Evolution and a more pragmatic relationship to stories

 

Slightly revised, and from a previous post I just finished:

It is easy for us to recognize physical tools as tools only, and to use these with a measure of pragmatic wisdom.

And yet, it is so difficult for us to do the same with stories. At least for many of us.

Why is it so?

Physical tools are “out there” in the world, so it less likely that we become identified with them. And stories happen “here” and may be less easy to recognize as objects, so it is easier to identify with them. To take that specialized story “I am that” and use it on itself and other stories.

It may also have to do with where we are in our evolution. Using our hands and limbs is something we have done for millions of years. A simple form of mental imagery has probably been with us for a similarly long time. But using our capacity for mental imagery and stories the way us modern humans do, is far more recent. We don’t have the same experience and familiarity with it yet.

Seeing it in this perspective, it is easy to imagine that there may be a time where this is different. Where more of us will recognize a greater number and types of stories as tools, and relate to them in the same pragmatic way we relate to physical tools.

Recognizing an increasing number and types of stories as tools is a part of ordinary healing and maturing. And when the stories of me and I, and especially the story of identification (“I am that’) is recognized as tool as well, it is what we – with our penchant for making too much out of simple things – have called “awakening”.

The ordinary maturing is perhaps ongoing and have been so for a very long time. Many of us have the potential to mature quite a bit, given the right circumstances, and those higher on this potential may experience somewhat less stress and are more flexible, so may survive and reproduce slightly better. Over time, it may well be that humanity as a whole matures, relating to a greater number and types of stories in a pragmatic way.

This obviously happens culturally, but it may well be reflected biologically as well.

Culturally, we mature within our biological potential given conducive circumstances. And those with the greatest biological potential mature a little further, which gives them a slight reproductive edge. So over time, the biological potential for maturity of humanity as a whole increases. Humanity is able to become just a little more mature. Biology offers the potential and limits of culture, and culture in turn – and obviously – influences our biological evolution.

So what about the pragmatic approach to the story of “I am that”?

It may happen for a few at first. From an evolutionary perspective, if these survive and reproduce at a higher rate than others, they will have more offspring who are more likely to recognize stories as tools, and the proportion of these types of folks increases.

Recognizing stories as tools gives less stress and more flexibility, so it should increase their reproductive chances. It is perhaps unfortunate that historically, many who were predisposed to recognize stories as tools took themselves out of the gene pool (becoming monks or nuns), but that is already changing.

At the same time, taking even some stories as more than tools (as “truth”) creates stress and rigidity, which reduces survival and reproductive chances slightly.

The difference may be small, but over time, perhaps large enough to have a significant impact.

How will it look? What would a culture look like if a significant proportion have a pragmatic approach to the story of “I am that”, recognizing it as a tool only? It is difficult to say, especially since it is likely to happen far into the future. But it may not look all that different.

People will still live their ordinary lives – work, have families and children, enjoy ice cream and a day out in the sun. The main difference will be a reduction overall, and absence for some, of the experience of stress and strife. Society is likely to run a little more smoothly. Decisions are made more from a pragmatic perspective, and from a little more kindness and wisdom.

“Awakening” will probably lose a lot of the “spiritual” baggage it has today. It will be ordinary, simple, commonplace. We will probably still have religions, to celebrate and find community, but not to find ultimate answers.

If the process is purely biological, which it may well be, will it happen quickly? Probably not. May we do something stupid to ourselves before it happens? Could be. Do we know any this for certain? No.

……………..
……………..

From a previous post I just finished:

It is so easy for us to recognize how to use physical tools with a measure of pragmatic wisdom, and yet, it is so difficult for (many of) us to do the same with stories.

Of course, physical tools are “out there” in the world, so it less likely that we become identified with them. And stories happen “here” and may be less easy to recognize as objects, so it is easier to identify with them, to use that specialized story “I am that” on these stories.

It may also have to do with where we are in our evolution. Using our hands and limbs is something we have done for millions of years. Using our capacity for mental imagery and stories, at least the way us modern humans do, is far more recent. We don’t have the same experience and familiarity with it yet.

Seeing it in this perspective, it is easy to imagine that there will be a time where we will recognize stories as tools, and relate to them in the same pragmatic way we relate to physical tools. Recognizing an increasing number and types of stories as tools is a part of ordinary healing and maturing. And when the stories of me and I, and especially the story of identification (“I am that’) is recognized as tool as well, it is what we – with our penchant for making too much out of simple things – have called “awakening”.

The ordinary maturing is perhaps ongoing and have been so for a very long time. Many of us have the potential to mature quite a bit, given the right circumstances, and those with this potential experience somewhat less stress and are more flexible, so survive and reproduce slightly better. Over time, it may well be that humanity as a whole matures, relating to a greater number and types of stories in a pragmatic way. This obviously happens culturally, but it may well be reflected biologically as well.

Culturally, we mature within our biological potential given conducive circumstances. And those with the greatest biological potential mature a little further, which gives them a slight reproductive edge. So over time, the biological potential for maturity of humanity as a whole increases. Humanity is able to become just a little more mature. Biology offers the potential and limits of culture, and culture in turn – and obviously – influences our biological evolution.

So what about the pragmatic approach to the story of “I am that”?

It may happen for a few at first. From a conventional evolutionary perspective, if these survive and reproduce at a higher rate than others, they will have more offspring who are more likely to recognize stories as tools, and the proportion of these types of folks increases.

Recognizing stories as tools gives less stress and more flexibility, so it should increase their reproductive chances. It is perhaps unfortunate that historically, many who were predisposed to recognize stories as tools took themselves out of the gene pool (becoming monks or nuns), but that is already changing.

At the same time, taking even some stories as more than tools (as “truth”) creates stress and rigidity, which reduces survival and reproductive chances slightly.

The difference may be small, but over time, perhaps large enough to have a significant impact.

How will it look? What would a culture where a significant proportion have a pragmatic approach to the story of “I am that”, recognizing it as a tool only? It is difficult to say, especially since it is likely to happen far into the future. But it may not look all that different.

People will still live their ordinary lives – work, have families and children, enjoy ice cream and a day out in the sun. The main difference will be a reduction overall, and absence for some, of the experience of stress and strife. Society is likely to run a little more smoothly. Decisions are made more from a pragmatic perspective, and from a little more kindness and wisdom. ”

Awakening” will probably lose a lot of the “spiritual” baggage it has today. It will be ordinary, simple, commonplace. We will probably still have religions, to celebrate and find community, but not to find ultimate answers.

If the process is purely biological, which it may well be, will it happen quickly? Probably not. May we do something stupid to ourselves before it happens? Could be. Do we know any this for certain? No.

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