Ultimately, thoughts, emotions and ideas are the only realities

In a complex social system, the effectiveness of one’s decisions is dependent on the decisions of others. In other words, for a trader to have a business there must be someone willing to buy. For a leader to legitimately lead, there must others willing to follow. Every decision we make no matter how reasonable it may appear has some emotional influence as the basis. The current state of our lives is as a result of all the decisions we have made since adulthood and decisions made for us by our parents since we were born. Most decisions are reversible. Decision making improves with accurate knowledge or information. The entire world is shaped by knowledge or ideas. Ideas basically comprise thoughts and emotions. Ultimately, the physical world is an extension of the mental world because everything man-made we see around in the environment today was once an idea existing in somebody’s mind. Others argue that thoughts and ideas are shaped by the physical world or arise as a result of physiological processes and therefore cannot precede physicalism. I don’t know how far that truth can go. There are large areas of the earth inhabited by only vegetation. Thoughts are not real there because plants have no mind to produce thoughts. But we can be sure that within human societies, thoughts, ideas and emotions influence everything human and therefore are the only realities to us. Thoughts, emotions and ideas cannot be perceived, they are perceptions in themselves. All other “realities” are real to us if only perceived.

Happy new year to all my readers. Those who recently followed, welcome to a meaningful and a meaningless blog.

The Relation of The Mind To The Body

Confusion arises whenever something exists but the source cannot be traced or is completely unknown. The mind, without which we cannot be conscious and for that matter we will not exist can be likened to a luminant object. It guides the body, communicates with the body and maintains the body in this physical world. In fact the body is simply a peripheral of the mind just as keyboards and monitors are simply peripherals of the system unit of a computer. The mind is the main proof of our existence and it is the organism within the larger organism.

It is important that whatever ideas, thoughts or emotions are produced in the mind be consistent with the organisms basic biological constitution and function. In other words a deer who behaves like a dog will experience problems since it has a ruminating stomach whereas a dog does not have one. But in actuality, such cases of mismatch of mind and matter are extremely rare. The matter in the organism almost always matches the function of its mind as a unit of the whole, right from the moment of cell division.

The mind is also a tool for negotiation and survival. We probably negotiate a hundred times a day on the average with friends, family, spouses, co-workers etc. Here I am not speaking of negotiating a contract but rather negotiating emotional needs. You have to give up something in order to gain something usually of a pressing importance – that’s negotiation. Through memes and sometimes personal experiences, one may be a better negotiator than another. But the mind is capable of learning just about anything.

Followers of Scientology, many of whom believe they are aliens trapped inside a human body through a process called ‘assumption’ are simply experiencing mind – body incongruousness. In other words, they believe their body does not fit or is not compatible with their thoughts and desires and since the mind is the true self they therefore reject their physical body, so to speak. Similarly, someone who desires to be a model or a basketball player but who is markedly short/unattractive may also end up rejecting his or her body.

Bottomline is this: one ought to accept oneself before one can accept others and ultimately the world. Whoever does not love him or herself will always fail at loving others. It begins with you.



On Perception And Subjective Reality

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” – Albert Einstein

Everything you see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you. You create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe you perceive is specific to you.” – Douglas Adams

These statements are indeed true, but only up to a point. One is invited to observe his or her surroundings and inform us what he or she perceives and whether what is perceived is entirely specific to one. I had an interesting discussion with a friend sometime ago which led to the question of perception and its flaws. My opinion is that there is objective perception – something we all see or feel or think about, something that often pre-dominates external experience and is self evident. I will like to take the time to answer the question what is meant by “perception.”

Merriem-Webster dictionary defines perception as “…the way you think about or understand someone or something : the ability to understand or notice something easily or the way that you notice or understand something using one of your senses.” For the purposes of this discussion we will concentrate on the first part of the definition i.e. the way you think about or understand someone or something. This can also mean that the way you see the whole of something may be completely different from the way you see the sum of its parts.

We may all agree that, often times when people perceive they contribute some information to what is being observed and when they have to communicate their observation, this information often but not always becomes visible or perceptible. The accuracy of our perception is therefore directly proportional to one’s ability to detach one’s opinions or a priori from actuality. For instance, the difference between the educated and the ignorant person lies primarily in their perception which gives rise to the significant difference in their cognition or intelligence. I shall narrate an anecdotal story to illustrate my point:

Many people believe in ghosts. In fact, I have at one point being afraid of ghosts but now I have no intellectual space or energy for such thoughts. We still do not know whether ghosts exist or not. Although the idea of ghosts can be dismissed as an illusion or mere perception, it can be “real” depending on the number of people in a community who believed in it. When a significant number of people believe in something it becomes real to them. What one believes one acts upon it, and our actions inevitably affect one another in a community. In certain primitive societies there are elaborate rituals to drive away ghosts. So a ghost is real there, just as aliens and vampires are real in most parts of Europe. End of anecdote.

Now let us look at the effect of subjective reality on the individual. The first European to enter the African hinterland was a merchant. In the case of the upper Guinnea or West Africa, it was a Portuguese named Diogo de Azambuja, who presented himself to the chiefs and people as a friend and a trader. At that time, trading in humans had not begun. Diogo de Azambuja and his cohorts spoke nicely but had guns hidden in their cloaks. Once they had learnt of a flaw in the perception of the people, it was time to launch an attack. They presented gifts of strong drinks, gunpowder and muskets in return for gold and war captives. So the first slaves sold in Africa were war captives not nobles, belonging to tribes different and distant from those selling them. The sale of war captives was common everywhere including ancient Rome and Greece.

Then centuries later, many Europeans joined in the trade. Some African traders (mainly chiefs) with the aid of the foreign merchants could no longer wait to receive captives so they took to raiding weaker communities. An orphan, a rogue, any poor defenseless thing was captured and brought to the European forts and castles to be sold. This is the whole tragedy of the African existence which emanated from our inaccurate perception of the world around us.

This painful history is still relevant because it influences the way the African or people of African descent are perceived. The master thinks for the slave. Any slave with higher perception or thinking capabilities was a threat and was quickly eliminated. Nevertheless, flaw in perception exists everywhere not only in indigenous Africa. In fact all terrible mistakes or decisions, emanate from subjective reasoning or reality. This is my experience of life. Some say there are no mistakes, only choices and I think this is true only in regard to one’s personal life. But it doesn’t mean the mistakes or subjective tendencies of others does not affect us.

The Conscious and The Unconscious

ID and ego

As we can see, of the two regions of the mind, the unconscious is the largest and a true representation of the person – except in the case of the rationalist. The conscious (ego) is simply a “rewiring” of the unconscious and through which one perceives the physical world. We can think of the unconscious as soil and the conscious as a tree that grows on the soil. The tree, the fact that it emerges in adulthood, owes its growth and strength to the soil and although it is prominent, it ultimately, is serving the interest of the soil (unconscious).

Freud and Jung often presented the conscious (ego) as a separate entity but to me, it appears to be an extension of one entity – whereas one region has to do with the inner world and the other the outer. Rationalists concern themselves with only reason and therefore the conscious, and they reject the supernatural and therefore the existence of unconscious. But the unconscious is very powerful, we owe all our mental energy to it. In fact even the ego, no matter how large it is, owes its energy to the unconscious and is easily crashed when it loses the backing of the unconscious. At one time, Freud retorted: “More people believe in the existence of the virgin Mary than in the existence of the unconscious mind.”

A collapse of the unconscious spells the end of one’s life. Of course, most people now believe in the existence of the unconscious but the delusion here is that, because the unconscious is difficult to understand the fact that it communicates in symbolic language, they believe the conscious mind is actually in charge. Yes it is, but only superficially. This scenario reminds me of a local watchmen who, whenever his boss is not around, posses as the boss and often succeeds in deceiving and taking advantage of young female visitors….but it’s only a matter of time that the true boss will be known.