Sunday, June 23, 2019

Understanding beyond our cognitive conception or physical senses

People have asked me many times how I can be at all religious minded in an authentic way. I'm not going to necessarily defend my spiritual beliefs or thoughts or suggest that they are shared by those who attend the same church as I do, but I do want to defend this idea that it is hubris to believe that everything that is reality can be perceived and understood by us via reason and our five senses. Even if we were to expand to something beyond conscious cognition, e.g. the unconscious which is often the explanation for phenomena like "intuition," I still don't think it's enough. There are some obvious examples of failures of our perception to reflect large portions of reality, e.g. infrared and ultraviolet. But the longer I live the more I realize how many things are at play all of the time in even the simplest thing or interaction. Being spiritually minded helps me to at least keep an open mind. Even if there isn't a "religious" explanation or a "spiritual" reason behind things, as those words are commonly used and conceived of, to understand that in a world in which normal matter (as opposed to say, dark matter/dark energy) consists of only about 4% of the known universe, I think it's a little self-centered to think that we are capable of perceiving and understanding reality based on perception and cognition alone.

Someone either sent this to me or left it in a comment, which I think explains this well:

"People often think of koans as riddles or problems that need to be solved, but this is not the case at all. With every koan the point is not to arrive at an answer through our ordinary conceptualizing minds. Rather, the point is to see for ourselves that our concepts can never provide us with a satisfactory answer.

This is not to say that satisfaction cannot be found.

It can, but not through any concept or explanation."

I think it's an especially interesting application to sociopaths. Because I think sociopaths often want to cut to the chase. I certainly do. In fact, my therapist had to engage in large amounts of obfuscation to keep me from figuring out what he was getting at, cut to the chase, and give him the answer he was looking for. Because he wanted me to learn for myself and go through the journey, not just know the "right" answer to the question he was asking. But I jumped to the "right" answer part of life almost compulsively, commonly missing the lessons that others had learned by going through the whole process.

"If you don't understand the heart of a koan, it will be very clear the moment you're asked a follow up question."

Isn't this so true of sociopaths? They know the "right" answers to certain questions, but when you follow up with them, you often can tell very quickly that they don't understand the answer at all, or maybe even the original question.

"They simply point out that reality is not to be captured in a thought or a phrase or an explanation." Our rational mind can only come up with models for reality, but reality is not a model. The map is not the territory. And for whatever reason, I think having a mind open to "spirituality" is a better way for me to look for aspects of reality that were not otherwise being mapped by my cognitive-only models.

"Our conceptualizing minds are highly dualistic. . . . To such a mind, everything is either good or bad, right or wrong, friend or foe, this or that, or else off our radar completely."

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to spoil your threat, I would like to know how to make my own threat. Is that possible? If yes, how and where? Can't find a button for that. Thanks


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