Philosophy TuesdayJuly 12, 2016
This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.
When we talk about how we (we as in “all humans everywhere forever”) have our views, or biases, or our identities, we’re really talking about those things only in an abstract way. It’s an intellectual model, a mental image or construct about those views, biases, and identities.
Which is all very useful, good knowledge to have. But knowledge doesn’t always (and often even rarely) automatically make a difference. Especially here. Because that’s not how we actually live life. We don’t live from these constructs. Instead, we live an experiential life. We experience and are experiencing life continually, ongoing, moment, by moment, by moment, by moment.
It’s immediate. It’s right now. It’s urgent.
We don’t experience things as views, or biases, or identities. What we experience is reality, the truth. It’s how things ARE, it’s how others ARE, it’s how I AM. It’s not a concept, or a view, it just IS.
Clear as day.
We don’t notice how our filters have, well, filtered the input before it hits our consciousness/experience. We don’t see the role our identity has played. The distortion field from our views and biases have already happened before we live it. And so we just live it, and act and react accordingly.
It’s really no different than gravity. We expect gravity to work a certain way, in fact, we do thousands of motions each day that depends on the 100% predictable reactions of gravity. The way we walk, move objects, hold ourselves, throw things, put things down, all are part of that bias and view that says “This is how the universe works.”
And it’s pretty darn accurate and reproducible here on earth. But go to the ISS, and that model gets quite shattered.
How we experience it is also really no different than balance. In that we don’t really experience it at all. When we get up to walk, we just walk. We don’t experience being in balance, we just are in balance. The concept of balance, or the knowledge of balance, or the idea of balance isn’t anywhere in our minds or thoughts or consciousness. No, this is just how the world is, and this is what I can do, and these are the limits, so boom, across the room I go all in line with reality, and with only a shadow of the full experience of all the activities and machinations that go on to give me balance and locomotion.
It’s quite automatic. So too it is with the rest of our actions and behaviour. Everything that we know and that our brain has mapped and extrapolated and intuited and patterned and cross-linked is no different than how it has mapped gravity, and how we react to that knowledge/reality without experiencing it is no different than how we balance when we walk across the room.
Of course, we CAN experience balance, or lack thereof. Step on a narrow ledge, and I’ll bet you’ll become keenly aware of balance. And if we let ourselves and pay attention as we walk across the room, we can notice a lot more going on than we normally do.
That’s why we make those distinctions of views, of bias, of identity. To be able to talk about them as aspects of our personal models for reality, that all-encompassing reality that includes the “truths” about everything from proper social interactions, to how people of certain ethnicities are, to what each gender is good at, to what colours are associated with boys or girls.
Things that are, in reality, a lot more mutable and changeable than how gravity works (without needing an expensive trip to the ISS).
Just because we don’t experience our bias or identity doesn’t mean it’s not at play. In fact, the less we notice it, or discount it, the more at its effect we are. Pulling back, examining, and using the distinctions is invaluable so that we can see them and learn to lessen the grip of those biases. We can even replace them with biases that are much more empowering to us and the world.
And by cultivating mindfulness and learning to be present, we can, just like our sensitivity to balance, learn to feel and ultimately interrupt when our biases, views, and identities get in the way of us behaving and being the way we actually want to be.
Fundamentally we like to think we’re in the driver’s seat in our lives. If our biases, views, and identities are running the show behind our backs, well, phooey. We’ve lost control. But if we practice, examine, cultivate, and grow, we’ve got 400 horsepower at our fingertips baby. We can aim ourselves and create the world we truly authentically want for us all.