Meditation techniques known thousands of years ago are based on what science is only now discovering. A series of discoveries in the last 15 years in the field of brain, mind and consciousness research has led to a startling and even frustrating conclusion. Much of what we thought we knew about the workings of our minds is, to put it mildly, not entirely accurate. And in fact, it's just plain wrong. Our brain doesn't work the way science used to think it did. There are no specialized areas and layers of "geological deposits" of different evolutionary stages in it. Brain is a vast continuous network of clusters and nodes, not a set of parts working in isolation. Everything in the brain is so interconnected that every thought, action, or emotion we have changes, even slightly, the activity of 90% of the brain's neurons. But that's not the most amazing thing. The most striking, in my opinion, are three such conclusions. 1) People are already almost like gods: they independently invent most of the emotional and social reality in which they live. - There are no specific evolutionarily programmed reflex circuits in the brain for the ancient and universal basic emotions (fear, rage, happiness, sadness, etc.) that emerged as a result of evolutionary adaptations to the conditions of our paleolithic past. The idea that there are universal emotions common to all humans is basically a myth. Many emotions that we have thought universal turn out to be different in different cultures. - The same applies to seemingly universal concepts (anger, disgust, etc.), tools that our brain uses to guess the meaning of incoming sensory signals. For example, the Kung bushmen have no emotion and no concept of fear. - For the chemist, reality is molecules, atoms, and protons. For a physicist, they are quarks or Higgs bosons. They are assumed to exist in the world independently of the presence of humans, that is, they are considered independent of perceiving categories. But evolution has given our minds the ability to create a reality other than molecules or atoms that are independent of the observer. It allows us to create a reality that is completely dependent on the humans observing it. 2) The only thing humans need to do to create their reality is to engage in a socio-cognitive network that connects their individual brains to the collective brains of the culture bearers who create and perpetuate it. - We are born with three "cognitive gadgets" that allow us to form three universal aspects of the mind: - affective realism (the property of experiencing what we believe) - concepts (the "Lego pieces of the world" into which the brain turns everything it sees, hears, feels) - Social reality, linking our brains to the minds of others, to the social world that others have created. - Being human requires a cultural context of human communication through gestures and language, which are preserved, modified and passed on by successive generations. We become the cultural gadgets of our cognitive gadgets. - As a result, we invent our own social reality, or the one we want to live in. And as long as enough people are in sync with us to invent such a reality, we succeed. We carefully choose which illusions to regard as true and which as false, which religion to regard as true and which as heresy. - For those of us who believe that the 2020 election was stolen and that Trump is the real president, it is. And for those included in another socio-cognitive network, the reality is the opposite. 3) But perhaps the most striking thing is that both points 1 and 2, discovered only in the last 15 years, have been known for thousands of years as the foundation of 3 meditation techniques.
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