Category Archives: Wisdom

How Nature Defines Self and Other

Today’s wake-up word is histocompatibility. Also known as tissue compatibility, histocompatibility is the property of having the same, or sufficiently similar, alleles of a set of genes called human leukocyte antigens (HLA), or major histocompatibility complex (MHC) so that a cell is accepted among the biological community.

Each of us expresses unique HLA proteins on the surface of our cells. This communicates to the immune system whether the cell is part of the self or “other”. If it is detected as “other” it is marked as an invading organism. Immune cells called T cells, when working properly, can recognize foreign HLA molecules. This recognition triggers an immune response aimed at destroying foreign (or sick) cells.

Histocompatibility testing is important when considering the probability of success in organ, tissue, or stem cell transplants. The donor’s HLA alleles and the recipient’s has to be similar enough so it doesn’t trigger the immune system of the host body to reject the transplant.

The process map of this biological subsystem is similar to the way we express social behaviors such as the development of culture and the use of story maps to establish in-group affinity or out-group antagonism. It illustrates how we use a currency of familiarity to establish friends from foes. How we nourish and protect self-similar architectures to maintain coherence over time. It begs the question: Is what we experience as us already established by the story told through the structural architectures of nature on which our coherence depends? Maybe.

MHC class I assembly and presentation

Our Shared Story

Things That Matter Episode 0003

Our Shared Story

This video aims to reveal how nature expresses a story and how we are part of that story. – How echoes of coherence appear and reappear on multiple levels – and through these structures, nature informs us how we can develop toward a more mature state with more capability to realize self-determined possibilities. To participate in defining our experience rather than being totally defined.

Finding Meaning Isn’t What It Used To Be

The question increasingly demanding attention to satisfy our natural hunger for a meaningful life is; “Where will we choose to go?”, “What will we do?”. We used to have to face what to run from. Until 1800 or so most of us were poor. This eliminated the question of what to do. The demands of the environment defined what to do. Most of us had to run just to stay still. When these continuously urgent and substantial dangers chased us, they also defined us. When mortal threats began to diminish so did the defining force of the inherent compulsion to act. Since those prior demands also wired us for a predefined purpose, we are now faced with the proposition of needing to define ourselves to be fit for purpose. We still crave purpose because of the way we were defined by the environment but we have the additional task to participate in the defining process. We must now craft and entrepreneurially cultivate a meaningful mission rather than submit to the former demands so heavily imposed on us by the environment.

The newfound freedom to define ourselves is not an easy proposition. Most of us are not wired to take a lead role in defining our lives. We are wired to school like fish. In the past, we did this by necessity to produce the safety of the crowd. As a consequence, most of us are wired to follow – to find out what the social currency of acceptance in the group is and reflect that back so we can belong. Newfound wealth has afforded us the freedom of individual choice, but many of us now drown in this sea of opportunity. We squander it on the altar of fickle fads and exaggerated postures that follow pointless social trends. This behavioral fools gold glitters but offers little of substance and authenticity and we are left hungry, depressed in an existential crisis for want of purpose, for meaning.

Lost in our words, many of us display an empty shell of what was once a more difficult but also more noble, meaningful, and substantive existence. Like the free-range bovine creatures that once roamed grasslands developed a wary eye on predators and traveled on a cyclic journey of necessity staying nourished by the rains that lit up the prairie with grasses – all their behavioral hungers dovetailed to protect the integrity of the community – our native drives were also crafted in the fires of necessity. We had to leave the once nourishing and protected environment of the trees when the climate changed and adapt to new rules of integrity. We searched for and found lands of promise and these stories became intertwined with our myth-maps. These traits, also born of the necessity for purpose have now been corralled into stock pens. Many of us moo and grunt until our life, largely stripped of its former meaning, is expired. Marketers have hijacked these once proud and useful drives, and now exploit them to farm the now denatured people who do not know their own purpose, nor that they hunger for one. This has resulted in what has been called a meaning crisis.

John Vervaeke: Meaning Crisis, Atheism, Religion & the Search for Wisdom

Myth-Informed – The Story Maps That Guide Us

Episode 2 of “Things That Matter” explores the origins of the story maps that sometimes inform and sometimes delude us. As always, feedback and suggestions on how to make this a more useful tool for sharing “things that matter” are welcome.

When Science and Human Social Drives Collide

This research documentary on the hypothesis that water has the capacity to retain memory reminds me of claims made years ago by Dr. Masaru Emoto on Water Consciousness. It’s definitely not conventionally accepted science. These experimental results explore some strange aspects of water. Fringe science? Maybe. Fascinating and thought-provoking? Definitely.

My guess is it is hard to digest these types of experimental results in the scientific social body since we have no linear way to trace the phenomena to a source and thereby understand it using our conventional materialistic conceptual models of physics and biology. We only have these quizzical defiant results of experimental outcomes which we then try to fit into our existing models. Our penchant to reject phenomena that runs counterfactual to our assumed models of reality is notorious.

I suppose the social structural aspects of science may be a key factor. Science as a social body, like all established social bodies, includes a priest class of respected and decorated guardians. These guardians of the zeitgeist of conventional dogmas keep them well-nourished and protected. Massaging information into existing narratives to protect the integrity of the existing group, including its perspective is a quite human thing to do. Rejecting things that do not fit is also part of this guardian aspect. Groups develop immune systems. It happens on any number of human social fronts because of how we value stories as a social binding agent. Acceptance and rejection of data is often motivated by deeply seated biological algorithms that are detached from the superficial rationalizations we use to express devotion to satisfying them. This includes how we nourish and protect the integrity of institutional community environments. The people who inhabit scientific domains depend on this social defense architecture because it satisfies social drives for validation, purpose, meaning, and livelihoods.

I fit this phenomenon into the same category of the weird outcomes that characterize the double-slit experiments. These results differ based on whether or not a measurement device is applied as light passes through slits. I wonder if there might be a connection to the research that found cat purrs have a positive effect on bone healing. Science traces this to a triggering of the release of endorphins and so on but there may be something else at play that is beyond the model of the current scientific lens.

Consciousness or episodic memory, indeed the recording of patterns without the preapproved conventional neuron model is blasphemy in a science society so heavily dependent on the campfire of certainty that emanates from a materialistic explanatory lens. Perhaps anthropocentric perspectives morphed rather than died out in the West with the age of enlightenment. It does seem consciousness in any form as an influence outside the boundaries of materialistic conventions is the third rail of western science. Anyone that touches it in unapproved ways, or discovers experimental data that counters conventional views, is excommunicated from the scientific social body. Materialism as the axiom by which all things should be measured renders great insight, but like any virtue applied too zealously becomes a vice, it does come with a generous side dish of blind spots. Maybe this is one of them. Stay tuned…

Water Memory

Orenda and The Seventh Generation Principle

An Iroquois village showing longhouses The member tribes of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, 

Today’s wake-up word is Orenda: It is the concept of spiritual energy thought to be inherent in all natural things to various degrees – the collective power of nature’s energies expressed through the living energy of all natural objects believed by the Haudenosaunee Native American Nations. (The Iroquois is what Europeans called the Haudenosaunee, which was actually a confederation of Native American nations who had found peace and prosperity by way of cooperation with each other). Orenda was thought to be a transmissible spiritual currency that, if one was able to harness it, could be channeled according to the will of the individual.

The Seventh Generation Principle was born in the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) culture. It was the philosophy that decisions made in the present should result in some beneficial dividends at least seven generations into the future.

From my current perspective, the concept of leadership in our world is rooted in the solemn responsibility to cultivate the progress of the community we live in and depend on over time. It is to point our talents toward contributing to a higher quality of living experience now and in the long run, as well as to continuously renew this commitment with each generation both in word and deed.

Here’s some additional background on the Haudenosaunee

https://www.worldhistory.org/article/1656/origins-of-the-haudenosaunee-iroquois-confederacy/

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/iroquois

Shared Traits of Persistent Organizations

For any organization (including biological organisms) to persist over time, a certain balance between what might appear on the surface to be competing priorities determined by environmental context must be expressed. Safety vs. the need for food, for instance. Regular patterns of structure and behavior are surrounded by increasingly dynamic and less frequent ones that work together to maintain coherence in the context of the environment. This is the bone and flesh of coherence that applies to any coherent system. Out of this pool of necessities emerges a particular structural-behavioral form. The more persistent patterns form a “bone structure” architecture of the system. This is the grammar from which increasingly dynamic flexible elements of structure and behavior appear. These more flexible elements of structure are more suited to contend with wider ranges of environmental variables. This is the essence of persistently coherent systems in the context of the environment.

One of the most useful lenses to make this grammatical pattern of structures more visible and able to be acted on is the Wardley model. It parses organizations into pioneers, settlers, and town planners. Using this lens, the town planner types are the bone structure of an organization and the pioneers are the flexible explorers who contend with the future and embrace discovery. A specific blend of each that is proportional to contexts such as marketplaces and social economy environments is required for organizations to persist over time.

This model of persistently coherent organizations also applies to civilization. How well we manage the embrace of traditions and innovation that are relevant to successfully navigating our present and future environments will determine whether we persist or not. Negotiating in this nuanced multifaceted context is key.

Pioneers, Settlers, Town Planners – How Innovation Works

https://interaction.net.au/articles/pioneers-settlers-town-planners-how-innovation-works/

More than the Stone

 
 
Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure. Leo Tolstoy, an author that gained fame and fortune in addition to having a magnificent family and good health sank into a profound state of anhedonia. He had it all but not only could not enjoy it. He began suffering from a shrinking sense of purpose. It seemed as if everything he accomplished was going to be ultimately meaningless. He became so depressed that he was on the brink of suicide. In an attempt to cope with his profound sadness and despair, he began to try to trick himself to stay alive while he tried to figure out what was driving this. During this dark period in his life he wrote this:
 
“As presented by the learned and the wise, rational knowledge denies the meaning of life, but the huge masses of people acknowledge meaning through an irrational knowledge. And this irrational knowledge is faith, the one thing that I could not accept. This involves the God who is both one and three, the creation in six days, devils, angels and everything else that I could not accept without taking leave of my senses. My position was terrible. I knew that I could find nothing in the way of rational knowledge except a denial of life; and in faith I could find nothing except a denial of reason, and this was even more impossible than a denial of life. According to rational knowledge, it followed that life is evil, and people know it. They do not have to live, yet they have lived and they do live, just as I myself had lived, even though I had known for a long time that life is meaningless and evil. According to faith, it followed that in order to understand the meaning of life I would have to turn away from reason, the very thing for which meaning was necessary.”
 
To contend with the fact that nature is the fire that both breathes us into existence and will ultimately consume us is not an easy proposition to face squarely. We could easily wither under this terrifying proposition if we were to boldly stare at its face. The realization that the best we can muster in the context of our brief time as torch-bearers is to take solace in the planting of trees, whose shade will be enjoyed by our descendants, as we fearfully await our inevitable fate or despair that all we build will someday crumble. We might try to avoid the topic altogether by fiercely burying ourselves in mundane routines elevated to sacred ritual status, not because they are important, but because they keep the persistent and inevitable monster that looms closer every day and rages whenever we dare look at a greater slice of the temporal landscape and we see our lack of presence there, when we peer past the boundaries of our own lifetime with the keen awareness that all things will end, including us.
 
We could attempt to avoid our mortality by never living at all. We can endlessly distract ourselves with trivia. Perhaps we will mind-numbingly inflate the importance of ultimately meaningless things in a frantic attempt to distract – even delude – ourselves… to believe for brief moments that we have meaning – that we have a purpose. For those of us who brave the naked cosmic fires that breathed life into us and find the wherewithal to navigate without being consumed along the way – we may find ourselves refined by those same fires that birth us and ever threaten to consume. If we endure we may come to understand that our existence is in the context of a larger body of life, of which we are part, and from which we cannot be separated. We may find that we get to have a voice, to craft meaning out of the stone – to breathe meaning into the object, and indeed into the larger body of life – to leave an indelible mark as we burn but are not yet consumed, passing through this thing from which we came, to which we will return, and paradoxically, from which we can never leave. If we cultivate lasting meaning, something that helps contribute to the integrity of the body of life – that is what will be cherished and treasured because of its value in stitching the bonds of integrity that stem the tides of chaos, rather than wither from the challenges that face us, it is only then in that cultivation of meaning from the stone that our life will have had meaning, that we will have become more than the object – more than just the stone.

The Essence of Being

There is an essential property of the various biological rituals we express from heartbeats and breathing to the search for food, ingesting, and transforming it into useful service with respect to our biological form. We also hunger for the right environment and fitting in socially in the context of the broader human community – this obit of rituals is built around a central theme: to nourish and protect coherence in the context of the environment. This is the principle axiom for all objective forms in nature. Otherwise less defined concentrations of energy condense into objects and spacetime. This is the defining principle of the body of relationships we call nature.

As humans we are situated as a node in one of many networked branches of this broader relationship economy that defines all things – sometimes called the cosmos or the universe. This matrix of relational bonds that has defined elements of structure that dance their way forward through time, culminating in the tapestry of forms that define nature’s current state of being. Our particular branch of the journey from the nuclear ash that formed in stellar wombs giving birth to the raw elements and the canvas of spacetime on which these forms are painted – to our current state as biological organisms, like all things, we too are a network of relationships between energetic forms. The selection process based on what is possible in local environments of space and time spawned coherent forms in an ever-changing environmental pool of influences.

We are a product of the successful negotiation of a journey through space and time. Our nature, like nature itself, is one of the expressions of coherence based on consistently nourishing and defending our form along the varied way. This penchant to nourish and defend ourselves in the context of a variable environment is the defining fire current forms are forged and future forms depend. As a consequence of this unfolding journey, we are not a static form, but a dynamic dancers in a cosmic mist, obligated to either bow to the light that defines us, or be extinguished into an incoherent dark. We are fated to continuously negotiate an ever-changing environment, attending to our form. This attendance to coherence in the context of the environment is the grammar on which structures are born. As a result of the development of this “language of being”, over time we have stratified into multiple layers. At the center is a vital core of adaptive capacities. This is surrounded by increasingly less vital but still useful and variable capacities such as arms and hands that help us negotiate the knowns and unknowns that unfold in and around us. Along the way, we have accumulated this nested architecture of traits oriented around nature’s supreme currency of value – to devote ourselves to the necessities of being, defined by our local environment, that are required to continue forward in time.

We are players in nature’s defining story, part of a broader pageantry of the necessities of being sometimes called survival. We exist as a massive collection of chemical and behavioral rituals that are obligated to pay sufficient homage to these necessities of being. This relationship between our local sense of being and the inseparable defining womb that spawns us is what we experience as life. Each of us is a perception and response engine nudged by environmental necessities to act proportionally in service of the nourishment and defense of our form.

Our role in nature’s broader journey of the search for greater coherence currently fates us to consume morsels of other biological matter, absorb things like light, air, and water and stitch all of these into the metabolic maintenance of our structure. We have both short-term hungers like that of air and water as well as other longer-form cyclic waves of hunger-seeking satisfaction in our arc of being that are also oriented toward coherence. The drive to reproduce is one of these longer-form cyclic waves – we must successfully plant our seeds to carry our form forward into the future. This can be in the form of children or something of value toward coherence that we bring to the community we live in and depend on – this larger body of life that services its own coherence continuing on beyond our individual lives.

A blend of self-sacrifice and reward spiced with enough penchant to adapt to the variables of a changing environmental womb is what we pass on, or find our form transformed back to the ashes from which it came waiting again to discover its place in the unfolding journey toward greater coherence. This is the context in which each of our journeys unfolds. Our inherent story is to find the signal in the noise and to refine the noise into an increasingly coherent signal.

The Origin and Consequence of False Beliefs

In the Summer of 1947, behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner discovered that pigeons could develop what he came to call “superstitions”. When the birds under his care were hungry they began performing random behaviors in an attempt to satisfy that hunger. He found that he was able to draw out certain behaviors by controlling when the food was dispensed. Through this, he was able to make birds dance and even learn to play ping pong.

There is a connection between B. F. Skinner’s pigeon experiments with classical conditioning and the way the pollution of false assumptions that begin to reside in our individual and cultural maps affects our behaviors. Pigeons develop ritual behaviors that are not directly connected to the satisfaction of native biological drives but have been connected because of their expression during the drive’s presence. Biological drives such as hunger for food or social connection can become fused with whatever behaviors or properties are present while these hunger drives are engaged.

Because of our dependence on acting out specific behavioral rituals in order to satisfy native biological drives, these drives (hungers) make us more susceptible to looking for patterns. In aroused states where we become interested in satisfying drives, we are also more tuned to forge connections between environmental artifacts and that particular drive. These correlated events become erroneously perceived as causal. This “noise in the signal” becomes part of the basis of how our individual and cultural maps of the world are formed.

The connection between ritual and biological drive is like a map legend when comes to understanding animal psychology, including our own. This same effect has been shown to occur in human psychology. For instance, if a person becomes ill from a previously unknown infection right after visiting a particular restaurant, the type of food they ate can become connected to the experience of getting sick. This bond between illness and food will affect future behaviors. It can tune what the organism is attracted to and or repulsed by.

Neuroscience and biological behaviorism professor Robert Sapolsky describes a situation where a couple of students unattracted to each other decide to walk together to their dorm after classes. They stop for coffee and decide to get decaffeinated because it’s the end of the day. Due to an error, the female accidentally gets caffeinated coffee. She begins to feel the stimulation but is unaware of the source. She assumes she must have feelings for the male she was previously unattracted to because she conflates the stimulating effects of caffeine with the current social situation.

Other experiments reveal that we can be influenced by people planted in experimental conditions (called confederates) who ask a passerby to hold a warm cup of liquid vs. a cold cup while they pick up some “accidentally” dropped items. When these people are later questioned about the person they encountered, they will describe them in warm or cold terms depending on the temperature of the liquid they were asked to hold. In other words, disassociated items are mapped as patterns in our minds and these become the roots of what comes to shape how we behave. Our behavior quirks, preferences, beliefs, and so on are powerfully shaped by corresponding events that are not necessarily causal. This happens even if we never frame the influences in words and even if we are unaware of the origins of our perception. Local experiences and what we come to believe is forged when our biological drives are aroused and other events just so happen to be in that environmental context.

Marketers and propagandists use this arousal-connection technique to manufacture the thoughts and behaviors of people who consume mass media information. These bonds are literally forged by delivering high-test emotional content and connecting it to specific persons, groups, nation-states, words, brands, and so on.

https://www.psychologistworld.com/superstition