An extended reply…

John Cline commented on the last post, Coherence is Provisional:

I really like what you are saying. I wonder, though, what would happen to human personality if this model of thinking was the norm. We are mostly tribal in our actions. We gravitate too easily toward charismatics, and like lemmings will follow a bad idea to the ends of the earth because someone sounds good. I tend to listen hardest to quiet voices, but it seems that the rest of the world follows the loudest drum beating.

I have been listening to people talk about “cloud computing”. If those ideas could only work in dialogue. Will we ever be cognitive enough to amass the great and diverse knowledge of all mankind in a giant conversation, able to look at the work to be done as a joy, celebrate our place in the natural world by enhancing and repairing and creating. Would this ”group think” mend our broken spirits or turn us into a hive of worker bees lacking in originality and drowning in conformity?

I began a reply, but it grew into something that might better be a post on its own:

You bring up some good points. There are also assumptions behind your questions that it would be illuminating to look at.

In your first question there is the assumption that we have no choice but to look to others and “weigh” opinions so we can arrive at judgments. We are swayed by factors beyond the quality of the “reasoning” presented and can be led astray.

What if we look at other ways of finding truth?

I find I do my best thinking when I’m not “thinking” at all! I certainly no longer believe that any thoughts are “my thoughts.” There is a field of thought that comes to us in various forms and various ways. What if the kind of thought that is transmitted in the way you assume – and we mostly all assume, as this is our common expectation: that thought arises in someone’s head out of an effort to cogitate and is passed on by being written or spoken so that we can weigh its merits by analysis and then take bits and attach them to “our” own thoughts and so on… What if this was mistaken?

My experiences of thought have modified these expectations. It appears much more likely that there are various currents and modes of transmission of thought. The one behind that assumption appears to be fraught with confusions and misperceptions. It appears to me that there are better and truer ways of dealing with the way thought propagates or is transmitted.

Bohm quite literally stated that the brain may actually be a transmitter/receiver of thought. Not a generator of thoughts. If we look at it this way, then we find ourselves immersed in a spectrum of transmissions and with a variety of modes available to us. The one that has increasingly been most useful to me has been to train my attention to receive and transmit without putting too much “me” in the way in the middle. I don’t “think about” what I’m going to write. I write. I don’t think about what my opinion is on a certain subject, I listen to what my organism finds to be life-affirming and what it fears is a form of violence or coercion; and I follow these leads with as little interruption by “me” as I can muster. – We can see how language makes this difficult to talk about. We need to use I and me in non-literal ways to avoid falling into the traps of objectification and thought’s tendencies to fragment things.

As Krishnamurti said, “These are not questions of opinion!” We can begin to see what he meant when we are aware of the weight of sincerity within a perception of something true has that has nothing to do with how firmly we hold an opinion. This does not lead to the kind of certainty we see with fanaticism either. If anything, these truths show us that we can never rest on a past moment of insight, but need to continually launch ourselves into whatever insights are available for us to perceive now.

Within this sort of process, we cannot be taken as cogs in any wheel intended to use us as a means for some other to achieve their narrow ends. Our organism rebels against this instinctively. It’s just that we have conditioned ourselves not to listen.

Your second question touches on an even more fundamental assumption: The belief that thought can encompass all, if carried out diligently and persistently enough.

Bohm explained how this cannot be, very clearly, as did Krishnamurti. What ever is thought, no matter how many add to it, no matter how much is added to it; it will always remain limited. This is a simple matter of the arithmetic of the infinite. If the universe, or creation, or everything; is infinite; then it is obvious that any set of generated quanta of data can never equal infinity. Another way this is true is that the fundamental – as we now see them within the limits of thought and language – workings of the universe take place in a quantum soup of potentiality and uncertainty. We can “know” state or position, not both. Every measurement, every additional quanta of “knowing,” disturbs what is there in its potentiality and locks out an aspect of reality from what we can know.

If this is true, then unless we can break ourselves of the assumption that while knowing and thought have never taken us beyond a cascading of confusions and unintended consequences; that if only we persist at it, we will find a way out. Unless we break ourselves of this, we cannot help but lock ourselves into limitation.

Perhaps there is no way out of our limits? This is a valid question, but we have over-limited ourselves if we assume that this failed method of transcending limitations is our only possible approach to the question of limits.

In creativity we have access to another way. The universe is a cauldron of creation. Each instant is created from the foment of energy everything is made of, and creation is as infinite as the universe it has created. We have experiences of creativity ourselves, though we often confuse and limit its capacities and range by assuming “I did it!”

Awareness has something to do with creativity. We don’t need to “know” how this works, it is a mystery in a world of mystery beyond knowing. These organisms we move about as have a capacity for awareness. We, an aggregate of insistent “ME!’s,” think this is unique among other creatures. That is probably not the case. Awareness may be a prerequisite for participation in creation. In this way the rocks and plants and bugs may be more aware than we are much of the time!

Awareness is blocked when we insist on knowing, when we insist on driving our organisms by coercing them with thought as we are conditioned to do. This is what leads us to “group think.”

If we learn to act on the basis of an awareness that is not encumbered by these assumptions, we may clarify our access to creativity and its unlimited potential.

This is another journey from the one we find ourselves trapped in. There is no “knowing” where that might take us, though I suspect that unless we can leave assumptions like our insistence that thought be our driver, that we continue to allow our current assumptions about thought to fragment our world into a series of problems to be solved; we will continue to misrepresent where it might actually take us! There is no way of knowing. Knowing, our insistence that it is the only way, is at the heart of what is in our way.

Published by Antonio Dias

My work is centered on attending to the intersection of perception and creativity. Complexity cannot be reduced to any given certainty. Learning is Central: Sharing our gifts, Working together, Teaching and learning in reciprocity. Entering into shared Inquiry, Maintaining these practices as a way of life. Let’s work together to build practices, strengthen dialogue, and discover and develop community. Let me know how we might work together.

4 thoughts on “An extended reply…

  1. I know where you are seeing this from. It’s like the Corp of Engineers. Their total objective is to “dam it, dike it,dredge it, divert it, conduit it and get it to sea as quickly as possible.Completely against nature at every turn. They do it all very efficiently, but without thought to the overall consequences.It’s what they are taught, and is in their culture, and god help anybody who says otherwise. Until we stop funding them they will never stop.

    On the other hand, our knowledge is an accumulation of life experience, what we learn from others, what we learn on our own,and what we mimic from nature. A lot of our knowledge is a direct result of our miserable failures, and the miserable failures of others,past and present. The scope of our reasoning goes only as far as we can view from our point of perspective. We either learn from nature what is based on the successes and failures over the eons, or we learn by careful consideration of the success and failures as a species. Natures mistakes and successes are modulated slowly, but there was no one to point out to blame. As a “intelligent” species we make are mistakes in quick succesion and those mistakes are duplicated many times in short order.

    I began building things at about two years old, probably building block toys. By five years of age i was building stick and tissue model planes. The rest of my life I have built musical instruments, real aircraft, boats houses, and,chicken coupes, I know how to make fire, how to knapp stone into tools, a little black smith work, how to make a serviceable rope from raw materials, how to bend wood etc. etc.. None of this is original knowledge, and none of the tools do do so are of my own intelligent design. It was all done for me.

    How I use these tools is completely up to me, but my perspective in problem solving, creation, may be unique because I have not limited my knowledge to that of a tradesman. I see similarities from many other traditions, and many other disciplines. From changing my viewpoint, or walking around my work, I might see new relevance’s, new facets shared by unrelated experience, and by chance or desire come up with solutions entirely my own.


  2. Tony,

    Maybe I have a better way to word what I wish to say.

    One of the newer ways of astronomy is to use an array of telescopes linked by computer processing . One telescope can only see but the faintest glimmer of a particular star, so is hampered singularly by what it can “interpret” . With many telescopes looking at the same faint source and from more perspectives the image is condensed and more can be seen and more knowledge and more questions come to light.

    If as a species we utilize all viewpoints, and all , without politics,profit and thought police, couldn’t we move toward the point where the light shines brightest, as a species? If all points of view are taken into consideration, “I” would be less important, and ” WE” would be world encompassing.



    1. John,

      Your first question is still just a rephrasing of the desire for complete knowledge. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking, if only….

      A really big number is still infinitely short of infinity. All knowledge is always partial. The thing is, though, that when we think we have a lot of knowledge, we do act like we know it all. Creativity is infinite, but it is not available to us if we insist on complete knowledge. Habits that turn us to seek after the support of an illusion of complete knowledge undermine our abilities to be creative.

      We do need to find ways to use all the viewpoints available to us. The trick here, is that we can’t actually ask for the removal of, “politics, profit, and thought police.” That is actually removing a whole series of viewpoints. Viewpoints you and I may not like, but that’s what Dissensus shows us. Any judgements about “bad” views is a form of coercion. It closes us off from alien viewpoints, and generates separation. You could say, those viewpoints already do that. They do, but they exist, and to strive to limit our conception of what is to be only that which we agree with only adds us to those who are practicing what we disagree with. This may seem arch. This in no way condones supporting anyone’s violence. It’s not a call for a mamby-pamby relativism. It’s just one of the slippery slopes that yawn ahead of us whenever we begin to throw around what we would like to see, and stop looking at what is.

      Maybe your last question is turned around? We each come to our own realization of the illusion of “I.” That we are not just a part of some “we,” but that we are a part of everything. From that grows a capacity and ability to consider all views. Compassion grows from within. It cannot be mandated.



      1. Tony,
        Alas, perspective is everything. I am not of the black?white or right/wrong type either. I relish all the grey tones. I see most of the world in shades of grey. That might be from living in the Pacific Northwest.Ya think?

        I hate to see everything boil down to a contest. It will likely be our undoing as a species. I do believe in truth, less so right and wrong. Something may be more right than wrong. Wrong is not always the polar opposite of truth. That is inconvenient. If the truth is what we seek,knowledge may come of it, but the more we know the more questions we will have.

        I wonder, if true creation exist in our dreams. I wake at night with ideas so strange that I wonder if they are mine. I awaken with solutions relevant to day to day problems. These dreams seam so real and make all kinds of sense in context to to my dream world, and yet the thoughts do not fit in with the constraints of the the world I live in. I wonder if the truly creative people are somehow vectoring into their dream world in some productive manner. So much goes on in our brains that we don’t understand. Maybe that’s what is happening when you stop thinking. Is that where we go to escape our prejudices, our governance, our egos?


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