The whole enterprise of self-actualization revolves around self acceptance vs. non-acceptance. The entire billion dollar “spiritual” self-help industry is entirely founded on your continued failure to accept your egocentric “self,” just as is, in each and every moment, each and every day. In fact, the one chief principle of most self-help and new age “spirituality” programs is about teaching you to be “in the moment” which, of course, as they claim, you are NOT, else why would you spend the $150 for the DVD box set that will teach you how?
“Who, dear reader, do you think you are? Do you think your mind is capable of independent judgment and largely directs the course of your life? Do you think that most of your decisions in life have been the product of your rational, conscious self? Do you believe you are in control of your life? Do you cherish ideas such as self-expression, a sense of autonomy and a distinct, self-authored identity? The chances are that, albeit with a few qualifications, most of your answers are yes. Indeed, given a pervasive culture which reinforces all these ideas, it would be a bit odd if you didn't.
But the point about this new explosion of interest in research into our brains is that it exposes as illusions much of these guiding principles of what it is to be a mature adult. They are a profound misunderstanding of how we think, and how our brains work. They are fairytales, about as fanciful and as implausible as goblins.” (Madeleine Bunting, guardian.co.uk, LINK)
Yet, not one cent would be made if the human brain was not wired for constant REJECTION. Not one religion Could have been developed if the brain were only wired for ACCEPTANCE.
Dualism is hard wired into two opposing hemispheres. With each neuro-circuit that sends a specific electrochemical message, there is the corresponding opposite message at work as well. The pathway that informs me to do some specific act, also has a corresponding pathway negating that act or canceling out the originating circuit. Clearly, only one message can be electrochemically emphasized from which action will be initiated (although we have all experienced the paralysis of indecisiveness from circuit crashes). All this can cause a great deal of tension between neuro-circuits (the actual origin of stress).
Nevertheless, eventually one circuit will supersede another (simply because the ultimate goal of egocentricity is “doing” something…anything) but this is usually supported by adjacent circuitry that we refer to as “values, goals and aspirations” which are nothing more than genetically wired and conditioned socio-cultural pathways of experience taught to you from birth and demanding that you desire something. Very little is experienced outside those parameters, at least by choice (although the delusion of choice is circuited as well).
The great egocentric struggle is between what you believe you should do and what you believe you want to do.
Hence, I may have a conditioned neural pathway that requires I perform some specific act, but which competes with another pathway which insists that this act to be performed is not desired. In other words, what I am conditioned to do often competes with what I have been conditioned to WANT to do instead. I could have a neural circuit that provides positive electrochemical stimulation to watch the football game on TV that is in competition with a circuit that requires the lawn be mowed. No matter which action takes precedence, there will be a sense of dissonance between the two charges. If I mow the grass, I will experience a sense of dissatisfaction that the football circuit was not acted on and if I watch the game instead, the circuit directing me to mow the lawn will intensify, thereby, limiting my satisfaction in watching the game. It does appear that guilt is hard-wired in the brain.
What we call “cognitive dissonance” is merely the experience of two competing electrochemical charges upon brain circuitry, involving both a constant fluctuating, back and forth, of acceptance and rejection.
We have billions of competing neurons laid out over miles of dendrite connections consistently giving a sense of never doing what one should be doing and always doing what one shouldn’t be doing. This causes a sense of nervous system tension, often felt throughout the entire body, which we refer to as anxiety. Anxiety is the primordial emotion and is the origin of all mental illnesses.
Anxiety is essentially nothing more than electrochemical competition between brain neural circuits. Always, one circuit will attain predominance and be acted on, but this action will be attended to by the intensification of the electro-chemical stimulation of the opposing circuitry that has not been acted on, because neuro-circuits do not instantly go away. This is the origin of guilt and guilt is nothing more than competing neuro-circuits. While I am mowing the lawn I will experience the tension derived from my not being able to watch the game and that increased tension is anxiety. While watching the game the pathway requiring the lawn be mowed will intensify resulting in anxiety and a failure to fully enjoy the game as I might like.
This is why there can never be an experience such as “being in the moment” and if such an experience does arise it will be the result of the a spontaneous dissolution of competing electrochemical charges (because you have arrived at an electrochemical point in time in which you just don’t give a sheit about the lawn or the game).
For instance, if a sudden fire erupts in your house, the mow lawn/ watch football circuitry will immediately be redirected, just as if you where suddenly to realize you had the winning lotto number for a ten million dollar prize. All other competing electrochemical charges would cease to stimulate and other socio-genetically conditioned circuitry would take center stage.
You could attempt to generate circuitry that allows for an electrochemical experience of “being in the moment” and there are many “spiritual” programs out there that attempt to teach this as a “skill.” Unfortunately, such ‘learning’ would necessarily compete with other conditioned neuro-circuitry that has been consistently reinforced for many decades. it would be like attempting to alter your gender identity through a ten week course, even though that identity has been reinforced electrochemically for 50 years. A real no brainer! (no pun intended).
Accepting the brain neuro-circuitry that has sculpted you all these many years is much more advantageous to reducing anxiety and, hence, suffering, then constantly rejecting and seeking to change the brain. An attempt to be “in the moment” merely reinforces that you do NOT accept your neuro-circuitry (because you believe you’re NOT “in the moment”) and, thus, that rejection becomes a powerful electrochemical circuit all its own and it will dawg down your every moment in terms of good and bad choices.
You are an amalgamation of brain neuro-circuitry that has evolved genetically and through socio-cultural conditioning over many years. Your rejection of this constructs opposite circuits that cause tension or anxiety. Recognize that with every thought, every feeling and every action you are “in the moment.” Make no mistake, even with the tension of competing electrochemical charges you still are “in the moment.”
The brain is always “in the moment.” Even though, that moment may consist of tension between competing circuitry, there is no reason to suggest that the electrochemical stimulation of neurons is not momentary or actualized at that moment.
Even future thoughts are generated from momentary electrochemical processes firing up instantaneously. There really is NO future moment, only current electrochemical stimulation of brain circuitry providing a sudden experience of future thought.
This includes memory. Although the circuitry that mediates current awareness may not be electrochemically charged in relation to the time you got drunk on your wedding night, that circuit was impressed upon the brain and based on the emotional circuitry attached, is still “in the moment.” Electrochemical charges keep the pathway alive, but only minimally stimulated and when the awareness circuit engages it the electrochemical stimulation will intensify and you will experience the attached emotional stimulation of being a complete asshole on your wedding night. All of this is entirely “in the moment” and you are never NOT “in the moment.”
Of course, you also have circuitry, conditioned over many years, that stimulates electrochemical data providing an experience that you are more than just a brain consisting of experiential-based neuro-circuitry. Couple that with the circuits that provide the electrochemical experience of “self” and you are able to negate brain activity as influencing “you” at all and, hence, must then pay the 150 dollars for the DVD which will teach you how to be “in the moment.”
Unfortunately, you will be disappointed, as will all who attempt to learn specific skills being “in the moment.”
Simply because you are, and always have been, already there, thanks to a brain that keeps you there 24/7.
Artwork by Sebastian Eriksson