Reality can't be captured in concepts.
After all, it's extremely unlikely that the human brain has evolved to be able to completely capture the nature of the reality that fashioned both the human brain and everything else in existence.
But this doesn't take away the utility of concepts for making sense of the world.
"Tree" is a useful way of describing the general nature of vegetative entities that vary tremendously in size, appearance, and such, yet share common characteristics.
However, trees are part of the natural world. They are obviously real.
Concepts that refer to entities which can't be observed by the human senses, or leave no trace via the effects they cause in the world (the quantum realm is an example of something unseen, yet decidedly real because of observable quantum effects) have less value.
Of course, I just made a value judgement about the value of concepts like "unicorn," "fairy," "devil," "god," "soul," "heaven," and other notions whose only discernible reality lies in the human mind.
Or better put, human imagination.
For many years I enjoyed a fantasy that I shared with billions of other religious believers: that the concepts of the faith I embraced at the time referred to things that were real, even though there was no evidence of them.
Karma. Astral plane. Divine light. Soul travel. Grace. God. Radiant form.
These and so many other concepts were repeated so often in books, talks, and other communications of the religion that I followed (Radha Soami Satsang Beas, or RSSB), members of RSSB come to view the concepts as something as real as gravity or earthquakes.
What helped me deconvert from this religious and mystical fantasy was a realization that I was tired of living so much in the world of abstract concepts. I longed for substance, of being grounded in here-and-now reality rather than floating in there-and-then spiritual stories.
A thoughtful comment by Ron E. on a recent blog post stimulated these reflections about concepts.
He made some good points in the comment about how religious and mystically inclined people chase after concepts that point to nothing substantial. They're merely ideas that stimulate other ideas in the minds of people who enjoy a good religious or mystical story, even if the story is almost certainly fiction.
Here's what Ron had to say.
Gillihan makes the point that “...We are constantly thinking: even if we decide to stop thinking, our minds will keep doing it anyway. It's what they are good at. If they aren't telling us stories in words, they're crafting made-up scenes or pulling up images from our memory banks. Our minds are actually so caught up in thinking that we don't realize we're thinking.”
Maybe then, we can point to thinking as being the main cause of much of our perceived problems. Leaving to one side at the moment that thinking and the abilities we have for planning and generally improving our lives are beneficial, some aspects of thinking definitely have their down sides.
I’m thinking!! how we accept certain words as truths, as being able to explain something that is purely inference. I’m thinking of terms such as spirit, mind, soul, self, ego, spiritual etc. All these terms are concepts, ideas that do not exist in the natural world unlike body, brain, sight, sound, pain, joy and so on – yes, the physical world.
It seems that we invent many words and spend the rest of our lives trying to think (or meditate) our way into experiencing the states that we believe they describe.
When it comes to mental phenomena it is of course convenient to label the cognitive processes, but perhaps we need to remember that they are just terms describing what the body and brain does naturally.
Otherwise, we can easily become slaves in believing that there is something ‘spiritual’ or ‘other worldly’ about them – and off we go chasing the myths we believe they describe.
We kill and are killed for concepts, that can not be measured, or handled by science.
The believe in democracy etc has formed the USA as described at length and in detail by Alexis the Tocqueville.
What would The USA look like these days without the religious baggage the inhabitants and its politicians brought from Europe?
People act upon and talk about their dreams, their thoughts, their feelings and ythese days also about their so called inner experiences either spontaneous or artificial provoked. These to cannot made seen or measured but what would human life be without them?
If a member of an indigenous tribe that has never had contact with the USA would turn home after a visit to the usa how would he report what he had seen but in his own native language ... language of which the concepts are all related to the history of living in that geophysical place.
Because Abraham and Mozes could not bypass their inner experiences and their tribes men believing them, the world is as it it is now and in the middle east you can see what it means .."an chosen people and a promissed land"
You might not believe but THEY do and THAT is a fact
What is psychology and Psychotherapie all about ... measurable FACTS
Posted by: um | March 22, 2023 at 02:26 AM
Dr. Joe Dispenza
Posted by: Sonya | March 22, 2023 at 06:05 AM
I’ve just come across this quote from U. G. Krishnamurti; Although he often comes across as somewhat exasperating in what he says, the quotes below describes a certain life truism: -
“This question haunted me all my life and suddenly it hit me: 'There is no self to realize. What the hell have I been doing all this time?' You see, that hits you like lightning. Once that hits you, the whole mechanism of the body that is controlled by this thought is shattered. What is left is the tremendous living organism with an intelligence of its own. What you are left with is the pulse, the beat and the throb of life.” - U. G. Krishnamurti.
It’s perhaps possible, that when certain thoughts, concepts and words are realised as being unnecessary in life, and cease to carry the ponderous weights of anticipated hopes and fears, then a certain lightness and freedom ensues – taking one back to the simplicity of being what one is and seeing life in general being as it is.
Posted by: Ron E. | March 23, 2023 at 06:42 AM
The perception of a thing (physical, emotional, psychological, or any combination thereof) does not make it a thing in or of itself.
Without the use of a labelling system for our perceived experiences of sensory data input, we would not be able to communicate with others about the experience.
But the label itself simply points to the experience of the thing but not the thing itself.
Whatever the thing is, it is not a thing in or of itself.
What we refer to as a tree is not a tree in or of itself.
It is an ever -changing process of causality happening in now-ness and has no substantive or independent essence of tree-ness.
It exists as a perceived and labelled tree dependent on causes and conditions.
No thing is as it seems. How it seems is our perceived and conditioned story that we add in to the bare sensory data input.
The thing that we perceive we are, is subject to the same confusion.
Posted by: Roger | March 23, 2023 at 10:58 AM
>> What we refer to as a tree is not a tree in or of itself.<<
IS NOT A TREE IN ITSELF
This kind of phrases, to me are like the word "love".
What people call a tree, I too call a tree.otherwise they will lock me up.
What people have to say about that tree, depends on their conditioning and is different for all [ the connotative meaning }
Apart from that I would not know what a tree is or is not and I do not care.
How could I say something about a thing if THAT what is shared with others is stripped from it?
The rooms are seen through and by the walls, the doors and windows, if I strip the room from the wall what for heavens sake remains to be said
Posted by: um | March 23, 2023 at 12:06 PM