Wednesday, April 18, 2007
8 a.m. More, then, on perception versus story? Or do you want to start another rabbit running?
So, you wish more on perception versus knowing, and you remember that there were several threads, and you can’t remember any of them, and you worry lest we be unable to dredge them up — though it ought to be obvious that for us it is not a matter of dredging.
We spoke of the subject — the difference between perception and story as you learned by experience at the remote viewing class at the Monroe Institute — in terms of certainty and in terms of morality. It ought to be obvious that this pertains to your major subject — the subject of your blog, of your book, of your quiet teachings with others — of the fact that truth converges, when approached from many sides, and that descriptions that seem to go diverging ways
Let’s try that again. That was getting to be a long tangled sentence. You will have noted that our weakness stylistically tends to be an attempt to structure sentences in a way that will express the endless interrelation of things. English — particularly contemporary colloquial English — is not structured to facilitate that. Older languages would make this easier. However, we work with what we have.
Your sciences, your theologies, your arts and letters, may be judged by whether they shape a common understanding of what it is to be a human in the world — of what it means that there is a world, of what the nature is of what actually exists. A unified, coherent culture such as the ancient Egypt you subconsciously identify with and yearn for, or medieval England to a much lesser extent, or Joseph Smallwood’s Indian family to an even lesser extent, sees things whole.
Contemporary 20th and 21st Century cultures do not, because for one thing they must try to incorporate too many incompatible features, and for another they have too many neighbors (the same thing said another way) and for a third thing none of them has the key. So long as cultures are grown upon the wrong understandings they cannot be unitary saved by force — and this is not unity, only the appearance and the imitation of unity, which will dissolve or explode in a flash.
It is typical of your times that the very point we have just raised — clearly to us, more or less clearly to you from your long experience with us — will be little understood without explanation. What does chemistry have to do with theology, or either with economics, or any of the three with novels, say?
So let us circle back to our theme.
“Perception versus story” may be obvious in matters of psychic exploration, and are a lot less obvious in everyday life. But consider —
Consider first the sciences, which make the easiest entry to the subject. Sciences begin as a poking around among phenomena, looking for the reality beyond appearances, seeking to deduce the laws of behavior that produce the phenomena. In other words, a science may be described as the abstraction into “laws” of the deduced causes of observed behavior. As each successive layer of phenomena is abstracted and understood, successively more internal layers are investigated and comprehended. Sometimes the new layers make it obvious that previously accepted rules of thumb (so to speak) were too generalized, too rough and ready, and so the previously formed laws are refined. Sometimes new investigations trigger a landmine that blows up the previous structure, or part of it, as for example the discovery of x-rays.
Now, what is this process but the ongoing construction of story to connect perceptions? The story is modified to fit perception, and is modified repeatedly — and in fact scientists are proud of the process, thinking they are all the while advancing upon “truth” which in a way they are. But the way that they are is less in the new story they construct than in the previous story they discard! That is, scientific investigation may be looked upon as an ongoing demolition of previous story. (It rarely is looked at that way, of course, but it validly might be.)
It should be obvious to you now that the fact that a story can be elaborated and modified and even partially torn down and rebuilt differently is no guarantee that it is anything more than a story connecting perceptions! It should be obvious that the more the elaborations (mathematical and otherwise) on the story, the more persuasive it becomes, and the greater the investment in it people have, particularly those whose livelihood depends on it, and who have invested years of intellectual investment in it.
Science is not truth; it is story constructed around perception.
Similarly, metaphysics, and religion. The perceptions are real and cannot be doubted by those who have experienced them — but in the nature of things, the structure built upon them is — story.
To say it is story is not to say that it is fiction. It is merely to repeat that it is the result of people playing connect-the-dots around what they know or sometimes think they know.
What are scriptures but extensive records of perceptions? What are the religions built upon the scriptures but story added to them, to try to make sense of them?
What is art but story, making patterns of perceptions?
All right, we think that is about as clear as we can put it. Now — assuming that you agree with us so far — what does it imply? For of course you can’t live in the world without story, express and implied.
And that statement itself is part of what we wish to say. You cannot live without story, for story is how you make sense of the world. But it is useful to remember that there is a difference between story and reality, and while everyone is willing to agree to that abstractly, in practice it is usually forgotten. Remembering the fact will save you from dogmatism and from despair, from premature certainty and from mistaken certainty that nothing can be known well enough to form a basis for life, if only “good enough for government work.”
A little more and take a break. But we want to put this in while you are in this space:
It can be seen that no one can possess absolute truth — that is, a story that correctly takes into account all perceptions (or rather what there is to be perceived) in their proper relationships. Yet some story is needed to be going along with. The best story is one that incorporates the most elements, that reconciles the most perceptions or, we should say, the most most-important perceptions, for one most-important perception is worth millions of true but unimportant ones (if you can be sure which category is which!).
A society is built upon many stories. The less they contradict each other, the more harmonious the society (though that does not guarantee that the story is true, just more consistent). A society that tries to live by contradictory story at the same time wracks itself to pieces, as you see around you. Your sciences are essentially materialist at core; your religions are essentially dogmatic at core; your arts recognize no responsibility to express the deepest truths they find, nor do they have any firm basis for expressing what they perceive. The arts, sciences, the religions, are all headed in different directions, within themselves and when compared one to another.
Does this not tell you that they are ungrounded in reality?
They are built upon sand, and the shifting of the sands will destroy them. They cannot build upon rock while their story tells them either that there is no rock, or that they are already upon rock, or that we cannot yet tell whether rock exists, or that whether rock exists is a matter for personal opinion.
Well done, but it is time for a break. Type it in, and we are available when you are.
Thanks as always.