When Right and Wrong isn't Black and White

hands-raised-at-sunriseYou are an emergency worker and run into a burning building to save someone. Or maybe you are a medical person and volunteer to go to another country to help fight a highly infectious lethal disease. Or maybe you are a single parent on vacation with your three children. Your youngest falls into the river and you immediately jump into the rapids to save her, with little chance of success.

There can be a lot of discussion about the ‘rightness or wrongness’ of each of these decisions. But I don’t think anyone would deny that you felt you had no real choice in these situations.

Then there are more subtle daily decisions you might need to make. Should you go out on another date with that person who seemed nice…but something about them just didn’t feel quite right. Or, your kids will soon be going to college and money will be tight. One employment opportunity offered you more money but the other allowed you to work closer to the people you feel you were born to serve.

You could enjoy lively discussions on each of these decisions with your friend. Some would likely feel strongly one way and others another. If you had to chose right now, and had no other information what would you do? Would you feel you were right? Could you prove it to others who disagreed?

The Neurobiology of Right and Wrong

How can someone feel so strongly that they are right and that you are wrong when there is no ‘proof’? I imagine, if you allowed the ‘argument’ to continue, things could even get a little heated. Can you hear them, “How could you so foolishly jump in the rapids and drown leaving your children on shore to be orphans!?” Or, “How could you just stand there on the shore and watch you child drown!?”

The only answer left to you is that there are many times in your life where pure logic isn’t enough. You likely are led to believe that decisions like these are, and need to remain, personal. It is important to you that these decisions be left up to you, even when it doesn’t make sense to others.

Given you are making these decisions and feel so strongly there must be a part of your neurobiology that is wired to help you make them and to hold them. In a logical argument, someone who had the superior logic might easily win a debate. In the situations mentioned above your logical circuits are trumped by something that you sense is more important than mere logic. Some might even call you foolish, but you would likely stand by your decision as representing proof of ‘Who You Are’ and what this life means to you!

The Subconscious Mind and Your Spiritual Source

Your subconscious mind has been with you all of your life. It helps you make literally thousands of decisions every second to optimize each moment of your life. It has stored each situation and each decision calculating what has worked best for you. It stores these decisions in complex algorithms that conscious mind simply can’t follow nor even put into words. These decisions - your decisions - to think, feel or act in certain ways are ‘intuitive’ and simply ‘feel’ right.

When you say ‘feel’ right, this is different from how you feel about the color blue! It represents a complex processing of subconscious information that you might be able to refer to in a metaphor, but even this conscious expression couldn’t follow the complexities. Given the sheer enormity of information stored in subconscious mind, nothing the logical circuits of the mind might present, would stand up against these intuitions.

Conscious mind’s purpose is to focus subconscious mind’s energies in an effort to provide laser focus on subconscious mind’s concerns. If subconscious mind senses something is not right to the right of your car while driving, your conscious mind will obediently look to the right. It will guide your focus of attention to the situation until subconscious mind has determined if it is safe to proceed.

This intuitive dance between conscious and subconscious mind continues until your teens when your conscious and subconscious minds become more intimately connected. You became able to hold more complex intuitive strategies and from these intuitions emerged a slowly increasing sense of yourself. You may have noticed that early on this process felt a little tumultuous as competing intuitive strategies vied for dominance.

Despite these increased connections, conscious mind struggles to provide subconscious mind with the focus necessary to make effective decisions when there simply isn’t enough information available. It tries left-brain logic and right-brain metaphors and still subconscious mind continues to be forced to make ‘judgment calls’ that don’t take full advantage of all that it has to offer. This is where a spiritual source comes in.

Connections between conscious and subconscious mind must mature to the point that your subconscious mind can get the conscious focus it requires. It needs to increase the depth and breadth of its intuitive leaps to increase moment-to-moment effectiveness. It needs a conscious verbal approximation that will help focus more deeply into unconscious mind for deeper and richer understandings of you and the world around you. It needs a spiritual source

Your Spiritual Source and the Story of Truth

This ‘conscious approximation’ or ‘story of the truth’ will have to stand outside of anything based on solid truth e.g. outside of any earthly reality. Anything based on reality would represent mere and insufficient logic. The ‘story’ will need to be something that has the flexibility to grow as unconscious mind acquires more knowledge and depth of understanding e.g. wisdom. Given conscious mind’s limited ‘one thought at a time’ processing the central theme or heart (midrash) of this ‘story’ will need to be fashioned around a single phrase e.g. ‘love one another’ or ‘the golden rule’.

Given the amount of computational energy this will take, it will be necessary for the ‘story’ to demand continuous focus of your life with moment-to-moment intent of this ‘story’. Further efforts will need to include maintaining the energy and concentration to maximize information and growth. Finally, you are going to need to believe this story more than any logic that may otherwise be presented.

Given subconscious mind cannot directly influence the conscious mind of others, a process for sharing your story with others in a convincing way needs to be developed. It would be best if you and others shared similar stories although allowing some difference would add to combining the computational powers of others for a common purpose. People who disagree with the story totally have the value of searching for ‘uncommon truths’ but must be kept from others who are developing the ‘central truths’ of the ‘story’.

The ‘story’ is the structure that allows for maximum use of moment-to-moment processing and understanding of unconscious mind. Although it can’t be proven, it must be judged to be ‘RIGHT”. It allows for entire populations to understand each other at much deeper levels. It allows for a life journey of slowly increasing understanding and influence when you get the ‘story’ ‘more right’ than another.

This ‘story’ is the story of your ‘spiritual source’ by whatever name you give it. We were wired to believe or we believe because we are wired this way. As always…your choice…

If you are a physician, nurse, psychiatrist, psychologist or even just a mom or dad, consider combining your skills with integrative practices that work through the Oneness Practitioners Program. You will learn, among other things, about neurobiology and how to broaden your empathetic reach.


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