We live in a very secular time. Ideas on religion, spirituality and mysticism scare most people. I understand where they’re coming from because when people talk about religion and spirituality, they talk about a realm that cannot be reduced to numbers. You cannot predict the outcomes. A lot of the truths that they’re talking about cannot be replicated. That’s why many people are skeptical about spiritual states, traditional religion and morality.
Well, there is always that danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There’s a reason religion is the one universal constant among human beings from all four corners of the globe. It doesn’t matter what they look like. It doesn’t matter what historical period we’re looking at. There is always religion in one form or the other.
Religion has fundamental truths that appeal to the human condition. They may refer to some witch doctor living on the hills, throwing chicken bones to make a rough prophecy, or somebody wearing a robe in the middle of a temple, inside a room full of gold trinkets and speaking a dead language. It’s very easy for any kind of analysis of innate human ability to shape our reality and become a debate about religion.
This is why a lot of people resist mentalism because they think that it smacks off religion, spirituality or, at the very least, mysticism one way or another. To them, it’s hocus pocus or magic, and they do not want anything to do with it. Believe me, I get that. Given a purely rational and scientific perspective, mentalism however, is very different from mysticism. How is this so? Mentalism operates on how your mind actually works.
In other words, gravity remains true regardless of whether you believe it or not. Even if you think that the law of gravity is a scam, a sham, a fraud, you will find out in the worst way possible that gravity is real when you fall off a building.
It is the same with certain processes that the human mind works to turn ideas into feelings, and feelings into actions. These truths are true now just as they were true in the past and, believe me, they are true long into the future as long as the human mind retains its basic shape.
This has nothing to do with language, creed, religion or national origin. It has everything to do with how the human mind is hardwired. The problem many people have with mentalism is that they really can’t quite wrap their mind around the fact of the human brain being not just a physical reality.
It would be great if we can make all sorts of predictions on what we will think about. If only it were just a simple physical phenomenon. Basically, what we will do is, we will just measure all sorts of chemicals and correlate them to different emotional and intellectual states.
The problem with that idea is that the brain is the sum of more than its parts. Sure, it is a biochemical machine. Nobody is disputing that. However, the thoughts that go through the mind transcend the physical limitations of the brain. You are not just some sort of brain soaking in a vat of chemicals from somewhere.
A lot of philosophy professors have these questions for their students. What is reality? Is reality something that you can test? Is reality something that you can truly measure? What if you are just a brain in a jar being fed sustaining chemicals?
The problem with those questions is that the human mind, and all it’s capable of, is more than its physical components. We’re not just about the neurotransmitter chemicals flowing through our brains. We’re not just about the gray matter and the neurons that make up our brains. We’re more than that, and you only need to look at the concept of “identity” and “being” to understand.
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