Entry #2: Watching the News

I watch the news every morning and if I were to speak of the work (my practice, “Mindful Reality”) in that context I would have to say that upon hearing about the things that go on and feeling and seeing my opinions about different issues I am flashbacked to my own knowledge and the readings I do that tell me that as humans we don’t have any control over anything we do. This is obviously controversial and depending upon my reader/s and what states of mind they come from whether it’s eastern/western philosophy or science this may not ring true, or aspects of what I write about in mindfulness ring true but not the rest. But when I am applying my practice to myself and my observations in the world and reading something like Richard Dawkins’ book, “The Selfish Gene,” knowing that we act because our actions are driven by neurobiological causes in our brain that follow physical laws (and that applies to every human being on the planet) of course plays into politics. Trump, Assad in Syria, Putin in Russia, and everybody who follows or doesn’t follow these people all have access to their actions (or their decision making processes) in the same ways which is to say that even though these sound like sophisticated issues it all draws back to the physical reality of any individual. Simply stated, a person is just where he or she is in any given moment doing what she or he is doing and not having any direct access to how her decisions get made. So this is the bare bones of what I’m talking about and obviously it comes into morality and ethics.  As a species we tend to act morally in the ways we do because we are wired to do so (via evolution and natural selection) but that is not coming from any kind of conscious will to act a certain way. We are only conscious of what we do as we’re doing it which is already after the fact and too late to change that particular action.  And so we need to recognize that in light of every individual who we despise, fear, abhor or are confused by morally, we have to know that she or he is just a physical being and physical beings are essentially “conscious automata” to quote T.H. Huxley. There is no conscious ability on any of our parts to direct our own actions or activities.

See Jerry Coyne, Professor of Biology and author of Why Evolution is True and Faith vs. Fact speaking on the illusion of free will:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca7i-D4ddaw

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