Blowing Bursting Bubbles

Bubbles were meant to be burst. Just gaze around and you can see them popping everywhere you look. Stock market bubbles….retail housing bubbles…pennant race bubbles. Look, my friend, we live on a swirling sea of bubbles shifting and altering all the time.

It’s life.

Not a charming Hallmark Card nor a lovely marble monument, life is eternal chaotic change. The celebrated anthropologist Margaret Mead caught the essence of it when she explained how change just keeps getting faster in our digital age: “Our world has changed more in the last 50 years than it did in the last 50 centuries.” And she said that 50 years ago.

But now here’s the point. Not all changes are automatically for the best. Think about it. To lead a good life you need equal parts change and continuity. Enter the perennial debate between traditionalists and reformers, Democrats and Republicans, me and my mother-in-law!

Without turning this into some complex philosophical thing, lets simply scan the latest bubbles getting the loudest attention. One is marriage where the traditional two-sex gang is losing ground to same-sex marriage. Another collapsing bubble is the old argument about the dangers of marijuana. Also about the importance of a college diploma. Also about mental illness, obesity, and gayness all fair prey for our stand ups.

My personal guess is these are the kinds of changes that are long overdue.

However, now I come to some changes which are a lot more arguable. These have to do with some powerfully good intentions: To learn more about what makes us humans human. Enter the modern neurobiologists who have blazed remarkable new trails explaining how our genes, brain lobes, DNA codes, and chemical balances are all busily shaping how and why we behave the way we do.

Great stuff….! Because now at long last we are starting to understand how a little more of X or Y or Z can alter [read: improve] our behavior in matters like learning, loving, voting, warring and praying. Why just last month Massachusetts General Hospital enthusiastically reported its research on how Meditation “activates genes that make cells more efficient at metabolizing energy that protect telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes that help protect DNA from damage caused by aging…”

But here’s where we may part company.

Some of you will say this newest change in how we understand ourselves is good for us. In contrast I might say this is yet another change in which modern neurobiology appears to replace the spiritual and transcendental merits of Meditation with strictly its physical merits. My hangup….? The evidence as I see it tells me you and I are a helleva lot more than simply the sum of our physical parts. What evidence is that…? The kind I experience whenever I fall deeply in love with say my wife, my children, my country, my mountain or my God. How about you…? Do you feel what you feel is all just physical? Please, tell me: No!

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