IN SEARCH OF A PROJECTOR...
The standing assumption is that facts are objective and therefore independent of observers. The primary fact, however, is the act of observing itself. While a fact is presumed to exist outside the observer, to the extent it can be established it is IN FACT nothing but a mental phenomenon.
The existence of a thing is established once the idea of that thing is established. A mind is therefore a prerequisite and a medium for establishment of any facts. What we think is really going on outside is, by necessity, a mental projection happening in the mind.
The senses continually deliver to us five streams of sensory input, providing our awareness with information that originates somewhere outside. As delivered by the senses alone, the world is nothing but a complex pattern of largely random stimuli. They need to be processed by the mind in order to render an intelligible picture of what lies outside. The processing will only produce an inner (inverted) representation of what is presumed to exist externally. It is through the subsequent interactions with the environment that these presumptions are tested. Until they become invalidated by the unfolding events, we may consider them facts.
That which really exists on the outside is not the same as the stimuli it emits, nor is it the same as the experience the stimuli produce, nor is it identical with our presumptions about the objective nature or the causes of our experience. It is instead something only inferred, and at best known indirectly.
The mind doesn't bother to differentiate between various phases of the perceptual process. It tends to equate the end result of the information processing with its initial triggering event. But the processing itself represents filtering and transformation of the original entity in ways specific to a given perceptual apparatus. Thus the resultant image of a thing, along with the meaning it signifies, consists only of a particular subset of its original aspects.
This subset probably corresponds to what might be useful for survival. It is therefore not likely to reflect its complete, undistorted nature – as it might be in the absolutely objective sense, outside any perceptual bias.
Realizing that only a secondary (reflected) reality can dwell in our awareness, we could infer that the reality which is the source of such reflection is the primary reality – ultimate, absolutely objective, and yet completely outside of direct reach.
A mind may be thought of as a mirror, aware only of that which is reflected in it. This is, in fact, the only reality that a mind can ever behold – a subjective reality of reflection.
The joke is, that in presuming to behold the objective source reality, rather than the secondary reality of reflection, the mind commits a logical error. It deems all it reflects as real not because it is experienced within, but because it is presumed to be external and independent. In so doing, it defines itself out of existence.
In its attempt to behold everything, the mind typically commits an act of self-negation. While it is a vessel containing all knowledge, it equates its content with independent facts, thus eliminating the need for the vessel.
If the mind would recognize its error, it could draw validation from every manifestation of existence, as its each and every instance would firstly signify the mind as its necessary medium and precondition.
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Here is another crude analogy: As we watch a movie at a movie theatre, we are under the impression that the action is "going on" on the screen. We tend not to think that in the back of the theatre there is a projector emitting patterns of light which travel through the lens and then traverse the length of the theatre, so that we can experience them on the screen.
If anywhere, the action is really going on inside the projector, while the image on the movie screen is entirely secondary. While it is not too difficult to grasp the nature of the projection upon a movie theatre screen, most of us have enormous difficulties realizing that what we consider real is an analogous projection as well.
To extend the analogy, the projector is the real world, our consciousness is the screen, and the lenses with the intervening space are our faculties of perception. We live on a two dimensional screen thinking it to be the all inclusive real world. What progress can we make?
First, we may acknowledge that to us this on-the-screen existence is quintessentially real, because it is wholly and exclusively the domain of our conscious experience.
Then, we can acknowledge that screen is just a screen, and therefore our real world is forever locked inside our subjective consciousness.
Further, we can infer the necessity of a projector on the outside – that of an even more real, truly objective world which precedes our subjective world, being its source and foundation.
Such inference could only exist within the screen, and yet it would represent the screen's expansion into a new dimension – now the screen can conceive within itself of something outside itself.
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The analogies have their obvious limitations. Both the mirror and the movie screen only show what has been projected upon them, and cannot infer anything. A consciousness, however, has a number of distinct layers, and on some level becomes capable of making inferences.
Its first layer strictly corresponds to the movie screen in that it reflects only the external input - this is the layer where all sensory experience takes place, moment for moment. This is also the outermost layer, one in direct contact with the outside world.
Next is the evaluation layer, where consciousness judges the sensory input in terms of its immediate desirability/non-desirability. As a rule, what is harmful to survival feels unpleasant, and what promotes survival feels nice. On this level, motivations and survival related bias are attached to perceptions.
On the third layer the product of the previous two is further processed. Significance which is derived is also ranked in terms of basic goals of survival. It is here that distinct identities are affixed to repeating sensory patterns, so they can be considered as possessing independent existence. Things are born here as well. The delusional, self-negating habit of mistaking ideas about objective entities for objective entities as such, also originates here. This is the level of impulse and instant gratification.
On the next layer, the product of the previous three layers is integrated into a more permanent interpretation of reality. It is here that the default rules and conclusions come into being, defining a more or less cohesive, pragmatic representation of the world. On this level the survival instinct may be transformed into a quest for power and dominance. This is the level of self-serving endeavor.
A more evolved consciousness may also posses a fifth layer where a more structured and deliberate set of conclusions is developed. These will add up to a single, integrated and highly focused rendition of existence. It is only here that the screen can begin to postulate the projector, and start undoing the bias of the previous levels. This is a more reflective, philosophical level.
Beyond this level, a consciousness may develop a center which is really irrelevant from the survival standpoint. It doesn't address anything immediate, but instead computes larger implications that may be derived from the synthesis of the previous levels. It is a zone that seeks correspondence only with the truly objective, absolute reality – all that which lies outside the consciousness itself and may only be inferred. Here the screen seeks the projector, its presumed cause. This is the spiritual level.
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To sum it up, the dictionary distinction between the subjective as tainted with distortion and the objective as full and real, is valid and should stand. Correction is needed in the widespread misapplication of these terms, however.
ALL human experience is subjective. This includes occultism as well as science. Time and space, everyday experience, our well reasoned conclusions about physics and the universe, philosophy of all breeds - all these reside in the human mind, and are therefore wholly subjective.
In fact, it is strictly possible to claim that there is nothing else, since only our experience is direct and verifiable beyond all doubt. Solipsism is an example of such utter lack of faith.
The objective world can only be inferred. We can speculate that our experience of the universe is in fact produced by the real presence of that which we experience, existing outside of our experience. The objective world lies outside the realm of our experience, and yet it enters into it only as a reflection. Our experience is thus a partial and inverse representation of the real things that exist beyond the limitations of our consciousness. This real, objective world may be referred to as ultimate, primary and/or absolute reality.
Some of our disciplines, while rooted in experience, attempt to get at the truth beyond. It is reasonable to think that effects reflect causes, so by examining reality within our experience, we may be able to glean some insights into reality as it is. This can result in vastly broadened horizons and a transforming sense of enlightenment. This is, in fact, the aim of all religions. A good portion of philosophy tries to do the same. Perhaps less deliberately, so do theoretical physics and mathematics.
Whatever insights thus gained about the absolute shall remain unverifiable in the course of a human life, and will ultimately rest on faith. However, glancing beyond the limitations of our finite minds at the mystery of the objective presence can be properly considered the highest quest that a living intelligent being can undertake.
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