193– The Human Mind …

I wrote this essay some years ago for a course I was taking on creative writing. I have revised it, but the essence of the original remains intact.


Neurons are the electrically excitable cells that receive, process, and transmit information through electrical and chemical signals, forming a web of communications with other neurons and generating the human mind.

The phenomenon of my mind, with its capacity to let me move beyond boundaries and wander in the realms of the imagination, is the most awesome quality any creature can possess. The untapped powers waiting to be discovered in the incredible amount of information stored in the relatively small space within my skull, besides being the fountain of the imagination, is one of the most fantastic riddles of this Universe in which I exist.

The creation of my mind began the instant a sperm and an ovum bonded into a sentient being inside my mother’s womb. From that very moment, a set of instructions that have been evolving and specializing through eons of time was set in motion. Cells multiplied in mysterious and beautiful patterns that led to the creation of the different components of my body and the magic of my mind. Every single movement was constrained by primal mandates within the magnificent order of Nature, yet there was a suppleness that allowed for creativity and for the accession of a mind aware of its own awareness: Life looking at itself.

Trying to discover the riddle of my mind has taken me into the exploration of insightful scientific theories and the wisdom of philosophic thinkers throughout the ages, and so I have come to understand that my level of comprehension is grounded upon ancestry that goes way beyond the plains of Africa.

Mind is the physical energy infusing every single component in my body with a universal mandate to become, self-organize, bond, self-generate, adapt, self-perpetuate, transform; while at the same time, every single component participates in the regulation and transformation of my mind by receiving, processing, and transmitting with a relative degree of freedom the energy they absorb from the environment. This symbiotic yet supple relationship is what allows me to function as a dynamic, cohesive and relatively self-governing organism; it is what bounds me to physical laws that pre-determine my development, yet oftentimes allows me to challenge them, and, sometimes, overcome them.

There is a universal mind whose energy binds us with the mandate to self-generate and survive while endowing each and all of us with a degree of freedom to transform ourselves and our environments. This is the primal energy driving the creative progression of the universal evolutionary process into the levels of complexity and order we see today. How else could a Universe evolve from a microscopic singularity into a colossal organization of billions and billions of galaxies, each utterly unique, yet each bound to develop into mere three shapes: spiral, globular, and lenticular? How else can a Universe infuse billions and billions of minuscule living creatures within our bodies with the energy to generate a mind that can not only become aware of itself, but also of the magnificence of the Universe in which it exists?

Both, the Universe and I, began as a small point in space and time. Once engendered, our development was set in motion by generating and self-organizing into cohesive yet supple structures. The natural laws of the environments in which we were embedded regulated the early development of our bodies, but slowly, very slowly, we began to experience a relative degree of freedom to manipulate and give direction to our development. And then, the powerful energy of a creative mind began to emerge, giving us the power to progress toward the levels of order and complexity that culminate in conscious self-reflection.

Therefore, I have evolved to be able to look at the skies and inquire, and question, and imagine, trying to understand the energy that binds me to a universal mandate yet endows me with a mind without boundaries to wonder.

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192 – What is it about us? …

It is very easy for us to recognize that as human beings we are highly ingenious, adaptable, resourceful, intelligent, aware of our own awareness. With ingenuity we have extended our vision and our imagination by creating instruments that allow us to see the microscopic and the faraway and immense components of our Universe; with our adaptability we have populated just about every continent and sizeable island on the surface of the planet; with our resourcefulness and intelligence we have transformed natural materials to speed up time travel, to extend our life-span, to create a world-wide web of communications; with the awareness of our own awareness we have come to realize the power within us to transform ourselves and our world.

But somehow, although the signs are becoming more and more evident and menacing, it is not easy for us to recognize that our exponential growth and voracious consumerism are driving us into an unprecedented and violent confrontation with the atmosphere in which our lives, and the lives of myriad other organisms, depend. The dominant, destructive, aggressive, visionless role of our species, has driven us to become like a ravenous and unstoppable virus overwhelming the organism that gives it nourishment.

In this state, where we can witness without trepidation the environmental crisis we are bringing upon ourselves, it is, of course, about impossible for us to see the beauty of a Universe that over eons of time and through incredible struggles has created a niche for Life to begin to be aware of itself. We inhabit that niche. And we are breaking its equilibrium.

What is it about us that we are able to recognize our intelligence, ingenuity, adaptability, resourcefulness, and yet, with self-imposed blindness, avoid recognition not only of the destructive impact of our actions, but of the consequences on the beauty and fragility of the niche in which we have been able to attain a high level of conscious self-awareness?

Centuries ago, even if it was contrary to the perception of our organic senses, the incorporation into our understanding of Reality of the fact that it is our planet that orbits the Sun and not the other way around, catapulted our perception into a more accurate vision of our Universe. In a similar way, the incorporation into our understanding of the empirical facts that our most basic components are atomic particles, and that in great measure they are mostly made of energy, will bring us to accept the fact, even if it is contrary to the perception of our organic senses, that we are made mostly of energy. Energy is a physical substance. We absorb it from the environment and convert it into power and transformative forces. That is how we develop and empower our bodies. That is how we fuel our daily activity. That is how we pump our hearts and energize every single component in our organisms. That is how our ideas can change minds and start movements that can become a force around the world. That is how, with the power of our convictions, we can move multitudes. That is how we give boundless flight to our imagination.

Energy fills us and radiates from us. This is evident in the common experience we call magnetism when we focus our eyes on a person and make her or him feel us and look at us.

What is it about us that with our highly developed levels of ingenuity, adaptability, resourcefulness, intelligence, conscious self-awareness, we cannot yet accept the self-evident fact that it is the energy in us, the energy that we radiate, that gives us the unequivocal power to transform not only ourselves but also our world. Accepting the force of this power within us will set in motion a worldwide comprehension of the damage we are inflicting on our source of life. It will change the course of our evolution.

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191 – Aren’t we among pioneers? …

“One cannot live with sighted eyes and feeling heart and not know or react to the miseries which afflict this world.” Lorraine Hansberry

One of the most significant mass extinctions on Earth was the Great Oxygenation Event (also known in scientific media as Oxygen Catastrophe, Oxygen Holocaust, Oxygen Revolution, or Great Oxidation), which began approximately 2.45 billion years ago and was induced by the appearance of free oxygen (O2) in the atmosphere. Although the causes are not completely clear, the current evidence is the exponential growth of a bacteria (Cyanobacteria) that developed into coordinate macroscopic forms as early as 2.3 billion years ago (approximately 200 million years before the event) and produced oxygen through photosynthesis. The increased production of oxygen set Earth’s original atmosphere off balance. Oxygen was toxic to some living creatures at that time on Earth, and it wiped out most of them. *

The evidence that by disturbing the balance of the atmosphere, we are positioning ourselves … the Human species … to be the next biological organism to cause a mass extinction on Earth, is more and more incontestable by the day.

In early civilizations, man learned to avoid responsibility for his cruel and destructive actions by blaming someone or something else … there was always a vulnerable group, an individual, or a catastrophic event to blame … with the avoidance of responsibility, introspection about the consequences of his actions was blunted – practically obliterated. And thus, in a male-dominated civilization, we have become the cruelest and most destructive species on Earth.

The mass extinction of wildlife due to our exponential population growth, overconsumption, and poaching, is already on its way.

Extreme climate change, melting Arctic sea ice, rising ocean levels, constant conflict, unimaginable levels of cruelty, migrations, severe droughts, fires, flooding, will continue to accelerate under the pressures on the environment of our exponential growth and an aggressive economic system that demands more and more consumption.

There is no turning back from the damage we have already done. There are, perhaps, ways to ameliorate the impact of what we have set in motion. But that we must face the consequences of our actions is not a question any longer.

The survivors and descendants of the mass extinction 2.45 billion years ago were, as is obvious, adaptable, oxygen-breathing organisms from which we eventually evolved. The populations that might survive the mass extinction of our own creation will have to adapt to a rarer, harsher, more volatile environment, and, hopefully, evolve with the knowledge that, as the destiny of a fertilized human ovum is to build … cell by cell … the pathways to the self-reflective mind, our destiny has always been to know that we are building blocks in a majestic and ingenious universal plan. Aren’t we already among pioneers in conscious self-reflection?

*Data taken from Wikipedia

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190 – How can I forget? …

I live in a culture that tells me to forgive, so I can forget the horrors of the past.

But how can I forget?

How can I, if my body won’t let me?

Forgiving is easy:

there is nothing in the past I can now change,

whatever happened happened,

what was done was done.

The main thing is that I made it,

a bit crippled, a bit awkward,

but I made it.

And in every experience I now experience,

in every emotion that overwhelms me,

in every feeling I cannot feel,

in every cruelty I wish I had not seen,

my body remembers,

it is what I’m made of.

There is no horror I can now change.

The past is all forgiven

and forgetting would be erasing a part of me.


To forget with intention of erasure is possible,

and oftentimes … for the sake of survival …

we do it unintentionally,

but to intentionally erase the past from our history

is inducing a replay of what we are trying to forget.

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189 – The Universe in Me …

When I think about myself as the communal activity of myriad components in my body, I cannot help but contemplate the fact that I am just a partial owner and operator of my own Self. I am a partial owner and operator because at the moment I was conceived, the driving force of the primordial being most of us understand as ‘the subconscious mind’ was introduced into my life. This being is the one who knew how to generate, organize and build the entire structure of my body out of two miniscule cells; it is the one who knows how to decipher the input my body gathers from the environment and transforms it into the self-reflective mind with which I try to understand myself, make sense of the world, and feast on the boundless reaches of the imagination.

And even though my relationship with this primordial being is what has given me the physical experience of a unified Self traversing through Life, I only have the heavily dogmatic teachings of organized religion to explore it. Because for the most part, science claims that the primordial power of our instincts is a ‘self – less’, spontaneous phenomenon. But how can something as complex as the brain of the human animal, in which trillions of synaptic connections create a mind that tries to understand itself, can be something spontaneous, something that happens by chance? And so, I must rely solely on intuition:

The being we call the ‘subconscious mind’ is the universal force manifesting in my instincts, desires, fears, needs; mandating me to become, self-organize, bond, self-generate, adapt, self-perpetuate, and yet endowing me with a degree of freedom to transform myself and, perhaps even the world. The being we call the ‘subconscious mind’ is the Universe in me, and I am made to see it.

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188 – Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? VII


Update on my ongoing quest to answer what I believe are the most profound questions posed to the human mind. These questions are the title of the beautiful Gauguin painting shown above.

Where do we come from?

 Like cells created by the self-organizing, self-generating, self-transforming processes of our bodies, we are created by the self-organizing, self-generating, self-transforming processes of the phenomenon we call Life. But Life is just the progression of a phenomenon that, amid trial and error, creation and destruction, inexorably evolves toward greater levels of complexity and order.

And because for us the progression of this phenomenon is self-evident and relatively measurable, its self-determination tangible, its power to create and destroy explicit, yet it continues to remain beyond our comprehension, some call it God, Allah, Shiva, etc., etc. But we tend to create deities when there is something we cannot comprehend.

And although the evolution of this phenomenon is the cause and the reason of our existence, what it is, how it might have been engendered, what its purpose might be, we cannot yet comprehend – perhaps we never will.

What are we?

 I do not know. But what I do know is that we have evolved into one of the most beautiful and complex manifestations of the phenomenon we call Life; that we have grown self-conscious of our insignificance in the scheme of the Universe and our significance in the scheme of the atomic elements; that we are participants in the universal mandate to Become, Self-organize, Bond, Re-generate, Adapt, Self-perpetuate, Transform; that we are co-creators and promoters of the constant renewal and perpetuation of Life.

And although we know that there are physical laws that regulate our internal and external environments, we also know that we possess a degree of freedom to transform ourselves and our world. We are sources of transformation.

Where are we going?

 Limited by our internal and external environments, yet pregnant with the possibilities of a degree of freedom to transform ourselves and our world, we forge ahead until we no longer can; at which point in our existence, we begin the inexorable return to the environment from which we emerged.

But in equal measure to what we have imagined,

what we have created,

what we have destroyed,

what we have taken,

what we have given to the world,

we may re-emerge upon more complex levels of existence.

Think of Einstein – how his ideas live among us, opening new visions and challenging our understanding of Reality; or Darwin – how his theory of Evolution lives among us, stimulating research in the origins of Life; or Mandela, or Gandhi – how their courage lives among us, inspiring pacifist rebellion against the destructive tyranny of unaccountable power; or Socrates – how his method of inquiry lives among us, stimulating the intellect to the study of itself; or Gauguin – how his profound questions live among us, daring us to wonder and find answers. These individuals live among us in the progression of our evolutionary processes, in the greater reaches of our perception, in the heightened insights of conscious self-reflection; they live among us, challenging and transforming our understanding of the unfolding phenomenon from which we emerge, helping us move forward in the transcendental process of Becoming. And because of what they accomplished with their lives, we are more daring in our visions of the future, more curious about our origins, more aware of what is right and what is wrong, more self-conscious about the struggles and the wonders of existence.

WHERE DO WE COME FROM? Out of a self-generating, self-organizing, self-transcending Being whose unfolding we call Life.

WHAT ARE WE? Self-conscious sources of transformation.

WHERE ARE WE GOING? Into the future, but in equal measure to what we do with of our lives.


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187 – There is an Order within Me …

Out of trillions of cells that make up my mature body, about 96 million die every hour … every hour … and my body, every hour, creates other 96 million to take their place. This self-balancing feat preserves the number of cells needed for me to be a functional, dynamic, thinking, inquisitive, determined, mindful, introspective human being.

This precise dance between death and renewal within me is done without my awareness, yet it is what keeps me alive.

My body is made of many types of cells; each type highly specialized not only in what it is to do, but how it is to do it.

Although I am educated enough to know a bit about the creative evolutionary process of the earth which has taken eons to bring us to be what we are today, I cannot fathom how trillions of cells, each one driven to accomplish what it must accomplish, can generate an intellect capable of understanding our evolutionary process, yet is unable to sense the amazing cellular processes going on inside its own body.

Some of my cells are replaced quite often, while others can last my entire lifetime; most of my cells blindly follow instructions, while others have the capacity to choose. This level of rigidity and suppleness is what builds and constantly renews the complex structure of my body; it is how my temperature and heartbeat can be adjusted in accord with the changes not only inside of me, but around me.

Without my awareness, every single cell engendered by my body is imprinted with a unique set of features … the color of my eyes, the type of my blood, the pigment of my skin, the traits of my temperament … which will identify me as a unique individual amid billions of other individuals like me, each one with their unique set of features, their unique level of rigidity and suppleness.

There is an Order within me, self-evident, perceptible, measurable, yet it remains beyond the awareness of my senses. Perhaps this level of awareness is the next wrung up in our evolutionary ladder: To be aware, to sense, to feel the Order within us   and all around us. We are made for that.

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186 – The Loneliest Being in the World …

My mind is the loneliest, most wondrous being in the world; traversing beyond boundaries, while my body traverses within boundaries.

My mind has grown out of experiences weaved through happy and sad moments, fears and dreams, emotions and feelings, anxieties and accomplishments; what my body is able to see, taste, hear, touch; what I love to remember, what I wish I could forget. My mind is the compound of all I have suffered, of all I have lived, of all I have learned, of all I have wanted, of all I have loved, of all the little battles I have lost, and the big ones I have won.

Born when two other minds became one … ovum’s and sperm’s … I inherited a mind of my own. But it didn’t come alone; it brought some very powerful baggage of its own.

Endowed with ancient Knowledge, my mind taught me how to build and organize an extremely complex yet supple body, how to perceive and adapt, how to talk, how to cry, how to laugh, how to dream, how to imagine, how to love; how to admire the beauty of Nature and tremble at its destruction and creation; how to survive the madness of anger, of hate, of deceit, of cruelty. And how to move on, even when humiliated, belittled, unwanted, hurt, scared, so I could live to be awed and loved, so I could learn to look inward … at the order and wonder of me … and come to see the magnificence and beauty of the Order we are all made to see, yet most of us cannot yet see:

An Order immensely greater than mine, yet a bit like mine. Beautiful yet grotesque, mysterious yet intelligible, destructive yet creative, physical yet immeasurable, fragile yet resilient, deliberate yet spontaneous, gentle yet merciless, breathtaking yet coarse, bold yet meek.

An Order with a mind a bit like mine. Unfathomable, yet open to comprehension. Intangible, yet always present; busily prolonging Order so there is Life. The loneliest most wondrous Being in the world, whose presence in me is music I can only hear.

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185 – State of Humankind …

I am disheartened by the troubling state humankind has reached after millions of years of evolution and ‘progress’ … is it ‘progress to get to be technologically advanced yet ignorant about what we are doing to ourselves and to our world? … our institutions of commerce, governance, religion, education, are dominated by such a level of greed for control, power, possessions, that they are blind … are they really? … to the obscenity of not only what they have created, but what they stubbornly perpetuate. They are the creators, the promoters, the instigators of an economic system based on greed, deceit, division, aggression, conflict, consumerism, nihilistic individualism; they are the creators, the promoters, the instigators of an economic system so destructive and corrupt, that it is overwhelming the natural resources of the earth and demeaning the value of life.

The warning signs of the impending catastrophe this economic system is bringing upon us are loud and clear, yet the increasing levels of consumption, and the exponential population growth it demands, continue their devastating march without a hint of introspection from those leading the parade.

What is it about us, a species threatened by an unprecedented catastrophe of our own making, that the profits of corporations seem more important than the survival of humankind? Have we lost our minds, we, supposedly the smartest creatures on earth?

I believe that the dominance of greed in human nature began to take a hold on us during the called Agricultural Revolution; a time in our evolution when early humans were congregating in increasingly larger populations, which pressed them to make the transition from hunting and roaming, to agriculture and settlement. This transition permitted the buildup and storage of goods, which then became not only a source of relative stability and security, but also of profit and control.

A degree of greed is obviously necessary for survival, but it has become so abnormally dominant in modern man that we accept it as essential to what we deem as ‘economic progress’. This acceptance has made us blind not only to its consequences, but also to be able to recognize it as the root of genocides, the exploitation of the vulnerable, the cruelty toward animals, the obscene levels of inequality that throw millions of human lives into displacement, poverty, despair.

How to even begin to think about a way to reverse the virulence of greed among us? How, when humankind is so prone to avoid self-reflection upon our own History for understanding?

To re-orient human nature toward a different path seems a monumental, if not impossible task … a miracle! … yet science can do it with a single swoop of the Knowledge accumulated throughout its history: In the same way scientists are using the advancements in communications to spread the warning signs of an environment in crisis, they can spread the Fact that, like atoms, cells, planetary systems, we are, each and all of us, constitutive, subordinate, vital, adaptable parts of Nature, and as such, those beautiful theories … like Relativity, Evolution, Quantum, Autopoiesis … they have devised to describe Nature, also describe us. But what is even more important, is that they can re-assert the Fact that the great majority of humankind, the great majority of us, do not want a world dominated by greed, do not want a world that threatens the high levels of ingenuity, dexterity, conscious self-awareness, which have taken us millions of years and an excruciating history to attain, with a world without peace, with a world without compassion, with a world perhaps even without us!

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184 – The Meaning, the Essence of E=mc2 …

From ancient times, poets, sages, saints, philosophers, scientists, cults, the individual human being, have pondered about the existence of a higher Being. We try to understand this Being with names, beliefs and concepts like Nature, Universe, God, Buddha, Allah, Shiva, the Tao, Life, Spirit, Energy, Creator, etc., etc. But the truth is that we do not know with certainty what this Being is, nor how it emerged into existence, into Life. We have assumptions, theories, hypothesis, but we truly do not know. It is a mystery, as profound as the mystery of Life itself. Yet there is a property of this Being we have come to know through science, and this is that energy and mass played, and continues to play, a fundamental role in its emergence and development, establishing a symmetry where energy is a measure of its mass, and mass a measure of its energy (e=mc2). This symmetry provided the stability essential to its evolution into the unfolding complexity we strive to comprehend.

But this symmetry, this equilibrium in which the content of an element is a constant measure of another, cannot be attained without a degree of self-reflection. As any other body or system in our Universe, the energy sources my changing body consumes must be a continuous measure of its exertion. I could not exist otherwise. And whether I do it consciously or unconsciously, this constant balancing act is not possible without a degree of self-reflection.

Self-reflection is the foundation of Life.

What is beautiful about the level of knowledge we currently have about our Universe, is that science has opened windows to the human mind which organized religion has kept tightly closed with dogma. Those open windows let me peer into the behavior and organization of the Being I am a part of: How, for instance, as I emerged myself, it has emerged with the innate urge to adapt and survive; how, as I evolve myself, it evolves, tentatively, yet steadily, toward higher levels of complexity and order; how, as I do myself, it controls yet frees its own creations, imprinting them with a code of rules that must be followed, yet can be bent.

But the deeper I peer into the composition and complexity of our Universe, the less I know about the reason for its existence, its symmetry, its creativity, the magnificence and ruthlessness of its power. Yet there is a conspicuous Force that propels its existence beyond the natural boundaries that check its evolution; this Force is Self-reflection. The riddle of Life trying to understand itself; the Force of Life reflecting upon its own force. My mind grows beyond the limits of my own body, and I am set free. I am set free to know what I am, to know why a Force inside of me, born into me and all around me, wants me, incites me to reach out, to overcome boundaries, to know. But this Force is, must always be, a reflection of my limitations.

Energy equals mass times the speed of Light squared. The mass of a body is a measure of its energy content. I am an organization of about 37 trillion cells plus trillions of bacteria. Their combined mass is the measure of the power I have not only to give structure, motion and purpose to my body, but also the power of a mind able to conceptualize an entire Universe, and wonder about its emergence, about its purpose. Body and mind supporting the symmetry that creates me, that gives me life; measuring each other, reflecting upon one another.

The meaning, the essence of e=mc2 is Self-reflection, the foundation of Life.

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