Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thinking Creates Reality

I think, therefore I am.” – Rene Descartes

Thinking creates reality. Thought is an energetic force, an expression of conceptual formation that comes to be reflected back to mind as external reality, appearing to be separate from what we refer to as the mental realm. This sense of a duality between the mental and the material was established very early in the evolution of conscious development, and has since become such a naturally accepted division that we regard it as being absolute. It is accepted without consideration, being a primary component of the perceived order that has been constructed, from the simple to the complex, into the current understanding we use to interpret our experiences of consciousness. However, this apparent duality we seem to experience between mind and matter is merely the energy of thought reflecting back on itself, a returning wave of energy that is produced in the creation of the thoughts we have. We, existing as mental beings with physical form, are at the juxtaposition between these two aspects of reality.

We each take part in the manifestation of reality, it being the expression of all our thoughts combined and conceded into a single, unified wave of overlapping mental energies that is operating at a deep subconscious level. What is reflected back to consciousness as external reality is, in simple terms, that which is collectively accepted.

Thoughts cannot be still, but must always flow and change, and this is reflected in our sense of reality as events unravel over time. A consideration of the continual movement of our mental activity will reveal that thoughts do indeed flow without ever stopping or remaining with a single impression held in mind for more than a fleeting moment. Even during sleep, our thoughts are continually active, and this is evidenced by our dreaming. One of the goals of meditative practice is to be able to slow the activity of our conscious minds, with the result being that we can then glimpse a transcended understanding of reality that is not reliant on our previously established sense of order. This allows us to become aware of the illusion of our perceptions of reality and realize our true place as conscious beings in this ever-moving, cyclic and patterned reality. The slowing of thought, or being able to hold a single thought in mind over an extended period of time, leads to a break from our attachment to our established understandings, freeing us from the limitations that these understandings require for their sustenance. Slowing our thoughts causes the reflection of them as reality to also slow, allowing us to perceive that the reflection is of our own making, and that nothing is ever absolute except that we accept it collectively as such.

When we are focused on thinking about something, whether a past memory, the present moment, or a future plan or possibility, we are helping to create and sustain our reality. Whatever thought we might have, it will rely on supporting information and concepts that have already been established and are therefore perceived as part of our established reality. These might be such simple things as the tree in your backyard, the unpaid electrical bill, the unnerving buzz of your alarm clock, or the warm sparkle in your lover’s eyes when he or she looks at you. Any of these concepts might be a focal point that we center our thoughts on, or they might be part of another conceptual formation. The tree in the backyard, for instance, might be the focus of our thoughts because it is getting too big and has to be cut down, but we are reluctant to do so. We might be thinking about how it has provided so much pleasure to us and our family over the years, such as shade from the hot sun on summer days, and how our children enjoy swinging on the tire that hangs from one of its strong lower branches. We might consider what it will be like without the tree: the bareness of the yard, the big stump that will be left as a sad reminder, the lack of shade in the summer, the disappointment of our children. These are the types of thoughts that add substance to our reality.

Our thoughts are structured by previously established aspects of reality that support how we perceive reality as it was, is, and will be. These previously established aspects of reality – the tree, its shade, the children playing on the swing, etc. – are based on our collective past experiences of them, and so we believe very deeply that they exist. To us, there is no question about it. These are considered by us to be absolutes. This depth of belief effectively sustains the reality in our mind. It reaches to a level of the subconscious where we are all connected, and it is at this level that we are continually and collectively creating the hard, certain aspects of reality that we each experience in a similar way. Thus the sun rises in the east every morning for all of us, the same routes get us home from work every time, and a rock will always fall to the ground if we hold it up high and then let go of it. We all accept and believe these things as far as we know them, so they are easily manifested for any of us in full physical expression whenever we undertake to experience them.

Our thoughts tend to be cyclic and patterned, such that we tend to follow the same basic thought tracks regarding any particular subject (or subjects) again and again, rarely formulating any unique conceptual ideas that haven’t already been conceived previously. The truly creative act, in which we are able to formulate entirely new aspects of reality, or to otherwise reform current aspects, requires a break from such cyclic thoughts, and this entails some effort on our part. This is because our current perception of reality depends on its continuation through the constant repetition of its conceived structure. To break from this current understanding is to risk losing the sense of security and attachment to it that we have established through the order we understand and rely on. So, we tend to habitually follow the same patterns of thinking and in the process give further validity to the reality that has already been established. Certain patterns of thought are so habituated that we do not even consciously notice them. This is because they have become processes of the subconscious, where such learned patterns are automated and easily sustained without effort.

This cyclic, patterned thinking, whatever it might be about, sets up energetic forces that build up in resonance and amplitude whenever the thought track is repeated. As long as the situation is right, its content will begin to manifest as an actuality, so far as it can.

What makes the situation right? How does a thought affect reality? Certain variables are involved in the process of thought becoming reality, and the process itself is dependent on the weight of probabilities much more than it is on any absolutes. The primary requirement, however, is belief, the certainty that something is real or can be real. We believe something can be real when it is understood in relation to everything else and it fits into the order we have already established. Once we can conceive of it as fitting into that order, we begin to think of it that way, and eventually we begin to accept it as reality. At this point, the ability to find evidence of its actuality in reality becomes possible, and by seeking out that evidence with the belief that it is there to be found, we eventually acquire it and thereby establish it fully within our overall ordered understanding. Not only do such beliefs become substantiated by fitting into our already established order, but at the same time, that sense of order is itself strengthened.

The belief that matter is made up of atoms is accepted by most of us because this concept has been built into our understanding, even though we cannot perceive an atom with the naked eye. Yet, the idea makes sense along the lines of our previous understandings, and by the indirect means of scientific technologies and the already-decided factor of the scientist’s expectations, the existence of atoms has been able to be evidenced more clearly. We must remember here, however, that a scientist will already have a conceptual formulation in mind prior to beginning any investigation into finding evidence of that formulation in reality. It is impossible to do otherwise. The conceptual understanding of a possibility comes before its actuality. If, as occasionally happens, an event takes place that is not currently understood or expected, it is immediately written off as an anomaly or a misunderstanding of perception. Only after similar recurrences of the anomaly over time, and when its association to our already established order becomes more apparent, does it gain acceptance as a reality. At this point, it has a means of being understood, but until such associations can be found and established as fact, such anomalies tend to be ignored and even denied.

How is it that physical reality is more or less the same for all of us? We learn about the world from the time we are born, both from direct experience and by what our parents and teachers teach us about how to perceive and understand reality through a sense of order that has already been established. Therefore, we come into this world without any preconceptions about our reality, but we are quickly programmed to understand it in this pre-established manner. This gives us little chance to realize the possibilities that lie outside of these already established understandings. We learn to use this already established framework of understanding and tend to exclude all others as we become more and more familiar with it. We quickly lose awareness of our deeper connectivity to each other and all the rest of reality as we grow and develop throughout our earliest years. It becomes ever more necessary to rely on the established view of reality as we become more mentally immersed within it throughout our lives.

Although we all more or less follow the same established order as a society or culture, we each have our own personal understandings that may not fully agree with the understandings by which that established order was based. The order that we can all agree on begins with those physical events that we all experience in an identical way, such as gravity or a sunrise. These are what we regard as absolutes. We do not even need a causal understanding of these things and events to accept them as part of the established order. They happen consistently and predictably, and we recognize the patterns by which they arise. Once we recognize a consistent pattern, we can accurately predict that they will happen again.

Other events, situations, and issues are not so absolute, however. The past is not as absolute as the present, for instance, and the future seems to be even less so. Similarly, events taking place elsewhere are not as absolute to us as those that take place where we are. We have no certainty of these sorts of things as absolutely as we do gravity or a sunrise, or of events in the here and now. Up until fairly recently in history, we have had to rely on our own faulty memories, the perspectives of others, assumptions, guesswork, etc. We now have the technologies to see and hear events in another place, past or present, but even these are limited to a large degree, and are only capable of allowing us to observe events from another place or time as long as the technology is applied at that time and place. And the technology is not absolute verification of what we observe through it, either. We cannot be sure that it is not faulty in some way, or that what we are observing through it hasn’t been tampered with in order to deceive us and mold our beliefs.

The only real assurance we have of anything at all is our own personal experience of it at the moment that we experience it. Even to compare our experiences with those of others does not assure us that we experience the same things, and if we compare our experiences closely enough, we will find that even the same things are experienced somewhat differently. At the very least, we each see things from different points in space, and our attentions will be directed at different things at different times throughout an event we both experience together. So, even though we both might experience the same general thing and agree on certain elements of observation, other elements of the event will vary between us. So our own experiences are always different to anybody else’s to one degree or another.

A major limitation to our experiences is the narrowness of our conscious attention. We can only pay attention to a few pieces of information at any one time, due to the limitations of our brain structure, and must mentally shuffle these sensory impressions, memories, and conceptual constructs around much like a juggler shuffles objects in order to keep them in action. Our scope of perception only seems greater than it is because the reflection back to us of our thought waves as reality gives a sense of continuity to those waves. Our attention is constantly reverberating back and forth between our thinking and our experiencing, and it is the sensory stimuli, the reflection back to us of our perceived reality, that constitutes our experiences of an external reality. This back and forth reverberation of our attention is imperceptible to us, happening at the speed of thought itself. As soon as we have a thought, it is reflected back from the subconscious as a reciprocal expression before we can even have another thought. Our thoughts are thus both projecting reality and receiving it back, but at a rate that seems virtually instantaneous, and the limited scope of our attention appears to be larger than it is because each thought, each reflection, is different but still meshes with those before and after it in a way that they appear as a greater collaboration of things experienced together over a longer period of time. The reflection we perceive as reality becomes sustained through the resonation of each thought with the reflection of the one immediately before it.

As David Bohm states in his book, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, that the process of thought is the active response of memory, and each response, in turn, leads to a further contribution to memory, and in so doing conditions the next thought. Thus, thought reflects on memory, and in this process gives further substance to memory. At the same time, it also gives further substance to the reality that both the thought and the memory reflects.

This cyclic process is ongoing, and internal reality and external reality are linked in such a way that the two are ever intertwined and in flux, a single process of moving and expanding observation and realization.

In Bohm’s view, the relevancy of particular memories to the situation or event that evokes them is a perception of mind that is guided by intelligence. It is this intelligence that perceives new systems of order, and which can draw out new meaning beyond what was already known (remembered) and familiar. Intelligence is the creative process in reflective thought, provoking new insights and understandings through the recognition of patterns between remembered things and events.

External reality is not the only part of our experiences that arises in this way. Even our purely mental experiences are reflected back at us in this same manner. These mental experiences, of course, make up our unshared reality. We each experience them as separate and individually unique realities that nobody else can experience as we do. This part of reality is purely subjective in nature, and although it is as real and absolute to us as anything in physical reality that we might experience, it cannot be shared with others in the way that a purely physical event might be. These subjective mental experiences are sensed as inner feelings or sensations, and although they are themselves reflections of our thoughts, they do not appear to arise directly from what we call external reality, as does the information that comes from our five senses. Instead, they seem to come from within, from the depths of our subconscious, as reflections that are experienced by us alone, as inner responses to our thoughts and experiences that do not project out to the external world directly, but rather affect our thoughts and guide our interpretations of that external reality from a deeper level of mind. These subjective experiences have the potential to eventually become as seemingly absolute as anything in the physical realm, but only when there is enough collective agreement from all the conscious beings involved in our shared reality to cause them to manifest in this way.

The diagram at the end of this text illustrates how a thought is reflected back from the subconscious and becomes perceived as reality. The expressed thought is received into the subconscious and immersed with the thoughts of all other beings (1). An immediate balance or harmonization of our simultaneous collective mental energies takes place and is reflected back to our conscious awareness in the established order that is collectively coherent and acceptable (2). This is perceived as our external, objective reality (3), which acts as a backdrop for our next thought (4), creating the sense of temporal continuity that ties our personal experiences together in a sequential experience of changing moments of time. The blue arrows in the diagram represent the subjective aspects of our thoughts, which are not perceived as external reality. They are reflections from the subconscious that reveal a deeper understanding which we sense internally as a feeling or sensation, but can’t yet distinguish well enough to perceive in absolute and objective terms that is collectively acceptable in physical terms.

A word of support should be said here regarding the aspect of prana in East Indian belief systems. Prana is understood as a type of energy that is subtler than electromagnetic energy, and is equated with the energy of the mind (In Chinese belief systems, this energy is known as chi, and is understood more in relation to the physical body than to the mind, but the principle is otherwise the same). Prana is mind, and mind is prana. As it pertains to our discussion, when we have thoughts or mental impressions, they flow out from us as prana, and through subconscious connectivity, they interact with the prana of other minds. The result of this interaction is a less-subtle and coarser form of energy. We are more familiar with this coarser energy and commonly understand it as electromagnetic energy, which we all experience as the fundamental substance of a shared external reality. We will discuss this subtler energy in more detail later on.

The backdrop of the objective, physical world is not all that there is of our reality, and our subjective thoughts, feelings, and impulses provide us with a sense of deeper purpose within it. This sense of meaningfulness encourages us to continue to engage in this reality and thereby help in sustaining it. At the same time, these subjective thoughts, feelings, and impulses allow us to take part in deciding how our reality was, is, and will be. We each have the full capacity to accept or reject any subjective concept as part of our reality, and so we have the power to affect it. What we do not realize is that what we regard as absolutes, are only as absolute as we collectively allow them to be. We are taught early on to rely on the established order of things, and we have come to depend on that perception of reality and have put our trust and belief in it to the exclusion of any other possibility. For the most part, we must continue to take part in this collective reality in order to exist and survive, but we can at least temporarily suspend it and replace it with alternate realities. We know how to do this on the mental plane through the imagination, but many of us are afraid to use it to loosen our attachment to the established order we have grown so dependent on, or we otherwise don’t know how to loosen that attachment, or we simply do not wish to. Because of this, most of us never experience other possibilities that diverge very far from the familiarity of our current understandings. The key to making these other possibilities real, of course, is our level of acceptance and belief in them. The certainty we have in that acceptance and belief determines the level of potentiality it has in manifesting as part of our reality. Overwhelming certainty is what makes something absolute.

Nothing can become absolute and manifest in reality for very long unless it is in collective agreement or otherwise resonates well with what already is. We might be able to manifest things or events that do not otherwise fit into the established order, such as paranormal phenomena, but this is easily counter-affected by the non-acceptance and dis-beliefs of other minds that are thinking thoughts or holding beliefs or attitudes that counter those being put out to create an alternate reality that is conducive to such events. Experience of these sorts of things happens in what might ve thought of as little pockets or fields of directed will, wherein participants collectively allow certain events to manifest. This does not need to be a conscious effort either, and can arise when our minds are simply open and receptive to whatever might happen. When we consciously direct our thoughts toward a desired outcome, however, we can create sustained waves of mental energy that radiate out from us and become merged with the waves created by other minds involved in our greater reality. When a number of people collectively direct their thoughts towards the same reality – whatever that reality might be – and when their beliefs and attitudes support that reality or they are otherwise receptive to whatever may happen, anomalous events can take place. The collective energies of the group, directed at the same potential, causes it to resonate, or ‘collapse’, into actuality.

Under normal circumstances, we appear to have very limited control over our external, objective reality, since it is comprised of nothing but what we accept as absolutes. We all understand it by the same order that governs its variants of possible expression, and it obeys those laws absolutely because we have collectively established them and each of us helps to sustain them by believing in them absolutely. In terms of a physical reality with the four dimensions of time and space, we conceive of it as energy in constant flux and change. This energy is understood as moving in certain patterns of order that result in what we perceive as the external world. Understanding it in this way, we can think of each of our minds as like a beacon constantly emitting thought waves within the same shared field of energy in which we are immersed. This field of energy resonates with our emitted thought waves, where they coalesce and balance out into a collectively acceptable shared reality.

Within this field of energy, we are able to set up regions of sustained thought waves, which, as they become stronger, spread out and begin to affect the collective reality that predominates our surroundings. These regions of thought-affected energies surround each one of us, manifesting our perceived realities through the waves that we create by our thinking and sustain through our continued acceptance.

Our thoughts are structured almost entirely within the bounds of our already established understandings, and as such, these thoughts are composed of elements of this established reality arranged in one of a multitude of meaningful possibilities. A thought form, and each component of a thought form, has a specific reverberating energy pattern, and this pattern, where it is associated with a part of the collective reality, will resonate with it and help to further sustain it within the field of energy that we perceive as our shared physical reality.

Thought itself is subjective in nature, although it may be composed of certain perceived absolutes that the subject is about. As such, it does not get reflected back to us from the subconscious as the illusion of an external reality, but instead is reflected back to us as the reflection of the subconscious that it is. Those components of such a thought that are objective in nature give sustenance to their counterparts in objective reality. Those components of the thought that are subjective in nature have much less support in the collective external reality, being merely potentials as compared to the perceived absolutes of the physical world. Subjective qualities that become increasingly common to the collective minds making up the greater reality build in potential, and if a critical point of acceptance is reached for any one of them, it will begin to manifest as an absolute that can be experienced as a distinct part of the shared physical world.

This may sound impossible and even absurd, for how can such subjective things as beauty, haste, or indifference be objective absolutes? The answer to this lies in our ability to accommodate them into our established order. We must be able to clearly distinguish such subjective things from what they are not, to recognize the quality of such subjective concepts through an ordered understanding that makes it a definite and predictable outcome whenever that order dictates that it must. From our limited human standpoint as conscious beings, such an idea is hard to fathom, since it does not fit with our currently established understandings that we have become so habituated to. We cannot easily perceive how beauty might manifest as a physical absolute, but this is only because we think of objective reality in terms that reflect what has already been accepted collectively, rather than what might be accepted on an individual basis.

The process of changing from a subjective aspect to an objective aspect relies on a means to consistently and accurately measure it against what it is not, and to understand the definiteness that separates it from what it is not. There must be a clearly defining line between these two polarities of what it is and what it is not, a way to accurately measure between them. Only then can a subjective quality become an objective quantity. As it is now, we cannot measure the amount of beauty in a sunset because we have no common ground to base that measurement on. What we know as subjective reality consists of those emerging aspects of reality that are still not collectively agreed upon or understood. Although we like to think that a concept such as beauty is collectively desirable by all of us, we do not yet understand it to the degree that we can objectively measure it and clearly define the requisite components that make it up. A purely physical thing or event, on the other hand, can be defined by the parameters that we know are required for its manifestation. As we evolve in consciousness and our awareness grows, our recognition and understanding of these requisite components becomes more clearly defined, and our physical reality evolves in parallel to our understanding. In this way, beauty, or any other currently subjective quality, can eventually become an objective absolute with seeming physical substance, just as much as is the color blue or the roundness of the moon.

Each of us holds our own personal understandings about reality, whether as a general concept, or in regards to any particular element within it. To the extent of objective physicality, our realities are essentially identical, but beyond that, our subjective realities are each more or less unique.

For most of us, our beliefs and understandings about our reality are formed early on in life through both our schooling and the cultural influences that we are exposed to. These early influences condition us so that we perceive our world and respond to it from within an already established order. As we explore our world further we are able to gain more knowledge about it, but we normally only do so from within the limitations that have already been set. Only when we put aside our current conceptions and give other possibilities fair consideration do we become aware of new things and new ideas. From this we come to perceive deeper meaning within the reality we experience.

How we perceive reality depends largely on our beliefs or understandings about history, science, and religion. Influences are different from culture to culture and generation to generation, and there is some degree of variation among them. These beliefs tend to mold our thinking and our perceptions, keeping them within certain bounds. They become substantiated by our experiences.

For the most part, our beliefs and understandings are similar enough that we can exist and interact together cooperatively within certain predefined and agreed upon parameters of order. Not one of us, however, has perfect understanding, and any one of us can fall into a position where we are forced to question our own beliefs when they do not reflect our experiences. These moments of self-doubt are usually the only moments when most of us even consider that our beliefs might be faulty, and that other possibilities do exist.

In truth, our individual understandings, and the belief systems that are built on them, are our attempts to describe and define a deeper level of understanding that surpasses our abilities to accurately do so. This is not to say that we are all inherently wrong about reality, but rather that there is more to reality than we have so far woven into the tapestry of our perceptions. We each see reality, or at least describe it, in metaphorical terms. Such terms make our understandings easier to relate to, because they relate to things that are already familiar, or otherwise simple to conceive, but this can create confusion and faulty understandings when such metaphorical descriptions come to be taken too literally.

Undoubtedly, the greatest damage that has been done by the difference of beliefs has been by the hand of popular but overzealous religions such as the Roman Catholic Church, which has been responsible for the unnecessary deaths of untold millions and the suffering of many millions more. The certainty of belief and the power over the beliefs of others were the motivating forces behind such aggression.

This antipathy towards those with different beliefs is not restricted to religion, however, and has carried over into the scientific establishment. Although science is supposed to be based on mature reasoning and fair consideration of all possible explanations, it is often anything of the sort. As we will see further on, the scientific establishment has very often been no better than the religious leaders before them. Before we do, however, we should consider how science affects our beliefs, and how our beliefs affect reality.

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