Motto: “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance” - Confucius
Last week a dear friend with whom I lost touch lately referred this article to me: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-work/200910/the-neuroscience-mindfulness
I discovered this way an interesting website, which opened a new door for me. Of course it has been there for a long time, as some of the articles I surfed through are dating from 2006-2007. But I had no idea it was there, I did not look for it. The Internet is so huge and still it is only a part of our knowledge. It is full of useful things, but also of dangerous things. But I will not get into details, because the “science” of Internet and its good and evil sides are actually the specialty of Peter – Ego Out’s founder. His greatest contribution is the Informavore Sunday, which is a great collection of useful links that he gathers for us every week with great effort, open heart & mind.
Coming back to today’s topic: while reading those articles, jumping from one to another, from link to link, I suddenly realized a bigger truth (by the way, my advice is to do the ‘jumping’ only after going through the article at once, end-to-end, at least for the first time; otherwise you will not get its meaning). This is that no matter how much we try to absorb knowledge in this life, we cannot even scratch the surface of the universal knowledge that is ‘out there’. And I am not talking only about the Internet.
Let me start with a simple example and later I will reverse its rationale.
I do not know if you have heard about the Drake equation. It is a simple computation of probabilities –how many planets should be inhabited by intelligent life, in such an advanced stage that would be able to ‘read’ Earth radio messages and respond to it. I have come across this when I was about 11 or 12 y.o. and I was reading tons of books about UFO and Earth Mysteries. For a while, it was more challenging for me than Winnetou, the 3 Musketeers and Arabian Nights put together, as it was a tabu during the communist years (more or less same as religion). I believe my father found his way of conquering a little freedom in that period, by reading borderline books. He seemed to have designated as priority in his life the act of hunting through the book stores (and even museums!) special limited editions, which got out on the market by accident back then. There was a small number of good books (translations from international authors or Romanian originals), that escaped the censorship. I do not know exactly how, perhaps they were somehow protected by special tricks (either strange titles or misleading prefaces) and tricked the communist pre-reading before printing. Or maybe there were some good-hearted readers amongst the censor that let it 'slip' sometimes.
Anyway, as soon as one of those books turned into a success (high demand), it was re-assessed and either withdrawn from the bookstores or just sold-out without any chance for getting a second edition. However, my father developed long-term friendship with the book-store ladies and they got used to putting aside for him one exemplary of the “best-sellers” always.
Coming back to the Drake Equation, I am not going to debate here neither the parameters, nor the result. In general I am not very good friend of mathematics, numbers only matter to me if the relationship between them is really simple and more important – if it makes sense.
This equation for example seemed logical to me, as it had a basic principle: start with a huge population (number of planets in the Milky Way) and then narrow it down to smaller and smaller, by means of probability, while going always with a pessimistic approach throughout the process.
Why did I refer to this? I did it because I want to actually ‘reverse’ the logic of this Drake equation. If each of us accumulates more and more knowledge, independent from each other but however more or less in a simultaneous process, it means that we will actually posses in the end smaller parts of universal knowledge every day. Because both the world popullation and the universal knowledge is growing faster than we can accummulate in a lifetime. One trap is that the more specialised our knowledge gets, the more we feel we know and the less we know in reality.
Of course some of us get a bigger part of the knowledge because we have a great hunger to know; other are not so curious by nature and settle with smaller parts, while some are actually close to starvation. But if we start to compute from the other side of Drake equation, enlarging our modest knowledge to the whole Earth population (or even add some extraterrestrial life – as Drake has ‘proven’ anyway by his equation that ‘they’ must exist – ‘out there’ somewhere…), then we get to the conclusion that we are as small and insignificant in the universe of knowledge of this world, just as a drop of rain in the ocean. We are equally important thou, as the oceans would dry out eventually, if the weather would change and there would be no rain anymore.
We are now almost 7 Billion people gathering knowledge every day on this planet. And knowledge is indeed universal, as it does not have to do only with intelligence or education or similar ‘advanced’ considerations, but it also has to do with practical experience, wisdom, intuition, perception, feelings, etc.
The article that has triggered my writing tonight is basically talking about our “default network”, which is usually the narrative one (i.e. that ‘brain mode’ in which while you walk, eat, drink etc., your mind is actually thinking of other things (planning, dreaming, looking for answers or just asking questions). Therefore you are not paying attention to the sensations and feelings that are all around you, and this 'sensation turn-off mode’ is actually disabling you to sense the smell of the rain, the touch of the wind, hear the birds singing and so on. Maybe only a handful of spiritually elevated individuals are pre-set by default on the other network - “direct experience” mode (respectively the sensing one).
It does not mean it is wrong that we are pre-set like this; however given contemporary evolutions, we are more and more unable to switch the narrative brain network off and really smell the roses and feel the breeze around us. But this is another subject – maybe for a future post.
Coming back to knowledge, and to make it even more interesting, I will add a common truth - the more you know, the more you want to learn more. And, as I am posting this on the blog called “EGO OUT”, I will now remind you what this means. Ego Out is the knowledge (including wisdom, feelings etc.) that is lost when a soul leaves a physical body (phenomena also known as ‘death’). Like H.L. Mencken said, ‘We are here and now. Further than that, all knowledge is moonshine.’
Therefore I would conclude this posting by sharing with you my reasons for writing here, even thou the number of readers is not so overwhelming. I hope that by doing so, my Ego Out will get smaller; even thou my personal knowledge will keep on growing day by day.
After all, each and every one of us is only transiting through this world. We can only prolong our stay by sharing our thoughts, our feelings, and our knowledge; basically by sharing ourselves with our loved ones, so that they can remember us with a smile on the face, after we are no longer here.
Wishing you a nice week,