The Inconceivable

I’ve been reading that, as we observe the world around us, the amount of information we receive through our senses: visual, aural, smells, all our sensory input is too great for our brains to process.

So, what happens is we conceptualize: we ‘package’ what we observe into easy to understand tidbits of information that, unfortunately, tend to leave out a whole lot of what is really there before us; all kinds of information we simply find inconceivable.

This is, it seems to me, unfortunate; if we spend a bit more time observing and less rushing to categorize we might gain some insight into the inconceivable. I’m inclined to proceed in such a manner; at least until I lose myself in inconceivability.

Things were going along pretty well and then disaster struck

I don’t know why it is but for me there always seems to be an ominous presence just beyond daily occurrence that, no matter how nicely everything seems to be proceeding, in my mind disaster is just a tick away from happening.

I live, I guess, with a close companion who harbors a certain pessimistic perspective or, maybe, just maybe is offering fair warning of impending disaster I better take note of. The thing is, as disasters go I really can’t say I’ve experienced anything, you know, particularly devastating in terms of life and death occurrences. But, nevertheless, whenever things are moving along smoothly there is, in the back of my mind, a sense of impending doom.

I really can’t explain it but I suspect I will be compelled to live with my pessimistic companion and the angst he causes me as long as I draw breath. After that I suppose I’ll have to admit I was fairly warned.

Absolute Truth

I’ve been reading that finding truth, particularly absolute truth, isn’t such an easy thing to do; in fact, seeking truth is a pretty nebulous enterprise altogether.

It appears that much of what we regard as hard truth is product of our conceptual constructs and belief systems which, when it comes right down to it is pretty relative information. What happens, I guess, is that our limited capacity to understand what we regard before us leads us to package our perceptions into preconceived concepts which become beliefs that fall way short of the truth embedded within that which we are observing or contemplating. I guess the lesson to be learned is that, to find truth, one needs to suppress beliefs and concepts and just open up to seeing, to purely observing what’s before us.  I suppose some deep contemplation will be involved.

And then, I’m to understand, if we may be so fortunate, through our intense efforts to glimpse truth, the realization, as enlightening as it will surely be, will never the less be of an incommunicable nature.

Seeking truth may be the most important thing I will ever put energy toward. If I am able to arrive at profound Truths, as I hope to, just don’t expect me to try to share them.

 

Ideals and Ideology

I’ve been reading, lately, about the disconnect between ideological beliefs and hard facts; that firmly held beliefs sometimes get in the way of accepting objective knowledge when the two don’t exactly mesh. I guess we all have our ideological beliefs, what we see as appropriate, preferable directions and outcomes that our culture as we understand it, would best observe; perspectives that have come to us through our intuitions or religious beliefs or communion with like-minded folks. Pluralism being what it is, though, belief systems will never coalesce into a single dominant ideology.

Objective knowledge on the other hand, that knowledge that we obtain from careful observation and thoughtful painstaking data collection doesn’t require belief: it comes to us as a dynamic fact that shouldn’t be thought of as divisive in terms of ideologies. But, I guess were having a hard time these days separating beliefs from hard facts.

Anyway, I was thinking that it would be really good, ideal really, if we could all come together around the realization that what we desire is a shared common ground, a cooperative and peaceful humankind progressing through shared knowledge. We must not let ideologies get in the way of our idealism.

Fear

It’s become apparent to me, lately, that among other perhaps more obvious differences between conservative and liberal political perspectives, the notion of fear is of particular concern to those entrenched within the political right, which, I guess, explains the conservative desire to build walls and ban entire communities of people of particular religious beliefs………and build ever-larger military arsenals, anticipating, I guess, having to ward off the aggression s of any number of potential hostile entities. I suppose one could add to this the conservative penchant toward religious devotion intended to override the fear of ultimate personal demise.

It’s hard to argue or reason with someone harboring a very real, albeit abstract fear and as much as I might like to convince my conservative friends of the beauty of a pluralistic world I guess I’ll have to settle for a bit of understanding, a sympathy for them living as they do with their very real fear.

Now

So, it’s come to my attention that the only true reality is now: the past is no longer and the future is yet to be. Yesterday isn’t now although it was now then and the future may become now but isn’t now, now.

As we conjure up what was but is no longer now our remembrances assume only an approximation more or less accurate as to how it was when was then was now. And, though we may plan and anticipate how it will be when will be is now we have no certainty of that now until it becomes now.

I do think there is value in conscious awareness of now as opposed to too much concern to was then and will be; I think focus on now suppresses the ‘I’ which requires, for it to be well-defined, a bit of a time line.

Plus, being here now opens conscious awareness of all sorts of things one misses when one’s mind is fluctuating between was then and will be. So, now I’m going to definitely focus, as well as I can on now rather than going to.

I’m finding it to be a bit of a struggle.

My Prejudices

I’ve been reading that, as much as we may not like to believe it, prejudice is an inevitable contributor to how we understand most all aspects of our existence. We attach meaning to what we observe through pre-conceived concepts which may function pragmatically but certainly fall short of providing us with a thorough understanding of our world. And, so, we end up with prejudices heavily ego-centric and self-preserving.

The kind of prejudices that lead folks to embrace racist, xenophobic perspectives and doubt the legitimacy of scientific research result from the lack of having at hand hard facts and reliable theories and have led to some pretty amazing intuitive jumps, irrational thinking and prejudices.

But, then, any belief is a prejudice which denies its contradiction. As I think about my own beliefs that may border on philosophical skepticism (a contradiction in itself) likelihoods and reasonable possibilities seem the operational rule. I suppose the only way to avoid believing oneself into a box is to think theoretically, keep things open ended.

New Toys

My usually contemplative existence has been upset recently due to the acquisition of what I have come to think of as a new toy. I have gotten used to spending significant time, on a daily basis, reflecting philosophically on all sorts of things I consider of a profound nature. But, now, suddenly, I find myself preoccupied with my physical activity: steps taken, time spent in various heart rate zones, distance traveled, calories burned and more. And, to make sure I don’t forget about or ignore the information my new toy is providing it congratulates me, gives me awards sometimes when I reach certain plateaus it deems noteworthy. And, then it encourages me to share my successes with others who have been, dare I say, entrapped by this clever computerized overseer.

I have to admit I was initially captivated by the personal attention and concern for my well-being and I didn’t want to let my personal trainer (which is what it purports to be) down, but I miss my extended times of reflection. I toy with the idea of sitting in my lounger while swinging my arm alongside in order to keep the numbers respectable, but I guess eventually my personal trainer and I will have to part ways.

 

Seeking Common Ground

Public discourse sure seems divisive these days. There seems to be a lot of people holding pretty strong oppositional opinions on a host of contemporary issues. The disagreements appear to be pretty deep; not just apples and oranges but more of a god/Satan divergence; a profound philosophical divide beyond any sort of reconciliation; neighbor versus neighbor has led to political gridlock. I’m inclined to level some of the blame for the situation on football; it’s all come down to a win or lose situation.

Which has led some wise pundits to suggest we need a change of attitude; a spirit of compromise along with a sense of civil exchange of ideas; allow the other side their dignity while articulating your own point of view clearly and calmly and try to avoid taking the issues personally.
I grant you this isn’t an easy task when you know for certain the other side is clearly wrong. I wish I could tell you I’m immune to this discordant dilemma but reading the news from the perspective of my favored apps keeps me regularly angry at the other side, and, I suspect, the other side is similarly seething while absorbing the bias of their favored sources.

The conundrum brings me back to a need to spend more time on my meditative practices: focus on by-passing the Self, allowing disquieting thoughts to evaporate, strive for ultimate nature of being, seek believable truths. It’s difficult but I can think of no better solution and maybe I’ll eventually reach a point of toleration for those on the other side.

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Useful Facts

I’ve been mulling over the relationship between objective truth, subjective belief and fact, lately. As far as I can tell, facts are those things that are unmistakably true, that must under all circumstances be the case. Facts are those things having occurred, like the Norman Invasion, things that will occur in the future like the ultimate physical demise of all biological life forms and concepts beyond doubt like gravitational force. Propositions that border on objective truth, then, are those concepts and theories that are most in-line with the facts. Subjective belief on the other hand, provides important personal ground for living, maybe, but is not required to conform to any sort of irrefutable facts.

Now, it seems to me, in order to progress in our understanding of the world around us we need to generate useful knowledge. Some people undoubtedly feel subjective beliefs offer useful knowledge and I hesitate to dismiss them out-of-hand, but I’m afraid such a stance lacks the flexibility needed to truly progress. To progress we need to be able and willing to set aside what we once understood to be the case in favor of new ideas, theories that conform better to the facts which have been and continue to be revealed to us.

And these days with the significant problems we face I’m thinking we better root for the creative, progressive problem solvers who are reaching beyond what we now know. Here’s hoping solutions will be found before we find ourselves inextricably caught in a trap of our own making.