I haven't been online much. Well, i've been reading the news and watching hulu, but haven't logged onto anything social for about a week. Partly because school is so busy during summer. Partly because once I miss a couple days of keeping up on things, the effort required to catch up feels unpleasant, so I will put off email/blog/facebook checking .And with all things, the more it is avoided, the greater it becomes in our minds and often in reality. Now a week has passed and I have so many things to catch up on.

I don't mean to sound as if I feel extremely overwhelmed and burdened by internet responsibilities. It is not something that weighs on me throughout the day. Only for split seconds when I think to check my email, then remember how many hundreds of messages there will be, so I decide to wait until later. I have no trouble being able to put out of my mind things I don't want to deal with at the moment. This is both positive and negative. It helps me be generally free from anxiety, but also can also cause me to not follow through with tedious, but important tasks. If there is something unpleasant, that I cannot do anything about, and dwelling on it will only cause worry and anxiety without helping the issue. In these situations it is to my benefit to not worry or think about future responsibilities. However, other things that are unpleasant, but are made worse by my inaction, such as turning in a form to my bank, are also very easy for me to not worry about. And because I am not worried about it, I often end up not doing it, which often leaves me having more to do than before.

I guess this illustrates why many spiritual attributes are difficult to attain. They are not helpful to our survival, so evolution would not have favored those traits. In this example I suppose I am specifically thinking of 'being in the moment'.

As much psychological benifit may come from 'being in the moment', it is clear why this was not a trait favored by evolution. It is easy to imagine why someone who is able to think about and be concerned with future events, is going to have a much higher survival rate than someone who is perpetually 'in the moment'
Very young children and people with brain damage are good at being in the moment, and that is why they aren't able to take care of themselves.
Our ability to constantly think and worry about the future, as well as consider our failures and successes from the past are a lot of what has made humans so successful at a variety of tasks. Yet this same attribute which helps us survive, makes it difficult to enjoy our survival. When we can slow down and appreciate things, it allows us to enjoy and savor the experience of being alive. But when we do this too much we don't take care of responsibilities necessary for survival.

I read a book last year about a woman, who was a Neuroscientist but then had a stroke. She damaged much of her left brain, and lost many of the functions that help us survive such as linear thinking and a sense of self. In essence, she had achieved the Buddhist conscept of Nirvana. She felt literally one with everything around her, because the part of her brain which tells us where our body begins and ends was damaged. She also lost her ability to reason forward or backwards, so she was very much in the moment. She described feelings euphoria and ecstascy and all the things one would hope and expect to feel if you had reached Nirvana. And yet, because of these very same things, she lost all her survival skills. She had to be taken care of by her mother until she recovered those functions which allowed her to survive, yet took much of the euphoria out of survival.

1 comment:

Vincent said...

You have hit on a truth here, or shall I say it chimes with my own experience lately. My whole blog in a way was dedicated to the experience of euphoria, and finding something to say about it: but in one post especially (Pearly Gates) I had a realisation that my euphoria [good word!] was inexplicable in terms of the experience of Nature. for it hit me suddenly when my gaze fell on a grey concrete boundary wall. That was the moment euphoria struck and I realised it was the moment when I felt released from worldly cares.