THE AMAZING and RELENTLESS HUMAN DEVELOPMENT of FOCUSSING
Part One: THE INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT
Human babies don't have sufficient instinctive talents to survive. First we have to learn, and to learn first we have to focus. Without focussing we can do nothing and learn nothing.
These days we encourage focussing from the earliest age to give children a good start in life. We learn to focus with our eyes and ears to read, write, draw and listen; with our bodies to coordinate and train football and ride bicylces; and with our minds to think.
To learn and remember, we are often told that we need to concentrate. Concentration is when we consciously and actively focus.
We already know this, so why am i repeating it? Repetition is when we focus on a memory. Humans focus on and repeat what they know, to confirm it, it gives us a sense of security, to feel we know what's happening.
Humans were so successful with our hands, heads and as a species, because we developed memory systems with abstract words and symbols. Humans processed, collected, and communicated ideas quickly and we soon learnt to repeat an amazing amount of tricks.
It is a multi-efficient system. Learnt habitual repetitive ruts are essential and basically they are efficient. And with every new step the focussing-learning system confirmed itself as successful.
DEVELOPMENT of LANGUAGE
We understand what's happening in terms of the relationship between subjects and objects, things which do and are done to. And the words, grammatical constructions and memory systems we developed, to describe and understand the practical world, were very successful in mastering that material world.
Focussed thinking was the best way to learn how to make fire and wheels. More recently focussing and focussed thought gave us houses of brick, peanut butter and deep freezers. And all the marvellous inventions and developments and creativity of civilisation, developed from our ability to focus with our senses and our minds. This system of doing and thinking is deeply confirmed in all of us, both individually and culturally, because it gets things done.
Our modern western civilisation has successfully confirmed a few dozen trillion times that focussing, learning, memory, abstract thought, and repeating the habitual ruts of the past, works successfully for our survival.
This practical learning system we have is the same one we use for feelings and emotions. And feelings and emotions also develop habitual ruts.
Focussing doesn't automatically lead to emotionally learnt, habitual ruts. It's only when we think, feel, see, hear, smell, taste, touch or think something which causes pleasure or displeasure that it sometimes - depending on the degree of pleasure or displeasure - leads to focussing on it in an emotional way.
We repeat what is pleasurable. We avoid repeating what is unpleasurable. Even if the 'memory repetition', is unpleasurable it gives us a sense of direction and a basis to compare, evaluate and guide other experiences. It gives us a direction in life. It gives us something to focus on. And this is also basically a sensible and efficient way to live.
So, when focussing causes pleasure, it leads to wanting, - and wanting automatically leads to focussing on what we want.
This is an habitual rut on a new level. A self supporting, self-perpetuating feedback loop. But, in itself, this is also not a problem.
When we want something, we will periodically remember it, focussing on it in an abstract form, until we do it, or get it. Then the focussing may stop for a while - except as a 'self-confirming memory' - till the next time we want it. That's efficient. And even after we invented writing, and could write down lists of 'next things to do', it might have lost it's fun, but it was still efficient and the system worked well ... and it all seems a very sensible way of doing things.
The IRRELEVANT SIDE EFFECTS of SELECTIVE FOCUSSING
There are a few irrelevant side effects in the system, but these aren't vital to our physical survival.
When we focus on something specific, we directly inhibit our general awareness of the many other things which are happening now. Selective attention, is always a dissociation from the wholeness of our sense of reality.
Focussing on a girl i drive into a tree. But this is not felt as a draw-back to 'focussing', we interpret the problem as a lack of concentration on priorities. Focussed thought has no reason to doubt itself as the most efficient and successful way to sense and relate to the world outside.
We focus on where we're going or what we want. So, focussing is essentially not entirely now, it's a relationship, a direction, a purpose.
Not being now, but being on the way, is what focussing does, it was built that way, it's going somewhere which is not here. And from the perspective of leading a life with a meaning, if we plan wisely this can lead to increased opportunities for pleasure. The main problem it involves is on the level of selecting priorities, because doing everything we want is impossible.
So these days, to get what we want, we need abstract abilities like intelligence, memory. And we need to be clever and creative with how to infuse life into what, with all the repetitions, becomes a sterile system.
Focussing works best for practical things in the material world; but this same focussing learning system works successfully in all it's basic aspects, for emotions, wants and pleasure.
And there seems to be nothing basically wrong or critically inefficient for survival, connected with having an emotional content to memories, and thus behavioural habitual ruts, aims, ambitions, and wants.
And focussing and focussed abstract thinking, has been so very successful in our human development. It is so confirmed in all our thinking and learning, that we can't imagine another way of looking at anything, understanding anything, or doing anything.
BUT – WE CAN'T STOP THINKING.
The basic inefficiency with the focussing-learning-wanting system is that the feedback loop, 'focussing → wanting → focussing', repeats under its own momentum, in a completely abstract form. This causes the persistent repetition of ideas and feelings for years, - long after the actual stimulus is gone. This is especially problematic when the automatically repeating memories are unpleasant ones.
The practical problem modern humans have is, we can't stop thinking. And as we get older, we get dull, either contented, maybe happy, maybe bored, or scared, but stuck in our habitual ruts with our fixed behaviour and inevitable closed mindedness.
The eternal abstract chatter in our minds, the continual rethinking and reconfirmation of our ideas and beliefs, and what we want from life, has in itself, become an habitual rut and this leads directly to a lack of actual practical life.
BELIEFS and their CONFIRMATION
But even these self-perpetuating feeling and thinking habitual ruts wouldn't be a critical problem, ... if only everyone else confirmed our opinions, ideas and beliefs.
The focussing-learning-knowing system all works well enough by itself for the survival of the species, until the tribes started trying to live in peace together ...
Hunger, cold and being eaten alive were obvious practical existence problems. Our creative focussed thinking provided solutions to our practical survival and our material worries.
Our developing abstract thought came to the inherant questions of "what am I?" and "why?", and we developed beliefs and ideas to ease our newly awakened mental insecurity. We found secure 'raison d'êtres'.
As individuals and as cultures we became dependent on our ideas and beliefs for our sense of security and identity in our newly developing abstract world.
In early human culture, beliefs and ideas, united a tribe. In simpler cultures with unquestioned customs, less choice and less contradictions, life was painful, but in different more practical ways, such as hunger and illness, and everyone had the same practical problems. And, everyone had the same beliefs. Each culture was secure in its unique habitual ruts.
And it didn't really matter much if we all believed we were living on the back of the Great Turtle, or, the stars were the children of the sun and the moon, - because for our sense of identity and security, the confirmation of the tribe was far more important than the truth.
Our feelings of satisfaction or worry became dependent and dominated by confirming our ideas and beliefs. Our mental security is dependent on other people understanding and confirming us in our habitual ruts.
MODERN INTER-CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT
It's with transport and mobility since the wheel, and now wings, since individual freedom of education and thought, and since modern medicine, and increased population that now, our neighbours have different opinions, ideas, and beliefs about life.
And i don't want to go back in time, It's just a fact of life. But nowadays there simply isn't enough mututal confirmation to go around.
We have lost the mutual confirmation of a social group, a group of at least 30 people who all believe, unquestioningly, in the same things.
Collectively in human culture, any trace of the original animal sense of belonging is long gone; and now, we have even lost the integral, unquestioned beliefs of our tribe. Our beliefs are insecure in a way no humans in any previous culture, have ever experienced, or even imagined, and so regardless of our modern material security, we all still feel very insecure. ...
In modern times, (a few thousand years) with the cultural meltdown, the same old beliefs which were so clear and dear to us, and central to our poetic interpetation of life, the ones which gave our tribe identity and security, the ones which over time, in free thinking countries, developed into a mutiplicity of new creative ideas and opinions ... Nowadays our most cherished beliefs are exactly the ones which lead socially, to division and insecurity.
And the endless need for confirmation of our identity, can cause pain and suffering in a way that no animal or early human could ever imagine.
We are troubled by curious questions like "Who am I?" and "How can i be authentic?". "How can i be my own individual?".
And this relentless search for confirmation, is yet another self perpetuating system. But with the modern multiplicity of beliefs, there simply isn't enough mutual confirmation to go around, and there never can be.
Our modern liberal thinking to socially integrate and contain the diversity of beliefs, - rather than infallible rulers forcing a consensus of ideas, - is a great step for civilisation. But, respect for someone else's beliefs is only a shadow of the mutual confirmation of the group.
In the present cultural meltdown, our culture's continual and exclusive over emphasis and training for focussed sensing and focussed thinking, - with its inevitable development and dependance on beliefs, ideas and opinions, - leads directly to division on a social level, and, due to the lack of confirmation, it leads, maybe slowly, but inevitably, to insecurity or dullness on the individual level.
To summarise and compare the different forms of self-perpetuating repetitions
The cultural 'self-perpetuating repetitions' function in the same way, as the personal individual ones, but because of the time span of an individual's life, they are at a different stage of development.
On an individual level - (emotional, behavioural and psychological repetitions) - there is an obvious increase in velocity as we grow older and memories accumulate, till a point where the repetitions are self-perpetuating, habitual, materially secure, and either satisfying, stressed or bored.
On the cultural level, since civilsation began (and probably since mammalian life existed), the increase in velocity has been exponential. The speed of doing and creative thinking is increasing, the repetitions are still accelerating ... and i have no idea what will happen next ... but it seems like chaos.
And i see a clear way out of the chaos from a completely different perspective. And the fact that i can describe our human development without even mentioning it, shows how irrelevant it has been … up till now.
All the time we are only looking at life, from only one perspective: focussing. We have forgotten how all other animals and early humans, needed to use all their senses, to perceive all of the world (or as much as possible), in order to survive.
The value of focussing is paramount, of primary importance, otherwise no animal would ever have got out of the mud and slime. But the success of a species was dependent on using all of their sensory abilities.
This is not a new thing to believe in or do, it's a very old one. It must have developed previous to, and be the physiological basis of focussing. I suspect plants have 'chemoreceptors', for smelling and tasting the air. I know every amoeba has chemoreceptors and a generalised sensitivity to light and vibration. And please continue with the other pages, - but we can see that it's at the very basis of life, and all other creatures have it, but we've lost it.