Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Awaken the mind...

In order to taste my tea, you must first empty your tea-cup...
If you attempt to taste my tea without first emptying your cup,
My tea will be spilt and whatever flavour my tea may have had
Will be lost never and will not have the chance of being tasted...

What is your definition of reality? What is your reality? What is the concept of reality? ...

The very nature of these questions makes it impossible for them to be answered. These particular questions, and indeed all questions, are impossible to give a universal definition for. Why? Because a universal definition does not exist, and cannot exist due the nature of what reality is. To explain reality in its most pure form is to assimilate oneself with infinity - to achieve enlightenment. The definition of reality one may argue is the way in which we see our world through our five senses, our perception of the interactions we have on a day to day basis with reality. Having understood that perception is reality it is clear to see, that no two people have the same perceptions on a day to day basis. One can then make the assumption that reality is not set in stone, and may be interpreted by individuals who will instinctively have original and different opinions. Thus one can say that there is no absolute reality, but rather that there is no reality at all.

Meditating on questions and concepts that seem somehow indescribable is a way of broadening ones mind. Questions and concepts of such a nature closely resemble children’s questions, eg; What is me? What is real? Why do people think etc. Once one has attempted to answer and reflect on these types of questions, one will realise how deep the questions can go, and can ultimately not be explained. This is the beginning step towards awakening the infinite possibilities in your mind…

To delve further into what we call reality, one must consider what the "building blocks" of our reality is. What are the fundamental concepts that make up, what we call reality? Some examples of these "building blocks" are concepts of Communication, Time, Space, Colour, Sound, Touch etc. After identifying what these "building blocks" are, one must then understand the nature of these concepts, and question; Are they the same for everyone?

It is with that question in mind, that one will find the "faults" in reality. No two individuals Think, Feel and Experience life in the same way. Thus one can make the assumption that nothing has a universal set of principals that can apply to every ones needs and understandings of the world around them... A classic example of this is two friends arguing over the times their watches display – one is two minutes faster than the other – yet they both claim to have the correct time... When one delves more deeply into the issue and asks, who does have the correct time? How do you define "correct time"? More importantly however is the question of what is time itself?

In this essay I will specifically attempt to break down what Time is, knowing full well that my definition is different to yours. It is with this idea in mind that I will attempt to awaken your mind, and show you the cracks that appear in reality, and how Time affects the way we think in a wasteful and unnecessary fashion.

Time can be broken down into three simpler components; Past, Present and Future. Further explanation of these terms will help establish the validity (if any) of these concepts and the role in which they play in our lives.

Past: Is not the past simply a present moment that has already passed, and bears no relevance to what is occurring now – in any way. We cannot change the past, the past cannot affect us now, and one cannot live in the realm of the past...

Future: Is not the future; merely a present moment that has not yet been experienced, and therefore it is useless... It is useless because we cannot experience or interact with the future until it has become a present moment. Here is an analogy that will hopefully shed some perspective on what the future is. Thinking of the future is like looking to the sky getting ready to catch what you think is a pebble, however once it comes time for you to catch it - you realise it is a boulder... One cannot grasp the entirety of the future, so it is futile to try.

Present: This is the only component of Time that has any meaning and relevance at all; we exist in the here and now, not yesterday nor tomorrow, we exist now. It is said, "life should be lived moment by moment", but once we understand the nature of life we realise this is the way we live our life anyway, it is the human consciousness that creates the clouds that block our vision. These clouds are the illusion of what we define as our reality.

Our reality is identified by, and interacted with, by our internal dialogue and our minds eye. Everyone experiences that internal dialogue it is accepted as part of life... But few actually take the step of categorising what the voice in your mind is talking about. When you break it up into its most simple forms, most of the mental dialogue is about past events or the future possibilities, both of which are useless and meaningless. The are both useless and meaningless because they bear no relevance to the here and now.

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The concepts of Time among many other things are nothing other than the figments of the human imagination. Merely ways of interpreting the world around us. Imagination is a wonderful thing, it is what sets s apart from the animals, however becoming contempt with a concept and accepting that concept as "absolute truth", is not constructive behaviour at all. Nothing is set in stone, unless we make it that way. Our minds should be formless like water. Having a formless mind allows one to assimilate everything and yet nothing. One may believe in nothing yet everything... Realising that nothing has an "absolute value", nothing has "absolute meaning" and everything simply is, is the most logical thing a human mind is capable of understanding. By giving objects names, we are limiting ourselves to one interpretation of reality...

Perception is our reality... Everything in this universe can be explained by identifying the fundamental principal that exists in everything... And that is, that everything simply is... Everything is nothing, and nothing is everything... Once this key fundamental to all of reality is understood we realise that this fundamental concept does not exist, it was all a figment of our imagination...

Consider this: Is a tree, still a tree, if it doesn't have a name? If not, then what is it? You can still see a "tree", the "tree" still grows, the "tree" still casts a shadow - it still exists does it not? ... So what is it, if you cannot give it a name?


Blogger Dave Riley said...

I agree in part. The special achievement of humans was the invention of language but that doesn't mean that in the beginning was the word. In the begining was the deed "and the word followed as its phonetic shadow"...
So a "tree" exists because it is something we relate to and how we relate to it has a lot to do with our activity premissed by how we differentiate that tree from some other. It may bear fruit or it may be useful to create canoes or the wood burns hot or it drops its branches impulsively when we are asleep under it --- so the tree is defined by its nature as it relates to the world of us humans. So as we define and differentiate the world of trees we build up a body of knowledge that we can pass on -- by show and tell -- through the ongoing process of creating culture.

An aphasic knows it is a tree, even an elm or a gum tree, but cannot name it but may be able to tell other humans what it is useful for or how is grows. So language and naming is dependent primarily on this relationship we have with trees -- wood, shade, sustenace, whatever... which becomes part of our human culture.
So what you are asking is not what makes a tree a tree, but what makes us human.

It is true that a parrot knows that some trees bare edible seeds but they don't name them because one parrot doesn't tell another parrot about the Dawson River Bottle Brush that is now blooming over the hill.
But we humans do rely on that exchange because we rely on each other to share the information we acculmulate about trees.
So if you cannot name it - like the aphasic -- the tree still exists and still can have function within the culture of humans.

If I said I slept under a Casuarina glauca you'd be none the wiser perhaps as you may not know the botanical name of the Swamp She Oak. The tree still exists. I could describe the tree to you , its leaves, growth habit, ecology etc ..and you'd get a good idea what sort of tree it was as you too may have seen it but not known its name.

The tree exists. You know of it. But did not know its name.

Similarly, if I lived in the Amazon Rainforest and named and related to hundreds of trees, that knowledge would be useless if I was transported 50 kms south of Uluru. A different knowledge would be required one that I could only access by tapping into local culture as I would not be able to live long enough to enrich my knowledge of local flora sufficient to be on par with what I "knew" of the Amazon.. The trees, such as they are, in central australia woudl be nameles to me but they still would have substance relative to somemone's basic mode of seeking to survive.

So perception of trees, even the questions you ask of them --as in all things human -- are dependent on the cultural attributes you share with others. I liken it to living in a fish tank where we excrete the very water that buoys us up socially(I understand that yeasts do exactly this if Kurt Vonnegut can be believed).

We make our own social world within nature -- thats' our essential ecology.And the nature we experience formats our existence.

I may know that trees burn but it takes a lot of human existence and human culture to agree that while trees burn I need to make charcoal before I can smelt iron...and while trees burn, I still need to build a boiler before I can power a train. Similarly, if trees burn it helps me hardly at all if I am a Inuit living in Greenland where there are no trees much to speak of. So I cannot use trees to heat my home -- instead I learn to rely on animal oils. While trees float I cannot simply assume I can build a kayak from them -- so I uses animal skins and bones to build my craft. As an Inuit that would be a special cultural achievemnet of mine - that I can do tree like things without trees.

Anyway, I get a lot of stimulation in matters like this from the Russian Marxist Lev Vygotsky who developed a lot of his work building from the notion of language. I recommend the study of him:


dave riley

March 29, 2005  

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