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Meditations

Experience Prevents Experiencing
By Martin LeFevre:
Apr 7, 2020, 3:16pm

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At the end of a rainy, chilly and breezy day, the sky to the west begins to clear. The lightest rain I've ever seen begins falling in the slanting sunlight. The precipitation is so fine that I can't tell whether it's pollen, tiny snowflakes, or slivers of rain.

I stand and hold out my hand for half a minute, and can feel slight wetness. It's rain all right, so thin that the slightest breeze blows the miniscule drops sideways.

To the east, a partial rainbow forms. Taking in the whole scene through all the senses, one feels great beauty and wonder, and trackless traces of the immeasurable.

Does immensity come from within or without? The division and duality between the inner and outer, within and without, is obliterated when the mind is completely quiet.

The discontinuity of thought is the door to eternity. We only know the continuity of thought, as the illusorily permanent self; as becoming; and as psychological time in the form of "later," or "gradually."

When thought yields to undirected attention gathered through passive observation however, the mind falls silent, and the continuity of psychological thought ends. Thought becomes what it actually is---a functional instrument, rather than the false ground of our being.

When thought and self no longer filter experience, one begins directly experiencing beauty and sacredness that permeate nature and the universe.

In Western philosophy, the interpretation of experience is a given, an unquestioned assumption. 'Sense data' is seen as inchoate, if not chaotic, without interpretation by the mind as thought.

That's the way experience operates, but it isn't the way experiencing works. Experience is conditioned, cumulative and endarkening. Experiencing is unconditioned, non-accumulative and illuminating.

Since we're all conditioned by experience, programmed by parents and society, what allows experiencing to occur? And what does it mean to not interpret what we're experiencing?

These are the most difficult questions that face a human who would be a human being. AI, which is programming without error (or much less error), is already replacing humans. Not only human jobs, but humans ourselves. Computers and robots will be better than us, unless we become something radically different than we've been for tens of thousands of years.

Obviously, the belief that humans inevitably and ineluctably interpret experience denies the possibility of seeing things as they are. For if we are inescapably 'hermeneutical' creatures, there is no such thing as seeing things as they are.

We can see things as they are however, though we can never be sure we're seeing things as they are. Doubt is essential, though too much doubt paralyzes.

Academic philosophers are certain that "man is a hermeneutical animal," that we always interpret experience. Which means there is no such thing as experiencing in the present, just the experience from the past overshadowing the present.

Armchair philosophers believe we cannot see things as they are, much less uncover or discover living truths, for another reason. They rhetorically ask, "How do I even know there is a world at all? How do I know that all of what seems to be appearing is not just happening in my mind?"

It's a short step from that position to absurdities such as: "Is the earth round or flat? Who knows? I have an opinion on the subject (I think it's round) but to be perfectly honest, how do I know that for sure? I have never been in space. I've seen pictures allegedly taken from space, but how do I know they haven't been faked?"

Even the ancient Greeks mathematically proved the earth was round. The spherical earth, gravity and evolution are not opinions, but facts. Scientific facts are one thing however, and direct experiencing of what is another. Truth is not a function of knowledge, but of directly experiencing the ever-changing reality of what is.

We don't need to go to outer space to know the earth is round. But we do need to go into inner space and question ourselves, and quiet the mind, to allow the experiencing of beauty, impersonal love, and the immeasurable.

Most people are acting like they'll be able to go back to their lives as they were. But the chains of the past have been broken. We're in uncharted territory, and need to learn how to explore again.

******

Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. lefevremartin77@gmail.com


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