We are made of stellar ash. Our origin and evolution have been tied to distant cosmic events. The exploration of the cosmos is a voyage of self-discovery.
We are the local embodiment of a Cosmos grown to self-awareness. We have begun to contemplate our origins: starstuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose.
And you are made of a hundred trillion cells. We are, each of us, a multitude.
We are star stuff which has taken its destiny into its own hands.
Some part of our being knows this is where we came from… We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.
The juxtaposition of mind and body vs. spirit is a topic that has been explored in many a myth and philosophical exercise across the ages. We all somehow sense that there is more to us than this mere physical body which we inhabit. Yet it is still an elusive mystery…
What can we say about the nature of who we are?
We are a “mini universe”, we are a multitude; in a sense, our ultimate Personal Consciousness is built upon the delicate balance of myriad other “lesser” consciousnesses, if you will. My cells, genes, every bodily function readily perceived and not, even operations on the quantum level upon which the operations of the entire Universe are based, are all directed, expressed, and controlled by various processes: such as the quantum-mechanical forces, DNA and RNA, energy cycles, and much, much more. Because of our amazing evolutionary legacy, this “mini-verse” of ours is able to operate at its current utmost via its own cyclical system of communication processes, without Me getting involved, aside from providing it the necessary fuel and energy sources it needs to continue normal operations.
- Incidentally, this is why I so enjoy and resonate with the notion of the fractal multiverse; we ourselves — and all of nature around us — are a smaller version of the intricate interweaving of processes and structures that make up the larger cosmos we inhabit! All is unfolding and overlapping in fractal symmetry; Nature begets after its kind in ever-evolving improvement and adaptation to changing surroundings. The truth of these things is all around us to behold. All we have to do is observe and understand…
- The evolution of the human brain is wondrous and revelatory!
…moving from the simple to the complex over an extended period of time. The billions of cells that work together to make the brain and body function harmoniously have numerous critical functions. …the brain has adhered to Charles Darwin’s “natural selection” methodology by ridding itself of less important functions while enhancing the more essential ones over time.
It is a fact that as man evolved, certain mutations took place within the nervous system that forced it to evolve in time with the body. …mutations in the nervous system were also forced to prove their might against environmental challenges.
…as man’s ability to survive began to necessitate increasingly complex actions and reactions to his environment, the nervous system was also compelled to adapt accordingly. –(from The Evolution of the Human Brain)
–>(Next segment from Consciousness In The Cosmos: Perspective of Mind: Carl Sagan):
Sagan notes that in “the human intrauterine development we run through stages very much like fish, reptiles and nonprimate mammals before we become recognizably human.” And thus it is not surprising that we possess a corresponding “Triune Brain.” [Carl Sagan, THE DRAGONS OF EDEN: SPECULATIONS ON THE EVOLUTION OF HUMAN INTELLIGENCE, Ballantine Books, 1977, p. 59.]
The schematic of a human’s Triune Brain is as follows: * The Reptilian Complex * The Limbic System * The Neocortex
Declaring that there is considerable evidence for the localization of brain function–as well as discussing in detail the electrochemical nature of brain function–Sagan lays the groundwork with his depth discussion of the Triune Brain.
The Reptilian Complex is the site from which our propensity arises for “aggressive behavior, territoriality, and the establishment of social hierarchies.” The Reptilian Complex still performs dinosaur functions, according to Sagan. [Ibid, pp. 62-63.]
The Limbic System is mammalian. It is the base for our emotions. Our passions, our altruistic behavior, spawn from the Limbic System– which also is devoted to oral, gustatory, and sexual functions.
The Neocortex is our third, newly human brain in terms of evolution. “Among other functions, the frontal lobes seem to be connected with deliberation and the regulation of action; the parietal lobes, with spatial perception and the exchange of information between the brain and the rest of the body; the temporal lobes with a variety of complex perceptual taks; and the occipital lobes, with vision, the dominant sense in humans…” Sagan suggests, too, that the Neocortex is the locus for abstract thinking and nonverbal intuition. The Neocortex is what makes possible our judgments, what makes for the moral knowledge of good and evil. It is also the site from which our creativity emerges. And the Neocortex is home to our sense of self. [Ibid, p. 98.] (Bold-facing my own emphasis.)
- Might we then say, that our myths and concepts of achieving Enlightenment have an actual basis in science and biology? I like to think so!
…Sagan draws upon the Platonic metaphor about the human soul as an uneasy charioteer drawn by two horses in different directions. He considers this metaphor as remarkably similar to our “neural chassis.” The two horses correspond to our Reptilian Complex and Limbic System, and the charioteer to our Neocortex–which is barely in control.
…It is, however, the Neocortex where “matter is transformed into consciousness.” It comprises more than two-thirds of our brain mass. The realm of intuition and critical analysis,–it is the Neocortex where we have our ideas and inspirations, where we read and write, where we compose music or do mathematics. Sagan puts it thus: “It is the distinction of our species, the seat of our humanity. Civilization is the product of the cerebral cortex.” [COSMOS, p. 229.]
It is an observable and scientifically established truth that our physical bodies are directly integrated within itself — all parts function together in harmony (or are meant to, at least!) — and therefore our bodies and physical brain matter are also an integral part of our minds and personal consciousness. Part of the practice of meditation is to position ourselves in such a mindful manner as to begin to simply observe — apart from judgement or reaction — the various parts of Us.
…This is my Ego, telling me how I should interpret and react…
…This is a manifestation of Karma, an unmindful gut reaction based on memory and, consequently, judgement…
So, perhaps this age-old struggle of our mind, soul, body, and sprit, is, in fact, the age-old struggle of the older Reptilian and Mammalian remnants of our evolved brain with our higher functions of the Neocortex.
Naturally, all parts are thus far integrated and are all important to life as we know it, right now; we cannot function without all portions of our brains intact! Perhaps one day in the distant evolutionary future, however, our brains will have but reduced these former forms of brain structure to naught. It is the former animalistic propensities for violence, domination, leadership, and blind judgement that I see in current Culture Wars and instability across the nations and earth in our present days. If all would turn inward and Align the Universe Within themselves — find reconciliation between the lower and higher forms of thought, and embrace their Higher, True Selves of the Neocortex — then, I believe, this race of humanity may be able to survive and heal, and continue to evolve toward greater and greater planes of consciousness.
Carl Sagan holds hope for human intelligence, for our extension of Mind. We are still people from divergent and cultural backgrounds, yet our intelligence is beckoning us toward greater webs of global relationships. In due course, he hopes that we will simply be the “whole human community, the entire planet Earth.” And further, Sagan dreams of our comprehension that we are a “local embodiment of a Cosmos grown to self-awareness.” We have become “starstuff pondering the stars.” [Ibid, 286.] (Bold-facing is my own emphasis.)
Indeed, Carl Sagan has said that the evolution of our higher brain structure is an effort of freedom — a gift from the nature of evolution to liberate us from the necessity of merely storing information in our lower systems, liberating us from this limited universe of operation in our environment and enabling us to create and evaluate… in a sense, “helping” evolution along. But if we do not align ourselves within, will we allow the lower forms of brain function to control the tools and gifts our neocortex has bestowed upon us — more than likely bringing destruction upon ourselves? I sincerely hope we will awaken to our amazing legacy and heritage as inhabitants of the planet Earth, and work together in peace toward our unfathomable destiny!