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Professions of an Ontophile

The beliefs of an unbeliever.

8.

d.s

"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 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.

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