Friday, June 18, 2010


I learned something today. Or maybe I didn't.

I had believed something for most of my life that turned out not to be true. It doesn't much matter what it was. What does matter is that I realized that we operate on certain assumptions and believe them to be true... And then we discover that they were not true and see how that discovery challenges our sense of reality. I wonder what else have I believed most of my life that is not true? How is it that one story is as good as the next. Misinformation is not tagged in any special manner. It looks just like the truth. And we operate like it is the truth.

So what do I do now? Abandon all faith? Or continue to believe in what I "know" until the carpet is pulled out from underneath me.

I am fortunate that I've had a relatively stable life and that this kind of thing has not happened very often. But suppose this happened repeatedly to one and where held assumptions were proven false one by one. Would it make us insane? Could we handle it? Or would we just dismiss the evidence and just continue to pretend?

I decided not to tell my wife. Why should she be told the truth when the fantasy was more tolerable? If I loved her, would I tell her what I had learned about reality?

So I told her that I wasn't going to tell her the truth about what I learned today because I loved her. Oh, she said, do you mean about... you knew about that and forgot.

Remembering, knowing, forgetting... all tricks our minds play to make us think we are in charge.


Kate Freeman said...

Robert Anton Wilson wrote, “I don’t believe in anything. I just have several suspicions.” I’ve always liked that line.

Zizek points out that there are known-knowns, known-unknowns, and unknown-unknowns. And we tend to deal with these. But the most dangerous things are the unknown-knowns. . . The things we don’t know that we know. . . The assumptions that we take for granted. . . The beliefs that we operate under without giving much thought into the fact that these may be wrong. We don’t really deal with these quite as much as we should.

After I heard this, I sat around for a while and thought about what things I knew but didn’t realize I knew. I didn’t really come to any profound conclusion which made me feel disappointed in myself. Then I realized that was stupid. One day (as you say) the rug would get pulled out from beneath me and I would probably be devastated. Yet here I was trying to pull the rug out from under my own feet. Was that even possible? Then I think I got board and decided to watch Top Chef.

I don’t know if I should say congratulations on your revelation or sorry about your smashed world view. I am just going to go with. . . Good Luck with this new insight.

Anonymous said...

Life is the most confusing puzzle. H.

Kim Mosley said...

Or maybe we create the confusion with the expectation that things are how they seem. There must be a world of difference between things as they seem and things as they are.

Paula Gable said...

"What is is not. What is not is."
(From a translation of the Heart Sutra used by Philip Kaplaeu Roshi's dharma heirs in the Asheville area.) ... "Until you understand this truth you won't see anything clearly. Don't keep searching for the truth. Just let go of your opinions. :-) Happy rug pulling! P

Who's in the world?

Xiushan said, "What can you do about the world?" Dizang said, "What do you call the world?"