Human consciousness is amazing, isn't it? It allows us to participate in our existence. Not just mentally, as a sort of spectator, but in actuality through our conscious choices and actions. And because choices and actions have consequences, consciousness allows our participation in our fate. In fact, once conscious of our existence, we can't escape involvement in our fate, and whether it all plays out as an amazing blessing or amazing curse depends on how we manage our participation.
It's obvious that our involvement can vary greatly in its quality and effects, from the exquisitely beautiful, such as childbirth or a Beethoven symphony, to the horrific, like child abuse or genocide. But wouldn't the most horrific effect of all be the participation in our own extinction? It's hard to imagine a more absolute failure of consciousness than a thinking form of life making its continuing existence impossible through conscious mismanagement of its fate.
On the other hand, imagine where good management could lead us. How about existing in harmony with ourselves, each other, and a profusion of Earthly life? Now that we've the power to shape our environment, we can't escape the responsibility to do it well. Given our numbers and impact on our singular and most precious habitat, a stable and healthy "life as we know it" depends on our good stewardship. Were we to apply our consciousness to the care and management of our birth world instead of its exploitation, perhaps we'd prove ourselves worthy of survival – and maybe someday depart a thriving Earth into a universe that would embrace our expanding involvement.
Whatever happens, it all comes down to our congruity with the context within which we exist: reality. Yes, thanks to our conscious participation in our fate we have a say in our compatibility with reality, but make no mistake, reality ultimately decides how much incongruity to put up with. So how will reality decide? On what point does the compass of our fate pivot?
It's much closer to home than you'd think. To successfully manage our participation in reality, we must successfully manage our consciousness. Which brings us to the point of this website – the pivotal failing mentioned on the title page. It all turns on a peculiarity of human consciousness: our ability to dissociate from reality, that we may witness it. Our dilemma is that we can use our dissociative ability for either the blessing of witnessing and understanding reality, or the curse of mentally contesting it. And these can't coexist. As much as we use our consciousness to contest reality, we block our ability to understand it – and thwart our successful participation. This simple foible is where our congruity with reality, the beauty or horror of our circumstances, is set in motion.
Simple maybe, but frustratingly subtle. It's very difficult for us to self-diagnose our pivotal failing because our mind is highly susceptible to the context error: a failure of the mind to acknowledge its actual context, preferring instead its autogenic mental model of reality. Failing to recognize the absolute frame of reference that establishes all existence, including the phenomenon we call 'mind', we become overly reliant on subjectivity, protective of our prerogative to judge reality, and possessive of our identity and world view, no matter how conflicted – leading to our tragic inclination to try to manage reality instead of managing our behavior within it.
But alas, the human mind naturally resists any ideas that challenge its perceived sovereignty, so "thanks but no thanks for your mind-meddling tips" is a ubiquitous and understandable reaction to the subject. Nonetheless here are two words that may help reveal this quirk of consciousness and make the case for better mind management:
autocentric (mind): auto- self + -centric focused; favoring the individual self-generated mental model of reality; Innately autocentric, the human mind is prone to bias and misperception.
ontocentric (mind): onto- actual existence or being + -centric focused; favoring reality over the mental conception of it; An ontocentric inquiry soon resolved the paradox.
Together these words describe a space within consciousness where we can take a peek at how we mentally relate to reality – our context. Essentially we use an autocentric frame of mind to contest reality and attempt to manipulate it to our liking, and an ontocentric attitude is necessary to understand the actuality of it all. Making this distinction helps us perceive the context error; helps us avoid the pitfalls of trying to inhabit a context that only exists in our mind, and benefit from understanding, appreciating, and embracing the real thing – then initiate a serene and beautiful existence through more congruous choices and actions.
All the posts and letters on this site are an attempt to reveal the ontocentric mind space. Declaration of War on Reality is a brief tongue-in-cheek summary of the issue, The Meta-reality Problem frames the basic challenge, and Professions of an Ontophile explores several implications of ontocentric reasoning. We're accustomed to our autocentric view, particularly when reading or considering new ideas, so this material may seem too abstract or challenging at first – but give it a chance. Intellectual understanding isn't necessary for ontocentric awareness, which is also natural to human consciousness and not uncommon. We typically experience it in moments of grandeur, startling intuition, the peak of meditation or prayer, during intense athletic focus, uninhibited grief, or amid crisis – any circumstances that persuade (or force) our autocentric mind to loosen its grip on consciousness and let reality flood in. Ontocentric participation in reality is always an option, and we'd do better to volunteer for it than await its necessity.
Which may be upon us. By many measures humanity is already amid existential crisis. Motivated by short-term self-interest we've collectively initiated numerous latent scenarios, impending or unforeseen, whereby we could forfeit our continuing existence. However, another way to view our predicament is that mismanaged consciousness isn't an actual failing as long as consciousness continues. Meanwhile we've nothing less than a golden opportunity to transcend our autocentric inclinations. Now would be an excellent time to wake up to our ontocentric potential – to practice better mind management and consciously participate in a beautiful and enduring destiny.
Introduction image © Deb Fugate