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June 25, 2021


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"It is for this reason that things resist "definition" in the literal sense of finis -- a practice that delineates some ostensibly discrete boundary around them, and thus reduces all relations to external, extrinsic transactions. "

Those boundaries don't exist except in the eye of the viewer. But as they look deeper, their view changes. Did the object change? No. Did its relationship to other things change? No. Our understanding of it, it's connection to all things, and our connection to it, deepened.

Hence, a concrete materialism is merely a single layer of understanding.

A conceptual unchanging God may not exist. But neither does the Pringle or the Dr. Pepper. Each is in motion, each defies the label.

And yet even that motion of change is from our perspective. At another level, there may be no change at all. We are the summation of different, static states, viewed at different moments. That is what time is.

Don't judge a book by its cover.

"Master we have been arguing all day. He says it is the waving flag that is moving. I say it is the wind.

" You are both wrong. It is the mind that is moving. "

Zen Flesh Zen Bones - Alan Watts

If you are on a train looking out the window, you might be seduced into thinking the environment is moving. But it isn't. It is your mind that is moving.

In meditation you go where your attention takes you.
So you can say the star exploded, or you can say that your focused attention simply magnified the star and its entire history from birth through death in an instant as your attention brought you closer and closer to it and then through it.

The whole creation here may be an entirely static infinite set of strings, save for our attention that keeps us observing this one dimensional point of no time or space, expanding into its related, connected moments as we attend to it, so that we perceive the time and motion of this life passing us by. Just a little more attention could take us anywhere else.

“The difference between collecting data and understanding its meaning is the difference between concrete and abstract thinking.

Abstract thinking is the ability to understand concepts that are real, such as freedom or vulnerability, but which are not directly tied to concrete physical objects and experiences.”

I’m extremely comfortable with abstraction. :) I believe there are mechanisms behind every “abstract concept” (that’s the Scorpio in me). I always want to understand the deeper meaning and how things work on a micro/nano level. How things work—that’s what I’m constantly striving to understand and that purpose requires a mind open to discovery and trial and error.

I’m very comfortable with the unknown because I know there’s an explanation for it somewhere—just have to find it. And even if I don’t find it in my lifetime I won’t deny the existence of something I don’t understand.

That said, the article above makes a good point that is in line with Brian’s opening comments in this post. Over generalizations can be a negative side effect of thinking too abstractly.

“Striking a healthy balance between abstract and concrete thinking is important for maintaining good mental health and daily functioning.”
—(from the article in the link above)

I believe there is a mechanism behind everything that scientists of all kinds are working hard to identify and quantify.

I’m a Libra with Scorpio rising. I don’t know what Brian’s rising sign is—probably an earth sign. 😉

But for the record, I’ve never been able to “own” Chinese or Vedic astrology systems. Maybe because I’m a westerner…

“One of the religions that influenced the zodiac was Taoism. In the Taoist beliefs, they use constellations and space to determine a person's "future." This applies to the zodiac because in Chinese astrology, they believe that the positions of the things in space can affect a person's destiny.”

Hi Sonia
You wrote
"“Striking a healthy balance between abstract and concrete thinking is important for maintaining good mental health and daily functioning.”

The issue is different levels of perception.

What is perceived by one individual, without any thinking about it, becomes an arcane abstraction to another person with no exposure to that except in theory.

When I was in High School our physics teacher showed us two metal electroscopes each with its own clear plastic removable insulating cup on the outside. Having charged the metal cups with a desktop DeGraff generator he demonstrated the transfer of a blue charge of electricity between both metal electroscope cups by holding the little metal ball at the top of each close together. Zap, a blue spark and a Crack of lightening! He charged them up again and this time removed their insulating cups. Now, when he held the metal balls close together their was no zap. But where did the charge go? The class tried to figure it out and was stumped. I offered "You just scraped the charge off onto the plastic cups. It's still there."

He slid the insulating cups back on and brought the two steel balls back together again and sure enough, the spark and crackle of a brief electric arc happened.

The teacher said" Spence understands it perfectly. "

But I figured nothing out. I simply saw the charge, the field surrounding the cups stuck on the plastic insulating cups. It had nothing to do with intelligence, merely a level of perception.

Hi Spence,

Thanks for sharing.

I guess that’s why it is said by the sages that perception is not true knowledge just as belief is not certainty. Belief is like hope. It isn’t concrete but it isn’t necessarily wrong because it serves a purpose in navigating the laws that govern this world. Only in the eternal can there be true knowledge. But that knowledge (or understanding) isn’t the kind of knowledge we think of here. That “knowledge” is complete certainty. Absolute certainty is something the mind cannot fully or truly posses. But again, belief does serve a purpose with regards to the laws that govern this world. Beliefs can be helpful or harmful depending on the beliefs themselves.

Even words are merely symbols. Language is not concrete. Language serves the purpose of conveying ideas and concepts.

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