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Paradigm or limbic shift

18 May 2014 07:36 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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When people realised that the earth was not flat but round, they shifted a paradigm. That paradigm shift caused a great change in their thinking, sciences, politics, and religion. The world was not what it used to be anymore. However, we in the East knew that the earth was not flat and there are millions of other worlds and beings.
Although this particular paradigm shift has occurred for many individuals, millennia or centuries before, the world as a whole shifted from the flat-earth-disc paradigm to the globular-earth paradigm in the 15th century or thereabouts. Columbus found it difficult to recruit sailors for his round-the-world journey because they did not believe it was possible.


"Meatballs, sausages, cigarettes have now started to lose the negative emotions attached to them inside the limbic systems of Buddhists"


In that part of the world where the above paradigm shift had not occurred, people who thought the earth was a sphere were imprisoned or executed. In more benevolent cultures they got away with exclusion from society or with just a scoff or a sneer. However the question is why the people who said that the earth was round were punished? Even, though so trivially, by laughing at them?
Emotions are closely associated with one’s beliefs - the current paradigm. Yes, by definition a paradigm is just a belief and is it something that can be written down in a few words. But no, a paradigm is not just that.

A paradigm is a belief that is layered with sheets of emotions. The world is flat. It is like a disc. If we go beyond its perimeter we would fall down to eternal depths. It’s so scary. Stay here, where it is safe. Stay close to me and don’t dare leave looking for the unknown because I love you. Believe what I believe.
Those who dared were the ones who were different from others. And they were treated differently and very emotionally, too. They were shouted at, laughed at or even stoned to death.

Mind you, a paradigm is not a simple basic belief. It is belief enveloped with emotions. Another paradigm may be that people should not harm other people. This is more likely to be associated with less chaotic and less felonious emotions. People who believe or express that they are ready to harm others for their benefit will be frowned upon, excluded from social circles and disregarded.

"The limbic system is older and less developed. It is more prominent and forms a larger proportion of the brain in lower animals"


Now let us take a short but a deep journey into our brain to examine how paradigms are formed and changed. For this purpose, we can see the brain as having two functional components: The thinking brain and the feeling brain. The thinking brain is mostly represented by the outer white husk of the brain, known as the cerebral cortex. The feeling brain is buried deep down in the form of some weirdly twisted grey stuff, known as the limbic system.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the limbic system is more powerful than the cerebral cortex.

The limbic system is older and less developed. It is more prominent and forms a larger proportion of the brain in lower animals. And the cortex is extraordinarily over-developed in humans, several thousand times more than in the brain of our closest animal relative. But the limbic system still rules.
Limbic system is associated with our memories, emotions, impulses and thus, with behaviour. Change of mood, happiness, love, rage, aggression, hurt and lust all relate to this little weird grey thingamajig in our brains. This system has millions of fine nerve fibres extending to other parts of the brain, including the cortex.
A part of your cortex, nicely formulating a solution to a complex problem of finances, may suddenly be jolted by a heavy dose of chaotic impulses coming from the limbic system because it got activated by another set of impulses sent in by your eyes. Your eyes just saw how a man is stabbed to death on TV. This brought some peculiar memories from the dark corners of your brain and sparked thundering impulses all through the limbic system which leaked to the cortical part which was working on some civilised problem solving of your finances. Now your shaken cortex makes a decision to do something extremely unhelpful and horrible and completely illogical: maybe to go and get drunk.

"Although this particular paradigm shift has occurred for many individuals, millennia or centuries before, the world as a whole shifted from the flat-earth-disc paradigm to the globular-earth paradigm in the 15th century or thereabouts"


Those who know how the limbic system overrides the cortex will learn how to manipulate the limbic system of others. Of course, they may not know the anatomical nomenclature or the anatomy itself. But ultimately they will know how to manipulate the behaviour of others to the level of a paradigm shift. And they also know how to play on the current paradigm and its associated emotions, until it is changed.
Buddhists may believe that spreading love to all beings is what one has to do. Do no harm to others. X, Y and Z find this is unacceptable because they cannot sever their own interests because of this paradigm. X owns a sausage and meatballs manufactory; Y sells something as lethal as weapons or, perhaps, cigarettes. Z runs a conflict resolution organisation.

Buddhists celebrate their Vesak with serene, white lanterns and in the night go round to see the lanterns made by others. X, Y and Z wonder how to take over their limbic systems followed by their cortices, and ultimately change their paradigm without causing a great commotion. They organise a large scale Vesak Zone, decorated by hundreds of beautiful, serene lanterns, commercially produced of course.  And X or Y declares open the Zone. Saadhu! Saadhu!! Saaaa…
Hark now hear: X, Y and Z will no longer be frowned upon. X, Y and Z will no longer be excluded from social circles. X, Y and Z will no longer be disregarded.
Meatballs, sausages, cigarettes have now started to lose the negative emotions attached to them inside the limbic systems of Buddhists. They have gone few steps closer to changing the paradigm. The paradigm of ‘do no harm’. Usually to the 180˚ opposite: ‘Do harm’.
It is really peculiar to note that people find it more comfortable, or perhaps more exciting, to change their paradigm, if they ever change, to the completely opposite, rather than to a slightly different one.

From ‘earth is flat’ to ‘earth is spherical’. From ‘Suddhas are here to destroy us’ to ‘Suddhas are here to be worshipped’. And perhaps again, at a later time, back to ‘Suddhas are here to destroy us’. From ‘do no harm to others’ to ‘do harm to others’.
The conclusion is simple. Paradigms can be changed. But you need to start with the emotions attached to paradigms. Not with the paradigms themselves. Eventually you will achieve what you wanted with a thundering round of applause and a musical chanting of approval.
 Saadhu! Saadhu!! Saaaa…
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