Wetware – body, mind (and spirit)?

I am going to take a guess.

I may be wrong but probably you have a brain.

No, I do not mean to be rude, honestly.

If I have understood David Eagleman correctly, your brain will be as unique to you as your fingerprint. It will be etched with your lifestory. Your brain is the story of you.

Modern psychology seems pretty happy to sign off the story at this point. We are biological beings and the ‘mind’ we experience is an emergent phenomenon of brain. It is just something that happens when brains reach a certain level of complexity. This is a position describable as reductionist. Keep it simple – what you see is what you get, enjoy the ride while it lasts.

Spirituality is too general a term, but staying on general terms, there is usually an assertion of a deeper level, a higher level, a more meaningful level that can be accessed in certain circumstances, and is a Good Thing – Wisdom as compared to intellect. Of course the problem is that such a level is, if anything at all, a subjective experience, or an individual accessing and not subject to, or verifiable by the laws of the biological.

So at this point we have a choice. Either you think the biology is the whole picture – body and mind in older terminology, or you think there is an unseen element – body mind and spirit.

Looking for evidence is probably not going to help beyond a personal conviction. Anything that relies on a spiritual element can be explained more simply by the science and I would suggest that is because anything that happens to us or through us happens through our biology.

Unless of course it is ‘magic’ – an attribution which is a traditional way of not explaining anything.

As far as I can see, all bets are still on.

A scientific viewpoint presupposes its own answers, ie that there is nothing spiritual because there is nothing observable and testable. Of course, if you can’t find anything it is quite tempting to conclude that there isn’t anything, but that would not be a safe conclusion.

The advocates of a spiritual dimension have their own set of challenges (remember challenges? they are what used to be problems) not least of which is how do the spiritual and material connect, and how would we know? As a very personal opinion I think some spiritual approaches handle this better than others. An approach that denies the effect of a biological brain on perception is doomed to ridicule, and I think rightly. I mention no names.

I confess to having a clear bias in this discussion.

I have no doubt that there is a spiritual dimension and depth to life that is mediated through our physical reality. I also have absolutely no evidence or proof. It is a faith based assertion and one I am quite happy with, and have no expectation for anyone else to take with anything other than a pinch of salt.

I also do not think that a ‘spiritual reality’ means that the biological, developmental ‘facts’ do not apply. Of course they do – this is the arena that we have oodles of evidence for. I like evidence…

So perhaps in the end it is up to you, the reader, to make up your own mind.

I do think we might see that certain lifestyles tend to contribute more to the welfare of the world whether we believe one way or the other. Certain ways of thinking, all too common, increase the burden of suffering. 

To me that implies a direction for our bodies, minds (and spirits, perhaps).

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