The Interface: Emotions and control

Guys, it occurred to me, we can learn more about the invisible influences on our lives by looking at the weaknesses and quirks we see in each other – and occasionally in ourselves – than by constructing theoretical models of how things work.

Fixed ideas that distort perceptions, yes. Understand, in all this, our intent is not to criticize, certainly not to condemn, but to understand. The facts about life that you may wish weren’t true are perhaps the ideal way to circumvent that mechanism within you that tends to pretty up your picture of life, unintentionally distorting it.

But this is a side-trail?

In so far as there is such a thing as a side-trail, maybe. We should prefer to revert to Dirk’s earlier questions that center upon hope and fear.

[With current events, what function does hope serve? Is it a function? Is it something else? How does hope relate to fear? … and to other emotions or feelings?

[I pick hope in particular as current events have left many in deep inner turmoil. That leads many to seek hope. Personally I find that confusing. As with anger and shame I suspect I some-how or some-why lack the trigger that stirs hope in others. What is that?

[To me hope has always felt like an evasion – akin to an active form of freezing in the fight-flight-freeze response, only acting at the feeling level rather than at the emotional or physical levels.  It seems more nuanced and more complex.

[Is any of that right? Am I misinterpreting? Am I making some other error? Alternately, am I experiencing some other form of mental evasion myself?]

That was only 17 days ago, but it seems a long time.

We have covered some ground since then. Your background understanding of how we see things will have progressed since then.

Naturally we can’t go very far in examining hope and fear if we do not first look at what we mean by those words. You will see that looking at emotions not as things but as ephemeral energy should result in better understanding. OT1H (on the one hand), we wish to explore them; OTOH (on the other hand) we wish to assure that we don’t confuse a reaction, or energy, with a thing.

Hope, fear, are the products of interaction between 3D-you and non-3D you, or rather, between that inner sphere that defines itself as “you,” and the larger sphere encompassing and surrounding and dwarfing it, a larger “you” that you occasionally or even frequently identify with.

You see how difficult it is to hold in mind yesterday’s theoretical construct, when you come to apply it to today’s specific example?

I do. This is hard slogging, that has involved me in re-reading past entries looking for the orientation I felt you wanted me to have. So it is now more than 20 minutes, and we have barely two pages.

At that, the difference is less than you think. Your sense of wheels spinning leads you to exaggerate the amount of time you spent leafing through the book.

But the specific work of relating one day’s input to previous days’ input is how one grounds one’s understandings. Otherwise they tend to be somewhat “up in the air.”

So now, look at it. If emotions and feelings are how 3D-you experiences its interaction with the larger world that it usually experiences as external, and if those feelings are, as we have said, more like a boundary layer of energy than like anything solid and definable as separate, what is hope? What is fear? Can a reaction be, itself, an evasion? It could be the product of evasion, perhaps, but that is a different thing entirely.

You’ll have to spell that out for us, I think. It’s pretty cloudy for me, anyway.

  • The 3D-you observes what seems an “external” situation that nonetheless concerns it.
  • Clearly, the 3D-self is too small relative to the “external” world to determine outcomes.
  • Therefore, the situation appears to be: the 3D-you on the one hand, and the “external” world on the other, with the “external” being the environment the 3D-you is constrained to live in.
  • Assuming disconnection between the two elements of the situation – especially if one assumes an element of randomness – the rational conclusion the 3D-you may come to is that it is a wood chip being carried down the rapids.
  • If 3D-you assumes an overall benign direction to things, it may perhaps be relatively serene with the prospect, trusting that all will be well; that, perhaps, all is well, despite appearances.
  • If 3D-you cannot believe in a benign ordering principle, it may become agitated (in one or another form of manifestation) because unable to forecast developments.

So it is about a sense of control?

To a degree. Predictability is an important part of one’s coping strategy in life. You don’t expect your physical geography to jump around; you don’t expect the facts of what you know happened to you to change arbitrarily. You expect that things will change, but your expectations usually are bounded (loosely or perhaps quite rigidly) by your understanding of what happened in the past. You do not expect the world to be determined, but you do expect it not to be capriciously variable. Variable, but within limits; not capriciously variable.

  • Now, a situation develops. The Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. An economic depression hits and no one knows why nor how to overcome it. An invisible virus menaces society. (Or does it? That’s part of the uncertainty, for in matters of science most people are forced to take the word of authorities, which means they have to decide whether the authorities can be trusted.)
  • In any of these cases, 3D-you is faced with an external situation that seems to be, well, external. What can it have to do with an individual 3D-you’s composition and decisions?
  • Nonetheless, 3D-you is compelled to develop an attitude toward these events. Unable to influence them directly, still it must decide upon its attitude toward them, its effective

That isn’t clear.

Some pray, which amounts to a 3D-you throwing its tiny weight onto the scales, hoping to influence decisions being made at a vastly larger scale.

Putting it that way makes prayer sound not so different from our setting our intent to move toward a desired outcome.

The difference is chiefly in the different ways one thinks of the surrounding context. Someone praying to a God who may or may not wish to grant the request may be operating in effect in much the same way as someone intending to attract a given outcome by magnetizing to it (so to speak), but the two will frame what they are doing quite differently because the base from which they act is so different.

Put it that way, and it seems clear we shouldn’t criticize other people’s models of the way things are, but should be glad if their model allows them to do what is necessary and helpful.

Have we ever said or implied otherwise? Preaching to the unconverted is a waste of time, not to mention a measure of one’s own insecurity and doubt, however mixed it may be with a wish to be of service.

The Interface: Emotions that don’t feel like emotions

Let’s first underline the sense you got of the energetic layer being both within you and not within you, depending upon definition, because that may be very helpful.

Perhaps envision a circle completely surrounded by a second circle. The smaller circle is the 3D self – “you” as you experience yourself. The larger circle is the 3D and non-3D self – the larger “you,” which you experience less consistently. Now, recognize that these are not really circles but spheres, one inside the other.

Recognize, too, that the boundary between larger and smaller sphere is not a solid, definite boundary, but a frontier that moves and changes continually. This is what we have been calling the ionizing layer or the laminar layer.

That layer may be accurately said to be “outside of” you, if you consider “you” to be the 3D portion of yourself alone. If instead you consider “you” to be the larger 3D-and-non-3D self, the boundary layer is within you.

You see? It is merely a matter of clarity, and, as so often, clarity depends upon the question, which “you” are we referring to?

Thanks, that seems very clear. So psychologists who see emotions as within us, and those who see them as outside of us, are each describing the situation from a certain point of view, perhaps not realizing that “from a certain point of view” is not the same thing as saying “objectively, this is how things are.”

Yes, but you don’t need to confine the statement to psychologists.

Understood. We began this, remember, with my acknowledging that I did not understand what people mean by the words “emotion” and “feeling.” I may not know, but in this case at least, I know I don’t know.

Understanding the half-conscious ambiguity should help you understand the confusion that results when the result of careful observation is described in terms that cannot be carefully bounded because the context continually slips.

I see that. And it is somewhat reassuring, because I recognize that it would be merely ignorant and silly to dismiss a century of psychological observation and practice as just flat wrong. I know it has to be right from a certain point of view, just as I know that it is wrong from a different point of view. And the thing that “revalues all values” (to steal from Nietzsche), is context. A psychology built upon a materialist, reductionist framework cannot help but come to erroneous conclusions about what it observes.

We smile at the way that came out, but yes, other than the way you defined yourself back into being right (“erroneous conclusions”), that’s as we would put it.

Now, emotions that don’t feel like emotions. Understand that so simple a statement is nonetheless packed with assumptions and implicit context.

  • “Don’t feel like”: To whom?
  • What an emotion feels like.
  • What an emotion does not feel like.
  • The same emotion – does it feel the same in all contexts, at all times, even to the same person?

I get the point. So –

So it is still well worth looking at, only don’t think it is simpler than it is.

Someone in a towering rage is one thing. There isn’t any doubt it is feeling emotion, and strongly. Someone in icy calm, under strict internal control, same thing. Emotion, feeling, cannot be defined by their strength of manifestation,  nor lack of strength of manifestation. Strong emotion may leave no external trace, without being any the less strong.

Sure. So, we can’t judge emotion by how much of it manifests.

No. not by how much manifests externally (that is, observable by others) nor by how much manifests internally (that is, observable even by oneself). If you were to experience a lifelong emotion that never varied nor wavered, how would you ever become aware of it?

And this inches us closer to our point. If you regard your lives as being lived in 3D and also beyond merely-3D, and you concede a boundary layer that both connects and somewhat separates the two, you see that that boundary layer is closer to an arithmetical ratio than to anything tangible. It exists, but it exists not as a “thing” but as a relationship. It is not self-generated, nor immutable, but comes into existence (moment by moment) as a result of the interaction of the you that you experience as 3D you and the larger you that you experience as the “external” world.

“Emotions are ratios.”

Emotions, feelings, are more like ratios than they are like boxes of corn flakes. They are interfaces, not objects. They are energetic, not self-contained and inert. They are more like lightning than like electric lights no matter how powerful. That is, they are the light, not the means of producing the light.

So, stop thinking of “envy” or “rage” or “contentment” or whatever as if you were describing an object that existed from one moment to another. They are momentary because they have no body, no self-containment, no independent existence. They are observable results of relationships; that is the same as saying, they are illusions.

By “illusions” we don’t mean, “They aren’t real,” we mean, “They don’t have independent existence.” You can’t stack them in the closet somewhere in either the 3D or the non-3D universe. They don’t exist in and of themselves, because they cannot exist in and of themselves, but only as relationships between 3D experiences and the larger selves.

And this ought to shed light on the question of how many emotions (or feelings) exist. As we have said, it’s like the question of how many colors are in the spectrum making up a rainbow. “How many” depends entirely upon what perception you bring to the examination. And for the same reason, the boundaries of the emotions, like the boundaries of color, is strictly a matter of your definitions. The reality is an unbroken spectrum scaling up and scaling down. The appearance is a spectrum put together by juxtaposing different colors, and this is just not so. Those colors are defined by you, and if your definitions change, so does your perception, and vice-versa. It’s the same with emotion, for the same reason.

So someone who says he does not experience certain commonly reported emotions, as Dirk, should be at least tentatively taken at his word. Tentatively, because it is quite common to experience without realizing that one is experiencing, but taken at his word nonetheless, because careful observation and reporting will always show that what is assumed to be universal is actually an average of widely – and wildly – different experiences.

And of course what is true of anyone today may be no longer true in the next minute. That’s just life. It is, in fact, life as the 3D consciousness being continually drawn into new relationships with its “external” time-driven aspects.


The Interface: Hemingway and feelings

All right, friends. I thought yesterday, maybe Rage and Papa might be an illustrative topic.

It could be. A wider example would be something like “personal characteristics as illustrations of the effects of the invisible layer of feeling between the ‘external’ world and you as you experience yourselves.” But we have no objection to using Hemingway as an example. His life is well known, and his particular problems are illustrative, certainly.

  • There is (1) the soul as it experienced itself, (2) the soul as it interacted with the larger world, and (3) the soul as it experienced itself as interacting with that outside world. Three ways to see things; three ways in which a life may be examined.
  • The soul as it experiences itself. Each of you should be familiar with self-definition. You have certain ideas about yourself, some predefined as far as you know, and some shaped in reaction to experience.
  • The soul in interaction with the world. This you experience as life coming at you, and you coping. It is the day-to-day business of living.
  • The soul as it experiences itself living, which is quite a different thing from either of the other two. Your ideas about your life are sometimes very different from what anyone observing you would report.
  • These three factors may be seen as personal subjective, intermediate layer, and shared subjectivity, though in some ways this is an awkward understanding.

Yes, it seems to me this last point blurs what you were going to say.

Then let us put it aside for the moment and continue. There are, at any rate, the three elements: you in your personal world, you interacting with the “external” world, and your idea of the two.

  • It is only when you interact in some way with the shared subjectivity that you can come to a greater awareness of yourself considered as if individual. Alone, without the friction of contact, you are unlikely to learn anything new.
  • Note, though, that sometimes you interact with the shared subjectivity without external contact. That is, thinking about, reacting to, past contact may have its value in helping you triangulate your position. You are, in effect, interacting virtually. However, nobody interacts only
  • Well then, how does one interact? Personal face-to-face encounters, certainly. Encounters across time, as for example when you react to something written by, or about, someone long dead. Encounters with any aspect of the world that has inertia: a body in physical illness, for instance; a mind in persistent emotional distress, or in what you call mental illness; an external life lived among difficulties that seem to be matters of external circumstances, rather than anything of your own doing.
  • Any of these circumstances may be summarized by an image: You, struggling to open a door (or to close it) and meeting resistance.

And here is where we begin to discuss emotions more directly.

Correct. So Hemingway, aware that he must make his own career, is prey to a succession of emotions depending upon whatever he experiences as he lives his life among “external” events.

  • Envy, as he sees others succeed.
  • Anxiety, as he worries whether his books and stories will be supported by his publishers; whether they will appeal to his readers; whether he has done well enough in his execution; whether he will continue to be able to perform.
  • Rage, as he perceives unfair obstacles being place in his way; as he suspects critical cabals of forming to destroy him; as he seems to see his publisher doing less to support him than he deems warranted.
  • Disappointment, as he sees that his work is not being understood in the way he meant it.

And so on and so forth, and this looks only at his reactions to his career as writer, not touching on his romantic or familial encounters, nor his social or political or intellectual opinions and experiences. That is to say, this looks at only a tiny sliver of his emotional life, but it is enough to make our point.

In no case does Hemingway choose to feel a given emotion in various circumstances. He may choose to express them or not; he may choose to accept them or fight against them. He cannot choose to feel or not feel them. That much – the feeling of them – is absolutely involuntary at any given time.

“At any given time,” as opposed to over a lifetime as he does or doesn’t gain control over them.

We need to break that down.

  • One decides to accept or reject one’s impulses, and one forms a pattern of accepting or rejecting them. This pattern partially determines one’s options the next time “external” circumstances tend to provoke the same reaction.
  • Second-tier reactions will thus modify one’s environment, making it easier or harder to control one’s impulses each successive time.
  • The “external” circumstance may be more or less identical. The question is, what does it meet? Who is the person it interacts with? Putting it this way is meant to remove the flavor of accusation and emphasize a systems view.

Yes, I see that.

So look at life as we are portraying it. At any given moment in his life, Hemingway was what he had made himself to date, what was described above as (1). In that moment, something happened, calling for a reaction from him: (2). But what he thought had happened – (3) – was not necessarily what anyone else would have said had happened. That is, his experience was only partly what had happened; the rest was contributed by what he was, whether he recognized that contribution or not.

I see that. We think, “I reacted as anybody would have, in the circumstances.” But really, we reacted in the way we had to react, we being what we were at that moment.

And it is that invisible difference that we are talking about.

You don’t mean invisible difference, you mean – well, what do you mean?

We would do better to say, it is this invisible factor in your reactions. That is, though you might not think it, the way you experience your life is invisibly shaped by the presence of your emotions. At any given moment, they are persuasive. They are “the obvious way everybody would feel in the circumstances.” It is only later that you see perhaps not. But it is only the seemingly disruptive presence of your emotions that renders it possible at all for you to coexist with a seemingly external environment. When things are tranquil, perhaps you don’t notice them. When things are turbulent, perhaps you blame them, rather than yourselves or your “external” circumstances, for the turbulence. But seen or unseen, felt or unfelt, identified with or not identified with, emotions will be there, for that is how you experience the world. Only, don’t interpret this as saying you will be in an emotionally turbulent state, or even in a state that you recognize as emotion. You may, you may not.

This hour flew by. We were six or seven pages into it before I realized. So, next time, where do we start? And what shall we call this one?

Call it One Man’s Example, if you wish. Next time we may examine emotions that don’t feel like emotion. Or, another topic may suggest itself by what happens between now and then.

The Interface: Speed and texture

I thought, last night, peculiarities as example. The things that make us different. But you may prefer to begin elsewhere.

Considering your innate differences may serve; we’ll see how it goes. Considering prejudice and obsession worked well enough. The overall idea is to replace judgment with understanding. There are reasons why people see the world differently and act differently. It isn’t just people being perverse. And indeed if it were, you’d still have to explain why they felt like being perverse.

I get that you are correlating on the one hand our lives as we lead them individually, and on the other hand why we lead them that way.

Overall, yes. How can we understand the world and your place in the world if we do not consider them together? But to do that, we need to look at the interface between two streams of data, and that is the boundary layer. Call that layer feelings or call it something else, it is the key to seeing yourselves as part of the world, not as merely rattling around loosely in it.

I am aware as I write this of bits of feeling from the movie “The Two Popes,” that I watched again recently. It is background, not grasped and not at all central, but there somehow. I can’t really believe in fortuitous juxtaposition, but I don’t see the point.

Even noticing it, and, better, noticing it and mentioning it, shows increased apprehension. “Apprehension” not in the sense of worry, but in the sense of grasping. And you will find that the more you notice and pay attention to, the wider your span of attention becomes. The result may be hard to control for a bit, but the result will be well worth it. Wider consciousness comes at the price of a certain confusion, sometimes, but you get used to it.

That isn’t what I had in mind when I thought of higher consciousness, or greater awareness.

No, but you should expect that reality will never be exactly the way you envisioned it when you were envisioning without the experience of it.

So, as an example for us, how does half-thinking about “The Two Popes” while writing about feelings as the interface between our personal life and our interaction with the world serve us?

That isn’t quite the correct question. But even as you phrased it, the relationship ought to be obvious.

Yes, I guess it is. One pope was intellectual, judgmental, inclined to steer life; the other was more human, more accepting, more inclined to learn from life. At least, that’s one way you could see it. Each was idealistic and the idealism is what they had in common; but how they saw and experienced the world – the non-3D as well as the 3D world – is what is illustrative.

So as we provided a line of attack, your larger mind provided an illustration that broadened your application and understanding of the point – only, you had to be able to hear, if you were to respond.

And of course it becomes impossible to continue in a straight-line course, if we attempt to relate various levels of thought and association while maintaining a narrative.

Here you need to consider: You must speed up and slow down at the same time. This is not paradox, nor internal contradiction. It is an attempt to describe an unfamiliar set of relationships.

Let me try. I think you mean, we need to be quicker to grasp the fleeting peripheral thoughts, images, remembered bits of dialogue, emotional associations, etc., that go on continually at the fringes of our conscious awareness; and we need to proceed more slowly in driving that central thread of awareness, so that we will miss less.

Yes. Pretty good. Proceeding more slowly may result in an enriched experience, you see, because instead of trying to maintain a needle-sharp thread of logic or narrative or argument, you will concentrate on trying to accrete as many rich associations as you can, as you go along.

That is two alternate ways of proceeding that usually hate each other, or anyway don’t think much of each other.

See how good an association the movie was? The two men started off thinking they had little or nothing in common, and came to value each other’s deep human knowledge of the world, which of course included themselves as part of the world.

I see it in myself. Like the German, I lived in an intellectual bubble, somewhat divorced from ordinary life, and had to learn a different way of living – a different set of values –

Everyone at some point (and in many cases often, not merely once) finds that life has brought them to a point where they can only grow by absorbing what they had refused, which in practice amounts to saying, “I was wrong. I made wrong choices. I wasn’t seeing straight.”

Ah, I get it. And that can make us feel like failures.

It is exactly when you say, “I am such a fool!” that you pass out of that foolishness into a greater wisdom. And, life not being a linear process, you may expect to come to such realizations more than once in your life! Also, you may expect to be confronted occasionally, or often, or continuously, with the choice: change or maintain. Grow or stay. Feel foolish and change, or defend your position and stay.

That puts a more hopeful spin on what is often a very uncomfortable position.

You’re welcome. (Smiling.) It is a very bad habit, condemning yourselves, and a very good habit, reexamining your conduct and your intent.

Now let us circle back to our earlier point, which this has illustrated. Each of you lives in the world seeing it (and yourself) in a unique way. That way is based in pre-conscious apprehension of “how the world is.” Your layer of feelings interprets the world for you in ways you cannot learn without self-examination. But such examination will prove most enlightening and liberating. And we will tell you straight off: You will tend to say, “I have been seeing it all wrong,” or you will tend to say, “This is the only way to see it.” Neither reaction is right or wrong. Either is somewhat right, though in general we have to say it is closer to say you have been seeing things wrong (that is, incompletely or from a bias) than that the view you see is the only way to see it, except in the sense that it is right for you, at least in the moment.

So our ionizing or laminar level interprets the world for us, and it is up to us to use that view to get beyond it as best we can.

Well – to a degree. It isn’t so much that it’s up to you to get beyond it, as to live it! Life went to a certain amount of trouble to create you as a unique point of view; before you move on, don’t forget to experience that point of view.

I was thinking, a few days ago, that my early life put me in places I didn’t particularly want to be, and I would have had an easier life – and a richer one, I see now – if instead of worrying that I wouldn’t escape, I had spent more time experiencing where I was. In effect, I had a certain window on the world, and a limited time to experience it before that window closed and another opened. I might have lived with less anxiety and friction if I had trusted more.

And of course the same may be said of your experience of life as a whole: It is a window, it is of limited duration; it may be experienced as an annoyance or as an opportunity.

Label this conversation Speed and Depth, if you will, or maybe merely Texture.

Or even Speed and Texture. All right. And next time?

We will continue exploring how your particular window is created and how you maintain and change, how you experience and weigh your experiences. It is all part of the larger task of understanding your function and opportunities in the 3D life you lead at the moment.

The Interface: Illness as example

I understand you to be concentrating on how we experience the world, specifically how the layer of feelings/perceptions colors how we see it. It occurred to me yesterday, a continual awareness of physical illness or debility would be an example of a factor that would be neither emotion nor thought but would heavily influence how we experience the world.

It will at any rate serve as example. Many similar influences might be cited.

Well, how about if we look at this one?

We can do that. This is something that you and Dirk should be able to relate to, particularly.

  • A chronic illness pulls your mental default position away from the one that is common to the mainstream
  • Its fostered habit of continual or periodic monitoring of health factors in itself creates a difference. That is, the monitoring itself alters one’s mental default position.
  • Additionally, what that monitoring reveals, and what it mandates, will move one from a sort of mainstream unconsciousness. It is a commonly taken-for-granted factor that cannot be taken for granted.
  • During flare-ups, the condition will entirely redirect one’s attention. In intervals between flare-ups, it will not be entirely absent from consideration.

Now, what we want to stress here is not any difficulty that such condition may cause. Difficulty is part of life. Instead, we want to emphasize, as example, that such condition shapes one’s expectations, one’s perceptions, and one’s conclusions about what life is – not merely consciously, but far beyond the layer of 3D consciousness. This awareness cannot properly be said to be thinking, though thinking will sooner or later be involved, nor emotion or feeling, though they too will come into play. Primarily it will be in perceptions. It will be a part of the data out of which one constructs one’s model of the world.

Again, this is one example. Bearing in mind that it is example, and is only one of many, some things need to be said:

  • Your own body in such circumstances is certainly going to be part of the “other” you experience. Your body does not automatically respond in the way it does when, say, you intend to move your arm and it moves. Therefore you experience it as other than “you” in a way you probably would not do otherwise.
  • At the same time, your body is going to be obviously part of “you.” It isn’t like you can lay it down and move off from it, however rebellious it might be.
  • Therefore, an anomalous situation. Your body is both “you” and “other,” blurring what otherwise might seem a logical division of reality.
  • Cam you call your awareness of this anomaly mental? Emotional? It is neither. It is as basic to your experience of the world as your awareness that you even have a body, that you even exist in a world.
  • Now, it is not the condition we draw your attention to, but the result of the condition. Your physical debility per se is only a first-tier experience. You won’t be dragging it into your post-3D existence, or perhaps we should say, it won’t be dragging you. But the awareness it shaped, and what you did with that awareness, are second- and third-tier, respectively, and they will accompany you. Really, they become part of you.
  • Can you possibly think that someone with such a chronic condition will experience the world in the same way as those without it? This is not to say that any two people will necessarily react in the same way to the same illness; it is to say, rather, that any two people with such a condition shaping their lives will live in a different world from those who do not.
  • Only, don’t over-emphasize the importance of this one example. It is only one example. Lives lived in poverty or affluence, or under the influence of prejudice, or lived in emotional warmth or sterility, or in a supportive or challenging environment will all differ in their experience of what the world is and of what they are and of what they are in context of the “otherness,” the outside world. Only, these examples are more ambiguous, in that thought and feeling more clearly enter into the equation.

Your point is that our interface with the “external” world is neither intellectual nor emotional, primarily.

Well – our point is more that 3D life is not as it appears to be. Your subjective and objective worlds are not separate as they appear to be, nor is the distinction between sensory and intuitive, nor is the difference between thought and feeling. Life is one thing, and if we can once get that across in a meaningful way, everything else will fall into place. For some, this will happen in an instant of a mental lightning strike. For others, a long period of readjustment may be needed before the lightning strikes. But the key is here: Life is one thing, experienced as dualities.

Dualities are always only relatively true. “3D v. non-3D” is only relatively real. In actual fact, they are polar positions within a unity, and only relatively polar at that.

What we are doing at the moment is trying to provide you with the material that will bridge seemingly irreconcilable opposites, and show that they are merely different emphases of the one unified reality that is all there is. In showing you how pre-conscious apprehension shapes the idea of the world that you can hold, we are showing you – if you can see it – how what looks like two, or like many, is always only one.

I get the sense of it, but if there is any simpler or clearer way of saying it, I don’t know what it would be. Still, I get the sense that we haven’t conveyed it except to those who receive the spark.

It isn’t ever any different. Sparks fly from one to another, or they do not. But there is no other way to convey a knowing. Words, pictures, examples, illustrations, fables – whatever one uses, it is only effective when it happens to strike a spark in just the right way at just the right time. And the right way and right time cannot be mandated.

Can the would-be recipient improve his or her chances?

At attitude of open receptiveness is always helpful, in that it is the opposite of closing one’s mind. But beyond that, you tell us: How successful have you been, all these decades, learning to come to new understandings by force of will, so to speak?

True enough. But righteous persistence did and does bring reward.

Indeed it does – but in its own time, in its own way.

You don’t need to tell me that. Me, nor anyone who has spent years in diligent or even in recurrent or occasional searching for greater truth.

Yes, but realize that what we said may be taken as encouragement. The fact that progress comes in its own time, in its own way, means you aren’t liable to screw up the process. You can’t take one wrong turn and lose the results of so many years of striving. Third-tier experience will bring you new first-tier experiences.

I get that. To paraphrase: Our resolute continuation on whatever path we find will bring us new opportunities.

That is what we said, yes. And obviously, you don’t need to be perfect in your application, only resolute in your intent. That should make you realize, you can hardly fail except by deliberately turning away, choosing failure. And even if you do that, it isn’t the end of the story, and there is always the ability to repent and turn around.

“Though your sins be as scarlet,” so to speak.

That’s a different angle of vision, but yes, true enough. and there’s your hour.

The Interface: Obsessions, prejudices, single vision, and character traits

I have a pretty good idea where you are going, if only from the words that have floated through my mind since our last conversation: prejudice, inability to see otherwise, obsession.

Yes, because they will serve as windows on a phenomenon not easily observed directly.

We have said that you must experience the world not directly but through the medium we are comparing to an ionized layer or a laminal layer. The existence of this layer may be flamingly obvious or may be invisibly present, but it will be there. You may think not. Therefore it may be illustrative to consider unusual or even pathological manifestations, not as proof exactly, but as fingers pointing toward the invisible presence.

Consider obsessions, how strange it is that such phenomena exist or can exist. You all know someone who is obsessed by some idea. You may yourselves be obsessed, though in such case you may not find it easy to recognize obsession. It will, after all, seem self-evidently true, self-evidently important.

Or take prejudice, another phenomenon so widespread as to be practically universal, though it manifests in many forms. You have them, your friends and family have them, everyone you meet has them. They are unshakeable as convictions though they can be overmastered with effort. They precede logic and resist contradictory evidence.

Or, take an inability to see any but one point of view. Whereas obsession or prejudice may be confined to only one subject matter, an inability to change points of view is more like a character trait, highly resistant to being changed and seeming so inevitably natural and right from the inside as to be essentially invulnerable to criticism or to correction.

In fact, we can generalize further, and say that much of what you regard as character, certainly as characteristics, stems from this same underlying condition of human 3D existence. It is universal, usually invisible, but can be detected once you see why it must exist.

Sounds like the universal aether scientists once searched for.

Notice that the proofs of its non-existence are no more convincing than the proofs of its existence. Ultimately scientists decided, for a while, that it existed, then decided, for a while, that it did not. Let us examine the evidence not to determine whether a given view is true, but whether such a hypothesis explains and leads us to valuable insights. After all, most of what you know is only somewhat true, as the world may be said to be only somewhat real. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn things from truths that are only somewhat accurate.

Now, look at the examples we cited: obsession, prejudice, single vision, and character traits in general. How do they illustrate our point?

  • To the person obsessed, the reality of the thing obsessing it is evident, is unarguable. That obsession appears to be entirely matter-of-fact.
  • Nor does “obsession” refer only to matters of intellectual interest. The subject of sex is rife with obsessions, compulsions quite beyond the individual’s ability to direct. One may fight them or express them or refuse the, but not modify them by an act of will or of intellectualization.
  • Obsession, you see, might be described as a point of intensity beyond the individual’s will, arising seemingly on its own, often enough playing havoc with what the individual would prefer to do or even to see itself as.
  • An obsession cannot be defined as a product of thinking. No one ever thought itself into an obsession. (It may look that way, but the cause and effect are being seen backwards: The obsession is leading to incessant thought on the subject.)
  • Neither can it be defined as the result of an emotion, or of feeling. Emotions don’t cause obsessions, they are evoked by the obsession, just as with thought.
  • Therefore, obsessions must be seen as prior to thought or emotion. They are caused by conditions of life not determined by the 3D individual’s decisions or intent or preference.
  • Similarly, prejudice. Now, prejudice is different from obsession in that it is closer to the thinking side than to the emotional side, but like obsession it is beyond the individual’s conscious control. It may be fought or acceded to, but it exists prior to thought or emotion, both of which it informs and generates.
  • For evidence of this, you need to look first at others to see examples of prejudices they regard as simple fact, then at yourselves, to see how that manifests when seen from within.

Yes, I saw that yesterday while reading Bailyn on the early colonial years. The anti-Catholic prejudice connected with this country’s settlement and founding was so universal, so vehement, one could hardly miss it, yet in my experience when I try to explain it to my non-Catholic friends (believers or not), I chiefly see reflected from them their assumption that it is my view that is prejudiced. And in that they aren’t wrong, even though I have the facts on my side. Even though what I say is true, it is also true that my opinions, my innate sympathies, are set in stone. As are theirs. We can each reason our way to an understanding that at least modifies our initial position, but we cannot reason our way to an opposite prejudice, or call it bias.

This would repay closer consideration, for you didn’t come to your instinctive position without receiving information implicit as well as explicit, nor did they. In other words, thinking is involved here. However, the fact remains that thinking did not produce the bedrock-setting of your sympathies. Mostly, it reinforced or challenged them. But the sympathies came first, and what comes in one form to one will come in the opposite form to another. Assumptions about racial superiority or equality, for instance, determine a person’s views, but are not rooted in thought, though the individual may think so.

To continue:

  • An inability to see a thing more than one way only. This may look like merely a mental habit but in fact is much closer to being a prejudice or an obsession. One looks at the world in a given way, and that view is so convincing, so self-reinforcing, so evidently true “to anyone whose head is screwed on straight,’ as to be unassailable by logic or argument. A shock may cause the individual to modify it; a new experience, an emotional trauma, a view from the mountaintop; but nothing less.
  • Finally (for now), character traits in general – the way you interact with the world, not only externally but internally – are prior to thought or feeling, obviously. They may be modified by hard work and by fortunate or unfortunate experience, but they are prior to your conscious shaping. You are “born that way,” in the way that a young child will be captivated by something that leaves another child indifferent. You are magnetized toward certain reactions, you might say.

Now, in each of these cases, we are attempting to show you evidence of that often-invisible layer that connects you to, and separates you from, the “external” world. Be you ever so unemotional, you do not think your way into these interactions. Be you ever so emotional, you do not feel your way into them. Thinking, feeling, proceed from the framework laid down by your 3D existence as it interfaces with the shared subjectivity you experience as the “external” world, the world of matter, of others, of seemingly unconnected events and forces.

The Interface: The filter

Guys, I already know that you’re going to be able to use Dirk’s reply to yesterday’s chat to clarify something that gets confused. But I wonder – well, anyway, let’s see.

It is true, this is an opportunity for clarification, but the path from here to clarity may not be smooth. Quite a bit of turbulence first, more likely. You know which sentences we want quoted.

[TGU: The human condition is not nearly rational; it is rationality trying to play catch-up with the results of your ionized air on re-entry, or your relatively smooth laminar flow of water as the canoe moves. In other words, it isn’t all drama but it is always seen through – and only through – the layer of feelings that interprets the inner and outer worlds.

[Me: Did you say just what you meant, there?

[TGU: “ In other words, it isn’t all drama but it is always seen through – and only through – the layer of feelings that interprets the inner and outer worlds”

[Dirk: This I know to be false – at least in my case. In my case life most often is not seen through drama, nor through emotion or feeling, mood or affect. These in most cases come as delayed responses to events, conditions, and reflection.

[If it is passing through that layer, it is doing so with no interaction at all.

[My default and most predominant mode is to experience the word in neutral – sans emotion or feeling of any kind. That is not always true. The more years that have passed, the less predominant it has become.]

I know what you are going to say and I sense that it may not convince.

Not that it won’t convince, so much as that it will seem to miss the point, because what is the problem here is a matter of definitions. Still, clarifications won’t present themselves, so here goes our attempt to present them.

A basic mistake enters because of what we might call linguistic slippage. Words, being imprecise, are often a source of confusion. But words when they don’t quite exist can be even more so. When a concept is needed and does not exist, you use words that sort of mean the same thing, or let’s say that somewhat say it, but not closely enough to add clarity.

In this instance, some word other than mood or feeling or emotion would have conveyed our meaning better, and perhaps would have prevented anyone from mistaking it for something similar but different. We said, human life is always experienced though a layer of feelings. Dirk replied that in his case, “life most often is not seen through drama, nor through emotion or feeling, mood or affect… If it is passing through that layer, it is doing so with no interaction at all.” He spoke of experiencing the world in neutral. You see the slippage here?

I do. You didn’t say nor mean that we do or don’t experience the world in a dramatic fashion, though it looks like what you said. You said, or meant, anyway: The invisible layer that we are comparing to an ionizing layer of air, or to the tranquil interface between water and something being propelled through water, is always between our 3D awareness and the “external” 3D world we experience. Only, that layer isn’t what people mean when they say “emotion” or “feeling.”

Yes. It is always there: There is no possibility in 3D terms of seeing the world directly, without a level of interpretation. We call it feeling to contrast it to thought. We may call it emotion (if it is of a peculiar nature) to contrast it to a sort of mental neutrality. We may call it a mood, or a generator of moods, to stress that it is a long-lasting relatively unvarying attitude coloring one’s view of life.

Nor is Dirk reporting his experience incorrectly, only we intend to show that things aren’t quite as they appear. In his case – as in yours, and as in most people’s who are drawn to this exploratory work – perception comes not only from the 3D but also directly from your non-3D component, which blurs the picture analytically. Let’s see if we can adjust the focus. This is so central to what we are trying to convey, a picture of 3D life as it is lived by people who are very different combinations of elements.

  • You are all projections into 3D of a complex of elements
  • You are each inserted into a different specific time/place moment, with a specific 3D heredity and environment.
  • You experience life as an interaction between “you” and “the world,” and as we have been exploring, this may be redefined as personal and shared subjectivity, what is “external” being actually part of yourself of which you are not conscious.
  • The interaction between the subjectivity you experience as “I” and the subjectivity you experience as “other” is a layer of energy we are comparing to the ionizing layer or the laminar flow between objects and the medium with which they are interacting.
  • That layer is always there. It can’t not be there. it can be defined out of existence, or be not noticed, but it cannot be not there. Something is always going to interpose between object and surrounding medium.
  • This says nothing about how that layer will be experienced by this or that person. Experiences will differ (and in fact the ionizing layer is itself a factor in why experiences differ). Its existence does not imply nor rule out drama.
  • You experience your life through that transparent layer; your view of the world is shaped by the existence of an interpretive layer, an intermediary between what you can sense and what you cannot sense. To a degree, you never see the world as it really is, only as your filters allow you to see it – and those filters are never the product of thought, but of direct experience as it interacts with what your invisible interpretive layer allows you to see of the world.
  • However – and it is a big “however” – you experience your lives not only through this filter-determined 3D lens but also through your non-3D-dependent direct knowing, call it intuition or divine promptings or whatever. Depending upon your construction, the stereoscopic view produced by 3D and non-3D mode of perception will be sharp or blurry, will show more or will show less or will show other.

Therefore, some will experience the world in ways very different from the mainstream. (Remembering, of course, that the mainstream itself is different in different situations.)  The variables are many: environment, heredity, decisions on a 3D level; environment, heredity, past decisions on a non-3D level. To some the world will be self-evidently on –

Got a little tangled, there?

Well, you see the problem.

I do. You’re wanting to differentiate between people’s natures (emotional, unemotional; feeling types, thinking types; well-connected to non-3D or connected only unconsciously, etc.) And it’s hard to do that without your point being smothered.

It is. We are juggling so many variables.

Seems to me you’ve been doing all right.

Wait till you see how many conflicting interpretations of what is here said.

And that’s the issue, isn’t it?

Yes, it is. Because everyone experiences the world only indirectly, and because everyone’s experience of filters is different, and because to many the existence of filters has no evidence for it, it is difficult to say anything that can be read only one way. In fact, not difficult; it is impossible. Thus we are continually correcting misinterpretations of what we meant, in words than cannot avoid causing further misinterpretations. That’s why there isn’t only one opinion of the world , one interpretation.

Hmm, indicating that even misinterpretation isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Good, bad, convenient, inconvenient. We aren’t concerned with judgment but with exposition. We merely point out, life is interpreted.

You aren’t nearly finished with this, I can tell.

Hardly begun, in fact, but this should prove quite productive.

And a word for that ionizing layer that is neither “feeling” nor “emotion” nor “mood”?

Let’s leave it as is for the moment, lest in assigning a label we prematurely imprison it.