Winter 2002 Archive
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Re: About reality . . . relative reality. Posted by Douglas on January 23, 2002 at 20:03:13:
In Reply to: About reality . . . relative reality. posted by John on January 23, 2002 at 17:10:07:
Dear John or should that be Oh dear, John:
I am afraid John that you have misinterpreted my latest postings, which in and of itself is of little concern as such a misunderstanding can be corrected; what does concern me though is the breadth and depth of the misinterpretation. Concerning reality, I was addressing the issue of “the given and the construed”, as Hegel put it, when I wrote the following:
“yet I see the task as being mindful of the multitude of voices. identifying them, noting the distortion if not violence by which they interpret reality (and I am not particularly comfortable with the word reality) to conform to their expectations and beliefs, seeing through their ruthless manipulations, just to name a few of their endearing qualities.”
“Ultimately, the central idea above is that we create the world that we perceive, not because there is no reality outside our heads, but that we select and edit the reality we see to conform to our beliefs about what sort of world we live in.”
In response, you replied:
“If I understand you correctly, your sense of it is that reality is so vague, impenetrable, and mysterious that it cannot really be known. I gather you take that from the Eastern teachings . . . that we are all living in a realm of illusions, or maya . . . that it is all illusions that we project on the world out there.”
How you came to interpret my words in this light truly baffles me. In this regard, I am given to rationalize that you were not feeling yourself but I have this nagging suspicion that your internal image of me bears little resemblance to this society of selves called Douglas. Who were you addressing anyway?
Back to the issue of reality.
Indeed, I am influenced by my Zen Buddhist background in my conjecture on the subject of reality. Inherent in the First Noble Truth, Dukkha, or in translation: “Life is Suffering”, is a sense of the transitory that is not conveyed in the English without a gloss. Ironically though, my views seem to be more informed by adolescent drug abuse than anything else. At least that experience had more than recreational value as it was somewhat educational. For it was quite apparent, at least to me then, that reality was in the eyes of the beholder and I became quite accomplished at distinguishing the real from the non-real.
In my old age though, I seem to have become more conservative in my thinking. Attaching feathers to my arms, flapping them hey-go-mad and jumping off a cliff doesn’t seem like such a wise idea. Gravity doesn’t seem to give a damn what my opinion is. Reality in some respects is not even relative — it is immutable.
That having been said, what was left unsaid when I stated “(and I am not particularly comfortable with the word reality)” was that I am more comfortable with the concept of “modalities of experience” for the idea validates rather than invalidates the personal life as it accommodates imagination, phantasy, reverie, dreams, memory, — states personal and oftentimes disqualified as being “inner” rather than “outer” — a murderous distinction if there ever was one.
As to your query:
“Douglas, how about it? Will you invite me to attempt again to show you some reality about you that you can recognize as reality, too?”
One paragraph that I didn’t attach in my musings to Deirdre goes as follows:
“As far as I know, there are only two ways out. One is religious or spiritual conversion. This may satisfy some yet I think that those who choose ready made solutions of belief lose the chance to do some really creative thinking (I still do believe that it is creative apperception more than anything else that makes the individual feel that life is worth living) and perhaps nothing less will save us. The second way out — thinking things out and taking as little as possible on faith — is the most difficult.”
That phrase: “taking as little as possible on faith” seems to be problematic here. Please realize that it is not only yourself that I question but first and foremost I question myself. My cynicism has little to do with you in other words. To go out on but another limb, I don’t know how many people in this Classroom, and the various spectators of this sometime soap opera, question why you call yourself “Coach”. Do they not realize that experience and that they, themselves are the “Teacher”?
Your teaching has never been rejected by me as the years have passed by; — and I hate to tell you but the ascription and attribution in regards to myself is of your own creation, and don’t get defensive on me — over the years, you have proven yourself, time after time, compassionate, loving, willing to suffer fools such as myself, gladly, insightful, humble — need I go on to make you blush.
In other words, say what you feel needs to be said. You hardly need an invitation as I am not going to treat a friend as a guest.
Be well, whole and hearty
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