the course of hundreds of millions of years, it evolved tailored by the environment, and we developed handy tools like feelings, learning, and memory. 

Then after humans evolved a questioning brain, they naturally began searching for answers to the  mysteries around them. But to what end?

In a book called Chess Metaphors, author Diego Rasskin-Gutman says,
"During the last 30 thousand years (at least), the human species has incessantly questioned its own nature and it's position within the universean overwhelmingly empty enterprise because of the paucity of valid answers and always led by a search for religious meaning.   
Little by little, this search has been stripped of its divine sense as attitudes evolved through the influence of the scientific community and by the transformation of societies in modern nation-states. 
Thus, a huge role has been played by scientists:
  •  Copernicus and Galileo showed that we are not the center of the universe, 
  • Darwin recognized the animal with our being,
  • Freud placed consciousness at the center of the scientific quest,
  •  and Einstein equated matter with energy and showed nature's dependence on point of view."

It's all about perspective.

And the evolution of not only our brains, but of our shared experience.

How one defines God is a very personal journey, but the collective pursuit of that definition influences our relationship with the world and our relationships with each other.

Any path taken is both personal and shared. Am I open and feel awe? Am I closed and feel fear? Am I confused?

So then why is Western society so "mum's the word" about the discovery of a higher truth in the secular context?

I very much respect Dickinson for expressing her inner reflections via poetry, like past poets Rumi and 寒山.

In Dickinson's opinion, the mind is a manifestation of God, or the individual is an instrument of God. 

[here's a little poem response dedicated to her]


hey, brain. 

you may be wider than the sky...

swallowing endlessly 

for total absorption

but why

resist the ocean's deafening roar

participate with silence

Then witness 

the love within 

-also boundless-

our own reflection(s).

simple reflection.


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