From the Mitochondria of the Mind
Perverted religious, political, philosophical and other kinds of crazy ideas survive owing primarily to twisted logic. We shall discuss the issue with emphasis on the religious kind.
It is not the normal, but another kind of logic, a bizarre logic, which rules the ground in a person holding bizarre religious ideas. It is different from the common logical apparatus by which the rest of the mind works. This one is specially programmed reasoning apparatus for the religious part of the brain. Consequently, the affected person has a split mind, or, at least an area in mind reserved for religion (there being other areas reserved for certain other functions). Logic and common sense do not find entry into this area. This part of the mind liberates itself of the rest. It builds its own logic, its own system of values, judgment norms, behavioral patterns, in short, its own rules of mental deliberations. The situation is something similar to the mitochondria in the living cell. The cell carries a central command in the DNA strands; which more or less control the activities of the cell. But mitochondria, although an organelle within the cell, and serving the rest, acts free. It has its own little DNA.
Some scientists claim that there is what they call as the God-gene in the DNA. Similarly, there seems to be an area in mind reserved for religion and philosophy. It is the mind’s mitochondria. It does not accept unwarranted outside influence. Its origin is from the time one is given to understand, in his childhood, that it is a special corner for him, that it is here that the truth of all truths should be deposited, and that this is in fact ‘he’ or ‘she‘ without which he or she is nothing. This area, he is indoctrinated, is for the profound, the metaphysical, the everlasting soul; while the rest of the mind is for the material, ephemeral, physical body and the profane world. This part of the mind is sacrosanct, the other-worldly, the spiritual, and hence “the other mind” should have no say in its affairs. Rationalism, common reasoning, and logical conclusions are kept out because this is a special area, sort of above the rest of the mind and its controlling tools. Most religions, therefore, discourage any questioning of faith and religious issues. They claim that ordinary mind, meaning, the normally active mind, is incapable of perceiving higher truths. This is glaringly opposed to the often repeated Qur’anic dictum: “hopefully you will think, hopefully you will ponder, hopefully you will resort to reasoning,” etc.
To penetrate this part of mind for any change, one will need to understand how it was built in the first place, what sort of data is stored, and what sort of logic operates it. Any attempt to drive into it a commonly accepted logical notion will be defeated if the notion antagonizes anything already stored in it. This is then, a dangerous part of the mind. This is the place where unreasonableness, hypocrisy, unbelief, and other such sicknesses reside, but, to the owner himself, any irregularity is invisible, undetectable. For him it is simple reasoning, plain logic, common sense that prevails, it is only the other people’s minds that, according to him, do not understand his mind.
This state of mind, or the phenomenon we are trying to explain, is different from the common unreasonableness or failure to apply logic, or confirm to normal behavior which we come across quite so often in otherwise harmless people. What we are talking of is a special state of mind, a state which holds on to an unreasonable set of ideas. We are not even referring to the extremism, fanaticism, and, in some cases violent behavior which we see around us. These phenomena are more the results of events and incidents than of religious or philosophical beliefs. They are curable. But, perversion in religious or political ideas is not. It is this which sits firmly in that area of mind which frees itself of the rest of the mind, and regales in the idea of having released itself of any control. No outside influence can affect this inner ‘split mind’, whereas phenomena such as extremism, fanaticism or even violent behavioral patterns can be cured, given the time and attention.
Some people might argue that abnormal behavior: extremism et al, are the products of the mind we spoke of: the mind of the twisted logic, pervert religiousness or philosophy; once again, no. Extremism, fanaticism and resort to violence, are not products of this part of the mind alone. They have external causes, and are curable. But any correction of a mind within mind (the mitochondria), closed to any outside influence, is extremely difficult. It is this mind, to remind, the mind of twisted logic, which poses true danger to self and humanity.
And example might illustrate. Four six-footer soldiers; the family locked into a room; the girl at their disposal. She is pretty and looks like belonging to the upper-middle class. When they leave, she is shown lying in a heap. There is no sign of life in her. The pictures are on the Net. Copies of the illustrated mail go around.
We may now try to understand the minds behind the (a) soldiers (b) suicide bombers (c) the pushers of the cart of civilization, and (d) religious fanaticism.
Does the mind of the soldiers fit into the ‘mind within mind’ that we spoke of? The secret mind reserved for faith, doctrines, beliefs, in short religion? Is their mind that of the twisted logic? Did they go through indoctrination that led them to this kind of performance; they and thousands of their kind? No. You can describe them as beasts, as the reincarnation of the barbarian Goths and Huns, as cool terrorists trying to drive terror into the hearts of freedom fighters; describe them as you may but they are definitely not men of twisted logic. Multiply the above scene by thousands, replace the room with a prison, replace the girl with teen-age boys, or whatever, whoever else, yet, the minds of those enacting those scenes and then publishing them on the Net, are not the minds of twisted logic. Those are not minds that cannot be repaired, that cannot be cured. It would be a stupendous task, but their minds are, we maintain, repairable.
Consider the minds of the female suicide bombers. Are they the minds of twisted logic? Give one of the victims an identity. She is young, a fresher in college; is beautiful, believes in God, and is working hard hoping for a bright future. She is highly self-respected as well as respected by others. In her own society, it is not allowed that men stare at her. She has been taught for 20 years that this is a civilized world, that certain nations are the torch bearers of the contemporary civilization, that they are the upholders of human rights, and so on. Now she has her mother bent over her pouring down tears, cursing the world, the people, the civilization, the hypocrisy, the forked tongues, the outwardly angelic inwardly beasts, carriers of the Devil’s agenda. But the motionless girl cannot understand why they did not at the end shoot her to death. She has no tears. She has no motions in her heart. She is dead. She is breathing; but wishing to breathe no more. She wants death, for herself, for those who did it, those who helped them, those who condoned the aggression, those who know but pretend not to know, those who stay civilized in every situation. And what about the world bodies? What about the human rightists? What about the liberals and liberators? May God destroy them all, yes, destroy the humanity, destroy the world. She is a heap of flesh and bones, and the heap has no desire to get back to its feet; no desire to struggle back to life. No, nothing. She wants to be dead – taking away a few with her. If she rises, when she rises, she doesn’t want her father, mother, brothers and sisters to look at her with pity. She knows how they suffer. She wants them to give her a belt. If they disagree to her suggestions, she will find others who will oblige. It may take time to get connected, but one day it will happen. This is her state of mind. Does she, a complete fanatic now, and, if you wish, a would be terrorist, has that ‘mind within mind’ that had been nurtured on illogical ideas? Can we say about her that she was indoctrinated with fanatical ideas, or inherited twisted logic? Definitely not.
You increase the numbers through secret prisons, murder of the innocent, arrest and torture of young men, bombing of schools, hospitals, power houses (sorry, the missile missed the target), indiscreet killing of civilians (the advanced system of bomb-delivery through remote control can pin point a house frequented by terrorists), torturing of children with insects (sanctioned by the head of a state, to extract information about their father), you can go on and on, until a sane man collapses, like the girl of the above description, a victim of cool, calculated adventure. You feel numb in your bones and disgusted to the core .. you go on and on, incident after incident, on daily basis, until you feel more and more convinced that the reactions that you see are not from minds that are run by twisted logic.
Consider the next category of men and women involved: that class which planned and got its agenda executed in cold blood, resulting in a million killed, millions displaced, a country ravaged, pushed into the Stone Age, and thousands of photographs on the Net. Does this class have the split mind that we are speaking of? No. They have a single mind dominated by clear cut ideas: domination of the world and looting of the world’s resources. Humans other than their own race and nation are no more to them than animals: “How to treat them? Well, treat them like what they are .. dogs,” they instruct their subordinates. Indeed, their own people, although humans in their sight, are not much better than animals in practice if expediency demands. When it comes to pride, they will ruthlessly slaughter them too. Half a million British soldiers were sacrificed by a British commander (Michael Parenti in one of his speeches) to advancef 900 yards into enemy territory (held by the Germans, who had decided to withdraw anyway) .. for no other reason but pride, national and racial superiority. How do we classify this class? Those with a split mind? No. Call them fascists, imperialist, tyrants, colonials, maniacs, war-addicts, call them what you will, but they do not suffer from a split mind. They have one mind dominated by the ideas of domination, class and racial superiority, greed, and so on. They are not men who have a split mind. They have clear doctrines, clear objectives and a logic which they can successfully defend, if challenged. They can manufacture consent for war, create tens of thousands of terrorists to use their (re)actions as pretexts for their own military strikes, and take on extreme risks for their own country in the service of their agenda. If they talk of peace, it is because they have suffered setbacks and economic windfall. Give them back their earlier status: of a super power brimming with bombs, and they will be back with their ideas of destruction. One can describe them as political fanatics because they can demonstrate with facts and figures how it will be a more comfortable world with lesser human beings on this little planet of limited resources; but this is not the class which has the mitochondrian mind, a mind within mind.
The mind of the twisted logic, the dangerous ‘mind within mind’ is not that of a person committed to his or her religion. Does a woman in France wishing to observe Hijab have a split mind? No. She says she does not like to be an object of sexy looks. She wishes to be looked at, treated, and dealt with as a human, as a person, and not as a female. She says, “I am what I think, what I believe, what I say, what I do, and not what my body curves are like.” Is she being unreasonable? Does a person or group who demand the enforcement of the Shari`ah Laws, have a mind within mind, an illogical area within the mind? Obviously not. There is nothing in the Islamic Law which can be described as illogical. Out of ten thousand statutes, one may disagree with one or two: flogging, severing, stoning .. what else? A three finger count cannot render the ten thousand statutes as illogical, especially when the system is not only working fine in several countries but is the only one that successfully controls crime, divorce rates, etc. A young man insisting on a beard cannot be called fanatical, because there are billions of young men of other faiths who sport beards. But, if a sect believes that the Prophet’s Companions, especially the closest and trusted ones, were hypocrites who managed to conceal their hypocrisy during his lifetime, and so, altered the religion of God by choosing the wrong successors, then this is an example of twisted logic. If they are told that the religion is in the Qur’an and Prophetic traditions, and that the Caliph is there to implement, and so, if he did it, fine, if he did not, no problem; if he deserved Caliphate, fine, if he did not, no problem, because Islam is in the Qur’an and Prophetic traditions, not in a human being; but he insists that he will break away unless you come to his point of view, then, this is the sect which has the mitochondrian mind we have been discussing. Again, if someone dreams that this or that goddess ordered him to sacrifice a human, and he actually slaughters his child, then this is not the mind of a deranged person, but that of one who had been taught since childhood that there is an area of the mind which is beyond the application of reason and logic.
There again, if a group believes that the time for the second coming of the Messiah is close by, there is nothing wrong in it. Nor is there any harm to others in believing that the end of the world will be at his hands. There are many religious denominations who believe in that kind of prediction, one way or the other. Such beliefs do not convert a people into fanatics. But if a group believes that grounds must be prepared for arrival of the Messiah, by creating a situation of war, that his would-be soldiers should be given the most deadly arms, and made ready to wipe out millions along with the Messiah, then, this is from that split mind, the ‘mind within mind,’ that we have been speaking of. This is the result of indoctrination. The belief is sitting in a closed area of mind that is not open to discussion. The minds of the political fanatics, those whose agenda is dominance and looting, cannot be changed either. But, they are less dangerous than the religiously indoctrinated minds. The politically fanatic regimes can be replaced. On the other hand the religiously fanatical class cannot be replaced. But today’s greatest threat to human survival is from the combination of these two classes.