I need some honest feedback on a book I am writing called “The Wisdom of Life” The current draft of the Introduction is below. If you are willing to give any feedback I would be very grateful because I am sure it would be better with more insight than my limited self can muster. Thank you.
The Basic Idea
As biological life forms, we are inseparably dependent on a delicate balance of specific relationships. By biological necessity, our behaviors must include those that cultivate a specific nourishing set of relationships within the greater context of relationships that define reality as a whole. In addition to the relational elements that must be present such as heat, water and oxygen, these elements must be within specific ranges. Too much or too little water is harmful.
A specific balance of interactions both internally and with the external environment is necessary for a nourished and sustained biological state of being. Our harmony or disharmony with these relationships defines what we experience as life. Whether our full potential is realized or the process is diminished or short circuited depends whether or not we meet the full spectrum of our needs.
Using our collective behavior as evidence, it is clear that we undermine and sometimes destroy the delicate balance of relationships we depend on. We do this on individual and community scales — and now with technology as a lever, we are able to behave destructively on a global scale. Understanding why we behave destructively toward ourselves is important — but only to the degree this understanding influences our action toward nourishing our fullest state of satisfaction. Establishing clear vision of our relational needs, understanding where we are in relation to those needs and what we can do to cultivate a nourishing environment is the main point of these ideas.
This collection of ideas is tempered with the recognition that we are altogether an interconnected singular web of life. As influential participants in a common biological relational environment, we affect each other’s experience, whether constructively or destructively. For this reason none of us can be completely fulfilled until we all recognize our need to contribute nourishing value toward each other in the context of the larger community of life. Our status as part of an interdependent whole is the reason this work is being undertaken.
When viewed from a global perspective, our current relationship climate is strained and broken in many ways. Traumatic, predatory and parasitic events are common everyday experiences throughout the relational landscape we call biological life. Even our best case scenario eventually results in our biological body suffocating from some form of disease, trauma and/or imbalances. When these damaging forces reach a critical point, it destroys the unified complement of relationships on which we depend.
The same mixture of nourishing and destructive relationships that characterizes our biological experience is mirrored on our social landscape. Predatory, parasitic and other traumatic events are part of our daily individual and global social experience on personal and community scales. While it can be argued that some things we experience are beyond our control, it is plain that a portion of our experience is driven by behaviors we can influence by our choices. It is the portion of our state of being that is capable of influence through intentional choice and actions that this work will focus on.
While the outward symptoms of self-inflicted chaos in biological, social and other organized structures is often easy to see, the root causes and effective remedies are often not as clear. What are the causal connective tissues that motivate us to behave in ways that are destructive toward our full potential? Why do some of us actively seek out and cultivate relationships that result in poverty and dissatisfaction? Why do we so often express self-limiting behaviors without being aware of our own behavioral complicity? Why do some of us cultivate toxic relationships even after we become aware of our personal complicity? How can we develop the capacity to positively and effectively influence our experience of life? What can we use as a reliable guide to effectively accomplish this? These are the questions and answers about life we will explore here.
With nature and nurture as the lens through which we look at biological life, we can see the factors that influence our experience. Nature in the broadest sense is the womb from which every relationship, biological or otherwise emerges – the rules that govern reality as a whole as well as our local biological climate. Nurture is the relationship between the environment and our biology. In this sense nature and nurture each have distinct characteristics although they are actually facets of the same system.
In simple terms, nature and nurture as a lens is useful to illuminate the relationship between our biological self, and other. We will explore the inseparably intertwined bidirectional relationship between nature and nurture. We will look at how this relationship exchange develops perceptions and response patterns and how these relate to what we experience. We will also look at how we can shape this relational economy so that it influences movement toward our fullest state of satisfaction.
Influencing relationships to cultivate nourishing biological outcomes can only take place if we first have a clear vision of how our natural biological needs relate to the environment. While the capacity for clear vision does not address whether vision is translated to corresponding actions, clear vision is a necessary first step to identify the possibilities. Clear vision is the foundation for effective choice. Developing the necessary and sufficient insight to be able to see the full range of behavioral choices that enable a fulfilling state of being is the focus of this work.
Because deception and ignorance are so tightly bound to an inability to navigate toward intentional and fulfilling states of being, we will explore the ideas we hold and unflinchingly question their validity. This is no small task since deception and ignorance struggle for survival the same way every predator does. They often cooperate on the hunt for reason and chew its flesh to remold it into itself. While the nature of deception and ignorance is predatory, it can only feed on lack of awareness and ideas elevated to the status of truth or diminished to falsehood without reality as the measure of validity. We will compare common conventions in our cultural mindset with reality and in the process, expose and resolve some of the crippling aspects of impaired vision.
The notion of deception may beg the question: If someone is sincere but also deceived, how would they know it? The extremely understated answer is; it is not easy. We will work hard to establish a reasoned approach. The idea here is to examine the scope of human intellectual and behavioral wounds and malnourishment to the degree that it serves as a springboard to do something constructive to address them.
As organized biological structures, our relational dependencies may or may not be supported by our environment. Along with the need for the environment to be of nourishing value, we also have a dependency on certain behaviors we must engage in to satisfy these dependencies. In other words; it is possible to die of thirst in a freshwater lake if we do not behave by drinking the water. Sincere and well intentioned efforts built on faulty vision can still be destructive. Because of this; ignorance and deception is recognized here as agents of poverty and enslavement. In practical terms, our capacity to understand reality is the visionary foundation that must exist to cultivate an intentional and fulfilling experience of life.
The exploration of our nature and potential is done here with a particular emphasis on objective evidence about the nature of reality in general, and biology specifically as a primary guide. This exploration is done with a firm recognition that it involves a certain amount of necessary speculation given the limitations of logic, our senses and our current level of awareness. An attempt to keep the necessary elements of speculation to a minimum and to clearly identify them when they are present has been made.
Because all relationships, including those that define our biology are built on communication, a heavy emphasis on the nature of communication is used here. Communication can bind otherwise separate entities together into an organized coherent whole, or it can destroy unified complementary relationships. This constructive-destructive aspect of communication is true in the language of ideas and between collections of relational entities such as atoms, molecules and cells in our body. Because our current state of being exists in the context of both complementary and chaotic communicative elements, we will explore how to cultivate a relational environment that is complementary with the physical and social communication dependencies that nourish us.
Our biology operates in the context of the relationship climate we both express, and are exposed to. This bidirectional relationship dynamic shapes what we experience as life. This relational climate can be affected by factors both within and beyond our ability to influence. While our ability to influence the total relational climate is limited, the maximum capacity we have to influence our lives can only emerge if we are equipped with both a clear vision of our true needs and the corresponding actions that translate that vision to a reality of being.
In order to effectively cancel out the effects of toxic relational dynamics within our power to influence we must first understand our real biological needs. Since accurate vision and corresponding behaviors is the key to effective results, we will explore the means to both understand and develop our participatory capacity to positively influence our experience. The idea undergirding this approach is to strengthen our capacity to shape our relational environment.
Environmental factors dramatically affect our biology, especially in early developmental periods. Along with inherited traits, environmental queues powerfully influence the development of our physiology and metabolism. Environmental influences can predispose us to certain behaviors and temperament. It also shapes our capacity to perceive and respond on many levels. In order to make authentic choices from our predisposed biological state, a casual approach is insufficient. We will explore what it takes to develop our both state of awareness and our behavioral disciplines so that we can move with intention toward a chosen state of being while simultaneously recognizing the inherent limits of our capabilities.
Accurate awareness of our true nature is a first and crucial step toward participating in fulfilling behaviors that nourish our highest potential. We cannot move toward fulfillment if we do not understand where it is. Further; holding a deceptive notion of what leads to fulfillment can be as destructive or more than ignorance. A lack of awareness and/or inaccurate awareness is considered here as a source of poverty because of how it can limit or destroy our ability to move toward a more satisfied state of being.
Understand the biological tools with which we perceive how they are influenced by environmental factors can help us influence our experience. Because of this, we will explore the factors that form our capacity to perceive. Because our perceptions do not always agree with our actions, we will also focus on the primary role that behavioral disciplines play in shaping our experience of life.
Among our explorations will be how and why we tend to repeatedly gravitate toward our most familiar behaviors, even when they are destructive. We will see how and why times of stress can increase this tendency toward familiar behaviors without respect to what is nourishing. We will also look at the effects of behavioral momentum on our individual identity and our global identity.
Without clear vision of how and why we behave the way we do the possibilities for change are hidden. Those of us exposed to the influence of toxic relational patterns, especially during early development, must first recognize how these translate into an adult inclination toward repetition of these same relationship dynamics. Discovering this is a great challenge which we will use as the foundation to begin the even greater challenge of changing our behaviors. Because of the deep and powerful effects of environmental influences, establishing nourishing change is recognized here as an extremely difficult task.
We will examine the influences that shape the development of our self-image, culture, and our world view. We will also explore how our verbal reasoning capacities can be an inadequate lens with which to perceive our full “behavioral self” and how this impoverished vision can cripple our ability to realize the possibilities or limit us in destructive ways. We will also explore the nature of behavioral momentum and how it can overcome reason. We will explore what is necessary to heal the broken relationship between sound reason and corresponding behavior.
We will use the relational models in biology as the guide to understand those that are also necessary in a social context. Because social communications are an influential aspect of shaping our experience, we will explore the origins and effects of cultural and institutional entities that contribute to our relational environment. We will also compare the behaviors expressed by communities at many scales using our true needs as the measure of value. For example; we will look at the connective tissue between community behaviors that tolerate or induce wounding and starving and how this generates our own poverty. We will also examine the connective tissue of community on many biological scales in order to clearly see our need to cultivate nourishing relationships at all levels of life.
Because abstract ideas at their best can only present an accurate and understandable map, it is recognized that translating the map into the journey does not come by merely understanding a transformative idea. To experience an idea as a reality of being we must become an authentic embodiment of the actual journey. It is recognized that any positive transition that may come from these ideas will have resulted from the discipline and perseverance of those who both embrace and translate this knowledge to corresponding action. Any credit for improved circumstances as a result of adopting these ideas belongs to those who demonstrate the courage and commitment to act on them.
For more information on the limitations of logic, look up the term “Münchhausen Trilemma”
It is sometimes argued that we do not have any participatory capacity; that we are carried solely on the winds of predetermined physical mechanics and therefore, free will is nonexistent. The ideas presented here assume an element of our being is capable of making intentional choices based on clear vision and within the constraints inherent in the structure of reality. For a better understanding of the philosophical debate as to whether or not “free will” exists as part of our being, look up the terms “metaphysical libertarianism” and “hard determinism”. Also look up the terms “compatibilists” and “incompatibilists” which addresses some of the assumptions in these two philosophical points of view. Also read “Who’s in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain” by Michael S. Gazzaniga.
For an example of the connection between environment and biological disposition read “Maternal Antenatal Anxiety and Children’s Behavioural/Emotional problems at 4 years” by Thomas G. O’Connor PhD, Jonathon Heron PhD, Jean Golding, DSc, Michael Beveridge PhD, Vivette Glover, DSc
For more information on habits in general look up the terms “habit loops” and “long-term potentiation” or read “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg. Also read “The Unbearable Automaticity of Being” by
John A. Bargh and Tanya L. Chartrand. American Psychologist, Vol 54(7), Jul 1999, Pages 462-479.
For more information on how stress relates to behaviors read the research paper from Stanford University called “Pressure and Perverse Flights to Familiarity” by Ab Litt, Taly Reich, Senia Maymin and, Baba Shiv
For an example of how early development is critically related to behavioral patterns later in life read “Critical Periods During Sensory Development” by Nicoletta Berardia,
Tommaso Pizzorussoa and Lamberto Maffei. Current Opinion in Neurobiology Volume 10, Issue 1, 1 February 2000, Pages 138–145
For examples of some of the inadequacies of our cognitive reasoning functions to accurately perceive situations, look up the terms “categorical perception” and “cognitive bias”