By Dave Nelson
Milestone Mind, Inc.
This week's insights are about a call back to knowledge.
As I continue to go deeper into my studies and develop knowledge around how to help people think about their lives, some things have become striking to me, if not completely startling and unsettling. One paradox that continues to jump out at me is how the advancement of technology and the pursuit of automation has made us as a society void of our own individual knowledge. Quite literally, technology seeks to take the thought out of activities. Does it not? Can you name one piece of technology that isn't squarely aimed at making a given task easier and more efficient, requiring less and less individual thought and knowledge? Can you think of any?
There is a difference between knowledge and information.
Knowledge is gained, information is given. I continue to think of the Aztecs, or the Mayans, or the Egyptians, or the Polynesians, or the Greek and Roman Philosophers, or Ancient Asian Philosophies, or Tribal Wisdom of Aboriginal Australians, Amazonians and Africans, or Native Americans, and how deeply developed their ways of life were. But, at the center all of these modes of life, was the sacredness of life itself. All of these traditions aimed at deepening the knowledge of self, of spirit, of mind, of thought, and of wisdom. They all had rites of passage, and designated self-reflective journeys as apart of these gateways. Almost none of them talk about the sacredness of acquisition of things as a path to happiness - something consumerism would suggest (only when any of these ancient cultures were overtaken by power, greed and acquisition, were they eventually destroyed by the very things they sought to hoard).
What is even more important to note about ancient knowledge, though, is how they acquired it to begin with - through silence. As I read about Aristotle or Socrates, I am overwhelmed with the richness of thought, making me think the only way these people gained this knowledge was by creating space in their heads and in their lives to intuitively learn it first, and then translate it, second, to written word. I mean, they must have gone on 2-week silent retreats to get in touch with the zigs and zags of this knowledge, and how to make sense of it all: silence.
Knowledge was a way of life.
This knowledge was not for the elite only - it was a way of life, and although there were plenty of problems during the times when these different schools of thought reigned, some of the greatest advancements to be bestowed upon humankind were developed by these people and philosophies many hundreds and thousands of years ago insofar as we still teach these findings as fact in our schooling today. Take Newton's Law of Gravity, or just the foundations of Physics in general, or Aristotle's Golden Mean, or our Calendar System, or: Mathematics, Languages, Sports, Music Principles, Medicine (almost entirely Latin), Art Principles, Days of the Week, Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Solstices, Agriculture, Astronomy, Astrology, Navigation, Engineering, Construction Principles, Fishing - all squarely centered on life itself, and the deepening of self knowledge and of humankind.
How did people before us - FROM NOTHING - develop all of this knowledge?
What's striking to me about technological advancement is that it's threatening to go too far (see Aristotle's Golden Mean), but not out of the fear we'll become a robot world, but more that it quite literally is robbing people of thinking; a core human function, which produces knowledge. Not only is it taking the thought out of every last activity we do, in an attempt to automate it, but, that it is so encompassing in all of our lives, that we no longer have this sacred space - silence - we need to converse with our intuition and develop genuinely essential knowledge about ourselves and the world around us. Everything has become an incremental addition. The digital age has ceased internal dialogue and reflection, and I am not talking about meditation, which though incredibly useful, requires focus in addition to silence. Knowledge needs just silence.
Knowledge, unlike meditation (which requires focus), requires silence.
Silence is also a core human function. We need it to relax the brain so that it is healthy and well to absorb new information, most notably, internally through intuition, gaining wisdom about yourself and its place in the universe. But, how many of us have the opportunity for this silence, without painstakingly putting a placeholder into our calendars, only to kick the can down the road?
What technology has created is the opposite of silence:
Fool-heartedly, our hope through this constant noise is that some sweet little nugget of information will sweep us off our feet, and plant the kernel of knowledge that answers the meaning of life for all us as individuals, thus fulfilling all of our deepest desires. This, unfortunately, is an illusion, and why we haven't been swept off of our feet from the constant flow of information and sound bites, only to keep us coming back for more, hoping maybe, just once, if we read really hard, it will come to us.
Although some of the information is useful, it should only be aimed at providing a different perspective: not your entire perspective; that only comes through knowledge of self, and that only comes from silence first.
We live in a hyper-rational world - science, numbers, lines, 1's and 0's, big data, automation, quick communication, arbitrage, quant, derivatives, flash trading, text-messaging, emails, always-on, never-off, GPS Systems, 24/7 media flow.
"There is no logical way to the discovery of elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance... The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
I don't know, what you think about that coming from someone that through knowledge, was able to expand physics well past our ancestors, beautifully building upon - not just taking from - their knowledge? Pretty cool.
The Beautiful Power of Intuition - Knowledge.
Intuition is a feeling. It's not taught; it's felt. It's how we make decisions, feel someone else's energy, communicate our own energy, and instinctively informs us from right from wrong. It's also our greatest teacher. It's benevolent, and wants the best for you - only free will and ego can distort its message, but we usually know when we've violated our intuition. Albert Einstein called it our most important sense - almost like a master sense, yet, the most underused sense by today's world. It hasn't always been this way - in fact, it couldn't have been as such when the world was turning without 1's and 0's guiding every human move and decision. People had to think. Let's explore.
Below are some examples of what true knowledge produced for our ancestors - the shoulders of which we are standing.
Polynesian Sailors and Intuition
What it is (provided by Tom Thumb):
"The Polynesian navigator had a unique perception of the ocean. There were stories of navigators who would be placed in rock pools by the beach when only a few months old to learn the feel of the tidal pull of the water. Another navigator tied the sail rigging to his scrotum so that he might perceive the rhythms of the ocean better. For, while the navigators would read the clouds, the winds, the sun, the birds, the fish and the stars to find their way across the Pacific, they could also perceive distinct ocean pulses resonating through the swell and waves.
The Polynesian navigators didn't look up at the stars and know where they were, they knew their location only in relation to where they had been. So while the captain and crew handled the boat, the navigator would sit in a kind of trance for 22 hours a day. He would track the rising and falling of the stars on the horizon, evoking the image that the vessel stayed still while the earth span."
Further Reading: Hawaiian Voyaging Traditions (Mind-Blowing how thorough this is.)
Native Americans and Intuition
Contribution: Countless contributions, but an interesting one: Hair is an extension of the Nervous System, and was used for tracking the enemy.
What it is (provided by David Wolfe):
"With the usual enticements, the well proven smooth phrases used to enroll new recruits, some of these Native American trackers were then enlisted. Once enlisted, an amazing thing happened. Whatever talents and skills they had possessed on the reservation seemed to disappear mysteriously, as recruit after recruit failed to perform as expected in the field.
Serious casualties and failures of performance led the government to contract expensive testing of these recruits, and this is what was found.
When questioned about their failure to perform as expected, the older recruits replied consistently that when they received their required military haircuts, they could no longer ‘sense’ the enemy. They could no longer access a ‘sixth sense’, their ‘intuition’ no longer was reliable, they could not ‘read’ subtle signs as well or access subtle extrasensory information.
So the testing institute recruited more Native American trackers, let them keep their long hair, and tested them in multiple areas. Then they would pair two men together who had received the same scores on all the tests. They would let one man in the pair keep his hair long, and gave the other man a military haircut. Then the two men retook the tests.
Time after time the man with long hair kept making high scores. Time after time, the man with the short hair failed the tests in which he had previously scored high scores.
Here is a standardized test:
The recruit is sleeping out in the woods. An armed ‘enemy’ approaches the sleeping man. The long haired man is awakened out of his sleep by a strong sense of danger and gets away long before the enemy is close, long before any sounds from the approaching enemy are audible.
In another version of this test, the long haired man senses an approach and somehow intuits that the enemy will perform a physical attack. He follows his ‘sixth sense‘ and stays still, pretending to be sleeping, but quickly grabs the attacker and ‘kills’ him as the attacker reaches down to strangle him.
This same man, after having passed these and other tests, then received a military haircut and consistently failed these tests and many other tests that he had previously passed.
So, the document recommended that all Native American trackers be exempt from military haircuts. In fact, it required that trackers keep their hair long.
How is this possible? It all has to do with how we as humans have evolved. Every part of the body has a purpose, and when we lose touch with ourselves and our bodies, we lose the true power we have.
Hair, like skin, is an extension of the nervous system, it may be correctly seen as exteriorized nerves, a type of highly evolved ‘feelers’ or ‘antennae’ that transmit vast amounts of important information to the brainstem, the limbic system, and the neocortex.
However, many people think hair is dead and does nothing for us as humans. It is just an accessory. I do not know who is right or who is wrong, but I am open to all possibilities."
Note: It is interesting to see almost all ancient warriors had long hair - from all continents. Not sure I'm ready to grow mine out, but fascinating nonetheless to think about.
Ancient Ayurvedics and Intuition
Contribution: Feeding your gut flora for overall well-being.
What it is (provided by Kulreet Chaudhary, M.D):
"We all get gut instincts. We might pass up what seems like the perfect promotion or decide to go on a trip without understanding why. Sometimes we’re queasy about a seemingly friendly co-worker or we’re inexplicably drawn to a stranger. In India’s ancient healing system of Ayurveda, a pure or sattvic lifestyle boosts intuition and higher states of consciousness. A walk in nature, loving thoughts, daily meditation and a bounty of organic, plant foods are all sattvic. From a physiological standpoint, a diet chock full of seasonal veggies, fruits, legumes, grains, dairy, seeds and nuts boosts healthy gut flora. But do you realize those bacteria actually determine our health, mood, thoughts and personality? What we consume, and ultimately what we digest, actually makes us who we are.
Modern medicine is proving the three pounds of bacteria in our colon called the microbiome is the bedrock of health — something Ayurvedic doctors knew thousands of years ago. As a neurologist and Ayurvedic practitioner, I believe this teeming metropolis will revolutionize healthcare in the 21st century. Our gut harbors bacteria, fungi and other microbes we need to survive. These single-celled organisms digest food, make vitamins and train our immune system to banish intruders. They also make most of our serotonin, dubbed the feel-good hormone.
Microbes have been around longer than us humans — several million years longer. Believe it or not, each one of us has ten times more microorganisms than human cells. Each of these tiny citizens has its own DNA. We simply can’t outnumber these guys. We want to befriend the good, or symbiotic, bacteria that thrive on heaping platters of rainbow-colored vegetables and sun-ripened berries plucked from the bush.
Bad bacteria prefer processed foods pumped full of unrecognizable ingredients. The western world’s fast food smorgasbord — devoid of prana, or life force — is a feast for harmful flora. These parasites mushroom with unnatural doses of sugar, salt and fat— things like pop tarts, soda pop, waffles and fried chicken — and even through seemingly harmless staples like bread and pasta. While our ancestors ate wheat berries for strength in the winter, most of today’s wheat bread is a blend of refined flour, added gluten, sugar and fillers we can roll up in the palm of our hand."
Ancient Sumerians and Intuition
What it is (provided by Babylonian Mathematics):
"The Sumerians developed a complex system of metrology c. 4000 BC. This advanced metrology resulted in the creation of arithmetic, geometry, and algebra. From c. 2600 BC onwards, the Sumerians wrote multiplication tables on clay tablets and dealt with geometrical exercises and division problems. The earliest traces of the Babylonian numerals also date back to this period. The period c. 2700 – 2300 BC saw the first appearance of the abacus, and a table of successive columns which delimited the successive orders of magnitude of their sexagesimal number system. The Sumerians were the first to use a place value numeral system. There is also anecdotal evidence the Sumerians may have used a type of slide rule in astronomical calculations. They were the first to find the area of a triangle and the volume of a cube."
Modern Day Society and Intuition
Contribution: Denial of all Universal Laws and Adoption of all Economical Laws, Global Warming, 24/7 Information, Hyper-Rationality, Famine, Hate, Disease, Cancer, Diminished Resources, Racism, Unbridled Fear, Disconnectedness, Numbness, Egocentrism, Materialism, Under-Stimulation, Human Programming.
What it is:
Lack of silence.
What's gained from knowledge?
Balance, satisfaction, purpose and meaning. Knowledge's GPS is the undeniable universal laws we intuitively know and are asked to honor and respect. That's the point. They are engrained into all of us. They're undeniable.
So, instead of trusting your man-made GPS (sorry Waze, you're fun, but you only get us from point A to point B when driving), it's time to start understanding your intuitive, given-to-you-at-birth, all-powerful, universe-made GPS: knowledge.
Credence that silence will benefit you infinitely more than technology or more than any nugget of someone else's opinion (mine included) by way of technology.
The catch part II?
Respect the Golden Mean. This is not a call to be silent at all times. It's just a call to move from 100% noise, and to the riches of silence: knowledge.
Food for Thought by Alexis de Tocqueville
“Society will develop a new kind of servitude which covers the surface of society with a network of complicated rules, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate. It does not tyrannise but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government (and big business) is the shepherd.”
What kind of world do you want to live in?
(Hint: this requires silence to answer).
1. Thumb, Tom A. "The Story of the Ancient Polynesian Navigators." The Story of the Ancient Polynesian Navigators. Storytelling Videos, 28 June 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.
2. Wolfe, David W. "Hair Is An Extension Of The Nervous System" – Why Native Americans Keep Their HairLong." David Avocado Wolfe. DavidWolfe.com, 16 Nov. 2015. Web. 17 Feb. 2017
3. Chaudhary, Kulreet H., MD. "Ayurveda: Eat Your Way to Intuition." Enlightenment Is For Everyone. Ann Purcell, 12 Oct. 2016. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.
4. Commons, Creative H. "Sumer." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Feb. 2017. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.