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Professions of an Ontophile

The beliefs of an unbeliever.



"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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