Tuesday, January 24, 2006


November 19, 1999

Someone on a "New Age" newsgroup recently said to me, "please, close your mind and open your heart"

This pretty much sums up what's so completely and utterly wrong with New Age mysticism.

Our minds are how we figure stuff out. Our *hearts* (by which I assume he meant emotions - hearts are organs for pumping blood) are only instinctual impulses we've inherited from our ancestors.

Food tastes good because the creatures in our ancestry that enjoyed eating made more of an effort to keep themselves fed, so they were more likely to survive and pass that impulse down to us. Having a strong bond with a mate feels good because our ancestors who formed strong mating bonds were more likely to raise offspring who survived, passing *that* impulse down to us.

But these impulses are not universally good (people whose impulse to eat is too strong have weight problems, for example), and their existence does not imply that things like "love" are externally real.

Our emotions can only tell us what we want. They cannot tell us whether what we want actually exists, or whether it would be in our best interest to have them. Those questions require us to use our minds.

Yes, it can make us unhappy not to get what we want. But turning off our minds, and simply believing that any old nonsense we find appealing must be *true*, makes us stupid.

I'll take unhappiness over stupidity any day. At least if your mind is still working, you have some chance of figuring out a way to be happy *without* becoming stupid!


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