The Few Great Insights
There are a very few "great insight" or big ideas which has been realized by ancient philosophers and spiritual teachers as well as modern scientists.
These big ideas are the most essential parts of oriental philosophy, scientific findings from the fields of evolutionary biology, cognitive neuroscience and social psychology, fundamental concepts and algorithms from the field of artificial intelligence and even ideas from that branch of computer science which deals with complex systems.
Not only these insights have no contradiction between them, but they are augumenting each other in such way, that their sum total could be considered as a whole new level, like the "Adagio in G Minor" is not mere series of acoustic vibrations from a bunch of different devices.
- Appreciation and worshipping of powers and laws of Nature in early Vedas (before degrading into ritualized worshiping of abstract, anthropomorphic gods).
- Notion that "we" are mere aspects of the one whole Nature, shaped by its powers according to its laws (which modern science is called "environmental conditioning").
- The concept of Brahman and reasoning of Upanishads (a reduction of all Vedic gods back into just different aspects of the One Reality).
- The concept of Tao by Lao Tse which is the same conclusion.
- E=mc2 of Einstein (which is a reduction of the nature of the Universe to Brahman or Tao).
- The doctrine of Dharma of Buddha Gautama, which proves that there is nothing "more than that".
- Yoga of Patanjali, or the philosophy of not breaking the natural "habits" of a human body which were shaped in accordance with the laws of nature and fine tuned to the conditions of the shared physical environment.
- Darwinian theory of Evolution, of course (which explains how it works).
- The insight from Cognitive Psychology that "I am" nothing but "conditioning", Nature and Nurture, genes and environment (which confirms thousands years old "there is no I or a Self or Soul apart from That").
- Unconsciousness of Freud (we do have background processes we are unaware of).
- Layered structure of specialized centers in a brain from cognitive sciences (and the notion of possible interference among them, which explain Freudian unconscious dynamics).
- The model of "semi-independent competing agencies in a brain" advocating by Marvin Minsky in Society of Mind and Emotion Machine.
- The technique of Neural Network training from the Machine Learning branch of AI (which suggests that our intelligence is mostly non-verbal pattern-recognition).
- The concept of Emotional Intelligence which emphasizes "non-verbal mind", with its "hard-wired heuristics" and instincts.
- Hormonal feed-back loops as the basic building blocks in physiology of living organisms.
- The concepts of recursion and mutual recursion (which captures the very same notions).
- The formal approach of defining a Finite State Machines from CS.
- The concept of social conditioning from Social Psychology.
- Language as a product of a social and cultural conditioning (associations between a sound and a representation of distinct parts of sensory input).
- Inadequacy of a conditioned language to define some aspects of reality (inability to "see" the meaning behind the words).
- The notion of Cognitive Biases or flawed heuristics - mental short-cuts encouraged by a "social habit" of jumping to conclusions.
- The way of reasoning in developing of the concept of "Quality" by Robert M. Pirsig (which is, of course, the same concept as Upanishadic Brahman).
These ideas, in my opinion, should be a part of an intellectual bagage of any educated person, while proper understanding will lead to independent personal realizations and permanent spiritual transformations.
Living in 21 century we have quick access to the most recent findings of so-called modern science, but eventually we start to notice ridiculous inconsistencies or even direct contradictions between accepted findings and peer-reviewed studies, especially in those fields which rely heavily on advanced modeling with probabilities. These "new findings" are mere socially constructed consensus, "scientific common sense" disconnected from reality.
Here I am advocating a mix of reductionist approach with severe skepticism, while trying to emphasize these very few great insights, using as correct and precise wording as possible. I am trying to clarify these ideas, instead of engaging in vague and useless commentaries which too often undermine understanding of the important concepts.
I am not pretending to systematize or even structure a vast Indian Philosophy, there are way too many scholars for that. My goal is to clarify my own understanding of some of the few big ideas produced by humanity and improve my daily practices to be more efficient and less time consuming.