Hace poco en una reunión de grupo, un investigador presentó el famoso tema del “Microbioma”. Este es un tema que en recientes fechas ha cobrado mucho interés, la idea de ser “controlados” por los habitantes de nuestras entrañas suele desatar emociones extremas, pudiendo parecer un tema fascinante o bien una historia de terror moderna, algo como “los verdaderos zombies”. Recientes estudios han demostrado que nuestra flora en el tracto gastrointestinal es en cierta medida responsable de hasta los antojos que tenemos y de nuestra selección de alimento. Otros han demostrado que adicionar ciertas proteínas a la dieta diaria se puede “curar” casos muy específicos de autismo. La premisa que bien se conoce en el ámbito médico/genético es que lo que somos, todo eso que vemos (y como nos comportamos) es una mezcla del 50% de nuestro genotipo (es decir, nuestra famosa carga genética) y 50% medio ambiente (nuestras vivencias, experiencias, accidentes…). Ciertamente las cosas no son tan sencillas, pero es un hecho que lo que somos es una mezcla de genes y entorno.

Curioso, por un lado no nos gusta saber que no tenemos el “control total” de nosotros mismos, al final se supone que nos pertenece y nos obedece, hacemos de nosotros lo que queremos. Pero por otro lado, no nos queremos hacer responsables de nuestra propia existencia y a veces ni de nuestras acciones. Esto es: queremos pensar que si estamos gordos o flacos, siempre, SIEMPRE, lo podemos cambiar. Escuchamos a muchos decir que la culpa es de los malos hábitos que tenemos, un poco de ejercicio, una dieta balanceada”. Sin embargo, resulta que hay enfermedades, condiciones, síndromes… Entonces, no siempre lo podemos cambiar, no siempre es “problema” de los hábitos que seguimos. Si tenemos algo sobre lo que podemos trabajar, ese medio ambiente. Una cosa es tener predisposición y otra una verdadera sentencia, en muchos casos solamente tenemos predisposición, es decir, está en los genes, pero aún tenemos espacio para jugar con ese medio ambiente, esas rutinas, hábitos y demás. No nos asegura de que no vayamos a padecer la enfermedad o que no vayamos a sufrir los síntomas, pero hay una esperanza, una posibilidad de cambiar aunque sea un poco las cosas.

Recuerdo que durante un retiro en el templo, el Reverendo del templo dijo que nuestro cuerpo realmente no es nuestro, decía: ni siquiera podemos controlar cuando nos da hambre! No decidimos si nos enfermamos, ni cuando ni por cuanto tiempo, tampoco decidimos cuanto crecemos, el color de nuestra piel y pelo. Así que, qué tan dueños somos de nuestro cuerpo?

En cuanto al medio ambiente, ciertas situaciones socio-económicas o socio-culturales han sido tomadas también como sentencias para una vida miserable. Han existido guerras que han dejado países en la miseria, sin educación o posibilidades y sin embargo, han habido individuos que aprovechan la oportunidad para crecen y desafiando todas las posibilidades logran salir adelante. Entonces, ese medio ambiente también se pudo controlar, hasta cierto punto y al igual que los genes, no significa que cambiando el entorno a uno completamente positivo va a evitar cualquier eventualidad, pero por lo menos, aumenta las posibilidades de resultados positivos o benéficos.

No nos gusta pensar que no podemos controlar todo lo que somos, pero cuando es conveniente, nos justificamos, buscamos deshacernos de la responsabilidad de nuestro actuar y de nuestro ser. Han existido casos donde asesinos han tratado de justificarse diciendo que son portadores del gen guerrero (variante del gen MAO-A), y por ello dicen que no son responsables de sus acciones, que “está en sus genes”. Otros pueden llegar a decir que al haber sufrido de abuso infantil, se convirtieron en personas abusivas o violentas, “el culpa del medio ambiente”. 

Todos somos víctimas de nuestros genes, de nuestra microbiota y de nuestras vivencias. Pero nada de esto justifica actuar mal o causar daño. Nuestro cerebro tiene la capacidad de adaptarse, de reconectarse y moldearse, esto con base a nuestros pensamientos y nuestras actitudes. Dándonos de cierta manera, un pequeño porcentaje de autonomía sobre todo lo demás, pero a veces ese pequeño porcentaje puede hacer la diferencia.

No es válido decir que uno es una mala persona o una persona que abusa porque está en sus genes, ni porque la vida así lo hizo. Todos al final, podemos decidir hacia donde queremos ir y como queremos hacerlo. Si, los genes y el medio ambiente pueden hacerlo más o menos difícil, pero la opción y la decisión al final es nuestra y la podemos tomar de forma completamente consciente. Hay muchos casos de gente exitosa que portan el gen guerrero o que han vivido las peores situaciones, el punto es, hacer lo más que se pueda para mejorar, crecer y aprender y en la mayoría de los casos, eso empieza por la cabeza, la forma de pensar. Al final, ese “buen pensar” forma parte del “Noble Camino Óctuple” u "Octuple Sendero".

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Why do we do "good" things and "bad" things? They all probably seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I am currently reading a history book and am reading about the Tsar Peter the Great of Russia. I find such people who seem to be very "good" and very "bad" all at the same time particularly interesting. What does it really mean, to take responsibility for one's actions? An "excuse" is itself a tactical action which does not necessarily reflect the person's inner state. A person who lives a full life might not give much thought to "taking responsibility" - he or she might just get on with living out what opportunities come along. The idea of "taking responsibility" seems to come post factum. If somebody kills another person, he or she generally had a reason for doing so at the time. Afterwards, of course, there might be recriminations and the person then has to extricate him or herself from the resulting troubles, or, alternatively, find a way to respond to the glory, if the killing is generally approved of. According to Buddhist thinking we are each born with a vestigial karma from our previous life and longer term karma from earlier existences. This is a bit like being born with a particular problem or koan to solve. We might make some progress with it in our current life or we might make the whole matter worse by the way we live. We could say that it is our responsibility to try to solve our koan, but even saying that seems somehow to make the matter into a pressure from outside, an injunction laid upon us, whereas the reality is more that the pressure is within us already. We do not do "good" because we are told to - it is only really good if we do it by our own volition.

I don't think that most of the people that do bad things, really stop and think they are doing wrong, same thing happens to the people that good do things. Now with all the flooding happening in Florida, many people went out rescuing others as well as, rescuing animals, most of them said that "they had to do it" or "it's the right thing to do", most of the time without thinking "I'm good, therefore I'm doing a good thing".
Still, I've meet people that are abusive and violent and they keep saying "Oh it's in my nature" or "It's in my genes". It's a very easy way to say "It's not my fault and I can't do anything to change it". I remember someones saying "I am abusive and violent and I'm not going to change, my family made me that way and I'm not interested in changing, if others suffer because of me, well it's their problem not mine, as this is who I am". On the other hand, I have recently met someone that was being bullied almost every day, and she just "couldn't" stop, she would allow this and make up excuses why it was happening.
Either way, we might have been borne with some karma with us (or genetic predisposition), but still, we can always change the course of our lives, we can always make that decision. We acknowledge what we are, what we have and what makes us who we are, we accept it and then, we can work with it, change it or improve it. At least that is what I have learnt.

There is this book "Zero degrees of empathy" and the author mentions something about it. He says he doesn't like talking about good or bad people, but more about people that have empathy and people who don't have it. Still, people that are not very empathic (and that can be abusive) have the faculty to change that, they can learn and become more empathic.

Yes, it is very complicated, isn't it? We each have a certain nature, and can change it by degrees and a lot depends on how we think about it, yet how we think about things is also our nature, so it can easily become circular. There again, there are always different ways of thinking about what actually IS good and bad. And again there are layers - the person who superficially says "It's my nature" may, deeper down, be holding a resentment or anger about something from the past (so it is really functional rather than nature); but then whatever it is from the past might, or might not, still really demand some action. It is difficult to see into a person's deeper heart and mind because what is said is often just on the surface and other more important things are going on underneath. I find it can take a lot of patience to get to know the reality: to get to the point where one says "Ah, yes, now I understand."

Agree, it is very complicated and the boundaries of the mind, will, thought, genes, environment... become blurry. Having said this, still, we do hold some control over it, and we can still try to move our thoughts, our life to what and where we want. No it is not easy, but depending on what we want, it it worth it.

As you said, it does take a lot of time, patience and observation to see what moves us. Sometimes we might find it quite easy, some others, it will take a life time to get it, and we might not, but I think that just by trying it's worth it and in the process we will still gain a lot of knowledge.

I agree with you, and...

It is probably true that everybody, in an ultimate sense, does what they want and chooses what they do. The fact that they choose it does not necessarily make it the best thing, but it is the best they can see at the time with the history and the circumstances that they have. Also, while we are trying to move our thoughts this way or that, other things happen and some of the best things come along in this unexpected way.

Agree, I think that when we take a decision it's because we truly believe in it, if it's a bad or a good one, I don't think we can really see it. But, we should also be responsible for the consequences of whatever we decided, not doing has consequences as same as doing, it's just a matter of being congruent with what we think, what we say and what we do, at least we wrw "true to ourselves".

I like (and completely agree) with the way you put it, it's so positive!

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