Filtered Reality

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As I am reading "The Nature of the Psyche" by Jane Roberts/Seth, I am reminded of how strongly our perception of reality is filtered by our beliefs. They encrust the lens through which we perceive anything.

One might think that observing the reality around us and making deductions from that could save us from these influences. If, for example, we believed 2+2=5 we might notice that almost nowhere our assumption holds true. We tend to think we perceive reality correctly.

This is usually not the case. Strongly held beliefs deform our view of reality, strong emotional investments prevent seeing what is rather than what we want to see. An example might help:

Many people in the world hold the belief that life is dominated by competition. (I do not quite agree.) While there are many clear signs of competition, to hold on to such a belief and shape your reality according to it, an enormous amount of evidence to the contrary has to be ignored. (Or rather: Evidence that there is more than competition and competition is not the dominant principle.)

Any societal organisation depends on cooperation. Commerce and trade depend on it, as do the most simple exchanges. Anybody who reaches adolescence was nurtured by someone and depended on someone, may it be the state, a family, foster parents, or whatever. Constantly humans cooperate, group together, exchange, negotiate and rely on each other, even if they try to compete or battle with other groups of humans.

Neither war nor competition between corporations would be possible without people cooperating to form communities, commercial trusts, nations, marketplaces, armies, and so on. Whatever the underlying motives, not even dictators or governments can hold on if their people refuse to cooperate.

The same principle is true even of the biological body, a deeply cooperative system of cells that have learned in the evolution of the species to coexist, to exchange freely, to fulfill each others' needs and to cooperate. When this compromise breaks down, as it does with cancer, this may lead to the collapse of the whole entity they form together. The cells that don't cooperate break the fundamental deal in the body where everyone serves the whole. And even cancer cells need the cooperation of other cells.

Families, nations, corporations, tribes, the body itself, symbiotic organisms, friendship - examples of cooperation abound. In every day you will quite probably see more cooperation than competition, not necessarily for altruistic motives, but to keep human life in general going, functioning.

We see all of this every day. And yet we can totally ignore this and firmly believe the world to be a fundamentally hostile place dominated by competition. Yet the ticket seller in the subway does not hit us over the head after we turn away, does he? People in general don't behave like psychopaths or sociopaths, and scientists have proven in lab experiments that people even forego gain for themselves to punish those who are perceived to break rules of cooperation like fairness.

But the point is not that there is an element of cooperation present in the species, what I am trying to say is that besides all of this happening any individual could walk the planet and be totally oblivious to this because it does not fit into their belief system. The facts don't even register. Even deeds of great altruistic proportions done by them are rejected and hidden agendas are understated. Hell seems to be other people.

Beliefs are ideas about the truth. When a human matures towards adolescence many of these become deeply embedded into our personality structure due to the reactions we have to the events of our lives. One could think of them as deep grooves created by habit of thought and reaction, though for many people the term "scars" would be more appropriate.

Negative experience, possibly painful or traumatizing, can shape first the personality and then the experience of reality. Beliefs, convictions and dogma become part of the reality-creation process. What sometimes is termed "false personality" or "false self" is formed. And ideas about what reality "should be" like arise.

"If I had this, I would be happy." - "It should be like that." - "She shouldn't be allowed to do that." All ideas about the truth. All born from certain beliefs of what reality should be like. All attempts to create a reality of a certain shape. And all arising from the filters that prevents us from seeing reality from other possible perspectives.

I don't say belief is wrong, or that we should not try to change reality. But beliefs and ideas can be more flexible than that. We can allow for far more realities than we do usually. We can experience great tolerance for many different outcomes. We can switch perspective, and we actually need to if we want a balanced and more complete picture of reality.

This would constitute relaxation at the mental level. Inflexible beliefs contract the mind and block out the higher reality. It remains as unseen as the facts we ignore for our own convenience. You cannot truly change something without having some understanding of its nature, first you need to see what it is. We often try to cure symptoms and ignore the causes because it seems convenient. Many take the blue pill every day because it promises comfort.

The unknown awaits. It's almost certainly not what you believe it to be.

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