Any thing

I’ve written about concepts before (several times actually) and this will essentially be a rehash but nevertheless I feel like writing about the topic, so here it goes.

Point at any ‘thing’.

It doesn’t matter, just pick a thing. Whatever you chose, chances are you believe that ‘thing’ is somehow real, as a thing, separate from other things.

Ok, now point at the edges of the thing you chose. Where does it begin and end, exactly? In space, in time, down to the molecule and down to the component. Could you move any of those boundaries some amount? Could we argue over where the exact boundary ought to be?

We could always argue over the edges of any thing. Whatever definition we have of anything, that definition is nailed down imprecisely. We could always zoom in and ask further questions that haven’t been considered yet. Sometimes we move the boundaries because of reasons. Often boundaries overlap. And always the exact location of the boundary is arbitrary, just some value chosen by someone at some point.

We just sort of hand wave this imprecision away. As unimportant, or not the point, or without significance. We pretend that reality is made up of definite, separate, actual things. We can always point at the heart of the thing but never the edges. And we pretend that’s fine.

From the moment we are born the people around us start pointing out things and identifying them. Papa, mama, you, me, car, tree, house, elephant, airplane, molecule, triangle, economy, country, quantum state, etc. Basically, that’s what our entire education amounts to. Definitions of stuff and stories about regularities we have identified around them.

All of it identified as ‘reality’. Reality giving it a finality that is supposed to distinguish it all from say imaginary. When we literally made it all up!

Let this sink in: reality is made up.

Or more precisely: the things, the bits, the separateness is made up. It is hard to argue that consciousness and its content don’t somehow exist (whatever that means). It is just that whatever concepts we apply to the patterns in consciousness are no more or less real than other concepts we could make up. The ‘things’ we chop the pattern into do not exist as separate things.

The only real part of reality is the totality of it. Unchopped, unconceptualized, unthinged.

No thing is real.

In fact we all have a totally different reality because of the fuzziness of the edges of things in our minds. This is something else that we just ignore. When someone asks us an opinion of something that we haven’t considered before, we make one up, on the spot, and pretend that we didn’t.

We can and usually do provide an answer on what we believe or think when questioned. That answer is always made up, often on the spot, it absolutely changes over time and yet we are so very sure about it in the moment. That’s not just our truth. It is the truth. It isn’t our reality. It is reality, singular.

Examine your emotional reaction when someone disagrees with you. When you know that you are right. Oh that feeling that wells up in our chest, when we are correct and the other is wrong! Righteous anger, indignation, some condescension, pity, perhaps?

‘How can anyone believe that?! I will set them straight, because I know the truth. I shall explain and they will see.’

How strange to have such a stance about something so fleeting and arbitrary. Perhaps it would serve us better to be a little less sure about the supremacy of our reality. Perhaps if we kept in mind that others will have the exact same stance towards their reality that we have towards ours. Perhaps that righteous anger should less be an emotion to be acted upon and rather a warning signal that indicates we should shut up and do some introspection.

All of the above is not to say that the utility of different ways of seeing reality is equal. It is just a suggestion to engage with other realities differently.

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