Learn how our primitive instincts, our “monkey brain”, is used by our cultural narrative to control our lives. And, more importantly, what you can do to minimize its influence.
Our Primitive Efficient Monkey Brain
Our monkey brain is sometimes referred to as our reptilian brain. It’s the place where the primitive instincts reside. This aspect of our brain is like the RAM memory of a computer. It holds processes that allow for automatic thinking and expedited value judgments. This enables us to act or react without thinking about it. In life-threatening situations, this definitely comes in handy.
We can never do away with the “monkey” side of our mind. It’s imperative to our existence. It’s the home of our primitive “fight, flight or freeze” reaction mode. Here we store the blueprint of things may be potentially harmful. When something that fits the “harmful” blueprint we react immediately. For example, we freeze when we come upon a bear while hiking. Instinctively we know to run would cause the bear to charge. On the other hand, if we come upon a fallen beehive we know to run. The wrong reaction could mean serious injury.
Cultural Influences on our Monkey Brain
In order to work efficiently, our monkey brain connects directly to the deep subconscious that regulates our heart, breathing, hundreds of glands, etc. This is how it regulates to a great degree our specific personality and instinct components. Interestingly, our cultural narrative also programs our monkey brain. This is because we are born into environments with specific types of harmful elements.
Our parents guide and teach us what is harmful. They help program our cultural narrative. Trusted authority figures also engage in this programming. So, it’s our cultural narrative which provides the boundaries of our beliefs and values. It tells us what is safe and what is potentially harmful. It tells us what is good and what is bad. This becomes our worldview or paradigm. It’s the lens through which we see the world. So, our paradigm is really a set of programmed boundaries, values, and prejudices.
When you travel to a completely different environment your cultural programming may not align. This causes a number of problems. For instance, if you grow up outside a big city where loud noises aren’t common, then likely have a hard time adjusting to the routine loud noises of a big city. Your fight or flight button would be pushed almost continually. Thus, leaving you in a state of distress when no danger is warranted. You’d have a hard time sleeping. This would carry over into your day leaving you tired and stressed.
Conversely, if you grow up in a city environment and then try to live in the wilderness, you’d have a hard time as well. There are no city noises in the background. And you would fail likely to recognize the dangers in the natural environment. This is simply because they are often subtle and not a part of your cultural programming.
Misuse of the Monkey Brain
As mentioned above our cultural narrative can be essential as practical survival knowledge. For example, our parents and elders taught us to identify various things vital to our safety. In the past, our ancient ancestors taught us that when all the birds stopped chirping there might be a harmful predator present. Similarly, we learned to recognize the rattle of a harmful snake as a warning. Some things we fear are instinctual. We know when we lose our balance that we are about to fall and react to correct.
Unfortunately, religions use our monkey brain to insert programming that is less than healthy. For all intents and purposes, organized religion treats people as assets. That is we are paying customers. Religion, and in particular, Western organized religion. These are known as the Abrahamic religions of Semitic origin including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These are actually an eclectic combination of earlier traditions. Their doctrine, dogma, and beliefs are the rebranding of earlier Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian and Assyrian mystery religions. They don’t want you to question the cultural narrative they provide. You are their customer.
Religion represents the single most influential social institution behind the programming of bias and prejudice. However, not all religions are harmful. Only those that create boundaries and restrictions dictating values and thought. As a result, these are harmful because they adversely affect our ability to reason. Some religions have more boundaries than others. For example, Taoism and many forms of Paganism have the fewest constraints over freethinking. With these systems, you are free to explore and develop your own path.
How Religious Groupthink Affects the Monkey Brain
We need to learn to bypass the monkey brain to unlock the keys to intellectual and spiritual development. So, the elements of our cultural programming are more often than not the obstacles to spiritual exploration. This is because this programming is not based on necessary survival knowledge. Instead, it is often overrun with religious beliefs and prejudices. Religions teach us to categorize people and determine if they are “safe” based on their beliefs. This includes our beliefs about the afterlife. In addition, these “beliefs” teach us to value people by gender, ethnicity, and race. In other words, providing justification for discrimination and persecution. So, it is easy to see how all of this gets in the way of spiritual exploration.
Identifying the Effects of Negative Programming
The scope of your personal growth depends greatly on your ability to consider new information. How can you tell to what extent you are affected by the prejudices your own cultural paradigm? Ask yourself these three questions:
1) Safety based on Religious Standards
Do you need to know someone’s religious beliefs to determine if they are safe? If this is the case you need to explore why. Because by the very need to ask you have identified that your ability to explore anything spiritual is constricted to the boundaries of your own religion. What you need to ask yourself if this applies is, if what I believed was wrong would I want to know and would I be willing to give up all or part of this “sacred ground” in order to find the truth.
2) Lack of diversity
Do have people that are in my circle of friends and associates that come from different types of spiritual beliefs? The more diverse your inner circle the more likely you are to encounter ideas and opinions that will help you grow. The more segregated and closed your social circle the less likely you are to grow. And, the greater the tendency you’ll have to reject any information that conflicts with the “groups” paradigm.
3) Responding instead of thinking
Do you find yourself reacting emotionally without understanding why? Are you easily distracted and spend time on things which are of little value? Do find that ads for products seem to draw you in even when you don’t need the product or service? These are signs of groupthink manipulation. It shows you how powerful the cultural narrative is in your life. You are acting and reacting like a trout to a shiny object.
How to Deal with the Effects of Negative Programming
Our monkey brain is easier to program when we are young. The longer we are exposed to negative programming via groupthink manipulation of religion, the harder it becomes to remove the programming. Religious prejudice can become very deep-rooted. If the two questions above reveal you have some negative religious stereotypes, prejudices you’ve taken the first step. You first need to be able to realize you have a problem. Otherwise, you just keep on the same course.
It’s hard to break away from religion. They make it hard so you can’t do it easily. You’ve probably got personal and sometimes business relationships that are intertwined with the organization. You need to find others who have escaped the religious turmoil. Find an organization like ours if you can. It helps to have resources and people who have gone through the process of de-programming.
If this article resonates, there are more on our blog. Also, you may be interested in learning about our blended learning process. This is our curriculum which we use to teach several mind-expanding tools. It also aligns the Hero’s Journey. This is the term Joseph Campbell gave the pattern of consciousness development. Our learning process is available in two forms. You can take part in the virtual learning module or in our workshops.