The Heart of the Matter
April 15, 2020
An Intro to the Wisdom System


Recently, Dr. John Horton, via Skype, had a very informative and inspiring conversation with Prem Rawat about Covid-19, part of Prem's recent series of Lockdown talks. It's nine minutes long. Here it is.

What follows are excerpts from a book John is currently writing: The Wisdom System -- an exploration of what it really means for human beings to live up to their full potential.


"As we try to understand what it is to be a human being and appreciate life, I am asking myself, these days, what can we learn from brain research? Towards that end, I find myself increasingly fascinated by neuroscience's discovery of the two unique brain networks inside our heads. One is known as the "executive function network" and the other is known as the "salient network."

The function of the executive function network is to prioritize what is most important to a human being at any given moment in time so we can continue to thrive. According to the highly regarded psychologist, Abraham Maslow, self-actualization is a human being's most important priority -- one of our five primal needs, the other four being: survival, safety, socialization, and self-esteem. We share these needs with our fellow primates.

Self-actualization (a modern day term for "know thyself"), according to Maslow, has two aspects to it. The first is what it takes to access and express our highly individual abilities, understandings, and potentials. The second is about the choice we all have to cultivate our own inner contentment.

The need we all have to become fully ourselves in actions and relationships evolves over the course of lifetime, accompanied by many different learning experiences and discoveries. This is the first part of self-actualization. The entire process, you might say, is the dance of our outer lives enlivened by our own, unique inner being.


This dance, however, is only part of the story of what it means to be a fully functioning human being -- the husk, but not the seed. Ultimately, human beings are more than just their the quest for survival, safety, socialization, and self-esteem. While these four aspects of our life are necessary, they are not sufficient. Indeed, there is another force at work, inside of us -- the need for inner contentment.

Bottom line, our need for inner contentment is very simple. We knew this need as children and, unlike the first part of our need for self-actualization, it does not evolve as we grow. It is always with us -- right from the beginning of life -- a need that is so simple it is often overlooked or ignored.

The essence of this simplicity is something I have increasingly come to understand in response to the input, guidance, and inspiration Ive received from Prem Rawat over the the past 50 years.

For me, busy as I've been being a full-time physician, simplicity, too often, has remained only a remote possibility, as well as the effort required to enjoy inner contentment in the midst of my normally very busy day. However, with the inner practice I usually do first thing in the morning, I have a way to connect to simplicity and feel the priority of enjoying inner contentment.

All well and good. But what about the rest of my day? Just because I've connected with my inner contentment in the morning, does than mean I can neglect my other needs (survival, safety, socializing, and self-esteem?) No, it doesn't. It just puts those needs into a much more human context, helping me stay aware of them during my busy and sometimes challenging day. Yes, there is the heartfelt enjoyment of inner contentment, but there is also a mental component to my choice.

This is precisely where the salient network of the brain comes into play. Since this network is designed to focus on the most important feature needed to accomplish a particular goal, I can choose to activate it to focus on the kindness of existence.

"We are all connected to an infinite source of kindness," Prem said years ago. And the memory of that single sentence still provides me with the inspiration I need to call on the salient network -- the prioritizing and focusing part of my brain -- to help me connect with the kindness within me.

Here's an example of what I am getting at: Sometimes, when I'm driving on the freeway, in Los Angles, a question comes to mind: "How, in the world, are thousands of people able to drive their cars, in five lanes of traffic, with only few feet separating them, and not have tons of accidents -- especially when the people in the cars are talking to friends, listening to music, thinking about other things, or worse, are stressed out of their minds trying to get to their destination on time?

M driving.jpeg

Sound familiar?

Thank God for the salient network of our brain! With so much going on around us, it regulates the focus we need to accomplish our goals, while not having a traffic accident. Simply put, it keeps us attentive to one essential focus, watching the road and we are good at doing this with nearly 100% efficiency. If our focus wavers for just a second, we immediately refocus or somebody honks their horn to remind us we have drifted from our lane.

Here's my big takeaway from this.
If my innate drive for inner contentment is life's way of helping me reach my destination, then it is the salient network of my brain is the GPS for my journey, enabling me to multi-track, but still enjoy the kindness within.

My aspiration? To become as sensitive to paying attention to inner kindness as I have learned to pay attention to the road.

When I attend to the innate kindness within me, it becomes my full-time companion, my co-pilot -- as I navigate my way forward on the highways and bi-ways of life, all the time knowing I have a choice of what to focus on."

PREM PHOTO: Courtesy of TimelessToday

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at April 15, 2020 12:14 AM


Thank you Dr. John Horton, very insightful, very inspiring; I'll.remember it riding down the Road of Life and focusing on the kindness within and that infinite source that provides that kindness!

And Thank You, Mitch, for posting this!

Best to you both and stay safe and well during this crisis!

Jon Lloyd

Posted by: Mrs. Cat [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 16, 2020 03:16 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?

Welcome to Mitch Ditkoff's blog about what's really important in this life: Peace, gratitude, love, joy, clarity, and the effort required to wake up and smell the roses. Enjoy!

   Contact me