Side 4 (Separation): In many ways Side 1 (materialism) is what enables this side of the box to be constructed. If everything is simply matter, then everything can be seen as separate.
Separation tells us that every phenomenon has its own separate identity. Separation suggests that, although there may be a connection between two things, they remain separate. If the connection is broken, then neither is changed in anyway. Our own lives prove the untruth of this. Think of when a connection with someone you are fond of is broken. Perhaps the other person goes to live in another country or dies. Can you honestly say that the broken connection has not changed you in some way? I suspect not.
The western world view has attempted, at least since the Enlightenment and Scientific Revolutions, to understand and explain the world by breaking the world into pieces. We have looked at the parts of the whole tried to understand each part – by its separateness. We have even broken down our attempts to understand into “disciplines” – medicine, astronomy, geology, psychology, history, architecture, mathematics, physics, anatomy, … And, within those disciplines we have sub-divided yet again.
But separation is a myth. Most indigenous cultures have understood the wholeness of the world, and cosmos, as have many of the Eastern spiritual traditions. In these traditions everything is so inter-connected that it becomes impossible to explain one aspect without consideration of other aspects. Thich Nhat Hanh (a Vietnamese Buddhist monk) coined the phrase interbeing to describe this understanding.
Side 4 needs to be broken through.
Side 5 (Control): If things are separate material objects then it is possible to control them. At least, that is what this constraint tells us. We can control ourselves and, by extension, things around us. If we can control the inputs then we can control the outputs, and consequently we can control the outcomes.
Such thinking is a terrible constraint. Not only is it a constraint, but it can have disastrous consequences. Our desire to control nature has led to environmental destruction. Our desire to control others has led to domestic violence, wars, terrorism, and all sorts of chauvinistic attitudes. Our desire to control ourselves has led to anxiety, depression and many other (modern day) mental health issues.
Chaos Theory, and the Butterfly Effect, have shown this thinking to be in error. A small (sometimes even apparently inconsequential) change in the initial conditions can have an enormous effect upon the final outcome. Not only can the outcome be massively different it often is unpredictable.
Mostly we have no control over those small changes.
Consider climate chaos. A temperature rise of one degree does not sound like much does it? However, the increasing frequency and intensity of climatic effects such as hurricanes, cyclones, bushfires, floods, heatwaves, oceanic acidification etc are enormous. Now we may think that perhaps we can reduce that one degree and stave off the effects of climate chaos. However, we have now set in motion a series of interlinking (no separation here) effects that we humans have no control over.
Yet, it was our thinking we could control that has led to this point.
Side 5 must be smashed through.
Side 6 (Thinking is only in our mind): Side 6 is possibly the one side upon which all the other five sides are constructed. It is the base of the box.
This thinking (belief) says that thinking takes place only inside our brains, or minds.
“Je pense, donc je suis - I think therefore I am,” suggested René Descartes almost five hundred years ago. The thinking he alluded to was entirely of an intellectual kind. We have been constrained by this “thought” ever since.
Yet western science has recently discovered that our heart also contains neurons. In 1991 Dr Andrew Armour (University of Montreal) published a ground-breaking monograph that described neurons and a sophisticated nervous system that he called the heart brain.1
Since then, similar neurons have been discovered in the gut that Science magazine has described as “practically a brain unto itself.”
Of course, as we have now come to suspect, non-western cultures have always known this. The Pali word citta is best translated as heart-mind. There is no distinction.
Sadly, our western-styled culture has not only ignored this, but it has also actively dismissed thinking that is not of the brain. Intuition, instinct, parapsychology, empathy, imagination, inner radar, and other thinking associated with the heart and gut have been considered non-thought and so disdained and rejected. Much to our peril.
Side 6 needs to be firmly done away with.
There are no doubt other “…boundary conditions of our thinking” that exist. No matter whether there are six or sixty, we must break through our current constraints.
That means not simply continuing with using the same thinking even if we get different results. It means re-thinking our whole thinking processes and genuinely thinking outside the box.
1. J. Andrew Armour, M.D., Ph.D., Neurocardiology: Anatomical and Functional Principles, University of Montreal, 1991.