Beyond the natural mind – a 21 day manifesto
“Today I will start to realise that the world as I perceive & experience it is created through the choices I make from moment to moment”
We have talked about blame and personal responsibility in previous topics but in this topic let’s go further, let us look into the world with new eyes.
When we talk about “the world” we are talking about it in it’s current form, where objects appear solid, where events are uncontrollable, where things happen that appear external to us, but does this mean we have nothing to do with its creation?
We have been told that the world was created by either a “big bang” or “by god” and we think that’s it – world created. Now we just live in it, coasting along on its and everyone else’s whims. But that assumes that we have no power in its “creation”.
For most of us, creation is an event which takes place once, whether that be the creation of a universe, a child, or even a seemingly inanimate object like a car or a television, but let’s try to think differently for a moment.
Imagine a world where no one had told us it had been “created” how would we perceive this world?
“The action or process of bringing something into existence”
If we accept this definition, we are assuming time is linear, that there is a beginning and an end, and just because things appear to have this quality does not mean it is necessarily so!
I was born in 1969 and eventually I will die. How do I know this? Because I have seen other people be born and later on die, and I have been told that this is so. Science has also “proved” that there is a beginning and an end to life. Well, the visible life anyway.
A tree is born and eventually dies. A dog is born and eventually dies. All things have a finite existence within this universe and eventually die.
How do I know this? Because I have seen a tree be born and die, and I have seen a dog be born and die.
The idea of infinite or eternal existence is not able to be tested because I cannot see it, although some people try to express this in religions as “afterlife” a word which frankly borders on the ridiculous, in my opinion.
If time is finite, and all things are born and then die, what is this state of eternal life which comes after death? It seems to me that whoever came up with this concept wasn’t really thinking it through!
But enough of all this talk of birth, death, finite and infinite, and straight line theories, we are the most intelligent species in the known universe and as such are able to explore new concepts which may actually be old concepts. Are you with me so far?
What if we perceive and experience the world from moment to moment which creates our “reality”?
Am I able to test this? Am I able to prove it to you? And whilst we’re on the subject, what is “reality”?
“The world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them”
In quantum physics there is a concept that nothing truly exists until you look at it, but you don’t believe that do you? The tree was there when you last looked, and you “know” when you look back it will still be there. You know the tree exists because when you touch it, you can feel it is still there. The world is solid and you know it. Everything is in its place, as it was, should be, and always will be (until you’re not around to look at it!)
But how do these discussions help us? Isn’t it irrelevant to our daily lives what the nature of reality is? Haven’t we got more important things to worry about than some silly science question? After all, I am not a collection of subatomic particles and neither is the tree. I am a human and the tree is a tree. End of story.
- the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses
- the neurophysiological processes, including memory, by which an organism becomes aware of and interprets external stimuli.
What is real? What are you seeing when you see a tree? Are you just channelling light into your brain and thinking nothing? What is the object your brain is actually perceiving? Who told you that this is a tree?
What if you found out after many years that what you think you are perceiving as a tree is actually a cat?
If you touch this object in direct experience with it, is it a tree now? Not if someone had told you it was a mountain. How does it “feel”? Does it feel like a tree, does it smell like a tree? Where did these interpretations come from?
Could it not just be a transitory object in time and space having certain physical properties you have been instructed to perceive and experience as a tree?
Of course, these questions are not going to help you get a good job, a nice family, and plenty of money, and that is what is important in life, so let’s move on.
When I see a black man what do I see? When I see a white man what do I see? When I see a homeless man what do I see? When I see a vegetarian what do I see? When I see a woman in a beautiful dress what do I see?
When I see a meat eater what do I see? When I see a soldier what do I see? When I see a terrorist what do I see? When I see a man in authority what do I see? When I see an american what do I see? When I see lots of money what do I see?
White. Black. Vegetarian. American. Terrorist. Beautiful. Money. Woman.
Man. Beautiful. Homeless. Meat Eater. Authority. Soldier.
You may be wondering why I have conveniently labelled these people for you? Well, you didn’t need me to label them did you? When you read “see a white man” an image flashed into your mind, and possibly brought up certain emotions.
When you read “see a terrorist” what did you actually “see”? Was there in fact a “terrorist” in front of you when you read it? Was there a man dressed in military style clothing, covering his face, holding a kalashnikov? No? And while we’re at it, do you find it strange that I could describe this terrorist, you know, the one you were thinking about? The one who is not in front of you, that you have cannot directly experience?
So how can we perceive these people at a distance? How can we perceive and experience these people that we may never have met, and yet justify a certain feeling towards them? How? It’s easy, just ask your parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, religious leaders, governments, co-workers, newspaper editors…
A short dialogue with a man experiencing grief
Man: “My wife and son were killed by american Soldiers.”
Me: “I understand that the loss of your wife and son must be terrible for you.”
Man: “I hate all american soldiers!”
Me: “I understand that you must be very angry at the specific people who did this, but hating everyone who wears an american uniform just creates more hate.”
Man: “I don’t care, I want to see the death of as many american soldiers as possible. They will pay for what they did to my family”
Me: “Your family have been killed, that is a terrible thing that happened to them. They were the one’s who were killed. Not you.”
Man: “But their deaths must be avenged.” Me: “How would you avenge them?”
Man: “I would hang the soldiers who did this.”
Me: “But that’s not going to bring your wife and son back, all that will happen is two more people will die, and two more families will
be grieving, and then want vengeance for the deaths of their sons.”
Man: “I don’t understand. What do you mean?”
Me: “They killed your family. You kill their sons. They come here and kill you, and then kill as many of your people as they can. All that has happened is more people perceive that they have been wronged, even if the actual event happened to someone else, and more people will die.
Man: “But my family!”
Me: “Are gone from sight, but not forgotten. They exist within your memories, and your feelings.”
Man: “But I will never forgive…”
Me: “No one is asking you to. Forgiveness is a word that does not help us here. The world exists within you right now, no matter when your family died. The world is yours to perceive and experience anew. You can take the opportunity to perceive it anyway you like. But it is your choices that will create your reality.”
Man: “How so?”
Me: “Last week when you saw an american soldier what did you ‘see’?” Man: “I saw the uniform and I wanted to kill them.”
Me: “So let me get this straight. These weren’t the men who killed your family, but you perceived the uniform, and would have killed them if you had the chance?”
Me: “Can you understand that you weren’t actually ‘seeing’ a human being, nor a uniform, nor an american, with your eyes but a mental representation of the person who killed your family?”
Man: “Yes I suppose that is what was happening.” Me: “What did you feel when you saw these men?” Man: “I felt anger, rage, but also I felt great sadness.”
Me: “Do you think you can start to perceive these men differently? Do you think there is a chance you will realise that the world as we see it is not set in stone; that we can make choices about how we perceive the world every moment we exist?”
Man: “I always thought I was perceiving the world from moment to moment, I did not realise my brain was running on automatic pilot. Now I have time to think about it, I don’t think I ever knew there was another way to see the world. I trusted my brain, and I trusted the information that was being fed to it by everyone.”
Me: “The mind is tricky, and although it seems strange to distrust your own brain, it is the only way we can set ourselves free from the traps we have been set, intentionally or unintentionally.”
Man: “I am beginning to see that. Thank you for helping me see differently, if just for a moment.”
Me: “The moment is all we really have, and it’s my pleasure.”
Choices are so much more than what to have for dinner, what job to do, where to go on holiday, or what type of new television you are going to buy.
Are you ready to make a choice to perceive and experience the world differently, if only for a moment?
by alan macmillan orr