To infinity and beyond
by Andrea Elizabeth
This article illuminates the misconception that our brains are like computers. It doesn’t mention minds or souls, but says the brain forms pathways of reaction and pattern recognition based on individual experiences and reflexes. The author, Robert Epstein, says that scientists don’t really understand how memory works since we don’t have memory banks in our brains.
This is perhaps the limit of animal brains, but humans have a higher function, if they choose to use it, per St. Maximus in Ambiguum 10:
6. The Contemplation of the unmoistened dough of the unleavened loaves
“Thus the people, when they were led out of Egypt by Moses, carried into the desert dough bound up in their garments. This binding, I think, signifies the need to keep the power of reason within us pure and unharmed from entanglement with sensible objects. Therefore Moses taught them to flee the sensible world and journey spiritually to the intelligible world, so that through virtue and knowledge they might henceforth become in inclination what we believe the worthy, through hope, shall become in the age of incorruption.”
This reminds me of Metropolitan Jonah’s talk “Do Not Resent, Do Not React, Keep Inner Stillness” which I haven’t heard in a very long time so…
Try telling that to a PTSD sufferer. Or someone in the midst of grief. Even they though, will want to escape the pain. There is a long process to healing. Just stoically keeping a stiff upper lip when one’s insides are boiling isn’t really the right way. It may be noble for the sake of those one is with, but we shouldn’t feel like invalidated monsters when we “break”, as they say of actors who can’t keep a straight face. We are made for life and relationship. When these things fail, it goes against the grain. And it seems we have to go through the grieving process. Through this process the end goal is acceptance. Usually this means we gain a broader understanding. I’m glad St. Maximus calls this acceptance an inclination until we experience the reality after death. We are inclined to have a relationship with the departed who are, it has been described, in the next room, on the other side of a thin veil.
What we can’t sense, though, is that things exist beyond the veil of our senses. Duh. But lets say one does come to grips with it. Then isn’t there the fear that they become “so heavenly minded they are of no earthly good”? But what are they doing in heaven? Playing harps? No, the Church Triumphant is interceding for the Church Militant, those of us still on earth. They want our earthly lives to be fitted for heaven so that they too can be perfected. Therefore the heavenly oriented person is also directed towards interceding, directly and indirectly, for the earth-bound.
Also there is the fulfillment of The Lord’s Prayer, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We are to bring order, to right wrongs, to heal diseases, to make beautiful, etc. But from a position of peace, not fear. My current mode is to not accept that things are ever ruined. Where there’s a will, there’s remedy. If not for the other person, who may not will it, then for me. And if I cannot accept the remedy now, then that can be fixed too – either later, or if I was wrong about what the remedy should look like, I can be disabused later.
Back to the article, if we automatically respond to past experiences, isn’t what St. Maximus telling us to do is stop and learn from future experiences? Weird.