A few years back a movie/documentary came out titled “What the Bleep Do We Know“. I was very impressed with this show, but not because I learned anything profoundly new or unique. Rather, I was impressed that many of the conclusions and “beliefs” I had developed over the years (based on a meager knowledge of psychology, neuropsychology, philosophy, brain-wiring, quantum-physics and spirituality), were so completely and passionately described (and affirmed) in that show. So today, for some reason, I started my day thinking about how we view the world and what we think we “know”. I find that most people (including myself) carry out their short, temporal existence in a sort of hermetically-sealed psycho-spiritual-existential bubble of self-affirmed and comforting beliefs about the world. The overwhelming majority of these beliefs (many of which we consider to be self-evident), are either untrue, or incomplete. Yet, these comforting-beliefs seem to appease the possibility of Existential Angst which may give rise should we consider even the possibility of our profound ignorance and wholly subjective first-person view of the world and our own conscious experience. When one studies the brain & mind you find that we “see” (and understand) ONLY what our brains/minds are capable of “seeing”. We Pattern Match and that’s it (at least with our current understanding of the brain/mind). There is no such thing as Original Thought, everything we “see” and “think” is based on what we have already “seen” and “thought”. We also add to this ignorance with our common use of, and reliance on, a spoken language. Our predominant use of, and reliance on, a localized (temporally/geographically) and culturally-shaped spoken language also predisposes most of us to consider the denotative, rather than connotative meaning of what we say and communicate. There is so much, much more to “us” and the Universe than what we can tag, label, classify or “think about”. “The ultimate mystery of being and nonbeing transcends all categories of knowledge and thought. Yet that which transcends all talk is the very essence of your own being, so you’re resting on it and you know it.” (Joseph Campbell) Another way to think of the ineffable qualities of the true-nature of reality is to ask yourself “..how can you continue to see the world as real, if the self that is determining it to be real is intangible?” (JZ Knight).
“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.“
Personally I believe these notions suggest that most human-beings are psychologically (and pathologically) pre-disposed to a life of profound ignorance as we seek out further confirmation of what we already believe to be true. Or, we short-change ourselves as we settle for ideas, beliefs, ideologies or world-views not because they are unmistakeably “right”, but we choose them simply to avoid the anxiety, discomfort, uncertainty or angst associated with contemplating our true-nature. We don’t like to consider the possibility that what we think we “know” about our selves and the world, is mostly an illusion profoundly filtered and shaped by our own senses and cognitive/psychological limitations. In a way, most of us live out our lives inadvertently seeking anxiety-avoidance rather than absolute-truth since it is far easier, and less of a challenge to our comfort-zones or Anthropic Fallacy. Contrary to most peoples’ view of the human mind as some sort of powerful “thinking machine” unmatched by any other species, evidence strongly suggests that our minds are nothing more than complex cognitive-filters designed around the need to dumb-down the world so we can “see” or understand it. Yet most of us are convinced that what we “see”, “know” or “understand” is really the way things are. And some, the fundamental materialists, also believe that this is ALL there is, nothing more.Rather than provoking any sort of anxiety through contemplating these existential uncertainties, or an innate and inescapable ignorance existing as a fundamental cognitive-necessity, I find these notions to be psychologically freeing and liberating. Permitting me to perceive, or experience the world, as a “thou” rather than an “it”. Considering these notions also encourages me to be more audacious in my thinking, as well as extending the development of my own world-view or transpersonal/transcendent awareness.
It is with genuine humility, as well as a deep, profound reverence and awe in the world and Universe, that I start my day today. “Truth is One, but the sages speak of it by many names” (Rig Veda)