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
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
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”
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
Since then, similar neurons have been discovered in
the gut that Science magazine has described as “practically a brain
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.