Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Seeing is Believing.

The human brain is a funny thing...this according to science. Now I'm quite certain that science has come up with a much more scientific way of saying that. Perhaps they have added a bit of Latin to make their learned wisdom appear more profound. But all in all, we're saying the same thing.

Our brains 'chunk' things. Brains are timesavers. According to state of the art research, brains evaluate perception and experience through a kind of filter of pre conceived lenses. The sober mind 'sees' things not as how they actually are...but through a filter of our expectations and memories.

If you happen to be crazy (and yes...I'm sure science has a few better ways to say that too) or if you happen to be tripping on psychedelics such as psilocybin (shrooms) or LSD (acid) then the brain is relieved of its internal 'auditor' to varying degrees. Without its chunking and timesaving, the brain is left to perceive things in a more direct fashion. Expectations fade away. Things may be seen as they are.

The much praised and oft maligned writer Carlos Castaneda wrote a great deal about Yaqui indian shamans teaching apprentice 'sorcerers' to 'see'. He noted how important it was for a person to learn to truly 'see' for the first time. And generally, this was accomplished as pupils were carefully conditioned to be free of their preconceptions.

This is indeed the blindness of our culture. We too often view our world through the lens of media and the shared experiences of our human condition. Not often enough do we each divest ourselves of such prejudices of mind to 'see' the world as it is...or others as they are. Most of us live within a myopic panoply of derangements. We were programmed from the start by religious motifs, early successes, dismal failures and cultural 'common sense.' And those funny brains of ours imaged and categorized all of it, cheating a bit along the way and 'borrowing' from past experiences.

What we are all left with is an illusion...albeit a subtle one.

Any great magician or any great salesman knows the value of taking on a role, of becoming one with the audience or the prospect. We respond to what we understand, to what we already believe. And we resist vehemently the unknown...until of course it can be safely categorized and 'digested' by the mind (something that requires us to change...we 'are' what we eat...and what we think about).

I think it is absurd how blind we are. We are mice who dont even need walls in our mazes. We will content ourselves to just run around in circles and patterns until our days are spent.

It is rare when you look at someone and see them really looking back at you. And it is rarer still when you can relate to someone without them soon resorting to a behavioral pattern to relate to you in return...a pattern that was conditioned by everyone before you.

I have always personally longed to find innocence in this world, that one true freedom of mind and heart that is not despoiled by the 'funny' workings of mental gray matter. No man is a philosopher who is not a true 'lover' of wisdom...hence 'philo' (love) of 'sophia' (wisdom). Wise love is a kind of faith in what is...rather than an ordained expectation.

Thus, may we all be innocents. May we all 'come as little children' as Jesus said in the Gospels. Perhaps then we can each learn to 'see' one another and value those things that are different as well as the same as ourselves. Sometimes we do see what we expect...but, more often than not, we miss so very much more.

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