June 23, 2005

Is it Genetic? Or: The Meme Generation

What are we truly made of? One school of thought is that biology is destiny, that genetics are the roadmap of who we are as living things. What you look like, how athletic you are, whether or not you'll die of cancer...all of this information is said to be buried in our genetic equivalent of the akashic records. Bald by 30? Blame it on the chrome-dome who took a dip in your gene pool. Are you temperamental by nature? That could be a prehistoric defense mechanism which arose out of the need to survive a cave-war...and, after a gazillion-year-old process of replication, mutation and natural selection, you are now a hothead.

Then there's the meme theme. Memes are ideas, messages, judgments, concepts, opinions and the like that some say are embedded like burrs in our psyches. Yogis call them samskaras, impressions in the subtle body that can be exorcised through spiritual practices. Scientologists call them "engrams." Like genes, memes also replicate and mutate over time as they are shared, interpreted, re-interpreted, misinterpreted...as in a game of telephone. Examples of memes are "There's something wrong with me," "Women are the weaker sex," and "My children shouldn't lie."

Some memes are passed down to us through parents, teachers, and society; we are affected by them from a very young age. Through the media and interactions with fellow human beings, we are exposed to countless new memes each day. Attachment to certain memes (for it is we who attach to them, when we believe them to be the truth) can result in a lot of stress anf suffering. Memes are nothing more than uninvestigated beliefs.

So, is it true that genetics are the true makeup of who we are, that we are nothing more than this human body and brain? This too is a meme. While genetics may determine our eye color, whether we can grow to be six feet tall or whether we are predisposed to sickle cell anemia, there is no proof of being limited or victimized by one's stature, gender, race, brain chemistry or physical health. The power of questioning our beliefs can lead to the perfect body/mind as well as the perfect life...no invasive procedures required.

©2004 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.

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