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Mystics always seem to become alone, and find themselves, and find God, at the same time.
The neuroscientist, Michael Graziano, thinks that Self, Soul, and God are all related manifestations of the human neurologic system of mental social perception. NOT, mind you, mental social thinking, but rather mental social perception. He emphasizes this. Perceptions – the experiences of our senses – are what we automatically and unconsciously consider to be real – they are believed. And what is fundamental about God, Self, and Soul, is that they are believed.
He explains that all of our perceptions are constructed models in the brain that build our experience in predetermined ways. We don’t experience these perceptions in this way, however, we experience our perceptions as objective pictures of the real world. Our minds fool us this way . . . very, very convincingly. Our minds are virtual reality Oculus devices.
Evolution has created these constructed models of perception, in our brains, not to be ‘true’ as we think of objective reality as being ‘true’, but for the purpose of promoting our evolutionary interests and goals – survival and reproduction. These models are constructed in various ways, for various kinds of perception, with or without cognitive, perceptual, and motor elements, and with or without conscious elements, as natural selection has found to be best. Most importantly, Mr. Graziano emphasizes, we are NOT built to be conscious that they are constructs, Rather, we are built to believe – to feel – that they mirror objective reality.
“The perceptual machinery in the brain automatically constructs models about the mental states and intentions that underlie events. We are built to do it. We do it all the time. We can’t help it. It is our heritage as social animals.” –
Our social perceptions, perceptions about what other living beings, particularly other human beings, are thinking, feeling, wanting, and planning to do, are no different than our other perceptions of the world. Our evolutionary needs require intense social perception, as other living beings are key elements of the problems and opportunities of our lives. We perceive awareness in other people and model their world of perceptions as we think they likely are experiencing them, models about what we think other minds are thinking and feeling.
“We live immersed in self-created models of minds crowding around us.”
Further, we apply social perception, both consciously and unconsciously, to ourselves. We perceive ourselves – our thoughts, our feelings, and intentions – using the same system we use to perceive others.
And, very importantly, we have as much objectivity . . . and lack of objectivity . . . about ourselves as we do of others. Our self awareness is as limited as our objectivity of others is limited. Because it is a perception, our self awareness feels as real as our other perceptions, which, as has been noted, automatically feel real.
And so, our self awareness is the social perception apparatus turned to the self. And that is our Soul. We perceive our own minds using the same neural processes that we use to perceive other minds. We can know our self no better than we can know other selves.
And so we feel that we know ourselves, just as we feel we know the world, even though both realms of knowledge are full of predetermined constructions.
“Somehow, we re aware of ourselves being aware, and we are aware of others being aware of their self awareness. We feel like this awareness can be or is disembodied.”
Disembodied – the realm of the mental is perceived as outside of our physical being, spirit. And this is how God comes to be known.
Our social perception modeling apparatus is always on, operating in us, all the time. It has the built- in bias of agency and intention, and so we see, whenever we look, agency and intention, all the time, even in events that are random – the feelings of Self, of Soul, and of the presence of God.
“What is God but the perception of intentionality on a global scale?