Feb 1, 2011


My friend, Chris, turned me onto a great book I'm enjoying: One City, by Ethan Nichtern. The book uses modern Buddhist wisdom to explain the interdependence of everything; the fact that there's no way to separate one's self from what is going on in the world. I'm halfway through the book but have found many insightful concepts and revelations. One of which, I particularly relate to is the idea of mindfulness and not "sleepwalking through the day". It may sound funny, but a lot of the time, I find myself thinking about, well, nothing at all. While this can be good for our sanity, this isn't particularly healthy. Here's what struck a chord with me:

What actually happens in those moments when we're completely lost in our heads? What happens to a mind that isn't settled or curious enough to investigate things directly and stay put long enough to actually understand what is in the frame of experience? To keep the plot clear and consistent, we plug filler material into those missing moments where we've been MIA. To create this filler material, we have to make a lot of assumptions about what is happening, both within ourselves and in the world we inhabit.

The deadliest thing about most assumptions is that they reside outside our immediate consciousness. They become like whispered mantras. They form an invisible superstructure for the development of all of our thoughts and actions. It's like looking at everything through a deep-blue lens: eventually you might get so used to it that you think that all color has a bluish tint. And that is precisely the root of ignorance.

When we start to assure ourselves that our assumptions definitely depict the truth, they become fortified into bullet-pointed ideology and bullet-proof dogma. The mind becomes enslaved, chained by a series of vague connections, images, and memories - evoked by the buzz-words of random thought. All we end up experiencing is the indirect idea of things - a hazy picture with low production values. And because the connection between an unexamined mind and direct experience is so flimsy, the power of persuasion over that mind is enormous. That mind can be easily sold lies - even by itself - and can mistakenly interpret those lies as universal truths.

1 comment:

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

That's an interesting passage. A lot of truth in it. I just made up a proverb to go with it: "Don't just think, Do" One has to try things to experience life and the world around us. Wether sucessful or not with these experiences our "assumption generators" can more accurately seperate the wheat from the chaff.

This is why the tv is bad and things like sports and hobbies are good.