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Mind and Morality Meet Well Beyond Our Capacity to Observe Them

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My studies thus far have led me to some thoughts about mind and morality as rationalized constructs worth using to attempt to understand our nature. To paraphrase Rumi, there is a garden beyond all concepts and constructs, all definitions of reality. Meet me there. We will sit there together, each knowing that we don’t know what we know and that we have no idea what we don’t know. It is difficult to find this place, because it rests on a sea of dissonance. To find it, we must calm our minds, ease our bodies, quiet our souls, embrace our emotions and our environment, and connect with community. Welcome to the Center for Humans and Nature.

This is the transdisciplinary journey. We see that reality includes all perspectives and all observations, so how can a “problem” be solved in one discipline or on one level (or two or ten), without potentially causing worse problems in other disciplines and other levels? The simple solutions we see due to our lack of sophistication as a species are illusory. As we dig deeper and deeper into the details of the discipline and sub-discipline, we get farther and farther from a place where we can sit with all of the disciplines and all of the perspectives and glean some hints at how things work and some remote ideas about how useful changes might happen.

I feel that reality is infinitely complex and constantly changing and the biases and gaps in our thinking are infinitely complex and changing. Nothing is so well understood and defined that it can be said to evolve, except perhaps over hundreds of thousands of years. Our best hope for understanding a thing or process, anything, is to draw an immense sampling of data, perspectives, biases, observations, and models. These must include social sciences, arts, physical sciences, math, literature, economics, philosophy, biology, culture, literally all human disciplines and sub-disciplines. Even with that overwhelmingly infinite-seeming sampling, we are still just guessing. Reality is still a mystery. This is the beginning of wisdom—modesty. And modesty calls for the precautionary principle. Our intentions are irrelevant in the absence of certainty, as we never really understand enough to be certain beyond very simple relationships. The big, “wicked” problems will require intricate, complex dances with data and feelings and cultures, the opening of new eyes, the closing of old eyes, and the re-opening of ancient eyes.

In all of this, the grand question may not be how we fix things, or master processes, but how we contain efforts that will make them worse, and possibly learn more about how to reverse the problems from what we observe in the process—or how to pause and adapt when we must admit that we don’t know enough to do anything that will not make matters worse. In a world of action and stars and heroes and fixers and market-based solutions, this sounds hopeless. Yet, in a world of non-doing, of patience and celebration, of sharing our fears and our dreams until we feel heard and understood, we can feel hope and love. Solutions may just be in expanding the circles of compassion, the connections between disciplines and ideologies and identities, until we all stop striving so hard for ideals and linear and material success and find more satisfaction in our communities, in lives of meaning and dignity. This is why I keep coming back to the Center for Humans and Nature.

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