it’s confusing!

3 04 2009

so here we are, in a generally mutually agreed-up reality.  did we get here because reality is just that objective and what we all see is what we all get, or is there something more collusive behind the scenes?  after all, you could barely ask for a more regimented introduction to the world–every culture has thousands of normative childrearing activities, objects, and guidelines.  every culture has a relatively well-defined path to adulthood, as well.  i’m not blaming cultures or civilizations!  this makes sense, coming to generally agreed-upon methods of nurture, growth, and living and abiding by them.

likewise, who could blame the individuals?   when one is born, one knows nothing about the world (probably), and must be shown a way.  but what if the way that one is shown is believed to be the only way?  can’t we all agree at least that there are an infinite number of ways?  many of our cultures don’t generally like to admit it, but i’m prepared to say definitively that it is true.  it’s the source of any dissonance within a culture. every differing opinion is a notch in the “different view of the world” voting box.  if we’re all seeing the “same” things and still don’t agree as to what they are or what they mean, it’s explained as people being different.  but why are they different?  it’s because their reality is different.  if we have so many differing realities within such a highly homogenized set of cultures, why is it so surprising to think that we could all be living in drastically different worlds?

i’ve become convinced of the highly subjective nature of reality several times in my life, most recently (and possibly profoundly) through my Vipassana meditation.  things i “knew” were torn to ridiculous shreds at my feet, ideas i had were exposed to be the ridiculous patchwork of assimilative “rationality” that they were.  in short, all of the inconsistencies i’d found in my world that had previously angered and upset me became punchlines in the joke that is each human’s belief in a universally known reality.  it was weird.  i learned that it was important to view each and every thing, event, person, and thought with a beginner’s mind; that is, to try to forget anything i’d been taught about anything and to try to see each new experience for whatever it was in the starkest of ways.  even more importantly, i had to learn not to accept even my new concepts when next an opportunity arose.  it became clear that one’s memory, while not the enemy in seeing things as they are, wasn’t exactly there to help.

BUT!  in a way, doing this properly is like cutting yourself out of  your own body.  all of my understanding about the world is predicated upon the same thing that my understanding of this “new way of seeing things” is–and it’s the world!  none of us knows anything (rationally speaking) about anything but what we’ve learned from this world, and that includes any “insights” we’ve had while meditating or thinking or anything else.  so i’ve formed a belief, an idealistic way of living, based on experiences i’ve had while operating in the very framework that i apparently hope to transcend (in a way)??  it’s madness, i say.  and it’s confusing.

physicists are routinely frustrated by their work in particle physics, because they now know that the things that happen that make our world work the way it does are, by their own observations and participations, beyond the scope of understanding of the human brain.  their understanding of space-time denies the possibility of time’s existence in the way that we understand it.  great speed slows time down and increases the mass of the traveling matter.  particles are predicted to exist in far more dimensions than the ones we agree that we can experience—three.  it’s all beyond them, and they admit it.  they continue to work and describe it in terms we can understand because they know they don’t have any other way of doing it.  they’re stuck in this 3-dimensional world, and so they do the best they can, knowing that it’s inadequate (for now) to truly understand what they’re doing.  as Dr. John von Neumann, Hungarian mathematician, explained to molecular physicist Dr. Felix Smith, “Young man, in mathematics you don’t understand things, you just get used to them.”

so, are we really trained out of our other birthrights of understanding by a culture so impressed with its knowledge of the world?  is it possible that we are able to access other understandings, but it’s made more difficult by our largely scientific/rational approach to the world as it is?  could the Buddha and Edgar Cayce really see “the world without time” and understand life on a much grander scale because they were able to [insert understanding of “reality” transcendence here]?

does the fact that i am now able to routinely and definitively stop any impending sneeze without so much as an aftertremor of sneeze-feeling mean that i am getting closer to controlling my reality, or does the fact that i can do no such thing with hiccups mean that i am forever prisoner to the agreed-upon dictates of the reality of our world?  umm…  you decide.

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