Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Karma of the Brain

They say we only use 5% of our brain at any given time. I believe this to mean that we are consciously utilizing about 5% of our neurons while making our everyday decisions. The rest of the brain is active subconsciously. This has led many people to think that we should seek ways to directly influence our (or someone else's) subconscious mind, by way of meditation, yoga, specific exercises, or marketing techniques. The subconscious, or unconscious, mind has been widely studied by psychologists and psychoanalysts such as Freud, but it escapes definition, and is surrounded by myth and mystery.

To me, the subconscious mind is a far more concrete phenomenon. Intuition resides in the subconscious mind, and intuition is shaped by the things we learn, and by the decisions we make based on the knowledge thus learned. A doctor makes decisions based on hard fact, but often these facts are not conclusive and intuition plays a significant role in decision-making. It's not just a hunch - it's more than that. When I see a patient for the first time, I may get an intuitive feeling of the probable diagnosis, based on the templates of hundreds and hundreds of patients and their illnessess in my subconscious mind. If I make the right diagnosis, the synapses that link a certain attribute to a certain diagnosis or outcome will strengthen and more synapses will grow to connect the tried and true associations in my brain. Next time I see a similar attribute in a case, it will be even more likely that I arrive at the right conclusion intuitively. This is intuition shaped by experience.

I was thinking about this the other day, and it occurred to me that this must be the true nature of Karma. Say we are consciously using just 5% of our brain in everyday decision-making. Just like the development of intuition, the decisions we make become part of the 95% which in turn will shape our future decisions. This means that the decisions we make today will, by molding the very structure of our brain, shape our thinking and decision-making in the future. Our conscious mind does have the final say in making the decision, so by making wise decisions we can shape our unconscious mind and prepare it to drive us to making better decisions in the future. This way we can exercise free will. The decisions we make today will have a meta-effect on the decisions we make tomorrow. In some cultures this is called Karma. Call it what you will, knowledge of these processes helps in regaining control of one's own thought processes.

Our morals and ethics are shaped by our actions, more than the other way around. By doing the right thing today, we are hard-wiring our brain to do the right thing tomorrow, and good things come to those who do the right thing. This is Karma. It's in our brain, in our synapses. It's who we are.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Back in Black

Did the quiz on Blogthings. Here's the result. I like it. I love to listen to AC/DC when I'm operating.

Your Theme Song is Back in Black by AC/DC

"Back in black, I hit the sack,
I've been too long, I'm glad to be back"