An Idea About Who We Really Are

March 3, 2010


Just the other day I was speaking to a friend about who we really were i.e. what defines ‘us’, what is real about ‘us’, what makes ‘us’ us… And after we’d finished discussing The Grand Delusion Of Self, he decided that it was definitely our body that defined us.

So came light the time period with which our cells replenish and replace themselves. I had no idea about the exact facts or figures, but I had heard that every cell in the body replaces itself at least once every seven years. But… As hearsay is nothing more than ‘scuttlebutt’ at the best of times, I decided to research this topic further. And, thus, I came across the following article in the New Scientist which decidedly covers the issue with a thoroughness that left me without any doubt that… Even though our bodies appear to be a solid structure of form and function that remain true, albeit with a bit of aging, for the rest of our life, they are certainly not as defining an aspect of ourselves as some of us would like think!? Why? Well… Even though I’ve been alive for 33 years here on Earth, my body is – on average – only 15 years old.

When we are presented with such undefinable aspects about the notion of our “self,” doesn’t it seem that we are sometimes overly prone to worrying about something which really not not exist? I mean, fair enough we have a need to survive and avoid certain death, for we are carrying the torch of Life for future generations; as an Olympian carries the flame from mount Olympus to start each Games with. But to obsess about ourselves; to worry about ourselves beyond reason… Well isn’t it missing the point of Life? Aren’t we really worrying about nothing? After all, we are nothing more than a collection of schemas/memes – ideas that originate from other people – that loosely add onto this framework of a body via the brain’s structure and ability; a body which is built from the star dust of ancient suns long extinguished, working on principles of chaos, weaving unpredictability into modes of ‘apparent’ understanding… An understanding that modifies itself all the time – via our constant study – into ever cosier comprehensions about the nature of reality and the beauty that guides it.

I mean, isn’t this uncertainty simply wonderful? For the first time it truly frees us from the confines of our own predefined humanity. It allows us to see that even WE – the predesignated arrangement of atoms that makes up our body, giving us substance in this world – are an uncertainty. I know this experience we are having seems pretty real i.e. “I” am really aware of the keyboard as my fingers type these words out on the keys in patterns of “QWERTY” order, and I can even interrelate these present experiences with past ones, and even calculate (with a fairly accurate estimation) about the chances of what might happen in the immediate future if I was to perform certain actions – like what would happen if I was to drive my bike at twenty miles per hour into the lake in the park… I’d go “SPLOSH!” and get rather wet, while ducks quack and fly off in all directions. BUT… Despite these amazing feats of organic supercomputing, our bodies and our memories are ever changing and ever shifting like the dunes of a great desert. We’re just not really aware of them ever changing (unless we are a Buddha)… Because we fuse a solid graspable concept, a notion of certainty, to something so uncertain, we delude ourselves continually and argue that our reality/existence – that certainty of “I” – with marginalised concepts that don’t really change enough.

Perhaps this is something we should all bear in mind… That, while we might feel solid and certain at many points in our lives, ‘WE’ really are as fickle as the dunes of the Sahara. As Nisargadatta Maharaj once said, “When you have seen the dream as a dream, you have done all that needs to be done.”

New Scientist NS Logo

Here’s a question: how old are you? Think carefully before you reply. It’s a lot trickier than you might imagine. The correct answer, it turns out, is about 15 and a half. According to recent research, that’s the average age of your body – your muscles and guts, anyway. You might think that you have been around since the day you were born, but most of your body is a lot younger.

That may come as no surprise. It’s a common belief that the human body completely renews itself every seven years, and though biologists would hesitate to put a firm figure on it most are happy to accept that cells eventually wear out and are replaced. In some tissues – skin and blood – we know how long it takes, for example from seeing how long transfused blood cells last. Surprisingly, however, we have no idea how often most cell types are replaced, if indeed they are replaced at all. Until a few months ago it was impossible to tell. Experiments on mice had hinted that some cells are replaced more often than others, but no one was sure how relevant the findings were to humans.

Now neurologist Jonas Frisén of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, has invented an ingenious technique for determining the age of adult cells. He and others are using the technique to answer questions that have intrigued scientists and laypeople for decades: does cell turnover mean that you eventually renew your entire body? If so, how many bodies do you go through in a lifetime? If you live to a ripe old age, is there anything left of the original “you”? There’s more to it than curiosity value, though. The rate of cell turnover is a hot question in neuroscience and regenerative medicine, and may provide the key to treating numerous diseases and managing the effects of ageing.

Questions about the rates of cell renewal first arose about 100 years ago, when scientists discovered that most of our neurons are formed during fetal development and persist for life. Ever since, people have been wondering if the brain’s cerebral cortex – the seat of executive functions such as attention and decision-making – ever makes new cells. In the 1960s neurologists discovered that rodents and cats may make new neurons. Then in 1999 a study in Science caused great excitement with the claim that new growth had been found in the cerebral cortex of monkeys. Despite numerous attempts, however, the results have never been repeated.

Information about the lifespan of cells has historically come from experiments on rats and mice. The method involves giving the animals radioactive nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA, either in their food or by injection. The assumption is that if cell turnover is going on, new cells will incorporate labelled nucleotides into their DNA. Post-mortem tests can later reveal how much tagged DNA there is in various tissues and hence what proportion of cells were born during the animal’s exposure to the nucleotides. These experiments undoubtedly tell us about cell turnover rates in rodents but it is unclear whether the results can be extrapolated to humans. Because humans live for decades rather than months, we might have a greater need to replace our cells.

Feeding radioactive genetic material to humans, however, is clearly not on. Some researchers have attempted to date cells by other means such as measuring the lengths of telomeres, the DNA stubs on the end of chromosomes that shorten each time a cell divides. But no one has ever been able to develop a reliable method for reading age from telomere length. What’s worse, says Frisén, “some cells, such as stem cells, appear to be able to lengthen their telomeres, which would be a problem when trying to assess the cell’s age, especially in the brain”.

Frustrated with the lack of progress, Frisén decided there had to be another way. “My train of thought ran to the ancient Egyptian papyrus scrolls, which were carbon-dated, and I wondered if there was a way we could use that,” he says.

Carbon dating relies on measuring the amount of carbon-14 in a sample of organic matter. Carbon-14, a rare and weakly radioactive isotope of carbon, is continually produced in the atmosphere when neutrons generated by cosmic rays smash into nitrogen nuclei, stripping out a proton. Carbon-14 eventually decays back to nitrogen, with a half-life of 5730 years. But before it decays, carbon-14 can be taken up by plants during photosynthesis and converted into sugars. Animals eat the plants, and in this way all living things contain small amounts of carbon-14 – about 1 in a trillion carbon atoms in your body are carbon-14 rather than carbon-12. At death, however, the organism stops taking in carbon-14, and what it already contains eventually decays away.

That slow decay is what makes carbon dating of archaeological samples possible. By measuring the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 in something that was once alive you can estimate when it died – up to 60,000 years ago, after which carbon-14 levels have fallen too much to be useful.

Slow decay, however, also makes the method fairly imprecise. An archaeological radiocarbon date is accurate only to between 30 and 100 years, depending on the age of the sample – fine for ancient Egyptian artefacts but useless for dating cells in a human body.

Frisén’s eureka moment arrived when he realised he could use carbon-14 in a different way thanks to a unique episode in recent history – the cold war arms race. Between 1955 and 1963, above-ground nuclear weapons tests loaded masses of carbon-14 into the atmosphere. At the peak of such tests in 1963, atmospheric levels of carbon-14 reached twice the normal background level (see Diagram below). This “bomb spike” was accurately recorded at locations all over the world, creating a unique window of opportunity that Frisén is now exploiting.

He reasoned that while most molecules in a cell are in a constant state of flux, DNA is very stable: when a cell is born it gets a set of chromosomes that stay with it throughout its life. Therefore the level of carbon-14 in a living cell’s DNA is directly proportional to the level in the atmosphere at the time it was born, minus a tiny amount lost to radioactive decay. Before 1955 that level was always roughly the same. But during the bomb spike, atmospheric levels rose and then fell again – and so did carbon-14 levels in cells’ DNA. What that meant, Frisén realised, is that he could take cells born after 1955, measure the proportion of carbon-14 in their DNA and then consult the bomb spike curve to obtain an estimate of their date of birth.

If Frisén was right, for the first time scientists would be able to work out the average age of cells in different parts of the body and, he hoped, finally settle the question of whether the brain makes new nerve cells.

Before he could start, Frisén needed to know how long the window of opportunity was open for. Ever since the 1963 partial test ban treaty, carbon-14 in the atmosphere has been declining steadily, halving every 11 years as it is absorbed by the oceans and biosphere. Even so, Frisén found that any cell born between 1955 and 1990 would contain enough extra carbon-14 in its DNA to give a reliable date, give or take a year or so.

Last year Frisén and his team reported preliminary tests on a few body tissues taken from cadavers of people who had been alive during the bomb spike (Cell, vol 122, p 133). They revealed for the first time how many different ages one human body can be.

The body’s front-line cells endure the roughest life, last the briefest time and are constantly replaced – these include the epithelial cells lining the gut (five days), the epidermal cells covering the skin’s surface (two weeks) and red blood cells (120 days).

Cells Frisén analysed from the rib muscles of people in their late 30s had an average age of 15.1 years, a similar lifespan to cells making up the body of the gut, which he found were around 15.9 years old on average. It seems our bodies are indeed in a constant state of breakdown and renewal – even the entire skeleton is replaced every few years, he says.

Exciting though these forays into uncharted territory were, Frisén was eager to get on with his original quest, working out the age of the cells in the brain. “I am a neurologist and that is where my love lies,” he explains.

“Of course I want to know how often our body cells are replaced – we will do it little by little, and I hope that experts in all those areas take on the research and help us. But I want to explore the areas of the brain and discover whether we generate new brain cells throughout our adult lives.”

The standard view from animal studies – and one man who agreed to have labelled nucleotides injected into his brain as he was dying from cancer – is that once the brain is formed, no new neurons are generated except in two areas: the hippocampus and a region around the ventricles.

Frisén first applied his new method to cells taken from the visual cortex. Here, as expected, the neurons turned out to be the same age as the person they came from – perhaps because they need to be wired up in a very stable way so that each time an object or colour is viewed it is perceived in the same way as before, he speculates. Cells in the cerebellum, which is involved in coordinating movement, turned out to be about 2.9 years younger on average than the person, which is consistent with the idea that this region continues to develop during infancy.

“We’ve now mapped the rest of the cortex and are well on our way with the hippocampus,” says Frisén. “So far, it doesn’t look like there are any new cells being formed in the cortex – they’re as old as you are. But some regions of the hippocampus are exciting – absolutely there’s neurogenesis.”

Medical Breakthoughs

Frisén isn’t just motivated by curiosity. He hopes that by uncovering the secrets of cell turnover in the brain, he can help shed light on diseases including depression and Alzheimer’s. In 2004, a team led by Rene Hen at Columbia University in New York demonstrated that mice appeared to become depressed if hippocampal stem cells were not making enough new neurons, and that drugs such as Prozac work by stimulating neurogenesis: when the team inhibited neurogenesis, the antidepressants stopped working (Science, vol 301, p 805).

Alzheimer’s, too, has been associated with a lack of neurogenesis in the hippocampus, and other brain disorders, including Parkinson’s, are linked to cell death not being balanced by adequate cell creation. Frisén’s group is now studying cell turnover in people with neurodegenerative diseases.

The brain is not the only organ where information on cell turnover may provide clues to treating disease. Knowing how frequently healthy people produce new fat cells, for example, could help treat obesity: at the moment nobody knows whether obesity is the result of having enlarged fat cells or a greater number of them. Similarly, understanding the normal turnover of liver cells – which animal studies suggest have a lifespan of 300 to 500 days – could help physicians spot abnormalities such as cancer. And understanding the cell turnover rates in the pancreas could eventually help us to manipulate the organ’s lifespan with a view to treating diabetes.

There are other possibilities too. Experts believe heart muscle cells are not renewed when they die, leaving gaps that are filled with fibrotic material, resulting in a gradual loss of cardiac function as we get older. But no one knows for sure. Frisén’s group has just started preparing some heart tissue for analysis to see whether heart muscle cells are ever renewed.

Meanwhile, a group at the University of California, Davis, led by Krishnan Nambiar, is using Frisén’s method to investigate the lens of the eye. Cells in the transparent inner part of the lens form five weeks into embryonic life and stay with you for life. New cells are generated from the periphery, where they build up and make the lens thicker and less flexible with age, sometimes leading to cataracts. “If we could learn more about the turnover of cells in the lens, we could perhaps learn how to delay the onset of cataracts for five years and make tremendous savings in the health budget,” explains Bruce Buchholz at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who uses atomic mass spectrometry to carry out the carbon-14 analysis of Nambiar and Frisén’s samples.

It is clear, then, that a large proportion of your body is significantly younger than you are, and that raises a paradox. If your skin, for example, is so young, why don’t you retain a smooth complexion even into old age? Why can’t a 60-year-old woman, with her youthful muscle cells, flick-flack across the floor with the acrobatic agility of a 10-year-old girl?

The answer lies with mitochondrial DNA. This accumulates mutations at a faster rate than DNA in the nucleus. As soon as you are born, your mitochondria start taking hits – and there is nothing much you can do about it. So while your cells may be only a third as old as you are, the snag is that your mitochondria are the same age. In skin, for instance, mitochondrial mutations are thought to be responsible for the gradual loss in the quality of collagen, the skin’s scaffolding, which is why skin loses its shape and forms wrinkles.

There is good news, however. If we ever find ways to protect or repair mitochondrial DNA – and there are many ideas for how to do so – the discovery that most of our cells are younger than we are means that we could significantly delay ageing. Perhaps in the future people really will struggle to answer the question “How old are you?”

written by Gaia Vince

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6 Responses to “An Idea About Who We Really Are”

  1. Jared said

    I liked this post a lot. Very interesting was the part about atmospheric Carbon-14 levels and how they could be used in dating tissues. I am curious though, do you know if all human bio-chemical pathways that produce a new cells are able to use Carbon-14? What would it mean if they didn’t? And, is your final conclusion/idea about who we really are the Body?

    • Hi Jared…

      RE: Do you know if all human bio-chemical pathways that produce a new cells are able to use Carbon-14?

      Most cells in the body are built from carbon. All proteins use peptide bonds between their amino acids, which is basically a bond between a carbon atom and nitrogen atom. From my recent research, I’ve found that most of the peptides we all use in our bodies come from living organisms that were alive within our lifetimes, and thus were recently consumed i.e. vegetables and animals. This seems to point to the fact that, as all the matter we use to build ourselves with – i.e. the food that nourishes our food, which in turn goes into our bodies – comes directly from the environment where Carbon-14 would have been found and so incorporated, AND as all our body is built up of peptides and other carbon based molecules i.e. fatty acids (one of the most common type of organic molecules found in all forms of life) through to vitamins (relatively short lived molecules that our bodies use in great quantities for nearly all cellular growth and interaction) and on to DNA (though this is an exceptionally low percentage of our body weight), this renewal of Carbon-14 into most areas of our bodies is actually quite a sound hypothesis… All these molecules are fairly biodegradable and (especially the vitamins) have rather tiny half-lives i.e. protein half lives can vary between minutes to several months. Thus, as we all fabricate our own proteins from amino acids, which are made on the whole from plant biosynthesis. Some of these amino acids can half lives that range from 26-245mins, as seems to be the case of glycine within the body.

      So, as most amino acids are short lived molecules, I’d safely say that most of the ones we use in our bodies are very recently made, AND thus the distribution of Carbon-14 in their make up would permeate most areas of our biochemical pathways.

      However… Frisén is still studying this extensively. As – from what I can tell – he seems to the most diligent and industrious of our fellow scientists here on Earth regarding this subject, I am certainly inclined to listen to his results… And perhaps entertain them more than other findings… Though, other finding are showing very similar results to his own… So there seems to be a general consensus on this.

      Whether or not ALL bio-chemical pathways that produce new cells are able to use Carbon-14… Perhaps we may never truly know this for sure.

      But I’d say that as most organic compounds found in life are relatively short lived i.e. at least 90%, then we can be fairly sure that Carbon-14 would/could be found in most areas of the human body.

      To answer your question of, “What would it mean if they didn’t?” Well, everything you’ve read in this article would be null and void… And science might have to start from scratch all over again regarding this subject. 🙂

      Regarding “Is this your final conclusion/idea about who we really are i.e. the body?”

      I’d have to say we are not just the body… We are a cascade of interlinking chaotic cycles, many of which are working and playing out through the “structures” of our bodies – something which might affect these biochemical cycles into all our character types, etc… But we are also the amalgamation of all our past experiences and the experiences of others – especially those whom have influenced us in our lives – which are then fed back into the extremely complex chaotic loop of our consciousness (see “Video Feedback Loops vs. Life and Memetics“). Plus… These patterns that we call “ourselves” are also defined by the food and nutrients that we eat i.e. if we are under nourished we do not grow in the same way as we do when we are well nourished… And the geographical location, etc…

      Thus when one looks at this notion of self… We find that we are so interconnected to everything else that the idea of ourselves simply being a body is totally absurd.

      I’m not religious… But I believe this idea of “I” is a part of the pattern of what Spinoza called “God, or Nature.” It is so complex that it is unknowable to us. We are simply a part of the whole, in all our being and doing. There is no definition that is ever right or wrong about who we are… Concepts of right and wrong are man-made social constructs that vary like the dunes of the Sahara. Rather we shift and change… And while we might feel the same as when we were 16, we are probably very different to what we were then. This experience of “self” is perhaps the only continuous thing that we have all our lives… Why? Because we are continually aware with it… And of it. However, we should not confuse it with anything else as silly as “this body is me.”

      Thus “I” am a Taoist… Who believes in flowing with the Tao. “I” can never truly know it. But “I” can feel it’s flow, and follow it in all “I” do… “I” am a part of it.

      Here “I” take solace in not being able to define who I am… Uncertainty is “my” muse. And she/he will guide “me” to wherever and however they flow.

      And “I” find it quite ironic… That the only thing we can be certain of is uncertainty. Like chaos is really ordered… And order is really chaos. This is the yin and yang of understanding.

      “I” hope that answers about how “I” see who we really are for you.

      Warmest regards brother,


  2. Jared said

    Yes I agree, it seems as though the method and reasoning behind his study is sound. I do understand that our bodies are build out of the raw materials that we consume as food, and that our cells continuously renew themselves over time.

    I was just wondering if you knew if Carbon-14 might interact differently in some way than a “normal” carbon atom would. Although, now that I think about it, I suppose if the only difference between the two is the molecular weight due to a couple of extra neutrons, then the bonding properties would probably still remain closely tied to electron orbital interactions and charges. Sort of a pointless question on my part.. but thanks for your input.

    Chaos and feedback loops? Sounds interesting. I have heard of some similar ideas concerning open systems, chaos, and reorganization process’s that might have to do with the complexity of these non-linear patterns. Seems that, if you add extra energy to an open system/feedback loop/pattern, it grows in complexity – like an evolutionary process.

    I have to say that, yes, given the existence of all of these interlinking chaotic cycles and the totality of the Whole, we would not expect to find a proper definition of our “self” as the body OR as a separate “self” of ANY kind. But still, that is mostly our experience of life. A separate self. So if we are indeed a part of this pattern of God/Nature, then might we expect that we could “know” the Whole AS our self? You know, that Being thing? BE the whole.

    “This experience of “self” is perhaps the only continuous thing that we have all our lives… Why? Because we are continually aware with it… And of it. However, we should not confuse it with anything else as silly as “this body is me.”

    Yeah, totally.. so that must be where the Tao and flowing come into play. If your “self” changes over time – i.e. “continues” as you are aware with it -and you “go with the flow”, then all would be well because you are not confused about, or identified with, that “body” and “self” as defining who you are. If you were, then.. no more solace I would imagine..

    Yeah, that pretty much covers it for me. Just curious to see what “you” would say. Sounds good to me. So for now, I don’t think I have anymore questions. But I’m not certain of that either..



    • Hey Jared.

      Ah! I now understand where you were coming from regarding the Carbon 14 isotope i.e. do isotopes have the same chemical properties as their parent elements do? To be honest, I had never really looked into that before…

      From what I have read over the last few days, you seem to be right i.e. because chemical behaviours of atoms are largely determined by their electronic configurations, most isotopes exhibit practically identical chemical activity as one another.

      Thanks for that! 🙂

      Chaos and feedback loops? Sounds interesting. I have heard of some similar ideas concerning open systems, chaos, and reorganization process’s that might have to do with the complexity of these non-linear patterns. Seems that, if you add extra energy to an open system/feedback loop/pattern, it grows in complexity – like an evolutionary process.

      Yes… Some studies that a friend is currently working on are looking at this exact phenomena within Earth’s molecular evolutionary history i.e. the added energy coming from our sun we know creates the complexity within the weather patterns we have here on Earth. However, did the energy from sunlight actually give rise to molecular evolution as well? Evolution which in turn eventually became self-aware and thus began to define (through it’s own perceptive understanding of it’s position within the environment) what is “alive” and what is not?

      What was the Beginning of it all?

      This raises the interesting question of what exactly defines life? And a cell is? When does a group of molecules that work together in cyclical flow become “Life”? Why is a virus not alive… ???

      No doubt we currently experience life as a “separate self…” However, there are many illusions that the human body affords us… Ones that we all too often find hard to see through without the aid of logical deduction, rigorous scientific study, or meditation.

      Probably The Best Optical Illusion I’ve Seen In A While…

      Beau Lotto – Optical Illusions Show How We See

      The Illusory Atom

      Sometimes I wonder if this feeling of separateness is, in actual fact, an illusion of sorts. !?!? Some monks who I have spoken to seem to think that this separateness is a delusion that we would do well to free ourselves from.

      Personally I think both ways of viewing are equally as valid as each other i.e. separate and interconnected…

      So if we are indeed a part of this pattern of God/Nature, then might we expect that we could “know” the Whole AS our self?

      Yeah. Totally… This is something I have been fascinated with for a very long time i.e. how is it Buddhism, through it’s deep introspective viewing of the self, has discovered the same things about the mind as active, extroverted and rigorous scientific study has done in the field of psychology?

      Buddhism And Psychology

      Can Buddhism And Psychology Co-exist

      The Perennial Philosophy

      And I know I’ve mentioned these already, but The Meme Machine beautifully touches on modes of understanding about the self-similarity of all human experience… And, when tied into William Sargant’s book entitled “Battle For The Mind,” one can see how ideas are somewhat the reference point for conversion of people’s beliefs and their point of self reference… Much like what Pavlov found in his study with dogs.

      Even psychedelic drugs have show people truths into the nature of being that resonate deeply with what Buddhism and Psychology seem to point towards.

      Note: it is very important not confuse psychology and Buddhism as being one and the same thing. Rather they expand on various perceptive aspects of the same processes, and demonstrate what modern day psychology calls “positive thought” and how stress is derived from “clinging” to apparent certainties…

      Also… I find it wondrously amazing that the same patterns within our bodily structures and the dynamics of its functioning parts i.e. chaos within the heart, are found everywhere within the universe, and throughout the natural world around us.

      Self Similarity, Diversity, Divergence and Evolution

      Fractal Physiology and Chaos in Medicine

      The Colors Of Infinity

      Fractals Of Brain Fractals Of Mind

      Could the fact that our brains – as humans – are all so similar, and (as we have discussed already about ourselves giving meaning to things, rather than anything having intrinsic meaning by itself) built upon these complex patterns of chaos and fractals that we perceive the idea or notion of “God, or Nature” to be very similar things as Huxley wrote in The Perennial Philosophy?

      Self Similarity ~ Fractals, Fractals Everywhere

      I like to think that universe is “divinely” (in a non religious sense) ordered in a chaotic way i.e. much like the way we look at the inherent chaos within weather patterns on a 2D graph and see only disorder. However, when we plot these results on a 3D phase space with an extra variable, we begin to see Strange Attractor patterns that yield definite shapes and structures where there was, at first, seemingly no structure…

      So it is within life… When we view the same thing through seemingly different methods/modes of understanding (one being passive and introspective, the other active and invasive in processes), and from both methods we see similar patterns of being… Both from within and without… Well… I feel the more we do this i.e. view things from different perspectives, the more we will see into the same processes and notice a deeply penetrating patterns… Patterns of “self-similarity…

      Perhaps we will then glean a clearer “pattern” from life’s universal flow. One that can advise us how to live… How to open ourselves to survival… How to be… And possibly guide us what to do.

      I must say… Life for me… The more I see of it… Is a steady flow of evolving forms and ideas that builds upon and modifies previous structures, both of biochemical origin and within thought processes. This can be seen in evolution and within memetics. Order sometimes is not immediately apparent. In fact it is based on chaos, which dictates an extreme sensitivity to initial conditions… And precludes a randomness, in many ways, as to know the total picture at anyone time is an impossible feet for any human beingHowever, when we shift and expand our perceptive view into new modes of thought, leaving behind old dogmatic ways of being OR even delusions built upon illusions, we being to see structures in the unpredictable flow of the universal dynamic.

      Yeah, totally.. so that must be where the Tao and flowing come into play. If your “self” changes over time – i.e. “continues” as you are aware with it -and you “go with the flow”, then all would be well because you are not confused about, or identified with, that “body” and “self” as defining who you are. If you were, then.. no more solace I would imagine…

      Totally! This is the way I view it too.

      The Tao is unknowable… It flows with a “magic” beyond comprehension… Like chaos… But it repeats in cycles of evolving patterns… As does chaos. When we open ourselves to the Tao, we flow with life better… And we flow better within. T’ai Chi is a rewarding process for cultivating inner energy and rhythm and forgetting the learned behaviours of the fractured western world of thought and consumption. Then… When science uses chaos theory to better understand biology and bio-dynamics (even chemistry, neurology, psychology, etc), we begin to better understand the way things work, and thus can build more pertinent models for human diagnosis i.e. heart arrhythmia and mental disorders

      Could chaos and the Tao be the same thing? Or, if not, could they be superimposed over each other?

      Perhaps science will see the reality between different times in our evolution, we saw the same thing, but just described it differently i.e. we can describe things more effectively now than before via science and technical study.


      Awesome Jared! It’s been really insightful to have these discussion… 🙂

      I always like to add this little story to whatever I say… As I am only human and can sometime err just as much as others… Funnily enough, I have often myself been the blind man in life… 😉


      Saying that… We do have a great propensity to notice patterns within systems. And, I’d like to think that future of mankind will eventually leave logical discourse about what is “right” and “wrong” behind and simply express modes of thought, learning and being via patterns of openness or closeness, guiding us into healthy modes of being. Though this might well be nothing more than a vain childlike wish/hope… I truly hope we can make it all, together…

      For the moment… Much peace, love and light…

      Nice one brother!


  3. […] the human notion of “self…” We have already seen in a prior blog, entitled “And Idea About Who We Really Are” that, over a 15 year period, the human body replaces almost every single cell completely […]

  4. […] then ‘I’ remembered an idea that was discussed earlier in “An Idea About Who We Really Are“… An idea where the body’s apparent solidity comes into […]

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