If you ever need some perspective, read a brilliant scientist. I am still reading The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist and there are so many pieces of information I am learning, but more than anything else the expansion of my understanding has put my small size in perspective. The brilliance of others and the brilliance of creation, will knock the wind out of our arrogant beliefs and our valiant effort to convince ourselves we have capacity to understand it all.
I keep learning this concept over and over in this process. When we sit in rooms with people we agree with all the time, and shout our pre-formulated answers back and forth to each other, we create the illusion that we actually do understand it all and that we are the right ones. When we hear other perspectives and listen to brilliant minds that stretch our understanding and poke holes in our answers, the illusion fades and humility takes its rightful place as it leads us through learning.
I’ve remembered again the complexity of life, the minutia of how and why we work, our place in the line up of history and how that forms us, the enormity of matter, and the potential that it’s all pointing to something beyond. Part of McGilchrist’s thesis is aimed at helping the reader to understand the brain throughout history, times in which certain things were valued over others and culture shifted the norms and beliefs. The illusion that I’m an independent thinker with capacity to understand it all, fades when our most brilliant scientists can’t even understand or explain consciousness.
I now find myself continuing to evaluate my baseline undercurrent and generally subconscious set of beliefs that directs my questions and answers, because that has been so affected by the culture I’m in and my place in history. Suddenly faith in a deity doesn’t seem so outrageous, belief in matter alone does. History exposes our literal culture and its efforts to define life through scientific blacks and whites and we see it for what it is, a fad of unbalanced strife for clarity dressed up like progress. In a time when we elevate shock value over connection, cynicism over empathy, boredom over imagination, words over intuition, adsurdism over romanticism, and the literal over the capacity to see beyond, we have lost meaning and can’t seem to find it again. I suddenly hear the modern voice and she sounds like a fool, perspective has made me see us in our proper place in the universe, and deity is the only thing that makes any sense. If we could continue hearing with new ears and fight the urge to allow the answers we find to be dictated by our preconceived assumptions, I struggle to believe we will find anything but the fact that all of history, matter, science, art, tradition and consciousness, does in fact point to something beyond.
Would you look at that? I'm making progress.