Simplicity and Complexity
Humans love to simplify complex phenomenon, which is called the process of redaction. Redaction fails us when the we only look at the ‘summary’ phrase and forget to address the complexities that it is supposed to represent. We create problems for ourselves and for the world. We need both a comprehension of the complexity and of the larger picture of how systems function in order to create solutions that are unique for the situation being discussed.
Personally I am what is termed a ‘big picture thinker’. All this means is that I need to know ‘where we are going’ in a discussion before I can sort all the details about parts of a system/problem being discussed. Others have thinking styles that need to have all the data first and they construct the bigger picture from all the detail collected. Ok, we process things differently. While I personally comprehend the details better when I see the overriding flow of a complex system or “where we are going”, this in no way reveals to me what is actually going on at the more complex levels. If we make the mistake of looking only at the redacted version of an idea when we are planning or problem-solving, we then we lose sight of the nuances that the complexity demands of any level of problem solving or creativity.
A good example of this redaction process is the study of the brain. 100 years ago Pedro y Cajal developed the Neuronal Doctrine which held that all thought and memories existed only in the neurons and axons. Even though he suspected that there was more to the other 90% of the brain, he stuck by his Neuronal Doctrine and scientists spent the next 100 years trying to prove that doctrine. Remember the phrase, ‘we only use 10% of our brain”? Well, that grey goop was there for a very critical reason and that wasn’t just to support the neurons. Finally, starting about 30 years ago, some curious scientists were finally able to start studying that other 90% of the brain, the cells of which they named them glia and astrocytes. The scientists discovered that astrocytes are the main engine of thought, creativity and imagination in the brain; that they control neurons and their synapses and that they play a role in the degenerative diseases of the brain. Neurons and their axons are the highways that the astrocytes use to send information over long distances and the astrocytes maintain these neuronal highways and build new ones where needed. Astrocytes clean up the debris at neuronal synapses and provide some of the transmitters necessary for the function of neurons.
Another theory that limited research into the brain was the theory of the ‘non-changing brain’. Simply said, scientists believed and hence the general public believed, that the brain never changes. Scientists had mapped the brain and believed that it had designated non-changeable areas that are used for handling vision, sight, smell, language, motor areas for limbs, etc. On a generalized basis, there is such consistent mapping in the brain. What they missed was the possibility that there was any flexibility in how the brain handled trauma. So as the theory and practice were lived by you, me and the medical world, if you were born with less than ‘normal’ capacity in any of area of the brain, there was nothing to be done. If your brain got injured thru accident, or stroke, there was nothing to be done. This response of ‘nothing can be done’ not only impacted the research that would be done, but the public’s personal attitude toward people with brain damage. Nothing can be done. They can’t be helped. Store them away somewhere. Anyone who tried to treat someone one differently or research differently, was treated badly. They were going against ‘the truth of the unchanging brain’. If anyone succeeded in gaining new brain function, well, they were an anomaly.
Luckily, in the last 30 years, scientists stated delving into the idea of the plasticity of the brain. What they have discovered is that the brain is the most malleable and modifiable organ in the human body. It can create new neural pathways so that lost functions can be restored in other areas of the brain. These researchers have developed exercises that stimulate this capability for individuals with brain trauma injuries and stroke. They discovered that ‘normal brain’ individuals can keep their brains healthy through new activities and learning! We can increase our range of thought, problem solving, creativity through learning new things, doing new activities, keeping active. Guess what cells in the brain do all that change – yes, the astrocytes, that grey matter, that 90% of the brain that was believed to be in the skull to just support the neurons and their axons. If you would like to learn more about neuroplasticity research, two books by Norman Doidge, MD are a great resource. “The Brain that Changes Itself” and “The Brain’s Way of Healing”. If you are interested in learning more about the history of brain and astrocyte research, the book “The Root of Thought’ by Andrew Koob is great.
These are not the only examples, but you get the picture. Down thru the ages, humans have tried to either simplify a process to gain a comprehension and/or to delve deeper into its complexity. Both Taoism and Aruvedic systems were developed to both understand the overall mechanics of the internal systems and to understand the human system within the context of its interactions with our past/present/future, with others, with nature and the energies of the Universe. Modern western medicine has tried to delve into the complexity of the body without including the impact of nature, the Universe and others. Western medicine got caught in simplistic thinking that the body is separate from these other organisms in the world and hence could be understood by studying its parts and not their interactions with each other or with all the other outside forces. There is so much more we can learn about being human when we start to look at these ‘other’ fields that it interacts with!
What about the Spirit part of Mind, Body, Spirit of a human? How does your search for a higher consciousness impact the cells of your brain? When you embody your Sovereign Being? When you align with the higher vibrations of your God/Goddess/Creation? If you regularly connect with resonance and what is unity for you, wouldn’t that impact the astrocytes and the dominance of astrocytic networks that connect points of unity and resonance? My gut says yes, we can create new astrocytic networks that connect all that is resonant in our memory, our thoughts, our cravings. Those networks can be deepened and strengthened so that they become the dominant response system within which we interact with the world. This capability to create new astrocytic networks isn’t just in the head brain but also in the gut brain and the heart brain. Western medicine has already identified the gut brain as the second brain in the body with almost as much grey matter as the head brain and most of the same transmitters. If the astrocytes in the gut carry the same function as astrocytes do in the head brain, then they must be part of the same networks that are being created when we respond to our sentient intelligence, when we experience resonance. Taoism and the Aruvedic systems had already figured out these inter-relationships, and now it is our turn to understand how that can be explained in the language of western medicine and of the western world.
It is a failing of humans when we ever think that there is only one way, only one answer, only one solution to a problem. We are a nanosecond by nanosecond changing organism that is matter, that is Spirit, that has a brain, a mind and a larger mind – all of which are in interaction with the energies of nature, of the earth and of the Universe. Problem solving, planning, creativity and imagination all require that we practice whole system thinking, which simply means we deliberately look at all parts of a moving system from as many directions as possible so that we can understand both its basic relational functioning, but also how its complex interactions impact and are impacted by other parts of this moving system. The wonderful part of this whole system thinking process is that when we stand in different viewpoints of a complex system, we gain new perspectives, we stimulate the astrocytes to create new networks in our brains. This probably keeps our brains healthy and it allows us to step forth into new ways to be in the world.
Let’s keep investigating who and what a human actually is…matter, energy, infinite, finite, alchemical, biochemical! These elements are all in us and these elements all interact within us and with energies and forces outside of us. As we open up to these parts of who we are, we open the doors to new comprehensions and new capabilities to be different in the world. We create new worlds when we choose to wonder if they are possible. If we don’t wonder, then we will never discover all that we came here to be and all that humanity was designed to be. Join me in opening up to new comprehensions of what it means to be human. Join me in being present to what is arising in our fields. It is a new day and a new world for us to explore and discover all that we are and all that we can be.