In a recent post, I wrote essentially that a “straight line” is a concept, a human thought, and not a physical reality. What I was secretly saying, among other things, is that everything we think and talk about is a concept. We see and experience the world through our ideas about it, through our perceptions of it. We can’t experience the world directly or fully or in an objectively “true” way–only filtered, in bits, and in our way.
We do the same thing biologically when we interpret sensory input. There is no such thing, for example, as “red” in the outside world–rather, our bodies are wired to register certain wavelengths of light as an experience of red. We could have been wired to taste that wavelength as mint. These biological interpretations are imposed concepts on reality that all humans have agreed on. (Though we can’t of course ever be sure how much we are agreeing about the colors we see, a thought, which although a cliched topic for stoned amateur philosophers, is nonetheless truly freaky.)
Then there are the myriad aspects of reality we don’t agree on, that we all interpret differently according to the ideas we have: life is a struggle for survival with no meaning; life is God’s test of our faithfulness; life is beautiful and every shred of it sacred, and so on. Humans tend to grow up having been taught something or just absorbing it; they then start seeing the world through that teaching which becomes a lens–a pair of glasses never removed; they ignore anything that doesn’t fit the model and emphasize what does, thereby reinforcing their belief, and being drawn to experiences that are in line with their beliefs, because in familiarity we find comfort. They then call this “reality” and write books about it.
The good news is, so I’ve been told, that you get to choose what ideas and beliefs you want to see the world through. I’m also told life is essentially good. The stream of the universe, Zen-like, flows along abundantly providing for all, like Christ’s kind father in heaven. We can either ride that river or fight it–our choice. I’ve been told there is no “dark switch,” no such thing as evil, only a resistance of what is good.
“Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief.”