Don't Judge Me!
...“To see we must forget the name of the thing we are looking at” - Claude Monet
The UNIVERSE. It’s big, yeah?
It literally has anything and everything you can possibly imagine, including imagination itself! It’s big and fat and juicy and full of stuff (although it’s mostly empty?) and anti-stuff and has been there before we ever were and will continue way after we’ll ever be. It contains absolutely all we’ve ever known, and more importantly, everything we don’t. We’ve spent the whole of human history trying to understand it (us) — there’s just so much to consider! Anywhere you look, anything you look at; infinite nuance and complexity, down to the very quantum fabric of reality. A blade of grass, a droplet of water, a strand of hair, the tip of your finger, color, sound, vegan chocolate chip cookies, etc. Every single particle in constant motion, interacting with the next; converging, reacting, colliding and contracting, boiling, pulsing, bursting, rippling, bonding, decaying and collapsing. Transferring and transforming energy in an ever flowing, ever evolving, entropic dance, from the micro to the macro.
In order to be somewhat functional, we humans have evolved certain features with which we attempt to generate a certain understanding about our surroundings and their relationship to us. To try to navigate the world and know how to act/respond and what to expect. To judge. So we parse, categorize and shove the universe into boxes, which I guess is a very efficient energy saving mechanism.
We name the world. We name things, people, concepts (ideas) and package them into symbols which can in turn represent more symbols (like a matryoshka, where one symbol/concept contains many others), kinda like compressing things into “.zip” files. This is incredibly practical, don’t get me wrong! It allows us to talk about “the same things” with others. To communicate and collaborate. We can talk about mechanics, mathematics, geology, feelings, cars, ice cream sandwiches, etc. We can say, oh look, a tree! Or a dog! Or a tree peeing on a dog — wait what? By naming the world we divide it up and make it easier to digest. However, by the same token, we also create the illusion of things being separate. When life is more like a gradient, but we’re always trying to find solid lines. A compulsion to define borders.
We love conclusions cause they make the whole existing thing way more manageable. Only problem is... well there’s a bit more — a lot more, really — to reality/the universe than what can actually fit into our conceptual boxes.
When we’re born, everything is new! Infinite curiosity! Unsullied by concepts or knowledge or opinions or memories. I mean the molecules that make up the incredibly complex orchestra that is your body have this ancient, inherent intelligence/memory (DNA). But as far as conceptual knowledge is concerned, nada. It’s all just a chaotic symphony of sensual stimulation and uninhibited experience.
As we grow and become acquainted with the world, we begin to accumulate. We accumulate a bunch of things; besides mass, we accumulate experience, memories, a limited identity, knowledge, opinions, beliefs, etc. Slowly but surely our minds get conditioned as we quietly become satisfied with our conclusions. So much so that we actually start to forget we don’t really know anything 🤷🏻 — and unfortunately, what is popularly considered to be education, seeks to instill “ready-made” answers, effectively dampening our curiosity. It’s as if someone already chewed your food for you... ew.
Ah, the perks of being civilized! A simple way to see how we only have access to a partial picture, is in realizing that all of this acquired data comes through our limited senses and is processed by our limited capabilities. Not to mention it gets interpreted, tangled and completely lathered in our extremely sticky biases. Effectively creating a constant, ever thickening filter through which reality has to sift through.
It’s inevitable, and completely natural, to have expectations about something or someone, a certain type of understanding or attempt at it. The important thing to remember is that it’s a limited conception, a mere interpretation and not the entire reality. However, this is a fact we all too often and too easily forget.
The moment we conclude or are satisfied with our understanding of something or someone, we literally close ourselves off from all other possibilities and from the rest of the profundity of reality. Can’t fill a cup that’s already full.
Trying to understand reality, the universe through intellect alone is pretty daft. Because it goes well beyond thought. It eventually generated thought, but that's such a tiny sliver of it. Thoughts, Knowledge, Ideas - these are fairly new additions in the massive expanse of molecular evolution. They’re like the cherry on top of the darwinian pie. Which is to say that we can, in effect, comprehend/get to know other aspects of reality experientially. Outside the realm of conceptual perception.
I understand that not understanding makes us feel uncomfortable. The unknown has a bad rep. I guess it’s easier to just settle with a certain idea about how things work and just roll with it instead of living in eternal doubt. But there’s a sort of humbling bliss and freedom in realizing we don’t know anything. That no one does.
So yes, being in a state of constant, uninhibited awareness turns out to be pretty challenging to achieve. There are methods to increase this type of awareness. Not limited to certain meditation practices, substances, or obtaining a truth tortoise and looking into its eyes — amongst others. Generally speaking though, it’s not such an easy task to keep this sort of awareness for long periods of time. However, we can at least be aware of the fact that we aren’t aware. That we aren’t getting the full picture. That our understanding of things and people is limited. That life and the universe are inconceivably vast and deep. That each human is as extraordinarily rare and complex as yourself.
So if we wish to open the doors to the cosmos, to the infinite possibilities life has to offer, we must keep our minds hungry and inquisitive. Constantly searching, flexible and receptive. The whole basis of both scientific and personal discovery is to be open to new possibilities by understanding and accepting that we don’t know enough!
So in conclusion, stay away from conclusions.