beyone the natural mind – a 21 day manifesto

Day Thirteen

“Today I will start to investigate my mind, & begin to realise that the thoughts & opinions I have may not be my own, but are a result of conditioning by those closest to me.”

I don’t know if you remember the day you were born? I do. It was a wintry April as I exited my mother’s womb, I remember remarking that there was a slight chill in the air, even in the maternity ward…

“What a load of old nonsense says you, how did you notice all those things, you couldn’t speak, let alone understand the english language and had no idea how to express complex observations!”

And you’d be absolutely right. I don’t remember my birth, and although I’m sure some new age healer could offer me regression therapy so that I could experience coming out of the womb again, I think I’d rather leave that event in the past!

I was born on the sixth of april 1969 at eleven minutes past midnight, so my birth certificate tells me, and I don’t have any recollection of life before the age of at least five. That part of my life is a complete mystery to me.

A short dialogue with my mother

Me: “Perhaps I was abducted by aliens for the first four years,” I told my mum recently whilst discussing this topic.

Mum: “No, you weren’t abducted! I was here, feeding you, looking after you, clothing you, teaching you, and comforting you when you were scared.”
Me: “So what did you teach me during these years that I don’t recall?”
Mum: “I taught you to read, write, count, draw… you know, the usual things. I also played my guitar and played you lots of music. We didn’t have a tv, but I read to you every night. We used to go on outings all the time, and you spent a lot of time with your grandma.
Me: “What was our home life like? Did you and dad have lots of arguments?”
Mum: “We had a happy home life, although your dad was working hard most of the time and wasn’t really a part of your early upbringing. But I don’t think your dad and I argued a lot.”
Me: “Ok mum thanks for the information!”

So what did I learn about my early life from that conversation? Nothing I hadn’t expected. It seems she brought me up the best she could, looking after my needs, and teaching me all the basics I needed to know. I wasn’t exposed to any violence or anger in the home. Apparently I was a happy child so that’s good to know.

Fifteen years later I remember a very different person from that happy child. I remember a highly anxious, angry, twenty one year old , with a liking for too much alcohol, addicted to cigarettes, skilled in the art of lying and cheating, filled with opinions on why it was everyone else’s fault I wasn’t making enough money, and why I was so unhappy.
Something changed. But I am not here to blame anybody. I just wish to explore my mind to understand myself.

Nature vs. Nurture

This is perhaps one of the biggest questions asked. So did nature (the universe or god if you believe our nature is pre-ordained by a supernatural force) or nurture (the way my mother and father brought me up during my early years) made me anxious, angry, and wanting to get drunk at every opportunity to calm my over-active mind.
What do you think? Who is responsible?

I’m sure you all have your own opinions but opinions do not lead to truth, and that is what we are searching for here. So let us discard the idea that it was either, or, and look deeper.

We are told that although we only have one brain, in reality, there are two. The “old brain” controls the primitive mechanisms such as the drive to reproduce, control and dominance, fear, reflex, motor control, repetitive learned routines, and breathing, whereas the new “higher” brain is our consciousness, that which gives us conscious thought, ethics, morality, the power of reason, of appreciation of art, and beauty, logic, creativity and ingenuity, compassion, and empathy.

It appears that our species, homo sapiens, originated with the old brain, which like all animal brains is there to help the individual and thus the species survive at all costs. The new brain then appears to have developed over a period of time and hey presto here we are in 2013 with modern thinking beings unshackled from the domain of the old brain, living in peace and harmony with each other, with each of us in search of enlightenment for the benefit of all.

If only!

Here we are in 2013 with modern thinking beings capable of living in peace and harmony, capable of searching for enlightenment doing some or all of the following with their new brain.

Lying, deceiving, torturing, cheating, stealing, brainwashing, murdering, destroying, polluting, corrupting. Oh, a few people are also painting some nice art, philosophising, making films, and creating music.

So, it seems not only do we have two, not one brain, we also seem to have some dodgy wiring between the two! The two brains are competing to be the dominant force, and the poor old human doesn’t know where the information he is acting on is coming from. He is in a most difficult position indeed!
His old brain wants to have sex with the woman right away to preserve the species, and his new brain wants to cultivate a relationship. What does he do? Does he a. drag her to an alley and force her to have sex, or b. ask for her phone number?

“Society” or the ruling new brains have thought about this question and have decided that not only is it wrong to force a woman to have sex, and given it a name (rape), if you are found guilty by the society you must be punished, either by having your liberty taken away, or perhaps even your life.

Here, even those who have used their higher (conscious) brain to show compassion for a woman’s suffering, they have used their lower (unconscious) brain to inflict a punishment such as is done in some animal societies (as a way of showing dominance or to keep adolescents in line amongst other things).

Fast Brain. Slow Brain

“He’s a really quick thinker”

In this modern fast moving world we have created, having a quick thinking brain is seen as an asset, and a slow moving brain a hindrance to progress. But which brain is working at which speed?
“The new brain is doing the quick thinking as it’s more advanced, and the old brain is slower as it’s older” says you.

On the surface that would seem to make perfect sense, but it may surprise you to know that it is the other way round. Why? Well, remember the old brain is the brain of reflex, of learned routines, and the new brain is the one which gives us the power of reason. Let’s play a game shall we? Shout out as soon as you know the answer. Which brain is controlling which thought?

“All paedophiles should be hanged” “We should love everybody in the world.”
“Anyone demonstrating against the government should be imprisoned.” “Creating art and music is the purest expression of being human.”

“It is good to earn as much money as you can.” “Being charitable shows you care.”

Right. Did you manage it? How long did it take you? One second, five seconds? Did you get each one right? Of course you did, it was too easy!

The lower brain, which doesn’t think, said that anyone demonstrating against the government should be imprisoned, as it is the brain of control and dominance, but it may surprise you to know that it was actually the old brain answering each time, even for things which seem to be processed in the new brain like creation, art and charity.

Remember, the old brain is responsible for automatic responses, and taking care of repetitive tasks. You may have agreed with the statement “it is good to be charitable” but you couldn’t have really thought about the question in your conscious, logic oriented brain, if you answered in two seconds. It takes much much longer to process complex questions.

So here you are back at the beginning. You have no idea why you answered the way you did. This can only mean one thing, your thinking has been influenced and may actually be under the control of others (dead or alive).

As my dad said to me yesterday, “you’re forty three years old, don’t you think it’s time you became independent and started earning a living.”

No matter how many times I tell him I think that one of the problems in human society, is that we are told that our highest purpose is to earn money, buy a house, and live independently from everyone, when I believe that understanding what it means to be human and being of benefit to all others for the mutual benefit of all the inhabitants of planet Earth, is, in my opinion, the highest purpose which one can seek, he still tries to convince me that the ideas of “independence” “job” and “money” are what I “should” be striving for.

So where did he get these ideas from? Where did these ideas originate? He certainly did not think “as soon as I am able I must study hard, get a good job, and borrow money to buy a house, as he exited the womb. Did he? That would assume that the human brain (old and new) were pre- programmed to think like this.

He was influenced by the ideas of his parents, teachers, peer group, government, who in turn were influenced by their ancestors, and their ancestors and back back back to the original thought by someone’s great great great great great great great great grandfather!

So here he is living in 2013, with ideas which were possibly planted in someone’s mind a thousand years ago.

I don’t know about you, but I want to find out what my mind looks like, free from ideas and opinions that are not my own, no matter how real they seem to be. I want to find my own path. I want to bridge the connection between old and new brain, so that I am thinking as the whole, undivided. Is that not a noble purpose?


by alan macmillan orr


Chinese (Simplified)