Introduction -to how we split up the world.

Thank you for coming to this page.

Imagine we are sitting in a relaxed setting perhaps with a nice glass of red; it's quiet but for the birds and there is a cool breeze making for about 25 degrees. There's nowhere to rush to, nothing we have to do ... just being here together.

"... well what are we to do about this situation with language, seeing and mind?"

"What do you mean, what situation?"

"In each of these modes we as Western man have learned to split the world up into bits and pieces where really there are only wholes. This habit is so deeply ingrained that is will take a revolution to bring about a change."

"Not sure I'm really with you there, tell me how we do that with language."

"Ok ...let's see ...did you hear that whip-bird just now?"

"Yes, what about it?"

"Say it gives rise to the sentence; 'We heard the whipbird'. Now someone who remembers their grammar would say first there is a subject which is 'we', then the verb 'heard' and finally an object 'the whipbird'. So grammatically, there are 3 separate events, however in actuality there is only one coherent pattern in which hearing is occurring."

"Oh right! Yes, we have broken down an single event into bits ... and now that I see that I can only imagine that we do that constantly ... so this goes really deep, it must be like hard-wiring in the speech centres?" "How else could we speak?"

"I'm not sure ... first comes the awareness and when that's spread widely enough a solution will rise from our collective intelligence... and I'd imagine it will involve a greater use of verbs along with a lesser use of nouns. So with the whipbird we might just say "hearing" and since we are both here within that sound event we know what that refers to. Or instead of saying, 'I am going to the garage to service the car' we'd say 'car-servicing'. It sounds strange I know but really the 'I' is superfluous isn't it and where else would the car be serviced? But I agree it needs work."

"You know already that makes me quite self-conscious about how often the first person is used, how often statements start with 'I' as if I'm separate from what is being described ... feel the need to simmer that on the back-burner for a while so tell me more about what you meant by the situation with 'seeing'?"

***

"Let me try and demonstrate. (Stands and walks behind his friend). Tell me what's the colour of my shirt?"

"Um ... is it... no, I have to admit, I don't know."

"What sort of wine are we drinking?"

"Pinot noir ."

"Spot on. (returns to seat) So notice how selective your seeing is. As males we're not so interested in clothes but I bet your wife would have noticed. We tend to notice what we're interested in and focus on that at the expense of the rest of the scene. It's a bit like driving at night ... we see only what falls into the headlights; or another image might be a ship's radar ... it goes around and fails to notice the ocean, whales, dolphins, sea-birds, the weather and so on but then suddenly there's this little bleep as it picks up an airplane or another ship. In other words we've learned to use focused-viewing."

"Well ok, but that allowed us to advance science & technology didn't it. If we were as visually aware as animals then we wouldn't have been able to do all these specialised activities."

"Exactly ... that's quite right we developed this ability to ignore the rest of the environment to focus on what's under a microscope or in test-tube or formula/theorem. But what we were unaware of is that what we do notice is dictated by preference, prejudice and conditioning."

"Hells bells ... this is big stuff. I mean you're right ... that's how it is. Last week I tried to explain to management that I needed a couple of days off to support the family while Jen goes in for surgery; but management only sees productivity and my request was refused outright. Yet don't we have the choice to see what's really there, aren't our eyes like cameras?"

"Perhaps our eyes act like a camera lens but that's where the similarity ends. Cameras record the light which presents at the moment of exposure but not us. Any information coming into a human being runs the gamut of filters, the first of which is probably fear these days and that's just so powerful and usually unconscious; then come several more filters like our prejudices and preferences I mean can you see how a racist doesn't 'see' a person of colour as another person, they see the colour and remain blind to all the other qualities. Conditioning is another big one ... I remember as a kid being brought up in a very religious atmosphere so I was totally ignorant of all the kids in my neighbourhood who didn't go to my school or church. I only recognised our lot. Really, I just didn't see them. Wow how selective was that!"

"Well my friend, evening approaches, how beautiful the air, the light. Let's sit together in silence and let the darkness envelop us.

 

Without desire, everything is sufficient. 

With seeking, myriad things are impoverished. 

Plain vegetables can soothe hunger. 

A patched robe is enough to cover this bent old body. (Ryōkan )

***

"Despite these filters most people would say that they can see things 'out there' don't they? In the cricket match the fielder sees the ball, doesn't he? and runs to catches it."

"Well no! Seeing is happening inside our hard cranium in the visual cortex and in there there is no light, unless your skull has a hole in it you didn't know about. But I digress ... there's a wonderful paper on this subject by Humberto Maturana titled "What Does It Mean To See". Now where were we ...

... we have learned to see in a specialised way which is partial, we see specific elements in which we are interested. We have learned to see individual bacterium, stars, cells, all the apparent elements of the whole. However there is a cost which is that our habit of seeing bits (parts, elements, atoms even - which turned out to be mostly cloud-like space) and not perceiving wholes was further strengthened. As well we men became rather blind to relationships; we preferred to see 'things' rather than the way these 'things' were inter-connected."

"It sounds like we became locked into a keyhole view and now we must throw the door wide open."

"Yes, well put."

Ok I'm seeing this picture of how we reduce wholes to isolated bits through our languaging and reinforce this deconstruction by the way we've learned to see but how does mind come into it? and now that I consider mind I have no real idea of what it is beyond a vague notion that it's some type of awareness.."

Mind is the name we give to the internal dialogue, transient thoughts, memories and images as they pass through the brain.

 

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