Welcome to M ND THE GAP, a lifestyle newsletter for those that are young, weird, and curious. Scattered thoughts, but often around technology, culture, and adolescent romances. If you’re with it, you can sign up here.
San Lorenzo's Olmec head discovered by M.W. Stirling and his archaeological expedition.
Lately, I've been looking up to our ancestors for advice on how to live a good life. Not ancestors of blood, although I do talk to my grandma weekly, but ancestors of species and mentality. People separated from me by space and time, those who know nothing about my condition, those whose upbringing is nothing like my own, those who share only a single commonality with myself — the human experience of trying to live a life of worth. We share the eternal quest of finding purpose and self-actualization.
Why them? It's unclear. Perhaps it's just a reaction — being a young guy in tech, my inboxes are bombarded with commentary every day, much of it homogenous. Much of it good, much of it inspiring, but collectively, lackluster. Endless amounts of people spewing the same ideas, constructed with different language, extrapolating off limited datasets, stating opinions as aphorisms.
I don't claim to be original — I'm sure anything I say now and ever has been said before — nor do I claim to be right. I'm here to find my own truth of the world. I work in tech but hope my mind doesn't live exclusively in it. I hope to bring in ideas and talk concepts birthed from other fields — common topics perhaps, but those hidden from the tech discourse by the disparate tribal networks that make our society function.
I want y'all to care about the world. I'm sure many of y'all do, I hope many of y'all do. I know as a community, we're getting there. I meet so many inspiring people every week, found from this newsletter (reach out! ❤️) and from friends who know we share similar sentiments. It's been a great time and I'm glad I started writing this.
But I digress...
Studies have shown that the repetition of sounds at certain cadences, while a person is sleeping, can have a significant impact on their sleep quality, boosting and diminishing both NREM and REM sleep.
Buddhist melodies. Did those played at ancient temples since antiquity confer benefits that allowed for its survival into the modern-day? In many temples, these hymns, these melodies, these chants, these intentional combinations of sounds that could be simple as a water drop were played at set moments of the day, oftentimes while going to sleep and in sleep. In more extreme sects of the religion, holy sounds would be played continuously throughout the day. Devotees believed that they should continuously practice their faith throughout the day and the more they listen to the hymns, believe in the hymns, and resonate with the hymns, the closer they will be to Nirvana.
Were the monks cognizant of the biological benefits of their classic hymns and mantras? Not to a granular level, science wasn't as advanced as it was today. But perhaps they felt the impact, they woke up in the morning to those sounds feeling better than the nights before and attribute it to the chant's holiness. In time, those chants would rise in status at the temple and be played more than before. They would attributed it to spirituality, to holiness, and we would to the biological sciences — it matters not as these chants may have **rose to prominence not because we understood their science or religious basis, but because of their observed effects on our biology.
For the practices of our ancients that still exist today, do they offer advantages unknown to modern science? Practices that were built through time and convergence, through lived experiences rather than biological science? Does a form of Darwinism exist here where the ultimate practices, the ones which have faced and felled many challengers throughout the millennia holds benefits not yet understood by modern science?
Unclear, but a good first filter to discovering these practices are limiting the time horizon. Biological Darwinism requires tens of millions of years for the optimal traits to become majority traits in the entire population. Darwinism in this context is likely quicker, a mere millennium may be enough for the role of chance and luck to have been competed away and allow for the most beneficial practices to succeed.
Indexing on these persistent lived experiences over the chemical roots of modern science may prove worthwhile.
Science is ever-changing — a series of convergences and divergences that in theory, brings us closer to the truth. The goal is that we eventually converge into the truth of the world but the series of events looks more like a sine wave than an asymptote — we converge through a series of waves with reducing amplitudes rather than line getting ever closer to the truth.
What this means to say is that while the scientific process and its manifestations are ever improving, the accuracy of science at any given point in time is not an absolute improvement upon the past, nor may it be accurate.
It may be functionally enough — oftentimes it should be.
We ought to hold it as a field of worth, a matron of knowledge that we default to but we should not hold it as a god, lowercase g. Other forms of knowledge construction may offer esoteric insights above what is being derived from the current state of modern science. I've found persistent lived experiences to be rewarding, placebo'd or otherwise.
Buddhist hymns is a niche example here. Others may be equally niche (Islamic Salat) or universal (fresh, moving air). What ties them together is their targeting of our base biological needs — food, water, breath, sleep, and attention. The former is given extensive research but the latter 4 are often ignored. Fundamentals of human existence that live below the waking consciousness for most. Dangerous, as our relationship with these base needs have changed dramatically as a result of this recent wave of human innovation. We cannot change ourselves biologically, so as such we must alter our environment to allow us to function at our utmost given our legacy biology.
An end bit: A friend of mine, Mark Linao of Akatsuki (yes, like Naruto for you weebs) Entertainment Fund recently started a bi-weekly newsletter on all matters TechxEntertainment. If you're in LA, give him a holler! Otherwise, you can find it here.