Just So Stories

The mid-afternoon sun casts long shadows across the field where this morning crows gathered as they often do. Now a squirrel makes its way across snow covered open ground to a copse of trees. The afternoon sea breeze moves tree branches and tugs insistently at the storm door.

The angle of the sun is now essentially the same as it was in late October yet the light is completely different than it was in October. I’ve noticed these seasonal differences year after year and wonder how such differences could be.

I read recently that neuroscientists believe they may have observed the life recall of a dying man and of a variety of other mammals. It would be bad science should they go on to postulate that such mental events are only the product of the dying brain, yet someone will do just that I am sure.

I am reminded that most cultures have stories about death and what may or may not happen thereafter. In the end we cannot know what happens with certainty and death remains a great mystery. Still, we humans have seemingly postulated some sort of continuity of self after the body dies for much of our evolutionary history, and many of us have had experiences that support that belief.

Many of us who have had near death experiences not only remember them but have our lives changed by them. If those experiences were not recorded by the brain we would most likely have no access to them. At the same time there is no reason to reduce these experiences to being the simple behavior of dying brains.

Bad science tends to over reach, reducing all experience and phenomena to the physical, and draining uncertainty and mystery from the world. When we extend the reach of our biases into spaces for which we lack the tools to adequately explore, we simply create just so stories while pretending our postulations are more than that. As we are currently seeing in the Ukraine, such stories are very dangerous indeed.

For right now, while our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine, may we take refuge in the peace, beauty, and mystery of this very moment.

  • I want to thank Jennie for sharing her photo of our Buddha.

6 thoughts on “Just So Stories

  1. I was just having thinking about life review or end-of-life replay this morning. And to what extent it’s “just” that or maybe something more mystical. Partly prompted by the nuclear war option now on the Russian table.

    1. I wonder whether our brains would have time for a life review during a nuclear attack. I also wonder whether such a review is a way for us to let go of our bodies and all we know and love. Anyway, this moment in history reminds me of growing up in the 50’s with the nuclear threat ever present. Living on a military base was a constant reminder of the presence of the bomb. The fact that we have returned to that madness is almost incomprehensible.

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