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Professions of an anti-Dogmite

The beliefs of an unbeliever.

8.

d.s

"Reality is the first author of all knowledge and understanding"

Another way to frame the problem of the autocentric mind's immodesty with regard to reality involves the authorship of ideas.

Perceiving itself as independent of reality, our mind typically believes that an idea, once grasped, is of its own making. And once habituated to this authorial view, we see ourselves as the agents of understanding and founders of knowledge – all the while disregarding the true origin of it all. Even if pressed with the question "But where do your ideas first come from?", believing we've authored the concept of an intellect, we might answer "Ideas are the product of my intellect" – thus completing a self-supporting reasoning loop that ensures we can take credit for having thoughts, but doesn't acknowledge the context that allows thinking, and leaves us dependent on our own self-supporting reasoning to gauge the soundness of our thoughts. Overall it's a comforting ploy for a self-aware mind, but demonstrates the sort of autogenic consciousness that enables all the mind games we play with ourselves and each other that have dubious connections to reality.

Any mind that is paying any attention to itself knows that ideas originate somewhere other than consciousness. All the best ideas, the ones that benefit everyone, arise in flashes of insight or intuition. But from what do insight and intuition arise? The subconscious? Then from what does the subconscious arise? The origin of ideas is an unsolvable mystery, and the capacity for sound thinking an unattainable dream, for a mind that doesn't recognize an absolute context within which to orient itself for effective inquiry. Yet all along a clue to the resolution of autogenic thinking is in what makes great ideas so effective: the faithful representation of reality! Sound thinking is about something that reality would verify as true, independent of what the mind wants to be true. So reality itself, not the usurping mind, is the provenance of ideas, both in what makes having an idea possible and in its dependability as knowledge or understanding.

And so perhaps our most audacious display of cognitive hypocrisy occurs when we use our presumed idea-minting powers to mentally attack the source of not just ideas, but everything we experience – thoughts of the "reality sucks" variety where we deem our actual circumstances to be unacceptable. Every instance of our discontentment or neurosis depends on the conviction that we create the notions we use to justify our displeasure with what's happening. "I shouldn't be stuck waiting in this line" must be our own idea for us to pretend it could be true. But in crediting reality as the source of our ability to think, the absurdity of believing we shouldn't be stuck in line while we're stuck in line is obvious. And in recognizing reality as the author of our very existence, we'd have no choice but to be content with what reality tells us it actually is, and then set about effectively coping with our circumstances. And what better definition of mental health could we have than that?

In summery, reality is the original source of ideas, even as we appropriate any particular idea, modify it to match our singular view, add our name to it, and chance whether it proves helpful, inane, or ruinous. A good idea then is the correct sensing, or reading, of reality's authorship*, a bad idea its misreading, and mental disfunction the equivalent of cognitive illiteracy – the inability or unwillingness to read reality because our mind insists it does all the writing.

Not only is reality the first author of all ideas, sound thinking, knowledge, and understanding, it's also the final referee as we appraise the effectiveness of our understanding. What other than reality, working most often in anonymity, would provide us with something so authentic as consequences to test our comprehension? So lets be cognitively honest, give reality its due credit, and let its narrative be the basis of our enlightenment and absolution of our suffering.

 

 

*  Reality as author is of course metaphorical. Going beyond the metaphor, technically the correct reading of reality's authorship is the correct anticipation of reality's latent development (as per #3 "We never change reality, but we sure affect its latency") – a skill critical to good mental health and well being. In the example of being stuck in line, the long/slow line would have been anticipated, accepted, and therefore not a problem; or if unexpected, nonetheless recognized as a latent development we can't control and as such accepted as reality, freeing us to adjust our behavior to anticipate a more pleasant development, such as chatting, sharing jokes, cheerily protesting, or singing and dancing with the other people stuck in line.

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