Beyond the machine, there is you
If the brain were so simple we could understand it, we would be so simple we couldn’t. Lyall Wattson.
A few days ago I was talking with some friends about the conscience and the mysteries of the mind. We were wondering if “everything,” absolutely everything, is a product of the brain. Emotions like joy, rage, disgust, sadness, surprise – in the brain. Love, hate, happiness, fear – in the brain. Creativity, consciousness, spirituality – in the brain. Between us all we considered a common argument by regarding the mind and the mental processes, like thought, perception, memory, attention, awareness, and even “consciousness,” as nothing more than electrical and chemical activity.
“Beyond the brain’s wiring there is nothing.”
We thus settled the question of whether anything could exist beyond the machine, beyond the brain, assuming that if there were, it would also be a product of this same machine, and denying the existence of the psyche as different from the brain.
This led us to conclude that the nature of the human being could be boiled down to a physical/chemical/biological mechanism and nothing else. We are what we are thanks to/because of the brain.
“In that case,” I asked with interest, “what are we to say about the soul?”
“Another of the brain’s inventions,” they replied, convinced. “We are a machine.”
And so we find ourselves in a world divided between those who think we are but a machine, subject to the limitations imposed by being a cog in the machinery (I don’t decide, they decide for me), and those, myself included, who uphold that there is something beyond the machine (I decide, nothing decides for me).
“Does that mean, then, that I don’t think we’re a machine?” “Of course we’re a machine, but we’re more than that.”
“Do I agree that everything, absolutely everything, is in the brain?” “Of course everything is in the brain, and outside it too.”
“Well then,” they note, “can there be something beyond the machine?”
“Beyond the machine, is you.”
Although, in reality, I’m still seriously wondering how important it would be to know if we are a machine, or if we are something more than a machine.
We can’t deny that everyone will, at some point, have to leave the world of relative truths and delve into the ultimate reality of things. In the meantime, while we wait for that moment when we encounter the absolute truth (for some the end of the machine, for others, the continuity of being), it is our duty to delve into and learn about our brain, an area in which neuroleadership becomes an essential tool.
After all, how you use the machine will make the difference between living as a machine, as a slave to the machinery, and transcending the machine and living in the freedom of being.