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Perception is an Illusion
As I continue to work on the outline for my book, two opposing thoughts dominate my days - there is nothing of value so why write, versus important details that must be understood in order to get the point of the book across. It takes a bit of discipline to choose the latter and move forward. Soldier on and all that.
So, one big obstacle to our evolution is that we have a mind that has protected and served us well. Traditional spiritual practices and modern day psychology seem to agree on the observation that our minds have complex systems that we are not fully aware of, and both disciplines seem to parse the mind into parts. Ego, subconscious mind, consciousness, emotions, awareness, higher self, spirit, and more all appear to happen within, or at least through, the portal of the mind. We do not need to agree on the parts of the mind, the workings of the mind, or the origins or terminus of any aspect of our minds, because whatever we believe about these things appears to be coming through the portal of our mind. Not that these things are unimportant and deserving of more consideration, but let’s not explore these things more deeply or argue right now, and instead start from the bottom and work our way up. Why is this important? Perception.
I read an interesting article that linked to a video explaining the Ames Illusion which is fascinating and I highly recommend you click that link to watch it. Our mind has a job to do and that job is to protect us in the current environment. The idea our mind knows or cares about reality is made up in human consciousness, meaning it is not necessarily true. Nor is the mind necessarily capable of comprehending reality. Furthermore, the idea there is reality is not a truth but more of an assumption our human mind believes. The recognition of the possibility that reality may not exist in the way we believe, or even at all, is critical to important tools for human evolution - humility and the ability to move freely from one belief into another. Without humility we are liable to believe that our current beliefs are truth, reality, unmovable. Without humility and free flowing beliefs we are less able to accept concepts like ‘there is no right and wrong,’ or ‘there is no answer,’ and this in turn causes stagnation and friction, particularly where two opposing views intersect. This makes it difficult to change and adapt.
Imagine current events and how differently you might view them with these two concepts in place, there is no right or wrong and there is no answer. First, you would have to work a bit harder to come to any conclusions and more importantly, you would force yourself to remain much more open and amenable to all views on the matter. If you were a leader making decisions for the rest of humans in your respective tribe, country, or religion, having these views could shift your focus from ‘changing the way other tribes, countries, religions, behave or choose to live,’ toward finding ways of living together. Does this seem too simple? Probably, but by using these two concepts negotiations start from the perspective that all sides have a right to choices and all choices are equally important and right, as opposed to starting from a perspective that there is a problem and only one side or perspective can win or survive.
The moral idea that humans and their choices should get honored has been forming for a long time, and mostly been taught through religion. Religion has historically been the place where human morality is fostered. The latest version of treating all humans and their choices respectfully is generally known as the Golden Rule, which derives most famously from the teachings of Jesus and his speaking of this concept at the Sermon on the Mount stated in Matthew 7:12 - Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. But Jesus was paraphrasing those laws set out by the prophets, and they in turn may have been paraphrasing those before them. More importantly, this thinking was probably amended and revised many times over thousands of years, and has been interpreted in a way that supposes a narrower perspective than humans currently hold. Most people continue to interpret this teaching as meaning that we should only treat others in the way we would have them treat us, which implies our version of behavior is a necessary part of the statement. But I do not believe this is true or even they way it was necessarily meant to be interpreted and translated. Nevertheless, we do need to expand this important and fundamental concept to include treating others in the way they want to be treated and that makes it a bit more complex. Work is needed in this cornerstone principal of current human morality.
Because we primarily live within the present moment and immediate future, and within the family or close group that we are part of, few of us practice living from the perspective of humanity as a whole or an eternal timeline. This broader perspective is necessary to help fine tune and evolve present behaviors and morality. Having an understanding of how perspectives can control our perceptions, and therefore our beliefs, is critical. By choosing a more open way of interpreting reality, a more open and inclusive way of relating to other humans, we may be able to eliminate problems that truly do not exist. We may change our human perspective, first on an individual level and eventually within all of human consciousness. I have to believe this is possible.