Okay, already you are probably wondering what molecules have to do with spiritual questions.
This morning I was eating breakfast at the dining room table on a rag placemat. A certain kind of energy entered me and I suddenly got very very interested indeed in the placemat. The texture of the mat, the weave, the lint that was adhering to it, all of this became quite fascinating.
I was almost immediately aware of the fact that there was some very fine substance present, both in me, and in the quality of the impression itself. That is to say, something unusual in my physical body was corresponding to the way that the impression was entering me. Something that is not always present but that enriches my perception immensely.
Perhaps it isn't a matter of course to study spiritual questions from a scientific perspective, but if East wants to meet West I believe that we have to do this in order to have a better understanding of both. So there I was studying the exact nature of this phenomenon and trying to understand it at the same time that I bathed in sheer appreciation.
About 45 minutes later I was driving to work. My commute takes about an hour, and during that time I often ponder questions that have come up for me either or the day before, or on that same day. This question of the impression that entered me came up again. All of a sudden I understood it in a very different kind of way.
In order to explain what that was, I am going to have to speak a little bit about biology and medicine.
The way that the immune system functions in the human body is that various molecules attached to the surfaces of immune system cells are configured in just such a manner that they can bond with foreign molecular matter, that is to say, fragments of molecules belonging to viruses and bacteria. When a specialized immune system cell with the right kind of molecules identifies an enemy, it reports back to the system and instructs it to manufacture an appropriate molecular response. Soon the immune system is flooded with molecules of just the right kind to meet the invader and engage it.
Our system of perception is probably very much like this, but we don't realize it. That is to say, as sensory perceptions arise and trigger chemical reactions in the nerve endings that receive them, there are potentially a wide range of chemical molecules that can interact with those. Some of the interactions are preferable to others in the sense that if the right kind of molecule meets an incoming impression, it might produce a feeling of joy, for example. If that particular molecule is not present and some less suitable molecule engages with the chemicals triggered by the incoming impression, the impression is less fine. This is why there are times when something that we see or hear or smell will move us in a special way and other times when almost exactly the same thing does almost nothing at all to us.
Another way of saying this is that indifference is produced by molecular deficiencies. If we can produce more and finer and more suitable molecules in our bodies to meet incoming impressions, the impressions feed us in a much deeper way.
So the whole work of meditation, the effort of sensation and perception with attention, is of trying to take in the right food in life actually an effort to get the right molecules into position so that when impressions come in we are better fed
It is possible to sense this quite precisely if we study incoming perceptions in more detail, especially in efforts to assess the physical, emotional, and intellectual effects they produce when we perceive those three factors acting in concert.
At a minimum we can begin to see how we truly are chemical factories, and how we need to begin to initiate some responsibility for our chemistry. Once again, it may sound peculiar to speak about this in the context of a spiritual search, but studying it could prove quite interesting for those who see the point.