Where Do I Begin?
It can be a real letdown to discover that something thought to be real, isn’t. We don’t like illusions, or at least, we don’t like discovering that we’ve been had by them. While seeing things anew can be liberating, realizing we needed to be liberated can make us feel cheated out of the better informed life that might have been. Discovering that our big explanations of the world are fraudulent can make us feel short-changed by that world. No other generations have been discovering illusions like us post-Renaissance, Euro-Amer, urban moderns have, at least not for a long time. That includes everyone since the scientific revolution, to put it Western-centrically. The sun going around the earth is a good example of an explanation that didn’t hold up well when faced with inquiry and examination. The old explanation had to be replaced. That was just the beginning of a constant upheaval of discovery has made us more aware of our intellectual vulnerability. We started to keep a better eye on our explanations for fear we we’re trading one illusion for another. The full extent of the history and ancestry of humans, and the even fuller extent of the universe are more recent examples of replacement explanations that are kept under constant scrutiny.
For more than three hundred years now, we have held a high standard about what we’re prepared to believe. At a glance, any good explanation will always look just like the world we see around us. That’s what makes a good illusion. A lot of us wait to hear what science has to say about something before we commit ourselves to believing it. We respect science for its hard-nosed approach to understanding reality by sticking to things that can be demonstrated with repeatable physical evidence, and believing only what is objectively real. Objectively real means something has been observed by a sufficient number of qualified observers who then all make the same observations, like jurors with a unanimous verdict. The logic goes like this: If we all see the same thing, it must be out there. What any one person sees is only subjectively real until others have observed it. But all that could be an illusion.
Any objective examination of observable existence would have to provide any and all observers with every opportunity to repeat the same examination in order to see if they make the same observations and conclusions. Only then can anything be declared as objectively real. But that leaves a lot of territory unexplored. We need to examine the observers, and not just the observations. I think we can build a consensus about subjective reality the same way, so, this examination of existence will start by setting existence aside and starting from the beginning. We can only be sure of two things, both of which cannot be demonstrated in the material world, but they are all we can really know; there is an experiencer, and there is an experience.
If pressed to specify the most fundamental duality of creation, some would say good and evil or light and dark or maybe strong and weak. All these answers are fine, but isn’t there a more obvious duality between the answer and that which chose the answer? Many interesting dualities exist in the observable universe. They have something in common. They are all observable. However, this observe-ability is contingent on the existence of an observer who actually experiences the observation of dualocity. And, of course, then declares their duality sighting to other observers who, if unanimous, confirm such duality as objectively observable and by scientific definition, actually there. Any such Fact of Reality is contingent on a multiplicity of actual experiences of observation, any one of which must be made by an actual observer or experiencer. I’m sure any one of them can vouch for themselves, or can they? The sad reality sinks in that, for each observer, that would be strictly a subjective observation. Sadder still is the realization that one’s own observations, one’s own experience, would only be considered a part of objective reality if it could be replicated and repeated for others to observe or experience.
There is no experiment, repeatable or observable, that can demonstrate and prove that there is an experiencer and an experience. If this assertion was wrong, you wouldn’t be reading this, and I have no way to know for sure that you really are. I will make this leap of faith and write this as if you really are in there experiencing your life. By any objective standard, I’ve just leapt into la-la land. By its own rules, science cannot accept that you are reading this. A scientific description your physical self would not include you. Chemistry, biology and neurology’s own characteristics and behavior are sufficient explanation for everything your body is doing right now. There is no evidence of you reading anywhere in the physical universe even if other observers might think that’s what you’re doing because that’s what they’d think they were doing if they looked liked that. It’s just more mental experience, that’s all. To any object examination of reality, this is grounds for dismissal. Without observable evidence, there is no basis for an objective analysis. So, having concluded that an experiencer does not exist anywhere in the universe, science decided any further examination of the subject was too subjective to be valid and only useful for disciplines where no observable outcome is expected. Disciplines like, Philosophy, which exists only as brain activity.
In stopping there, science ignores a full half of everyone’s reality! While there is no objective physical evidence to support the existence of anyone’s personal experience, perhaps science does not actually reject it. Science is presenting us with a conclusion that presents no real reason for us to doubt our own existence. Things only qualify as existing because we observe evidence of their existence. Modern scientific minds are the most insistent on acknowledging only our experience as qualification for anything else’s existence. So, is there anything else? Would we all at least agree that we are subjectively experiencing the existence of something? Would anyone read a book they didn’t think was there? Then that means there must be something somewhere to which everything else, is else. That would be the experiencer, or that which knows existence is there.
One of the two things you can know is true is something only you can know. Even if science can’t know it is true doesn’t mean we can’t. I’m not questioning the value of the scientific method, just its jurisdiction. If we don’t exist in the physical world, then we don’t answer to it. The physical world does not exist within us, either. In here and out there are the most fundamentally different things or two halves of a duality, in all of creation. We represent the experiencer half. Physical reality, or the experience half, is a secondary phenomenon as far as we are concerned. We are our own personal primary phenomena. There’s no reason to assume that any rules for out there can govern any examination of in here. Science wouldn’t exist without both halves of reality. Experiments don’t happen unless someone performs them and they don’t mean anything unless the outcome is observed. And that requires the already mentioned something to notice and someone to notice it.
Wouldn’t we all agree that the noticer would be us? This would seem like a terribly basic and obvious point, but what if, for a lark, we went all the way back to the bleeding obvious as a starting point for sorting it all out all over again. Starting here with the two things you can be sure of; you’re in there (reading) and things happen out here (where these words are). Never mind your body holding a book. Where your fingers meet the pages or where your feet touch the floor is not the real border between you and the world. Where you meet these words is the real border between you and the universe. That border is your identity, which is not the same thing as your self or your soul. It will be presented here as a separate component of a larger description of what are we? and what is going on? Building on the bold assertion of our own existence, and the existence of a reality to exist in, I propose an additional component. Identity is the window where the experiencer meets the experience. Identity occurs when any organization, biological or otherwise, achieves enough coherence or integrity to present an attractive opportunity for experience. And in our case, we are experiencing being a person, which is a socio-biological kaleidoscope of shifting electro-chemistry living a busy life in an eventful world.
A close look at our physical selves reveals a world of tissues and cells and atoms and quarks whose various lifecycles have nothing to do with our own. Our material bulk changes over time. However, our experience of ourselves is convincingly continuous because at any moment, we are biologically something that is fairly consistently cohesive and organized. Even though our bodies have a lot of physical consistency, they are dynamic and adaptable to what’s going on. The you that is running for its life from an angry gorilla is biologically different from the you that is sitting quietly and trying to read. These and all the states between are at any given moment, the sum or definition of what we are right then and there. Whatever that definition might be at this moment or that, that pinnacle of summation or highest level of organization is where the window of experience will be. At any instant, we experience whatever is the pinnacle of what we are as identity rises to its highest level of organization. Identity is a variable. The constants, on either side of the window, are the experiencer and the experience.
When a biological organization achieves enough coherence and consistency to support an ongoing experience, it can provide both an identity and a life. We call those kinds of organizations being alive, which is an obvious point in the case of a life-living sub-organization of the universe like a kitten or a human being, either of which is a highly valued and sought after experience (consult world literature and pet shops). Would anyone disagree that, whether or not we exist, we are at least an attractive opportunity for experience? I think human beings do that in spades, as does all animal life. Part of the fun is that our physical form keeps changing as it interacts with our environment. That means changing our immediate identity, what everything about us is put together to be at that moment. The rest of the fun is the view through the window, which for most of us is also always changing. Should that window be taken away, are we still alive? What if the fun stops? Without our physical form and nature providing opportunities for experience, there is no experiencer. If reality stopped, would you still be here? Would you have any way to know if you were?
For starters, let’s generously assume that you really are there. The first problem with examining the experiencer is the same subjective/objective issue. How can one be objective about oneself or have others be objective about one’s own personal experience? This can complicate self-examination, but doesn’t stop us from dissecting the objectively observable behavior of others. We might figure that’s a good way to ultimately examine ourselves. We’d be wrong. We’re all looking at each other from the other side of reality. To other people, you are just another part of the outside world. That other part is the next component of this examination.
Our lives produce two results, for the window has two sides; the inner experience of identity, and the outer expression of personality. Personality is the other side of the window where the experiencer’s experience becomes observable to other experiencers. That means other experiencers’ experiences of you. Our personality is exclusively how we are experienced by others. Imagine yourself on a surveillance tape. As far as our senses are concerned, personality is all we can see of each other. There is a surprising range of human expression that can make contact with every kind of our senses whether we we’re paying attention or not. Most of us are more preoccupied with this or that aspect of ourselves and pay less attention to others. As a complex animal organization, we don’t notice every single signal we put out and some we completely ignore. To the extent that we care to pay attention to what we express, we can contribute to other people’s perceptual recreation of us.
It’s a limited contribution because personality exists independently of its owner’s identity, but is dependent on the experience of another identity. It is a message with a beginning and an end. A bridge with two sides. On one side is you expressing yourself. At the other end is everyone else making their choices about which bit they want to focus on, and which bit they want to ignore of as much of you as they are noticing. So, when someone is thinking about you, that “you” is a collaboration made up of the signals coming from you and someone else’s perception through which your signals are being received. The receiving experiencer will be making choices about how much of its own incoming senses it cares to consider today. The final product is the you in someone else’s head. What others end up with may have little or no resemblance to the experience you were having while they were experiencing you having it. One experiencer, at any moment of experience has one identity. A thousand other experiencers could observe a thousand different personalities of that one experiencer.
The inner experience of identity has no firsthand awareness of its own personality. Only other people do, if they’re paying attention. We see the outer life of others. A demeanor, a countenance, or an eccentricity may provide clues to someone’s inner experience but only as a second-hand manifestation of their true identity. Sometimes we can sense the tension between someone’s inner identity and outer persona. For the most part, we observe the organic signals of each other’s physical selves which are easily digested because of their natural commonality. The sharing of signals between identities can create a shared experience. All kinds of animals do this. For those who, like us, exhibit in their oldest genetic background an emphasis on developing the brain, it’s not always so simple.
For humans and most of the rest of the animal world, our life experiences come in two distinctly different forms, each with its own special kind of identity and personality. Obviously, we experience our own physicality, like when we’re standing out in the rain. There is an undeniable feeling that it’s happening to ourselves and that we can see the full extent of ourselves because we are all the parts that feel like they’re being rained on. Where that feeling stops, so do we. One’s physical experience could be defined as the accumulation of everything that is happening exclusively to their animal form, and not to the rest of creation. Which is why we’ve conceptually roped off our bit of creation and called it our physical self. All our diverse parts are sublimated to the total organization of our physical body whose overall survival is what the component parts put ahead of their own. This totality is a viable opportunity for physical experience. If every animal is experienced, from the amoeba to the whale, all of us do that same roping off, and are experiencing themselves as contained entities within creation. We all experience this outer perimeter of our physical selves, which is where the evidence of our physical lives comes from, as our physical bio-systems dynamically interact with surrounding systems. It’s the storm front that defines the animal identity. It’s an experience of the relentless determinism of nature, like standing in the rain. For many creatures, including us, this is just one type of experience.
There is also a second experience of an accumulation of information about reality from our physical senses and memory. I’m referring to what goes on in your head- the experience of the mind. After all, your body isn’t reading this. Moment by moment, our nervous system is an aggregate of sensory events; sight, sound, taste and touch. At the focal point of all of our incoming sensation, which in our case is brain activity, exist the opportunity to experience the whole organization of the senses, or at least the bits we want to experience. I’m sure you’ve noticed the way our minds can orchestrate sight and sound out of photons and air pressure. That aggregate itself, and not the nervous system, is what you and I as readers are experiencing right now. The mind is the only manner available to experiencing our senses as an organized whole because patterns of brain activity are the only place in ourselves where this happens.
We don’t mentally experience everything that goes on in our brains, just certain kinds of activity that make for an attractive experience. It would seem that our mental experience excludes those basic bodily functions and reactions that evolution had long ago established. The oldest parts of our brain regulate the body and are the sources of all basic survival drives but do not by themselves provide or create an opportunity for experience. The basic brain is just one part of the total organization of the physical body which is experienced as a whole.
Reading is an obvious example of a mental experience. However, in order to read, the body must have nothing better to do than assist the mind in looking at the pages by holding the book steadily and patiently. Your head must hold itself quite still for your eyes to dart across the words. Only by maintaining this neutral physical posture can we be absorbed in reading. What’s happening to us physically can always override any experience of the mind. While reading, put you free hand under a running hot faucet. As the water gets hotter, a point will be reached where the body’s patience is exceeded and the mentality of reading collapses. Here’s a worse example, touch a hot stove and you will instantly become organized as an animal protecting itself from harm and only after the animal is satisfied of its safety will it allow you to reorganize into an animal with a mind that is thinking, or reading.
This gives our physical self first crack at leading our life. Each of us has a physical personality that our minds may know little or nothing about. Mental experience does not usually include a complete tally of every physical signal we send, or just doesn’t hear about them soon enough. Our physical personalities exude expressions that speak directly to other physical selves. For both us and them, our initial physical interaction has already taken place before anyone has mentally experienced it. By the time anyone has updated their mind about what’s going on, our bodies have experienced, reacted and expressed ourselves in a multitude of ways. To ourselves, our own physical personality is an echo or reflection off of others that comes to us in the same form as the rest of the outside world; as something to be perceived after it has already happened. Likewise, our inner animal has no idea what we’re saying other than a few basics like our name, and maybe sex and dinner.
That means mind and body are two distinctly different states of experience that don’t experience now at the same time. At any given moment of physical experience, the organic processes of our physical bodies that organized and produced the physical experience of that moment have not yet produced mental experience. There is only the output of the previous moment’s mental organization. At any given moment of mental experience, those same organic processes, working with that same moment of now, have long since finished with any experience-able physical organization. Physical organizations occur quickly and in fact must already be there, intact and functional, before any mental organizations are possible. Generating the brain activity that we experience takes a lot more time. The more complex the mentality or detailed the perception, the longer it takes to assemble it. That makes mental experience too late to be physical experience and why our minds have no fixed sense of where. That simple gap of time is all that separates our minds from the world we perceive.
Sure, our physical and mental organizations are simultaneously ongoing, and it’s easy to think of them as overlapping since, at any given moment, both are there. Each is the result of the same single moment of actual physical existence, but they don’t end up occurring at the same time. While they exist simultaneously, our mentality experiences slightly older news about reality than our bodies. The two run together like an old monster movie or perhaps, two different movies. Physical and mental organizations visualize differently and record different memories. They don’t pick out the same information from our perceptions. They don’t communicate the same messages and often have no idea what the other is saying or receiving.
However interrelated their operation might be, that gap of time makes them separate realms of existence as far as the experiencer is concerned. This isn’t a dualist view. I intend to keep mind and body in one reality as one state of nature that produces two states of experience. Our minds are right here in the same universe as our bodies, just a little later than the physical world. For the moment, all I’m suggesting is that the mind is a sort of secondary level of experiencing being alive. It’s the result of a body with a brain with so much accumulated and attractively organized sensory input that it becomes an experience in and of itself.
Comparing mind and body as equals might trouble some (minds). How do we experience something that isn’t there? Mind has no substance, and my inner mental landscape is not formed of pulsing, bloody gray goo, which might mean for some that it exists in some special supernatural or ethereal dimension. To anyone else but its owner, it doesn’t matter where the mind is. Electrical brain activity is physically there, but there’s no “mind” in there (I don’t mean soul, I mean mind). All that’s in there is an orgy of electro-chemical reactions that developed over eons in response to the needs of a kaleidoscope of animal variations. We can even measure the wake of energy coming from this or that neuron. The mind is just something the body thinks is there.
Physical experience is tactile and determined. Mental experience is ethereal and chaotic. So one might think that the body is the real experience and the mind is an imaginary one, but both are just as imaginary. And, they can both meet all the same criteria for being real and of the material world. There may seem to be a physical you that is separate from the world around you, but the parts that you are made of are still parts of the world around you as far as they are concerned. If that sounds like I’m saying your body isn’t you, I’m saying your body isn’t, period. It is an organization of things that clearly don’t belong to you and can come and go as they please. Claiming ownership of it is a mental delusion. Our bodies belong to the natural systems they live within. Their existence is dependent on the greater organizations of creation. Besides, any distinction between us and world would not be made if we didn’t make it. Either way, mind or body, we are experiencing a biological sub-system of nature that is organized to create a result that is beyond substance, namely, experience itself.
But who’s experience? As a living thing accumulates experience and draws on more complex use of memory in order to decide its actions, there is an inevitable emerging of a sense of someone to whom all these remembered things happened to. This is the core of an inner self- the person to whom everything you remember happening happened to. Self, while an illusion, is evidence of an identity that has accumulated life experience. When we eat, that is what we are feeding. When threatened, that is what we are defending. The self is not the experiencer. It is part of what we are experiencing. Again, who is we? If the body doesn’t experience the mind, and the mind doesn’t experience the body, what’s left to be us?
Both mind and body are opportunities for experience by something else that is neither mind nor body… the ethereal self, the soul or something… I’ll leave the details to the reader for now, so just call it the experiencer- that which experiences our body, and our mind’s accumulation of the experiences of the body. The experience of reality is not a part of reality and thus must take place somewhere else or somehow nowhere at all. Mentalities are here in the physical universe, but mental experience is not. That’s as far as I want to go toward metaphysics. I won’t be describing the afterlife. The whole area will be left alone except for this single presumption. Whatever well of creation we experiencers are drawn from, our point of contact with the physical world includes the organizational structure itself of animals and their brain activity.
Experiences of such forms as a human do not provide the experiencer with anything near a God-like view of reality or supreme power over it. By the time you experience everything around you, it has already been here for quite some time. The organizations of the world including the parts we’re made of must already be here before we can be an organization of them. How our physical self was originally organized by creation determines much of what we do and how we do it. Our biological structure largely defines how we lead our lives. We make such choices as are presented to us, but only as well as we can see them. Our perception is our connection to our world, which is why we don’t have a God’s-eye view. Our contact with the world is highly selective and abridged. We weren’t designed to take in absolutely everything around us. Our perception developed with an emphasis on eating and mating, so it’s fair to assume that some compromises might have been made and some prioritizing had to be done. This distinguishes our perception as something all together different from what we’re perceiving. Reality is more than just that which is noticed. Everything we see and hear has been edited for time and content and formatted to fit our minds. Our lives are filtered by the act of living. That means we can only examine our experience of reality, and not reality itself. Until humans came along, that never bothered anyone.
Unlike a lot of our animal friends, we are interested in getting a lot more from our perception than what we need to enable eating and mating and enjoying being whatever we are. We examine the world around us in pursuit of an understanding of it. We’ve been thinking about things for as long as we’ve been able to think which appears to have been for a very long time. Because of the sort of thinking creatures we are, and regardless of how we got that way, sorting out what existence is all about is a key component of staying alive. Most of us live in climates where we have no natural capacity to maintain our body temperature without knowing how to sew, or skin, or get the furnace pilot flame going. We balance checkbooks and uphold a morality. Is there any other animal life that faces as many intellectual survival issues as we do simply because of what we are? That would explain the great big brain. Or would it? How do we explain what we’ve done with it? Of what use is understanding the dynamics of colliding galaxies or atomic particles? What choices could we make with all our information that would contribute to insuring human survival? Perhaps some new medical scanning technique might come along that saves lives and prevents suffering, but that would be for a different purpose than human survival. We’re extending individual lives, not the continuance of our species. We even protect those parts of our genetic heritage that nature would eventually weed out as not in the best interest of our long term survival as a species. A lot of what we do and strive after has nothing to do with anyone’s real survival. A lot of us would acknowledge a greater concern for the long term survival of their non-physical self than their lives here on earth. A lot of what we pursue as science or philosophy or religion treats our physical existence as a secondary issue.
What is it that we value more than our existence? That would be our experience of it. Not as a species, but our individual experiences of existence. If survival as a species was all we were about wouldn’t it have been simpler to maintain generational turnover way back down the evolutionary food chain? How did the mind help? How did inventing bungee jumping contribute to our long term survival? Why save individual lives and alleviate suffering? Why bother, unless we had another reason like an inherent desire to experience creation. The experience of the examining is more important than any final conclusion that creation appears to be in no hurry getting to. Life is full of organizations of different kinds of sense input which suggest a great variety of experience. Life is full of various approaches to examining reality. Many have an emphasis on examining fun. That would explain what we became. Our human capacity to perceive and have fun in the physical world is a substantial achievement of evolution.
Even more substantial perhaps is our capacity to perceive and anticipate a non-physical world that will become a continuation of our experience after our physical self no longer provides a sustainable opportunity for us. We are concerned about whether or not this continued experience will be fun. Humans have developed many way of expressing this concern and many ways or disciplines for insuring continued fun. This anticipation of the long term survival of the part of us we’re not sure is there can be so powerful that some will strive to minimize their physical experience and deny or at least tame their physical needs. Why would evolution take us here?
Evolution describes a process that emphasizes physical and genetic survival and adaptability to the broader organizations of nature. Protecting our eternal souls is mostly work for minds and for many requires actions that are physically counter-adaptive. For science, everything in nature made sense until we came along.
Our lives demonstrate two purposes; one that our own physical being will look after, and one that must be chosen and supervised through mental experience. In our societies, we are compelled to pursue the latter purpose even at the cost of the former. There is no means of inspecting anyone’s soul or its commitment to the rest of us. There is only each other’s physical personality from which to judge their true identity. No one knows that better than civilized man. We have separated people into their outer life and their inner life. We have no doubt in our ability to look at each other’s outer or social lives objectively. We feel we have to be brutally objective about each other in a modern society. It’s the only way we can count on each other and hold each other accountable. Any of us may have to stand in judgment before the rest of us. At the same time, we grant everyone a personal reality- a generous sense of self with an expectation of privacy. As far as we are concerned, everyone’s inner life is a bottomless well of unpredictability that will only be tolerated if kept in check. There is no accounting for anyone’s personal experience and no reason to trust anyone’s account of it. Everyone can explain their own personal existence to themselves any way they want to.
Examining each other’s outer life does not fully examining ourselves. Whatever ideas anyone can have about themselves, won’t be confirmed by others objectively. There isn’t anything to be objective about. Even worse, a study of the self or the mind has only our behavior as evidence for their existence. Either is only an activity of the experiencer. Any self we create for ourselves has only itself to believe in it. A self is a sustained illusion of social continuity that we can change or discard at will. Science sticks to the perspective of our bodies; the objective physical world of mass and energy. That leaves the perspective of our minds unqualified to testify as to the nature of our personal reality. We can examine our mentality, but only as something our brains do, if the body lets it.
That suggests the experiencer is truly alone with only its illusion of self to keep it company. Because the scientific view has no way to perceive and observe an experiencer, it cast each of us as alone in our subjective reality like an unexplained presence shut in a closet. We are an accident of chemistry destined for a frustrated desire for power and a fool who has fallen for the illusion of control. All one has to do is believe that their self is real to be dismissed as inscrutably biased and given to delusions. Accepting your own reality is an act of faith which you’re invited to enjoy at the House of Worship of your choice.
Even though we are told that we subjectively experience our lives alone, many of us insist we do not. We haven’t enough objectively observable evidence to make rational conclusions about it, but some of even the most scientific among us would regret or refuse to accept that we are entirely alone in our personal subjective experience. “Not alone” might mean different things to different people, but one meaning always comes up. We may feel varying degrees of connection or isolation from what most people these days describe as a common acquaintance. An entity with so all knowing and all seeing a perspective that it alone qualifies as truly objective. A being whose experience is so vast that it includes our personal experience and even our mentality. Even if we can’t be objective about ourselves, we figure God is being objective about us. Those of us who feel we are not alone are as convinced of a creator’s existence as our own. Some of us would put it the other way around. God’s existence proves our own, or at least provides somewhere for us to exist. God is just like us- not to be found in the physical world. If there’s somewhere for God to be, we can be there too. We exist, even if science can’t find us.
Finding a satisfyingly rational basis for making any of those conclusions remains difficult and lots of us don’t try. Some are convinced that their experience really is as isolated, adrift and delusional as it seems to them to be. They believe that physical reality offers no opportunity for God to be God, or you to be you. If there is no God, then we have no soul. What would it be for? Where would it be? Without the Great All-Objective Observer as final judge of our subjective lives, what purpose or possible end would come from seeking a perfect morality or an understanding of dualities like light and dark or good and evil? If God doesn’t give a flying dung heap, why should we? The question of a creator’s existence keeps any understanding of ourselves incomplete. For many, science doesn’t offer a very appealing closet in which to base their own existence. Religion, however, was unfettered by any need for a rational explanation, and could offer much more room to exist in. A great big room, with space for an alter. If there’s room for God, then we can have a soul.
If you have strong feelings for either of those concepts, religion is the only game in town. Unless you’ve developed a fancy for a rational explanations, or maybe you live in a world that’s always expecting one from you. Such a soul straddles two worlds. One it can travel openly in and one only by stealth.
A real examination of the experiencer would have to step outside of both worlds and face subjective experience head-on. Can we build a consensus about subjective reality? What if a sufficient number of observers agreed that a certain conclusion about subjective reality was consistent with their own personal experience? Would that make it subjectively true? The next problem is with starting a consensus. So many people have already got one. Examining the value of subjective truth instantly undermines the no questioning posture of any belief system and its dei-facts. So, there’s no avoiding the G-word, why avoid it? Nothing could shape the nature of our existence more than the existence of a creator.
Except for those of us who think they are God, we accept our lesser status as beings limited to a subjective experience of creation. Each of us is a subject for whom what creation presents to us is our individual object. Is the universe experienced subjectively? Is there a subject for whom the entire universe including us is the object? Is the highest level of organization of all of creation an opportunity for experience? Is there any evidence, other than perhaps everything, of an identity having a life experience? Has the universe given anyone the impression that it has a personality? Are we our own personal share of a shared reality that a creator experiences just as we do?
This would be a more scientific approach to matters that had previously been decided by authority alone. Until recently, subjective truth was a declaration of eternal faith and a submission to inflexible power. The declaration sustained the truth and vice versa. Sometimes change occurred when an invention or an inspiration was irresistible, but more often any consensus was created or conquered by force. Subjective reality has been fought over and fought for all through our history. What we are experiencing and where we think we are experiencing it has been continuously contested over the centuries as if it were far more valuable than anything in the material world. Many saw the value in any well-enforced consensus regardless of the details. That approach has led to a dangerous situation in modern times. Violence is the only evidence of anyone’s perfect truth these days. Science could do for subjective reality what it did for objective reality only if the exploration of the world within us is granted the same hard won freedom as the investigation of the world around us. Our existence as citizens or souls does not depend on the perfection or permanence of our understanding of creation, a creator or ourselves. That kind of freedom starts with a personal declaration of one’s own existence as the experiencer of their experience. Only then can one make the further leap of faith that one can know anything about the outside world. Only by making these reckless assertions can we ask any further questions of the world around us.
Perhaps there are truths to be found in subjective reality, but the aim of this examination is to suggest the creation of a flexible consensus and not a perfect and unchallenge-able explanation. As with any honest examination of objective reality, we can’t draw a conclusion without leaving room for doubt. So, while making such grand self-indictments of credibility as presuming the existence of either the self or God, we can only press on further and create a unsupportable paradigm for an unconfirmed world full of unsubstantiated people. That bothers many of us needlessly. Once that admission is made and accepted, the question becomes, what do you want to do with your life? We can spend our lives in a selfless pursuit of the truth with unwavering loyalty to reason, or pursue an understanding, any understanding, that presents a path to a greater experience of our lives. Either choice can benefit from being freed of the burden of perfection. It may seem like a house of cards, but our mental selves need somewhere to live. Any subjective examination that leads to even an assumption is a gamble. The nice thing about a house of cards is that they are easily replaced if they collapse and no one gets hurt. The only criterion for success is success- resonating with others and changing the consensus. Fear must not impede change by discouraging anyone from discovery and invention. At any time, anyone might wager on the truth and see how it plays. The rewards are unlimited but you have to be here, and admit it, to participate.
The physical world and every physical thing in it is interrelated in one mass organization that is the universe. There is nothing about the universe itself that requires any further distinctions like animal, or mind, or me and you. Except that, apparently, some of these worldly parts have been deliberatly organized into self-sustaining biological systems that are rich opportunities for experience as a localized seat of identity. Like the one you’re sitting in right now. You’re the only one who’s sure about you.