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Professions of an Ontophile

The beliefs of an unbeliever.

Professions of an Ontophile


I, smitten with reality and wary of my envious mind, with the intention of existing in harmony with myself, humanity, life, and the Earth, profess that:


1.   No professions of truth shall be taken literally.

2.   Reality defines the human mind—not the other way around.

3.   We never change reality, but we sure affect its latency.

4.   All belief is based on suspect reasoning.

5.   Knowledge is a poor substitute for understanding.

6.   Opinions are pointless (and never humble).

7.   Concepts are fictional and shouldn't be mistaken for reality.

8.   Reality is the provenance of thought.

9.   The human mind can only recognize the truth, not govern it.

10.  The actual truth is never equivocal.

11.   Lies wouldn't exist but for believers.

12.  Reality is incapable of illusion.

13.  Reality is flawless.

14.  Uniqueness is a shared condition.

15.  Reality is unfalsifiable.

16.  'God' is a poor name for reality.

17.  The suffering of reality is a privilege not to be squandered.

18.  Reality is ultimately beneficent.

19.  Enlightenment is a collective result.

20.  Enlightenment is only attainable now.

For explanations, scroll down or click number.

A pair of useful words:

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.

A caveat:

The following ideas, though seemingly counterintuitive, are actually counter-egoic—antithetical to mental authority—but once intuitively grasped may result in subtle but actual feelings of joy and serenity.



"No professions of truth shall be taken literally"

To profess that professions of truth shouldn't be taken literally? Seems self-contradictory. But only if we try to take it literally.

Our autocentric mind loves words. Nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. symbolize our mental models of the world and allow us to share these with each other through language (then have word wars about whose model is superior). We also prefer words to stay close to their literal sense, such that their meaning is reliable—or so we dream.

But expecting words to dependably mirror reality is like expecting a cookbook to prepare a gourmet meal. Words, like cookbooks, are merely about the wonderful things they speak of. And true meaning is securely grounded in reality, unmoved by the words we conscript to convey our drift.

So the drift of this aphorism, to not take aphorisms literally, is to let words breathe and animate so they may speak of ever more truthful meaning.

Our ontocentric mind also loves words, yet isn't seduced by them, nor settles down with the meaning they promise, but instead wanders the landscape of meaning searching for the wordless eloquence of understanding.

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"Reality defines the human mind—not the other way around"

We're so accustomed to modeling reality with our mind that we project our model on to everything we experience, often focusing more of our attention on the content of the model than on what's actually happening. From this perspective we assume that we have the power to define what reality is—or isn't—based on how well it matches our model. This is the essential nature of autocentric consciousness: the mind defines reality point of view.

Yes we wouldn't be human without our autocentric minds. The ability to mentally model reality brings us truly amazing benefits such as language, knowledge, technology, science, religion, art, and culture. But honestly, we take things too far when we dissociate from reality so much that we feel entitled to censure reality—the very context that allows these benefits. Make no mistake, we wouldn't exist, let alone possess the ability to mentally model reality, but for reality allowing it.

Reality is the context of all existence. That is to say reality defines everything—including our uppity minds.

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"We never change reality, but we sure affect its latency"

We can't change reality.


It's already happening. And it's always been and always will be already happening.

Current reality is happening precisely and irrevocably according to the conditions of what happened before. We certainly can't change what's already happened. And the reality we're thinking about changing is utter fantasy and will never happen. No matter what we wish the future to be, it is most surely a latent state of the reality we're in, and will also unfold from current conditions precisely and irrevocably in compliance with how reality unfolds.

So here we are amid reality, powerless to change it, but all along affecting its latent development through our behavior, and living precisely and irrevocably with the consequences. In other words, we're not driving, we're just along for the ride, messing with the controls. Our only hope of experiencing reality somewhat as we envision it (or not eventually running our human clown car into the ditch) is to understand reality's terms for its latent development and behave accordingly.

For example, at any moment of an unfolding life we may ask, are we latently miserable or in harmony? What do we understand about latent harmony, and how do we behave to ensure it comes to pass instead of misery? Might that require striving to be in harmony with reality, on its terms, as it happens, as this is our only means and opportunity? Amazingly, fittingly, reality informs us of our success or failure through the latent development of harmony or misery.

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"All belief is based on suspect reasoning"

This aphorism is definitely one that shouldn't be taken so literally because yes, we all possess some well reasoned beliefs. But if our goal is to see beyond our locally biased view of reality, and our autocentric mind is certainly biased in favor of its self-reasoned beliefs, the reasoning that all belief is based on suspect reasoning may suggest to our mind that it not be so sure about its convictions. It's a reminder to leave a little wiggle room in any belief in case reality turns out to be not so simple as the reasoning that led to the belief.

This maxim could also be broadened to "Suspect one's beliefs"—especially if one's beliefs are based on someone else's views—in which case belief is actually based on the absence of reasoning.

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"Knowledge is a poor substitute for understanding"

Human knowledge (in the form of definitions, theory, philosophy, doctrine, theology, dissertations, non-fiction, allegory, news, propaganda, advertising, opinion, gossip, lies, etc.) is held in high regard by all its consumers. But does it really deserve such trust and admiration as an account of how things actually are? One could argue that the bulk of human knowledge, as actually held in human consciousness, isn't very well based in reality.

Knowledge, at its best, represents our current collective mental model of the world—to the degree we accept each other's personal model. Knowledge is only as good as we share it and concur about its veracity—and consensus, or even respect for another's world view, seems far harder to achieve than knowledge itself.

 Our mind depends on its "body of knowledge" as a cognitive island of stability in an otherwise enigmatic and protean reality, and we presume our knowledge model helps us function better within reality. And it does—until it doesn't. Then instantly the knowledge that upheld our trusted model is considered not just worthless, but harmful—like it were anti-knowledge. Also any survey of the history of knowledge clearly shows there's nothing permanent about it, with the old way of thinking viewed as ignorant. And more to the point, in our own singular mind, the only place knowledge actually exists*, our personal theory of everything is notoriously unsettled.

But all this unreliability is nothing compared to the danger of a mind that in grasping knowledge fails to grasp reality.

Favoring our sketchy yet rigidly held knowledge over actuality, we place ourselves in direct conscious conflict with reality and risk all the adverse consequences—some of which are immediate. For instance, applying the anti-knowledge that reality should be other or better than what it is, we immediately suffer discontentment. Or we apply the anti-knowledge that my knowing is better than yours, and suffer all the ensuing discord, abuse, oppression, and murder we inflict on each other. And as our numbers and influence expand, we suffer the myriad and unforeseen consequences of applying our woeful knowledge to technological invention, that we may exploit the very world that supports our existence.

We even suffer suffering, thinking it unnatural and undeserved. Yet all the while suffering is just reality informing us that we need to upgrade not just our knowledge, but how we apply it.

For sure,  when knowledge coincides with reality, it's astoundingly useful and intrinsically exquisite. Our ontocentric mind is aware of this, and having the advantage of favoring reality over knowledge about it, sees knowledge not as something to accrue and manage like a mental bank account to be spent in the pursuit of self-interest, but as a method of awareness, an ever flexible path to understanding, which is a much less fraught way of knowing reality—and existing within it.


*  All the words and symbols in all the books and media in the world are utterly meaningless without a mind to interpret them.

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"Opinions are pointless"

An opinion, by definition, is conjectural in nature, though we rarely present our opinions this way. Most are delivered as assertions pretending to factual knowledge: "Well in my humble opinion, blah, blah, blah" as if it were God's honest truth. And when we say to someone "Well that's just your opinion", we're thinking 'you don't know what you're talking about, so your opinion is pointless'—a viewpoint we're loath to turn on ourselves.

Were we to honor the conjectural nature of our opinion, wouldn't we deliver it in the form of a question, or preface it with "perhaps"? But as such it would no longer be an opinion. Thus opinions in general really are pointless.

In other words, if our intent in expressing opinions is to accurately describe reality, what's the point of pretending we know when we actually don't?

So is the statement "opinions are pointless" itself a pointless opinion? or rather an accurate description of reality? Our autocentric mind, cherishing the prerogative to opine, ironically* settles on the former. Our ontocentric mind, delighted by irony, contemplates the latter.


*  The irony of forming a presumably valid opinion that any particular statement is just an invalid opinion.

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"Concepts are fictional and shouldn't be mistaken for reality"

The human mind loves concepts—because these are the products of its favorite activity: to conceive—form a mental representation of something. These representations are handy to say the least. Without concepts of things to "hold in mind" long enough to compare with what we experience, we'd have no basis for understanding. Collect enough concepts of things, and we're able to develop wondrous conceptual creations like an identity, world view, or theories about what we have yet to understand. And as our concepts become more refined and true to life, our ignorance abates and understanding deepens.

However, when our mind becomes too enamored with its conceptualizing powers, autocentrism sets in. Favoring its holographic account of things, the mind conflates its beguiling world of concepts with the real world, and can't be bothered to sort it all out.

But this is, quite literally, inviting a world of trouble.

The danger is that concepts, or the mental models, reasoning, knowledge, beliefs, and opinions based on concepts, aren't the things they represent, they're only mental activity about the things. It's all cognitive fiction. So to mistake concepts for reality, to hold something in mind counting on it to be real, is a risky game where getting it wrong is subject to very real penalties in the form of latent conflict and suffering—which in essence is reality informing us that we got it wrong. If we are privileged with a mind whose purpose is to understand reality, it's our responsibility, perhaps even our existential purpose, to get it right—and reality, conflict and suffering and all, is here to help.

On the other hand, holding our fictional account of the world loosely in mind as we study the real context of things, favoring actuality over conceptualization, as per ontocentrism, our chances of getting things right are much more realistic and less prone to adversity.

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"Reality is the provenance of thought"

Irony: Employing the metaphor of reality as author to write about the mind's authorial tendencies.

Perceiving itself as independent of reality, our mind typically believes that an idea, once grasped, is of its own writing. And once habituated to this view, we see ourselves as the agents of understanding and founders of knowledge. Even if pressed with the question "But where do your ideas first come from?", believing we've authored the concept of an intellect, we might answer "Ideas are the product of my intellect"—immersing ourselves deeper into a strategy that ensures we can take credit for having thoughts, but ignores the context that allows thinking.

This is hazardous behavior. For starters, failure to acknowledge the absolute context that is the basis for effective inquiry and understanding leaves us dependent on our own thinking to gauge the soundness of our thoughts. But worse, having assumed full credit for our ideas, we often turn our thoughts against the context that allows us to think—as in ideas like "reality sucks"—with its complement of negative emotions. We could hardly credit reality for such an idea, and indeed every instance of our discontentment or neurosis requires the presumption that we write the thoughts we use to justify our displeasure with what's happening. "This shouldn't be happening" is an inaccurate interpretation our mind holds in defiance of what's happening. The suffering of any mental narrative like "I shouldn't be stuck waiting in this line" or "It's all so hopeless" must be original text to our mind for us to pretend it's true.

Sound thinking relies on the opposite tactic. It's always about something that reality would verify as true, precedent to our mind's first-person narrative—and in defiance of it as necessary. Reality writes our experience just as it happens, including our thinking, and recognition that reality is the context within which our mind's narrative occurs provides a handy escape from the latent insanity of believing that reality should be what our mind tells us it is. If we understand that the circumstances of being stuck in line include our capacity to think we shouldn't be stuck in line, it's not so easy to believe the thought. And as long as the astounding circumstances of our existence can accommodate thoughts of hopelessness, there's always hope.

Reality is what it tells us it is in the form of circumstances, and enforces its copyright in the form of consequences. And emotions are a consequence of our mental circumstances. It's all a beautiful and perfectly reliable system to test our mental fitness. It's reality's exquisite way of proving that reality doesn't suck, but mentally contesting it sure does.

In summery, reality is the provenance of thought, both in what makes thinking possible and in its dependability as knowledge or understanding; even as we appropriate any particular thought as our own, use it as the basis of reality, and chance whether it proves to be maladaptive. A sound thought or good idea then is the correct perception, or reading, of reality's authorship*, a bad idea its misreading, and mental dysfunction the equivalent of cognitive illiteracy—the inability or unwillingness to read reality because our mind insists it does all the writing.

It's not so difficult to get to the mental position that reality is the basis of thinking, whatever the wording or credibility of any particular thought may be. This is the ontocentric position, and the effect is invariably a positive emotion—or the lessening of a negative one—as we experience the reality of not suffering the insistence that reality conform to our thoughts. Perhaps in recognizing reality as the provenance of our entire conscious experience, including thought, emotion, and perception, we'd be more inclined to improve our capacity for listening, accept reality's continuing story, then behave as inspiring characters in a lasting tale of human existence.



*  Beyond metaphor, the correct reading of reality's authorship is the correct anticipation of reality's latent development (as in #3 "We never change reality, but we sure affect its latency")—a skill critical to good mental health and well being. In the example of being stuck in line, the long/slow line would have been anticipated, accepted, and therefore not a problem; or if unexpected, nonetheless recognized as a latent development we can't control and as such accepted as reality; freeing us to adjust our behavior to anticipate a more pleasant development, such as chatting, sharing jokes, cheerily protesting, or singing and dancing with the other people stuck in line—with all the attendant good feeling (and pressure on those responsible for the long line to address its latent development).

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"The human mind can only recognize the truth, not govern it"

Our mind typically views truth as a sort of commodity, a useful thing that can be measured, evaluated, or manipulated—and when inconvenient or contrary to its agenda, simply set aside. Truth has value too, considering its power to enlighten, so it's a commodity to be controlled and kept from the competition. It's as if our mind sees itself as independent of the truth, with the power to invent, shape, decide, control, modify, and manage it (etc.—see synonyms for 'govern').

This is a strangely myopic view in that everything the mind actually experiences is of the truth, albeit a very specific and limited sample of it. Our thoughts, no matter how quixotic, are nonetheless truthfully perceived. Our misperceptions are truthfully misperceived, our delusions truthfully embraced, and our lies truthfully delivered and accepted. Truth, synonymous with reality (see synonyms for 'truth'), is the very context of the mind's existence, its venue of perception. So no, the mind all by itself can't handle the truth – literally speaking.

Therefore this aphorism encourages our mind to simply recognize the truth as it is rather than futilely and tragically attempt to govern it.

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"The actual truth is never equivocal"

"Well that may be your truth, but it's not mine" is a popular expression these days—and something like it has always been the thought that immediately precedes an argument. And so we have another example of the autocentric mind insisting that the truth falls within its jurisdiction, and that what we decide is true should be true for everyone. And when we're feeling especially accommodating to someone else's point of view, we grant that the truth is open to more than one interpretation—though of course our's is the correct one.

But how can the truth be different from different points of view and still be the truth? It's like claiming "well that may be your Chicago, but it's not mine" because we live in different neighborhoods. In other words, be it Chicago or the truth, for any possibility of referring to the same thing, it can't be different.

The actual truth, to be at all reliable as such, is not at all ambiguous. It's unaffected by human interpretation, and there's no such thing as a personal truth no matter how authentic our point of view may seem. Truth, to conform with reality and be verifiable, can't be debatable—or exclusive.

So the ontocentric view that the truth is never equivocal suggests that we have something amazing and wonderful, and more genuine than any personal viewpoint, to agree with once and for all, instead of argue over—over and over.

Is there an ultimate truth? Yes. But it's not some inscrutable sort of knowledge that is far beyond our grasp, a verity accessible only to divine consciousness. The ultimate truth is all around and within us. We are immersed in it, a part of it. It's reality.

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"Lies wouldn't exist but for believers"

If someone tells a lie, and there's nobody around to hear it, does it make a false impression?

If someone tells a lie, and no one believes it, is the teller actually lying?

Usually lies are believed to be true because they're not recognized as lies. Yet sometimes we suspect a lie, but choose to believe it anyway. Then there's the lies we tell ourselves to avoid a discomforting truth. Also, ever notice that lying is only ever punished when the lie is identified as such in the context of truth; but believing a lie, recognized or not, inevitably leads to some form of suffering? In all cases, to be effective as a misrepresentation of reality, a lie must be believed—be accepted as truth.

In short, belief enables lying.

Though difficult to admit, typically we rank our beliefs ahead of reality as a clever way of insisting we know what's real. "If I believe it, it has to be real." The firmer the belief, the harder we pretend that we know better than reality. And if we decide to believe something because someone else said it's true, we're nonetheless attempting to supplant truth with belief—now on behalf of a would-be liar. "If 'we' (the plural form of 'I') believe it, than it must be true." And we can uphold this psychogenic tautology until of course reality comes along in the form of suffering and proves the belief is empty of the truth—or counter to it. Left holding a harmful belief, it's easier to scapegoat some liar that sold it to us than admit to a bad cognitive investment. But a mind that consistently looks to reality instead of belief for the truth isn't such an eager lie enabler.

As we favor reality over belief, we aren't so easily deceived nor frequently punished for misrepresenting reality in our own minds, and our lives will go better. Reality, which never lies, guarantees it.

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"Reality is incapable of illusion"

This is a follow up on the previous maxim. It simply says that reality can't lie, even though when faced with an illusion, we insist the illusion itself is real, which requires that reality could be somehow deceitful.

But think about this. Reality, to be real, must be real. All of it—no exceptions. Reality can't be anything other than what it actually is. Simply put, an actual unreality is impossible.

Therefore what we take for an illusion is actually a delusion—a misapprehension in our mind—having already decided what something is supposed to be and unwilling to find fault in our impressions. The word ‘illusion’ then merely represents our mind’s attempt to blame a misperception on the thing misperceived.

'Reality' is a good word for a frame of reference immune to interpretation by which to identify a misinterpretation—and it's of course the only trustworthy context available to us to clear up our delusions.

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"Reality is flawless"


Try this thought experiment:

Step 1

Consider the title statement again but pretend to put your mind on speaker so you can listen to what it says. Maybe something like this: "Flawless? WRONG! There's so many flaws in reality it's pointless to list them. But for starters there's this nasty headache, and to top it all off in a few billion years the Sun is going to destroy the Earth!"

Your personal objections may be different, but it's all the classic autocentric mind hard at work trying to referee reality. And how does that feel? A flawed reality offers much to resent and worry about.

Step 2

Put your mind in hush-let's-look-at-the-big-picture mode and consider this reasoning: If we define reality as the context of existence, and if anything and everything that exists can only exist precisely as it does, which it does, then its context must be perfect. Simply, reality can't play out any other way than it actually does. So reality is indeed intrinsically flawless.

The reasoning is sound, but if your mind objects nonetheless, the point of this thought experiment is to temporarily accept the premise of a flawless reality and notice any difference in your quality of consciousness.

Step 3

In light of step 2, repeat step 1. Perhaps now the gist would be: "Well if reality is flawless, I can't blame it for this headache. So then why do I have it? Oh yah—it's a withdrawal headache. Maybe I should quit caffeine for good. And long before the Sun incinerates the Earth we'll have either gone extinct or moved elsewhere depending on how well we learn to manage our context. I suppose whatever happens will happen flawlessly..."

So mental chatter aside, does a more forgiving perspective on reality improve your overall attitude? In step 1 we're trying to fault reality for what it is—and how could this not lead to distress? In step 3 the part of consciousness we'd been using to dispute reality is now available for the recognition, acceptance, and appreciation of it (ontocentrism). We're in the same reality, but now it seems more hospitable. That headache still hurts, but it feels psychologically less threatening—more manageable—even if we can't pinpoint its cause. (And if we can, we're less likely to mindlessly invite the latent development of another headache.) In a flawless reality we've got an unassailable ally to help us face the challenges of existence.

Look closely at your deepest feelings as you accept reality as flawless, even temporarily. Trusting that we're part of a flawless reality necessarily leads to a feeling of serenity—the sense that there's nothing to fear about existence, no matter what its conditions may be. The more we embrace the context of our existence, the less troubled we are. Then, in reconciling with reality, we may recognize that any flaw we saw in it is actually just an imperfection in our mental relationship with reality. Be ready though—when we deeply and genuinely embrace our context, it may respond with not just serenity, but an overwhelming sense of affirmation and love.

Suggested step 4

Make step 2 a habit. Cease fault-finding with reality. We'll have a better chance of existing favorably within it, feeling good about it, and meeting our responsibility in nurturing the context of not just our existence, but the existence of everything our existence touches.

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"Uniqueness is a shared condition"

Yes indeed you are unique and special—but then so is everyone else.

Alas, uniqueness is universal.

It's also temporary. My uniqueness, what makes me me, is subtly different by the time I finish writing this sentence, as is yours by the time you finish reading. Fleeting uniqueness is common to anything that exists. So uniqueness is indeed very special—briefly—and only to the thing that exists.

Another thing—we all suffer our uniqueness. I'm the only one that has to put up with actually being me. "Oh yeah?" you say sarcastically. But whichever aspects of my uniqueness that annoy you are still mine to bear, and your unique objections to me are something only you can suffer. And vice versa.

In general, to be critical of anyone is to be hypocritical. Having a problem with someone, no matter what the issue may be, attempts to enforce a double standard, where my uniqueness is flawless, but something is wrong with yours.

Conversely, to appreciate someone else's uniqueness affirms our own existence. Of course reality recognizes and accepts the existence of everything, as is, within it—specifically for the very traits, good bad or ugly, that make it unique. So to recognize the full worth of another's uniqueness is to follow reality's example—and prove our uniqueness worthwhile.

Hence the solution to the universal uniqueness paradox is the ontocentric realization that uniqueness is a shared condition—

as is all existence.

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"Reality is unfalsifiable"

Analytic or science philosophers, theologians, politicians, existentialists, conspiracy addicts, well-meaning fanatics, or anyone else who may be hopelessly mired in the swamp of autogenic reasoning, dare consider this statement:

Reality is unfalsifiable.

Whew! Solid ground!

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"'God' is a poor name for reality"

Heavens—look what we've done to the word 'God'. Poor thing. It had so much potential.

It's understandable that we'd invent such a word. We need a good strong noun to represent all the wonder and promise that comes with existence. When we're joyful we need something to thank for our creation, and when suffering, something to appeal to for relief. We need an omnipotent agent to guide us in our thoughts and actions, pressure us into good works, forgive our errors, and unify us around a sense of moral purpose. We need an ultimate role model. And even if we're not religious we still need a concept of something out there to answer our biggest 'how' and 'why' questions. Sooner or later, God willing before we die, we need a reason for being.

'God' would do for a noun, but these days doesn't have a prayer of meeting all the self-serving and conflicting beliefs we demand of the word, which amount to little more than an attempt by our mind to dictate its own context.

Oh wait—we already have an absolute context in place that we don't need to name, but still provides all the things listed above, and so much more; something that miraculously gives everything, something immune to prejudice, dogma, and deceit, something truly accepting and unifying of all things...

Any guesses?

Hint: If you're inclined to use the word 'God', particularly in a debate or sermon, try using the word 'reality' instead. You'll find you have to be much more thoughtful, humble, appreciative, forgiving, and truthful in your pronouncements.

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"The suffering of Reality is a privilege not to be squandered"

Yes this is essentially saying that suffering is a privilege.

Here's the logic: To exist in reality is a privilege. Existence in any particular form requires suffering the terms and limitations unique to that form. Therefore the suffering of reality is a privilege.

Why would we think this doesn't apply to us? Why do we insist that we shouldn't suffer? Is this our autocentric mind telling us that we should be exempt from the terms and limitations that define our existence? Reality apparently considers this to be a punishable offense—as we suffer any sort of disaffection with our circumstances.

Despite our cerebral opposition, suffering exists for a good reason.

Ever notice that when suffering brings us to a point where we finally accept our limitations and appreciate our existence for what it is, we have a breakthrough in our attitude and an immediate improvement in our quality of life? That's reality telling us we're learning from our suffering and not squandering our unique and precious existence.

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"Reality is ultimately beneficent"

Isn't the existence of everything, from negative to positive, a good thing?

With suffering always lurking, most of us consider reality to be at best ambivalent, if not hostile, toward our personal existence. Yet we do have those happy moments where conditions for life seem favorable or even generous, so we're always hoping for a better overall relationship with reality.

Then our mind steps in as mediator. But it employs a dysfunctional strategy: perceiving what reality offers, conceives of its absence, and demands restitution. Like given the prospect of happiness, we conceive of unhappiness, and feel that happiness is due—as if we're not just entitled to what we're given, but all we can get.

These one-sided negotiations rely heavily on dualistic mental modeling for support—as in happy/unhappy, or where the quality of existence is measured on a good/bad scale. This way we can pretend that the lack of something (deemed bad) is an equally valid aspect of reality as the thing itself (deemed good), and justify our complaints about the adjudged reality of something lacking.

Take light and darkness. We tend to view these as equal opposites, where light is good and darkness bad; and once given light, we consider its absence (or too much of it) an unjust condition. But are these a true duality, or is one more fundamental? It's easy to think that darkness, nothingness, would be the ground state, and that light would then somehow magically appear as a balancing force, as if by an act of God: "Let there be light!" But wouldn't God, the giver of light, have to be there beforehand, sitting in the dark? In other words, something primordial, ubiquitous, and perpetual in reality establishes the existence of light, even if it's locally or temporarily scarce. Though it may seem backward to our autocentric mind, darkness requires the preexistence of light—an absolute reality that allows for the special condition of its paucity or overabundance. Light is given (as in both established and freely provided) by reality—and is fundamentally beneficial in any amount, even as we bemoan darkness and attempt to hold reality accountable for our grievance.

If however we become less dependent on conceptualizing the existence/non-existence and goodness/badness of things and instead recognize the unqualified context of reality; then the more we accept the givenness of light, the less we need suffer the dark. That is to say, even as we sit in darkness we can rejoice in the givenness of light—and though challenged by the dark, not fear it.

This principal also applies to many other false dualities we invent with our minds so that we can want what is already given. Lack of anything requires the thing's preexistence. Disharmony requires the preexistence of harmony. Unhappiness or sadness requires the preexistence of happiness and joy, emptiness the preexistence of fullness, and loneliness the preexistence of companionship. The conduct of evil requires the unrecognized preexistence of goodness and love. And death, no matter how unwelcome, requires the preexistence of life. Anything we fear or resent about reality requires the preexistence of all the absolute benefits that we are so generously given. So where's the injustice?

Nothing in the presence of anything is impossible, and aggrievement in the presence of a beneficent reality is hypocrisy worthy of suffering our wants. That's why gratitude for all that is given feels so good—for real.



Additional Explanation

The opening question in this post "Isn't the existence of everything, from negative to positive, a good thing?" could serve to illustrate the difference between autocentric and ontocentric use of the mind. The test would be in the answer—"yes" or "no."

An autocentric attitude, judging reality by the mind's standards, would reflexively answer "No. There's bad things in reality, so the existence of everything is not a good thing." And once stipulated in these terms it's difficult to convince such a mindset that the question could be answered in any other way.

An ontocentric attitude would resist answering long enough to consider that there may be a larger context to understand the question, and come to realize the actual question is something like "Is the existence of reality a good thing?" to which, given the opportunity to ask and answer questions, there's no more coherent answer than "Yes."

The question is phrased "everything from negative to positive" instead of "reality" to set up the discussion of the dualistic-thinking-trap that follows. But either way autocentrism answers "no" and ontocentrism "yes" to the suggestion that reality is beneficent. And sure enough, we suffer reality until we're finally, if ever, ready to recognize the fundamental virtue of existence—whatever its conditions may be.

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"Enlightenment is a collective result"

The pursuit of enlightenment, greater insight into the nature of existence, be it spiritual or scientific, seems to be instinctual in humans. And from an autocentric standpoint, that pursuit is mind centered—where the mind seeks enlightenment in perceptual terms, as a kind of consciousness upgrade, mostly for its own benefit. But then how does any such cognitive enlightenment translate into the quality of actual existence? How does greater insight into being improve it? That is the real aim of enlightenment isn't it?—to advance the quality of one's existence? And if achieved, but one's existence is soon, cosmically, to be over, what's the point of improving it if the upgrade isn't shared or passed along?

We can think of actual enlightenment as a sort of standard of living that can be raised to a higher level, but for existence as a whole—so that we can be not just materially more comfortable and secure as per our standard of living, but also psychologically, spiritually, culturally, holistically, evolutionarily, etc. And just as a higher standard of living is more effective when available to everyone, and passed on to all our progeny, so is a higher standard of existence. We're all in this human being thing together, and together we will thrive or wither as goes our collective enlightenment.

Of course a collective result is the sum of individual effects, and personal enlightenment is a prime venue of actual enlightenment. But enlightenment comes through the individual, and when confined to its cerebral form has little vitality or endurance. Freely shared though, with an ontocentric attitude of mind that appreciates the interconnectedness of all existence, enlightenment has a much higher likelihood of being inheritable and raising humanity's standard of existence.

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