Chop chop

The world is quite a large place and there’s a lot going on. We have 5 senses to take it in and a tiny brain to process it with.

How on earth do we make sense of everything?

We don’t.

We filter out almost everything, zoom into some level of detail, apply a model or concept to what we observe and reason about the model. Never about reality as it actually is. Because we can’t. It doesn’t fit. It can’t fit.

What is a model?
It’s an abstraction. A label that has an implied definition and some known or assumed properties. A model is an arbitrary simplification, with fuzzy boundaries and limited applicability (see Not to be).

How do we arrive at our models? And how are they shared between people? We make up stories about the nature of the world. We test those stories against our observations and use a kind of evolutionary process to arrive at a precarious consensus. Looking back at the stories of the past we wonder how we ever believed all that nonsense. Looking at other people’s stories, we shake our head and wonder how anyone could believe such drivel. And when we behold our own stories… We feel a warm glow and a burning urge to defend them. To the death, if necessary.

But no matter how good our story seems to track reality, it still is a story. A model. An approximation. There will always be infinitely many different models that we could apply to the data that will also ‘work’ to some extent. We call this process of dreaming up a story (or theory) and then testing it against observations ‘science’ when we commit to discarding other models when we find a better one. Better in the scientific sense can be ‘simpler’ or ‘broader’ or ‘more accurate.

We often replace these adjectives with ‘true-er’. But true is a label that is applied by the people who believe in their own story to indicate their willingness to protect it from unbelievers. True really doesn’t mean anything more than that. True has always meant ‘true for me, for now’. The only actual truth is reality in its totality, before concepts. Everything else is just a story. And it’s stories all the way down. We can drill down further and further, create more detailed stories by chopping up reality in smaller and smaller chunks. And that is a useful endeavor but it doesn’t bring us closer to the truth.

The only truth available is the interconnected whole of reality. Not subdivided. Not conceptualized, or put in little boxes.

The truth is what Buddhists call the unconditioned. It is the conscious void that holds the world. It is experience before concepts are applied. It is an unknowing awareness of what is. It is what we experience in the now, without clinging to thoughts of the past or the future, without judgement.

But all we look at is our stories. We dream up a narrative about ourselves and a world that is separate from us. About good and bad. In-group and out-group. Success and failure. Blame and praise. And then we judge and judge and judge.

We run around with two little stamps ‘approve’ and ‘disapprove’ and everything gets stamped. Including ourselves and our thoughts and actions. And we fight over who’s right and who’s wrong. Forgetting that it’s all just stories and nobody’s right. Ever.

And there’s just one truth. And it can’t be described or conceptualized because it is what is before concepts are applied to it.

It is the undivided universe of everything, including you and me, before we chop, chop it up with our stories.

1 comment

  1. If you allow me, I would like to put a stamp on the following sentence: “We feel a warm glow and a burning urge to defend them.” I enjoyed reading it and a smill came to my face.

    To what extent is the only truth you describe here true?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *