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Thread: What are we and where are we going?

  1. #1
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    What are we and where are we going?


    While many of us search for spiritual meaning in our lives we neglect the fact that we are amazing as the material beings we already are. In this thread I would like to look at some of these often neglected facts and ask the question “is the need for spirituality a defence mechanism for the inability to cope with material life?” or “is spirituality a path to understanding "what is"?”


    Source:Top 10 Things that Make Humans Special

    Long Childhoods

    Humans must remain in the care of their parents for much longer than other living primates. The question then becomes why, when it might make more evolutionary sense to grow as fast as possible to have more offspring. The explanation may be our large brains, which presumably require a long time to grow and learn.

    Blushing

    Humans are the only species known to blush, a behavior Darwin called "the most peculiar and the most human of all expressions." It remains uncertain why people blush, involuntarily revealing our innermost emotions. The most common idea is that blushing helps keep people honest, benefiting the group as a whole.

    Fire

    The human ability to control fire would have brought a semblance of day to night, helping our ancestors to see in an otherwise dark world and keep nocturnal predators at bay. The warmth of the flames also helped people stay warm in cold weather, enabling us to live in cooler areas. And of course it gave us cooking, which some researchers suggest influenced human evolution — cooked foods are easier to chew and digest, perhaps contributing to human reductions in tooth and gut size.

    Clothing
    Humans may be called "naked apes," but most of us wear clothing, a fact that makes us unique in the animal kingdom, save for the clothing we make for other animals. The development of clothing has even influenced the evolution of other species — the body louse, unlike all other kinds, clings to clothing, not hair.

    Brain

    Without a doubt, the human trait that sets us apart the most from the animal kingdom is our extraordinary brain. Humans don't have the largest brains in the world — those belong to sperm whales. We don't even have the largest brains relative to body size — many birds have brains that make up more than 8 percent of their body weight, compared to only 2.5 percent for humans. Yet the human brain, weighing only about 3 pounds when fully grown, give us the ability to reason and think on our feet beyond the capabilities of the rest of the animal kingdom, and provided the works of Mozart, Einstein and many other geniuses.

    Hands

    Contrary to popular misconceptions, humans are not the only animals to possess opposable thumbs — most primates do. (Unlike the rest of the great apes, we don't have opposable big toes on our feet.) What makes humans unique is how we can bring our thumbs all the way across the hand to our ring and little fingers. We can also flex the ring and little fingers toward the base of our thumb. This gives humans a powerful grip and exceptional dexterity to hold and manipulate tools with.

    Hair

    We look naked compared to our hairier ape cousins. Surprisingly, however, a square inch of human skin on average possesses as much hair-producing follicles as other primates, or more — humans often just have thinner, shorter, lighter hairs.

    Upright Posture

    Humans are unique among the primates in how walking fully upright is our chief mode of locomotion. This frees our hands up for using tools. Unfortunately, the changes made in our pelvis for moving on two legs, in combination with babies with large brains, makes human childbirth unusually dangerous compared with the rest of the animal kingdom. A century ago, childbirth was a leading cause of death for women. The lumbar curve in the lower back, which helps us maintain our balance as we stand and walk, also leaves us vulnerable to lower back pain and strain.

    Speech

    The larynx, or voice box, sits lower in the throat in humans than in chimps, one of several features that enable human speech. Human ancestors evolved a descended larynx roughly 350,000 years ago. We also possess a descended hyoid bone — this horseshoe-shaped bone below the tongue, unique in that it is not attached to any other bones in the body, allows us to articulate words when speaking.

    Life after Children

    Most animals reproduce until they die, but in humans, females can survive long after ceasing reproduction. This might be due to the social bonds seen in humans — in extended families, grandparents can help ensure the success of their families long after they themselves can have children.
    For an interesting look at how the human population is developing take a look at "The Worldometer" a real-time clock of human population growth.


    Source:Nutrient Utilization in Humans: Metabolism Pathways

    Summary

    The transformation of the chemical energy of fuel molecules into useful energy is strictly regulated, and several factors control the use of glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids by the different cells. For instance, not all cells have the enzyme machinery and the proper cellular compartments to use all three fuel molecules. Red blood cells are devoid of mitochondria and are therefore unable to oxidize neither fatty acids nor amino acids, relying only on glucose for ATP synthesis. In addition, even in cells that can use all nutrients, the type of food substrate that is oxidized changes according to the physiological situation of the cell, such as the fed and fasting states. Different signals dictate how cells can adapt to each situation, such as hormones, which may exert powerful effects by switching key enzyme activities in a matter of seconds, or how they may modulate geneexpression profile, changing the whole cell metabolic profile. We must therefore understand all metabolic pathways as integrated events controlling energy regulation and conversion
    Already we have some vestigial parts of the human body i.e. those parts having lost all or most of their original function through natural evolution, for example the Appendix, Wisdom teeth, Coccyx, Male nipples, Erector pili (goose bumps) etc..

    Where will evolution take us in the future?


    Source:Top 10 Possible Next Steps in Human Evolution

    Mono-ethnicity

    Multiculturalism is the essence of modern society. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, then, that humans are expected to evolve into a single, ubiquitous ethnic group, should the mixing of the cultures continue. As miscegenation becomes commonplace, humans will slowly begin to lose the distinguishing features of their ethnicity, and instead take on characteristics from many different parts of the world. There’s one obvious benefit to all this: “race” will no longer be an issue. 



    Weakened Immune Systems

    As humans become more and more dependent upon medication for survival, we can expect the human immune system to slowly weaken. The best way to explain this is with an example using hormones: imagine a future in which, with the help of supplements, you can regulate your hormones to maximize your wellbeing. Over time, your body would become dependent upon the additional hormones, to the point where it might stop doing for itself what the supplements can do instead. The processes which create hormones would become less important for survival, since your body would always have enough, thanks to the supplements.

    After tens of thousands of years, it is likely that humans would evolve to the point where hormones are no longer created organically within their body. Taking this example a little further: if external aids were entirely responsible for our survival, many of our internal functions might become obsolete. Why would your body need a powerful immune system if all pathogens are tackled with medication? Indeed, it is but another downside to the use of medication to fight diseases.


    Muscle Atrophy

    There are two foreseeable causes for the gradual physical weakening of the human race. The first is our increasing reliance on technology – and in particular machinery – to do our dirty (but muscle-enhancing) work. The less each generation depends on physical strength, the more likely it is that the whole species will grow weaker.

    The second possible cause for muscle atrophy is a little more awesome, and would become highly relevant if ever we were to relocate into space. In such a scenario, physical strength is hardly necessary for day-to-day activities. Should we spend too long as galactic explorers, it’s likely that we’d eventually lose most of our muscle mass. Most of us have heard about astronauts returning to earth, a mere husk of their former selves.

    Increased Height

    Human height has been growing rapidly for the last two centuries. Over the last 150 years alone, the average height of the species has increased by 10cm. It is believed that the main driving force behind this growth is the abundance of nutrition available to many of us. Famine has long been a curse for those aspiring to tallness – and in certain parts of the world, it has almost been eradicated.

    The more a child has to eat, the more energy he or she has to grow. As long as we have the ability to eat in excess, the species will continue to grow taller. Whether the sky is the limit, or whether biology will stop us short somewhere among the tree-tops, only time – and evolution – will tell.



    Loss of Hair

    Having lost the majority of body hair already – for a whole host of reasons – it is likely that humans will become more and more bald as a species over time. Women, in particular, are frequently seen as more attractive with less hair on various parts of their bodies, and because hairlessness offers the individual an advantage when it comes to sexual attractiveness, we can posit that, over time, females will eventually evolve to a point where such hair is completely absent. The same could be said for men – at least in terms of body hair – but since there is less social pressure for men to be smooth-skinned, permanent change is likely to occur more slowly.

    Brain Rewiring

    Technology has already affected the way our memory works. The human brain, being a machine striving for maximum efficiency, typically remembers where information is stored, rather than the information itself. It is far easier to remember where you put the book containing juicy facts, than to recall the actual content of the book; and in the age of internet, this mental peculiarity has become especially important. How many times have you tried to remember something, and instead simply looked up the answer? That’s your brain remembering where something is stored – on the internet, on google, on wikipedia, and so on. As technology becomes more and more advanced, our brains will adapt in order to maximize efficiency – perhaps to the detriment of our memory.



    Smaller Teeth

    The most obvious change to our jaws will be the disappearance of wisdom teeth, which serve no use to modern humans, and which already have low occurrence rates among some ethnic groups. But aside from this, we can also expect our teeth to grow smaller. Throughout the evolution of man, there has been a general trend towards smaller teeth. Evidence has shown that in the last 100,000 years alone, our teeth have halved in size. No longer having any reason to accommodate such huge gnashers, our jaws have also shrunk. We can expect this trend to continue into the foreseeable future.



    Less Toes

    Before humans walked upright, our toes were used for grappling – much like our hands. As we have come to rely less on climbing and more on walking, our toes have slowly shrunk to their current size. With our feet now woefully incapable of grasping even the smallest branches, evolution has taken steps to rid us of our smallest fifth toe.

    Whereas our other toes – especially the biggest – serve to aid balance and walking, our little toes serve no purpose, and humans can get by very well without them. Because of this, and because of the problems which arise from its needless existence – being frequently crushed in shoes and stubbed on every prominent object, to name a couple – we can expect humans to eventually evolve into a four-toed creature. It is common for animals to lose digits through evolution: the horse, for example, used to have more than two.



    Larger/Smaller Skull Volume

    Two schools of thought exist on the question of skull volume. The “small skull” camp, which enjoys the support of many scientists, argues that it is borderline impossible for humans to evolve with larger heads. Why is this? Well, anyone who has given birth knows that a child’s head is, to put it tactfully, rather large already. For this reason, many biologists believe that a larger head would make birth impossible – something the evolutionary process would phase out rather quickly, no doubt. A large head at birth is also more likely to hurt or kill the mother. With this in mind, it seems inevitable that head size will stay the same, or even decrease over time.

    However, this ignores the fact that Caesarean sections are these days providing more and more opportunities for the survival of big-headed children. In fact, some believe that C-Sections will eventually be safer than natural births – leading to the possibility that children with small heads, naturally delivered, will be less likely to survive than those requiring an operation.

    But such dependence would be dangerous for humans. If huge-headed humans lost the ability to perform C-Sections, we could expect a quick extinction. 


    Self Improvement

    Humans may eventually reach a point where they can force evolution upon themselves through the use of technology. Whether this is literal self-improvement, via bionic organs for example, or through gene selection, which has prospective parents choose their child’s traits before birth, this is the most likely avenue human evolution will take in the near future. If permitted, gene selection in particular could quickly lead to a boom in so called “designer babies” – in which all defects and undesirable traits are removed. Should this become widespread, it could potentially force many negative human traits to extinction.
    By looking into the way things actually are may give us a better understanding of “what is” and possibly a better insight into spirituality.

    Ghislain
    Last edited by Ghislain; 10-28-2013 at 09:38 AM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghislain View Post

    While many of us search for spiritual meaning in our lives we neglect the fact that we are amazing as the material beings we already are. In this thread I would like to look at some of these often neglected facts and ask the question “is the need for spirituality a defence mechanism for the inability to cope with material life?” or “is spirituality a path to understanding "what is"?”



    For an interesting look at how the human population is developing take a look at "The Worldometer" a real-time clock of human population growth.



    Already we have some vestigial parts of the human body i.e. those parts having lost all or most of their original function through natural evolution, for example the Appendix, Wisdom teeth, Coccyx, Male nipples, Erector pili (goose bumps) etc..

    Where will evolution take us in the future?



    By looking into the way things actually are may give us a better understanding of “what is” and possibly a better insight into spirituality.

    Ghislain
    Hi Ghislain,

    Most excellent question, "WHAT ARE WE and WHERE ARE WE GOING

    “is the need for spirituality a defence mechanism for the inability to cope with material life?” or “is spirituality a path to understanding "what is"?”

    I would be more inclined to say that the "need for spirituality" comes from a variety of sources. For me it was all about having to know and understand. I was desperate and getting clobbered. Science is great as far as it goes. However, I had way way way too many experiences, very impossible experiences, understandings to be able to keep ignoring them. I've seen lots of defense mechanisms of all sorts of causes, and almost never by what they seem in the first place, not that anything else is either.


    we neglect the fact that we are amazing as the material beings we already are

    Again speaking from experience I can only say that I am confronted with that amazement over and over. And that amazement includes those characteristics of our bodies that make accessing the spiritual so much easier; comes with a built-in modem with self upgrading capability.


    By looking into the way things actually are may give us a better understanding of “what is” and possibly a better insight into spirituality.

    And what is "the way things actually are"? and "“what is”"? I do agree that KNOW THY SELF is a fundamental part of the process.

    So, Where is this "here", of the “what is” and "the way things actually are"?

  3. #3
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    III the “here” is the perceived limited space of the confines of our Universe, Galaxy, Solar system, Planet, Country, Town, Dwelling or even Body.

    The “what is” is the truth we all seek, the purpose to our existence, the unexplained.

    When I talk about "the way things actually are" I am talking about the immediate sensation of material solidity and boundaries that surround us in our everyday lives.

    When people talk of spirituality I believe they are talking of a more ethereal existence which overcomes the boundaries we find in our every-day lives. I see it as a level where one would become connected to an understanding of the unity of all; a state where our instinctive animal senses would appear primitive or coarse.

    So I could perhaps change my opening question to “are people who search for spirituality looking for a connectedness they are lacking in their everyday lives?”

    Ghislain

    N.B. I haven’t actually got a clue what I mean ,and that’s the real point; what gives life meaning?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghislain View Post
    ...what gives life meaning?
    I always argue death.


    Don’t let the delusion of reality confuse you regarding the reality of the illusion.

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    I guess.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghislain View Post
    III the “here” is the perceived limited space of the confines of our Universe, Galaxy, Solar system, Planet, Country, Town, Dwelling or even Body.

    The “what is” is the truth we all seek, the purpose to our existence, the unexplained.

    When I talk about "the way things actually are" I am talking about the immediate sensation of material solidity and boundaries that surround us in our everyday lives.

    When people talk of spirituality I believe they are talking of a more ethereal existence which overcomes the boundaries we find in our every-day lives. I see it as a level where one would become connected to an understanding of the unity of all; a state where our instinctive animal senses would appear primitive or coarse.

    So I could perhaps change my opening question to “are people who search for spirituality looking for a connectedness they are lacking in their everyday lives?”

    Ghislain

    N.B. I haven’t actually got a clue what I mean ,and that’s the real point; what gives life meaning?

    Hi Ghislain,

    what gives life meaning?

    Now that is an outright difficult question. I really have no good idea on that. When I was in severe intractable pain for 20 years, I couldn't find anything giving life enough meaning for me to want to remain here. With that moderated some, just being able to live a normal life was enough for about 5 years. Now I am finding working with others, to help get them out of hell, to be sufficiently meaningful for me to want to stick around. There doesn't seem to be anything inherently meaningful in life beyond the evolutionary opportunities once one looks behind the curtain. But as a playing board it has a lot of possibilities, whatever one makes of it. Then it's a matter of finding a game worth playing once one sees the board.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dev View Post
    I always argue death.

    Hi Dev,

    I don't know that death gives any meaning to life. For me, at best it has been a temporary relief from overwhelming pain. It's easy to tell when I'm dead. The pain stops completely as do all "life" considerations. I have an "identity" there but it isn't this "SMALL" me and it is concerned with much larger things. Meaning doesn't travel well. It is meaningful where and when experienced as such, as far as I've experienced. Each time I'm not in a life, everything that had life meaning of any kind, faded away very fast. It was only meaningful there in that one place. When I die, the death only matters in briefly in a life. As the burdens of a life lift off, so do meanings. They have meaning only with the specifics.

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    Coming back to "what gives life meaning?" I don't really think my other statements are any more correct or less correct than this one, just approximations at best, and my own experience, but then I can't really give a better one. This "meaning" thing is slippery. Within the context of a specific life various things have meaning because the "identity" gives it meaning. The memories of past lives have little meaning except within it's own context. As a whole each life helped shape me and added to the whatever knowledge, understanding or wisdom that life might have generated when the life is integrated. To me it looks like "attachments" appear to be "have to be" meanings that get carried over from other lives, in other words karma. And again we get back to the Voyager's Quatrain by E. J. Gold, and I wish to say that he means the eternal voyager's habits, not one's personal human habits which he does in LIFE IN THE LABYRINTH, a must read for an Alchemist.

    All phenomena is illusion,
    Neither attracted nor repelled,
    Making no sudden moves,
    My habits will carry me through.

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    Quote Originally Posted by III View Post
    I don't know that death gives any meaning to life.
    My point is only that death gives a sort of deadline... without death what's the point? Like the African proverb: "the only stress is death"

    What you fill life with is individual, but death is the common denominator for us all, what we all equally share rich and poor.


    Don’t let the delusion of reality confuse you regarding the reality of the illusion.

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    Although some sooner than others!

    Ghislain

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