A characteristic of all biological organisms is a pattern of growth behaviour which results in a distinct, recognizable form. This is true of humans. That is not to say that each does not have distinguishing features, but these are minor when taken with the overall pattern. Thus there may be differences in facial feature, hair and eye colour and similar. From those distinguishing features individuals can be grouped by their variation in many ways. Grouping might be by size, gender and age. It is possible to group individuals into those who have been encountered before, (“familiar” – from “like a member of the family”) and those who have not (“strangers”). This depends upon highly sophisticated image recognition neurology. Extending that, it is possible to distinguish individuals by behaviour, somatotype, voice and a multitude of other minor features. Humans will naturally focus on these minor distinguishing features, often failing to realize that the overall, broad brush development is essentially the same for a particular group.
This picture of a tree demonstrates “reversion to form”. It is an abnormal variety with two trunks. However, it will be seen that the overall appearance of the tree is indistinguishable from a tree with a single trunk.
A tree which has had branches removed will similarly recover its previous (inherent) form.
Much can be said about behavioural patterns, in the same way.
Humans, and probably every other biological form, has the capacity to “make a choice”. Even bacteria will behave in different ways depending upon the context. This context might include the “instructional hormones” that exist in bacterial environments and which control, amongst other things, the invasive capacity of bacteria. More complex organisms have the capacity to alternate (that is “decide”) on a basis of “flight or fight”. A sexual attraction or repulsion can also form the basis for (binary) decision processes.
The psychobiology of this “freedom of choice” offers the capacity to adapt to contextual change. It is regarded, in humans, as a “cognitive process”. In this sophisticated form, it is the basis of multiple choices performed continuously by humans as they adapt to their changing environment. The inventory of these choices is infinite and can range from decisions based on indicators from a traffic light through to commentary on philosophy via a selection of words. This selection is, of course, simply a wide indulgence in selection and choice of word assembly, producing yet another context (which is the word string) creating yet another context for other humans on which they might react in a wide variety of forms subsequent to this stimulus.
However, despite the contextual complexity, the vast majority of human decision processes are linear and binary. Said another way, a simple association of cause and effect which results in a “yes or no” response. [This precept is considered elsewhere]
Some of these behaviour patterns might become entrenched by repetivity, which forms the basis of “behaviourism”. These “cognitive processes” occupy much of the humans’ perception of themselves, because it is the constant reverberating inter-relationship with the environment. The pattern of choices often becomes entrenched, depending upon the consistency of the context and upon habitual evolution. Humans see these capacities of themselves as their “personality”, or perhaps their “ego”, “spirituality” or many more word choices as to what each believes to be “self” described in a variety of ways.
However, it should not be forgotten that this “cognitive process” is only a tiny facet of the human biology. For the most part humans cannot control their biological functions, any more than they can control their birth or death.
An almighty power. Thus there is much beyond human capacity to control or comprehend. This arena is also recognized, by some more than others, and the inability to control is often conceded to be subject to a “greater power”. Therefore, one could define this as “God” or “an almighty power”. By extension, therefore, God can be regarded as “everything which is not known, and everything which is known to be not known”. If it is not known, it is beyond control.
What is prayer? If there is recognition by an individual that much of behaviour and therefore much of fate, is not controlled by cognitive processes. One form of adaptation is to recognise “that which is not controllable”. In recognizing this, and perhaps in reconciling with that, one strategy is to devolve from the self assurance of the cognitive and adopt“humility”. This means an acceptance of the loss of control and the adoption of a posture which acknowledges events beyond the cognitive. Traditionally, and perhaps inherently, assuming humility is associated with kneeling or in some animals other postures of subservience, such as rolling on the back or intentionally making itself vulnerable. These displays acknowledge subservience to events beyond the control of that creature. One result is to consolidate integrity with the group if that group has highly developed social behaviour. In humans this comes to be the ritualized assembly of a group which displays humility en masse. This results in what could be regarded as “religious behaviour” of that group. The fine details of the structuring of this behaviour will, naturally, vary from group to group producing yet another “reversion to form” as it becomes entrenched biologically and possibly becomes entrenched phylogenetically, if it is assumed that “inheritance of memory” can occur.