Saturday, March 12, 2011

Belief, the Brain, and the Nature of Memory

Isn’t it funny, how a blog is like book chapters going backwards? You, lucky readers, get to know how it ends before it’s even begun.

Let’s assume I already know how the story ends before I’ve written it.

The Buddhists and the Freudians identify three layers of human cognition that more or less parallel or the consciousness we have available to us at any given moment. Our ego projects our perceptions of our reality and takes in stimuli for sifting. This stimulus is filtered into the second layer, the consciousness, where our reactions to stimuli get filtered and refined for our own purposes.

Stimuli, information, and perceptions not immediately useful to our consciousness get stored away into the dark deep of the subconscious, where it can come back to torture us in sneaky ways (Freud) or become locked into our Karmic cycle (Buddhism).

It’s interesting that there’s little to be accounted for in terms of memory and memory loss. The idea is that, everything observed and lived is recorded. What we remember depends on whether we need to remember, or whether we, subconsciously, want to remember.

In The Nature of Personal Reality, Jane Roberts as Seth writes that all material observed becomes recorded; in fact, since time and space as we know it are cognitive functions dependent on the physical structure of the brain, and have no bearing outside this anchor, there is no recording done at all. It is all existent, simultaneously, and all available to us at any time.

The most fascinating ideas propelled in the book stem from examining our physiological structures to their tiniest minutiae. Within the atom we have protons, neutrons, and electrons, within which we can identify quarks. These particles are measured by their electrical charge; they are energy. The Nature of Personal Reality challenges science to find that beyond these particles, all material on earth is comprised of light, sound, and electromagnetic patterns.

What is human consciousness? What comes first, the consciousness or the brain? If the energy is already inherent within the particles that comprise cells, it could stand to reason that each cell, each atom, already holds within it some form of consciousness - a recognition or consciousness of its own history. As stated in the book, within the human body, as each cell dies, the other cells know that this cell has died and another cell has been “reborn” to replace it. By the time you are 27, each cell in your body has been replaced since you were four years old. Somehow, however, you retain memories of your early childhood, fuzzy though they may be.

In fact, the memories could be clearer if you believed they could be. As we grow we observe the information given us by the world around us. We assimilate ideas until we have formed our belief systems. Beliefs are reality. One such belief is, we cannot remember our early childhoods. This is the major basis of psychoanalytical thought, and one that holds much sway to us today. If someone says they can remember being one or two years old, that person is met with incredulity, possibly derision. They were probably dreaming, or they just aren’t normal. The person believes there is no way they could have remembered something from infancy, and thus, it’s forgotten. It’s still there, but now it has been relegated to the depths of the subconscious. His consciousness no longer has access to this information.

This is where the idea of repression holds forth even though other Freudian ideas have been largely discounted - such as Oedipal complexes, or penis envy. The darkness beyond our consciousness holds terrifying memories that we’ve buried because of their threat, and these memories come back to haunt us in inexplicable ways later in life. Even though they’ve been “forgotten” they have the power to affect our psychological health as adults.

It’s seems incongruous that forgotten memories have the ability to affect a person in later life, if they have been lost. If they are still around, that means they haven’t been forgotten at all, and still exist to some degree. If they still exist to some degree, they must be accessible to the conscious mind.

The mind has organizational tendencies, and will group like ideas together according to its own system of beliefs. It will operate something like an assistant to your consciousness, efficiently grouping and filing information. You hold certain beliefs that can be called to your conscious mind at any time. Ideas that don’t coincide with your beliefs still get stored in your memory, but won’t be used. Even though you are cognizant of these ideas and their existence, you won’t use them, and you continue to operate within your own system of beliefs.

You choose your beliefs. The other ideas you disregard. It’s up to you whether you examine their contents and decide which you want to keep and use for your purposes, and which you’d rather disregard. It’s up to you whether the beliefs you find useful are positive or negative ones, and your conception of positive and negative depend on your beliefs. The job of examining your beliefs and how they affect your life depend on you alone. If you regularly examine your beliefs against your reality, and realize that your beliefs are indeed beliefs and not necessarily reality, then you should have no problem amassing beliefs that benefit your life and steer your life in the direction you want it to go.

Now, if the cells of your body can be completely replaced from the age of, say, 10 to the age of 33, how can we still hold those memories? The entire physical structure of your body has been replaced. Every single brain cell that lived when you, say, skinned your knee or learned to ride your bike, has since died. How is it still possible to remember what happened? If every cell in your body is completely different at 60 from what it was at 35, how can habits or memories be attributed to physiological structures? Does this memory capacity lie within the genetic structure? Is it harbored within DNA?

If you examine DNA, of course, it’s comprised of atoms as well as any other structure in our physical universe. It, too, is comprised of energy, of what Roberts-as-Seth calls “invisible light, inaudible sound and electromagnetic patterns.”

The idea is that, if memory is housed within the physiological structure of the brain, and that every thought originated within consciousness via the proxy of sensory perception, then we should have any and all ideas, thoughts, and memories available to the conscious mind, at any time. It may take a few moments of stillness, of quieting the normally raucous stream of mind-chatter that flows through our minds most of the time, but any information, once received into the consciousness, can be retrieved as well.

Roberts-as-Seth goes farther to write that we, as beings comprised of the energy that previously comprised any number of other organisms, physical structures, planets, stars, etc., should have access to all that information. Since our bodies comprise that very stuff that had existed in different forms previously, we have conscious access to infinite information within our grasp. That is, if we quiet ourselves and ask ourselves for certain information, it will come to us, intuitively. All the answers to all of our questions, and all the energy we need to accomplish anything, lie within ourselves.

Finally for today, I’d like to close my post following the line of cellular growth, death, and replacement. If cells are regenerated and completely replaced within a few decades without hindering or interrupting cognitive awareness or memory retention, what, then, came first, the brain, or consciousness? Here is where I beg serious consideration and contemplation of my readers, and where I sign off, to tackle this topic in my next post.

May each moment of your life be lived in the awareness and joy of spontaneous creation.

No comments:

Post a Comment