Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Brain Cannot Be Trained To Be Compassionate.

Sitting outdoors one can only wonder at the beauty of it all. How the clouds blowing over high above, the sun shimmering off every new leaf, and the trees and bushes dancing in the cool breeze unmistakably welcome one to the timeless present at hand. In this space nothing has ever been before, and if one watches close enough, one will notice how nothing will ever be just so again. Taking in the ever-expanding view one becomes aware of how at rest one's own body is when nothing in particular is being asked of it. There's a resting into an observation that has no cause, an observation that is not specifically searching anything out. Boundaries blur, distances disappear, separation ceases to exist. Spring has come on in all its glory, in these last several days, and the birds have been especially noisy. They sing, they play, they feed, and they mate. It is really quite a beautiful thing to watch a bird in flight. The freedom of movement, the grace, the agility to go anywhere and change in a moments notice. Watching 6 or 7 black birds pursue a hawk in mid-flight is surely one of the few urban pleasures left for lovers of the natural world. That, and watching a hawk swoop down out of a tree and catch a small bird in mid-air. The natural way can never be completely closed off from view. It is always there if you are quiet enough to look.

costa rica, sunset, Costa Rica, Poas
The brain cannot be trained to be compassionate. Compassion is an aspect of the natural way and therefore cannot be taught or performed. The human being is so quick to seek out training, to seek out answers, to solve what it considers to be problems, both personal and collective. And yet so few are willing to understand the one who is in such need of training, answers, and problems solved. Is it because we know the brain can be trained that we believe it should be trained? For the brain we are all familiar with functions according to the conditions that influence it. And even though countless conditions, that are entirely out of our control, influence the brain every day we seem to hold firmly to the belief that through changing the few that we can control we will fundamentally change the way the brain operates. Religion exists almost entirely because of this impression, but so does science, communism, capitalism, socialism, culture, society, and of course the individual, to name but a few.

Now one cannot deny a certain degree of human progress over time, both extraordinarily wonderful and hideous, but has the human being fundamentally changed? That is, has the brain fundamentally changed in the manner to which it meets life around it? For it seems the brain has always separated itself from the life surrounding it in order to control and survive. It is this separate brain, existing as 'me', which needs constant training in order to operate appropriately in the surrounding world. And it is this separate 'me' that eventually seeks out compassion. Seeking, being an insecure movement of an isolated brain, must always come to an end and so compassion is inevitably defined and the brain sets about doing what it has always done, this time attempting to train itself to become compassionate. Now one is not suggesting training the brain under the guise of becoming compassionate will not produce something, it most certainly will, just not compassion. A trained brain is like water that pools up alongside a river. Cut off from the river's movement the pool fills with algae, is suffocated, and eventually dries up. If you're unsure as to whether you are living as a pool or a river, simply know that all training takes place in a pool and only a brain like a river knows compassion.