Friday, August 26, 2005

Big Brain vs. Little Brain

The Eastern adepts of physical culture, have this concept of the “big brain” that is the nervous system throughout the entire body rather than just limited to the nerve cells within their skull. In this conception, it is possible to talk of thinking with one’s guts and heart -- instead of exclusively with one’s head. In fact, there is no division between the mind and the body as Western students of kinesiology are predisposed to. In the latter version, the division is so complete that the only way to exercise the brain is to develop “mental” exercises to do so, and of course, “physical” exercise has no connection as a mental activity, and is frequently claimed to come at the expense of the mental faculties. Thus, there is no problem in getting on a treadmill or stationary bike and mentally distracting oneself with anything else other than what one is doing physically. In such an outlook of life and activity, nothing is related to any other thing in the world -- just as the mind has nothing to do with the body.

This paradox is solved by realizing that mind and body are merely two views of the same phenomenon and that each is not mutually exclusive -- as all things must be in a cosmology of fragmentation, specialization, categorization, etc. This trend towards convergence, synthesis and integration has been underway for at least a hundred years now, when physicists decided that the question as to whether light was a particle or a wave was decided definitively as, “Both.” If one wanted to see it as a wave, one saw it as a wave; if one wanted to see it as a particle, it behaved as a particle. That fundamental understanding of the basic unit of information led to many other convergences into wholeness and oneness -- after being for many centuries, fragmented into the many pieces so every special interest group could claim their own expertise and establish their own hierarchies for perpetuating their exclusive knowledge.

Each group claimed that they owned the turf -- and so turf wars were frequent unless bureaucracies were established to maintain the status quo -- that each group of experts could not invade the others, as well as, of course, challenging the established order and authority within their own group. “The truth” was pronounced from on high, and those who did not swear their allegiance to the latest version of official truth, was shunned and eventually banished from that association -- completely cut off, disavowed, condemned to roam the world for the rest of one’s life as a lone wolf, persecuted on every flank, by any and every other group and species.

Some people still think in those terms. Their minds are always finding ways to limit one’s range -- rather than to extend the mind/body. Not only does the small mind seek to limit the brain to the skull, it defines its intelligence and awareness to the body -- rather than being without limits. The big mind extends to the further reaches of wherever is reporting information -- in that extended and enhanced sense. The “human body” is even this awareness of the total collection of knowledge as is now possible because it is so easily accessible. It is virtually like the body -- for all intents and purposes. Intelligence and awareness is more than what is resident in the confines of each individual’s skin. The body/mind is the network -- and connectivity and flow is its life’s blood


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