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The Future Foretold: The Marriage of Western Science with Eastern Spirituality

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posted on Nov, 23 2014 @ 09:47 PM
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The more I study and research interpersonal neurobiology, the more impressed I am that humankind is finally arriving at a clearer idea of how we can share a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in the Universe.

Just the other day I finished Darcia Narvaez' phenomenal book "Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality". When I was done reading and I had time to think about it, I thought "This is IT. This is exactly what humanity needs: a more objective way to think about the subjective mind".

One of the problems that plagued human ideology is it's arbitrariness. People lament again and again - and this is what post-modernism and post-structuralism was all about - "Its Arbitrary! Every belief system is a castle of air built on a few flimsy facts"; and to be honest, that critique is largely true.

When you look at the dominant religions of the west - and in all of human history - we run again and again into a belief system that might be dubbed "an imagined order". Imagined orders are what human beings create - largely unconsciously - but feel the intersubjective pull to create them, in order to tame the beasts of conflict and suffering. You can look at some of the earliest ones, such as the Code of Hammurabi, and you can think "wow, that was good" - an it was; Hammurabi's code was a progressive development in mankinds history. Yet, at the same time, much of what it is predicated upon is utter nonsense: Enlil, Marduk, three classes of people? None of it is remotely objective: it's exists purely in the imagination. Similarly, one could look at modern day Islamism and Evangelical Christianity and come to the exact same conclusion: all these suppositions that are made aren't even acknowledged as suppositions! And its precisely this absent minded positing of things that can't be objectively validated that FUELS and instigates human conflict.

The problem I speak of is the issue of myth. Jesus and the stories of the New Testament; Moses and the various stories of the old testament. Mohommad and the stories of Quran. Of what value does an "objective" i.e. historical reading, add to human society and relations? Absolutely none. In fact, it is quite apparent that a literalist reading feeds into a dynamic of social heirarchy; those who claim "superior knowledge" because they have identified themselves "with the in-group" who accepts the historical "facts" of Jesus, Moses or Mohommad. This issue wouldn't arise if the myths were seen as myths; if they were understood as allegorical representations of an ancient theology which resonates with the worshipers chosen theology. But this is not the case. The literalist concept holds, and as it holds, people are broken off from one another, and one could veritably say "this is subjective, mythological nonsense".

Conversely, although Eastern religions are riddled with a similar mythological packaging, it is less strenuously concealed by popular imagination as western religions are. This has allowed the development of Buddhism, in 500 BCE, a spiritual tradition devoted to an EMPIRICAL exploration of subjective experience.

Why is this so important? And why do I claim that Eastern religions will be the 'spiritual basis' of a future humanity? It is simple. When every individual comes to face the reality of his own existence, in realities terms, and not his own, every individual comes to a similar understanding of what sort of situation the human being finds itself in. In other words, by relating to ones own consciousness in a metacognitive way, an "objective" perspective is established. The non committed "inner observer" looks at what happens within, and can see "ah, ok, so I'm influenced at every moment by other minds; and they by mine; each of us exist in a web of intersubjective relationships".

This is important knowledge, and it's factual knowledge. From the very first moment we enter this world, our biology has been shaped by the thoughts of another person: our mothers. Not just her thoughts, but her own relationships, the foods she chooses to eat, and the rest she gets - all of which happens in a relational matrix - 'trickles' down into the placenta as relevant molecular cues that guide the infants neurobiological development. From the get go, mind and body - life - are in constant interaction.

But what about differences in temperament? Developmental Neurobiology is giving us insights that promise to transform Human society for the better. Is it genes? Is that what makes us different? This is what selfish gene theorists believe, but the fact is, thus far, all research indicates that events which shape the developing mind are epigenetic - which means "above" the gene. Some of these processes are DNA methylation and acetylation of histione proteins. Molecular biologists studying rats have shown that "good mothering" i.e. licking and grooming of rat pups, leads to methylation of genes that control the production of 'reactivity' to the environment. In other words, methyl groups switch genes "on" or "off".

The implications of such research are astounding. If what we regard as "temperament" is nothing more than a personality enculturated to an environment that discourages or encourages intersubjective connection, than that means how our societies work, and indeed, how human beings feel with one another, is almost entirely under our control.

The problem is sticky because human beings are extraordinaily social creatures. In fact, social neuroscientists have shown that the 'default' brain state - as shown by fMRI - is identical to states where the subject is told to think about somebody else. In short, our brains are wired, from the get go, for intersubjectivity. Which means, traits we generally describe as vices - narcissism, greed, aggression - are largely defences against that quintessential social emotion which governs human self development: shame. And because shame leads to anxiety and a general breakdown of the conscious mind, our minds unconsciously activate surprisingly sophisticated mental structures to defend against it.

Whats taken for normal today, with our consumerist, romanticist, capitalistic culture, are simply bad-habits emerging gradually but becoming over time a "baseline" from which certain thinkers and theorists treat to be 'biologically inevitable'. This is what Steven Pinker, Daniel Kahneman and other 'dispassionate' evolutionary psychologists aver. But given the constant interaction between biology and culture, and the prominent role epigenetics plays in "turning on or off" certain genes which control certain neuromolecular processes, human beings DO have power to influence how society unfolds.

Western Science gives us an objective view into the world around us and inside of us. Eastern Spirituality, for it's part, gives us a concept that turns the subjective mind into an "objective object" - namely, mindfulness. Mindfulness turns the mind into a "thing", which gives each of us the much needed 'detachment' necessary to see just how it is our minds function; how they're influenced by others, by foods, and what each of us can do to maximize states of joy, pleasure and well being, and diminish depression, pain and suffering.




posted on Nov, 23 2014 @ 10:09 PM
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Very well written, it is refreshing to see a move away from materialism; string theory physics has really shattered this long held belief. When the scientific community as a whole realizes that the brain does not create consciousness but instead supports it, we will make a full transition.

edit on 23-11-2014 by seanizle because: (no reason given)

edit on 23-11-2014 by seanizle because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 23 2014 @ 11:49 PM
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With the advent of the internet, young people are able to find forums that allow them to explore alternatives to Western religions. Meanwhile, the Western religions really do rely on superstitious thought processes, and it is made worse when allegories like the Creation Myth are taken literally.

Confucianism is another example of a practical Eastern religion. It is made up of practical sayings to help get along in day-to-day life. These sayings might be subjective, but they don't pretend to be something else.


I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.


-Confucius


edit on 23pmSun, 23 Nov 2014 23:51:15 -0600kbpmkAmerica/Chicago by darkbake because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 24 2014 @ 09:53 PM
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wow great thread, except for your conclusion... I will get to that bit in a minute.


Why is this so important? And why do I claim that Eastern religions will be the 'spiritual basis' of a future humanity?


I had a very deep realizatiin recently, and my thoughts came to more or less the same conclusion as you, except from a slightly different perspective 100+ years ago before the outbreak of world war one, and two. The rapid industrilisation of Europe over 100 years ago meant that the whole of Europe, and thereby the whole of the world was becoming more and more easily connected. At t time despite there being so many different countries and cultures seperating human beings in Europe and in Asia, it was still one big land mass. Unfortunately however, what the leaders decided to do as the world was opening up was start very brutal conflicts, in world war one and world war two, and beyond. Before world war 1, you could walk from modern day turkey to india without crossing any borders. This is why in Europe there were, and still are so many millions of Roma gypsies who recent studies have genetically shown came from Indian dalits, and untouchable tribe in the Punjab (india / pakistan). This area of the world was once very Buddhist before it became Sikh, and may be eastern religion came to the west a lot longer ago than we realise. Anyway i digress, they came from india to europe centuries ago, on horseback and they havent caused any significant problems to our society that i know of unlike the mass immigration of culture from the Muslim world wood value are not compatible with ours in opinion,, but they were considered undesirable by the fascists ruling classes, like the jews. So they were exterminated in their millions, and some say that they were killed in greater number than the jews.

After world war one, people in the middle east were forced into closed territories drawn up by the European ruling class to serve their own interests, not the interests of the world. No longer could one simply walk from India to Europe through Turkey anymore, without crossing borders. When world war two started, if you look at the symbol they used in the Nazi flag, it is actually a Buddhist symbol. But its interesting what the differnce between them is. The buddbist symbol is right turning and it sits on its side. The Nazi symbol is left turning and its sits diagonally. When you realise what happened to the Roma at the hands of the nazis, it becomes quite tragically ironic and symbolic, that the Dharma they brought from a Buddhist land was flipped on its side and turned the opposite way (facing left), and used to wipe their eastern identity out from Europe, using a bastardised eastern symbol, poited toward Europe (a perfect symbol to represent self protecting, self serving, xenophobic, European elites)... Whereas the dharma wheel in India is rightward turning, and is welcoming to the west because it is on its side, not diagonally poised like a serpent waiting to strike down. So my theory is, they were worried about the common people of the Eurasian land mass becoming connected and realising their common heritage, so they started the worldmwars and committed genocide against their own common people and the common people of many coutries to break up the connectedness and strengthen divisions that were naturally fading.

Wild card conspriacy theory aside, i was agreeing enthusiastically until your last paragraph:

Western Science gives us an objective view into the world around us and inside of us. Eastern Spirituality, for it's part, gives us a concept that turns the subjective mind into an "objective object" - namely, mindfulness. Mindfulness turns the mind into a "thing", which gives each of us the much needed 'detachment' necessary to see just how it is our minds function; how they're influenced by others, by foods, and what each of us can do to maximize states of joy, pleasure and well being, and diminish depression, pain and suffering.


I dont think you have quite done justice in you explanation of eastern spirituality here. As i was saying in another thread about happiness and ego just now, the ocean of illusion, as it is called in eastern philosophy, is caused by delusion and desire.
Self centred egoic fantasies, do not involve pain or suffering as they are by nature fantasies, and neither do they involve the consideration of others, as they are by nature self centred. The ocean of illusion is thatnworld in which human beings are going about trying to life out their fantasies in real life. But they are not based on reality, because reality includes pain, and other people, unlike self centred fantasies. So when people develop that strong desire to live out their life accoridng to their fantasies, they are inevitable gling down a path of illusion, and it will bring conflict and suffering, because that is inevitable when one tries to impose ones inner desires and fantasies on the world around them. Its not so much about understanding the contents of ones mind or treating the mind as a thing, as it is understanding the difference between fantasy and reality, and awakening to the fact of ones condition. Is it a self centred fantasy, or is it reality? The righteous path involves being aware of the oceon of illusion that people are fighting in, and being able to exist with it in reality simultaneously, side by side without falling victim to it.



posted on Nov, 26 2014 @ 01:48 PM
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Thing is about western spirituality is that heavily based of old myths, and superstitious wive tales that get passed down to generations. The spirituality of the west is more of a kingdom/civilization based one, where it s a lot like a greco phalanx, where the kingdom has to be a single unit, any flaws in the chain, it breaks. The east had similar ideals of the west, but are slightly varied. For example, a European king would not claim to be a god less Jesus opens a can of whoop ass of hell, where people would want to execute him for that, they would just say appointed by God or the laws of God for example.

The east on the other hand, had a more narcissistic ideal, that the Emperor, in most eastern kingdoms is an incarnation of a God or a dragon for some matters. Although, I enjoy eastern spirituality much more then the Abraham religions due to how it about becoming a master over ones self instead of others, and can more in depth and organized, as well as less crazed.

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”
― Bruce Lee
Not only that though, but it a hell of a lot better then sitting. or kneeling, kissing ass to go to heaven or for God to give you things.

Don't get me wrong though, western preachers can move crowds or armies, while the eastern great for understanding one self on a deeper level.

"The problem with loyalty to a cause, is that the cause will always betray you."



I swear he took space buddha classes.

edit on 26-11-2014 by Specimen because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 26 2014 @ 02:45 PM
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originally posted by: Specimen
Don't get me wrong though, western preachers can move crowds or armies, while the eastern great for understanding one self on a deeper level.


Well this is where you are wrong. Some of the greatets warriors in the world come from eastern spirituality. The Samurai of Japan, The Sikhs of Punjab, and the Shaolin monks of China.

And dont think "oh but they never led armies into battle, they just trained in the rice paddies." That would be a very ignorant asumption my friend. Very ignorant indeed.



posted on Nov, 26 2014 @ 02:59 PM
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originally posted by: darkbakeConfucianism is another example of a practical Eastern religion. It is made up of practical sayings to help get along in day-to-day life. These sayings might be subjective, but they don't pretend to be something else.


I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.


-Confucius




I take the OP to task... the OP means Hindu, Confucius, Buddah as The Eastern Religions,
the author surly did not mean that the 2 desert religions compromising (almost) 1/2 of the worlds population were to be included as The Ideal, transformative Eastern religious thought...

somehow both Islam & the Jews & Christians are blood & death cults more than personal growth in spirituality themed ideologies
edit on th30141703573926022014 by St Udio because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 26 2014 @ 03:02 PM
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originally posted by: seanizle
Very well written, it is refreshing to see a move away from materialism; string theory physics has really shattered this long held belief. When the scientific community as a whole realizes that the brain does not create consciousness but instead supports it, we will make a full transition.


materialism is the rock on which ANY metaphysical understanding will be built. start with what can be tested and proven and move forward. we started with walking on solid ground before we ever got to flying to the moon. it feels like a lot of people on this site give materialist science less and less credit even while they use materialist science to degrade materialist science. metaphysics did not give us computers or medicine. it did not give us public transportation and electricity. it did not give us agriculture or meteorology. these are products and fields based in our observation, replications and exploitations of the physical world. so dont act like materialism is rubbish. and if we do expand on our understanding of metaphysics, it will most certainly NOT be without the invaluable aid of our materialist science. otherwise you can just forget recording your data on our machines and using our devices to find traces of psychic energy and whatnot and trust that your findings will be passed on through genetics and the cosmic web.

/endrant
edit on 26-11-2014 by TzarChasm because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 26 2014 @ 03:10 PM
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a reply to: Astrocyte

it will be very interesting to see what comes of this fusion between black and white...what form will gray take? and what will it mean for the human species?



posted on Nov, 26 2014 @ 03:20 PM
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a reply to: TzarChasm

Without metaphysics, in what direction would materialism have gone? You have an extremely naiive view of the world friend.



posted on Nov, 26 2014 @ 03:27 PM
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originally posted by: funkadeliaaaa
a reply to: TzarChasm

Without metaphysics, in what direction would materialism have gone? You have an extremely naiive view of the world friend.


in the most materially advantageous direction probably. what is naive about respecting materialism?



posted on Nov, 26 2014 @ 03:38 PM
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The thing that initially drew me to Falun Dafa is that it was the first time I ever saw spiritual things explained using modern science using plain language and backed up with genuine process. Since then it has been validated by concrete manifestations. I would say that the use of western science to understand eastern (and western) spirituality has already taken place and will become more widely understood. That is when real "progress" will occur.





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