Neurophysiology and The Question of Meaning

Politico has an interesting article today about the role that neurophysiology plays in shaping our political viewpoint. (

I have been curious about this research for the past year and recently ran across another blogger ( with a similar curiosity. I also strongly recommend that you google the name “Jonathan Haidt” to listen to a psychologist discourse re a similar vein of thought.

This research would have given me pause at one point in my life, causing me to doubt myself, my faith, and basically everything. This research suggests that our life is largely determined by circumstances far beyond the grasp of our mind. But, now my response is, “So…..????” For, I have now feel that my grasp of reality is so very finite and is so shaped by circumstances that I can never wrap my brain around. And at times I ask, “How could I have ever thought otherwise?”

I used to be a lot more arrogant than I am now. (And, yes, I still have the taint of arrogance in my heart!) Life is just an incredible mystery and I’ve learned to find glory in that experience.

Sure, we need to study and study and study. We need to speculate as we have always been wont to do. And we will learn more and more as we go. But ultimately we will always come down to….nothing…or, as I like to put it, “No-Thing.” It is when we allow that primordial Emptiness to give us pause that we can be disrupted from the humdrum routine of the dog-and-pony show that we call our life and allow a Mystery to visit us and experience somewhat the Mystery that we are. It is there that we find our Source and then that we experience the temptation of turning that new Friend of ours into still another contrivance for our ego.

I’d like to share a poem by Edgar Simmons about detachment and its role in helping us to discover the Glory in this mystery of No-thingness.


Distance…which by definition
Indicates a separation from self
Is the healing poultice of metaphor,
Is the night-lighting of poetry.
As we allot to elements their weights
So to metaphor we need assign the
Weight of the ghost of distance.
Stars are stars to us
Because of distance: it is in the
Nothingness which clings us them
That we glory, tremble, and bow.
O what weight and glory lie abalance
In the stretch of vacant fields:
Metaphor: the hymn and hum of separation.


4 thoughts on “Neurophysiology and The Question of Meaning

  1. Sandeep Bhalla

    ‘Separation from self’ changes everything. That is a change of love of oneself to love of everything. About science, it is in my eyes and shall deal with it at the cost of annoyance of many friends. But you have already put it that way without arrogance that was you.


    1. literary lew Post author

      Yes, “separation from self” changes everything. I think this is relevant to the Christian concept of being “lost” but Christians usually take it literally and miss the point. Realizing that one is “lost” merely means to recognize that he is estranged from his Source and that is the human predicament.



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