Throughout this article I will examine if there is a universal principle that can describe how our psychological (inner) world is created. I am not a scientist nor do I have any knowledge of how to produce scientifically valid papers so this article is probably filled with more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese, but sometimes a piece of Swiss cheese might be exactly what we need (!)
As a little background I would like to mention that in my mid twenties I had the fortune of finding myself in the midst of what some people would call a ‘mystical experience’. I’d rather describe it as a moment of utter clarity.
I call it a fortune because I learned something from that experience which doesn’t fit any description and it also introduced me to a new way of seeing, that allows me to observe my own mind and what was happening in a way that wasn’t available to me before. This way of seeing has been most beneficial personally but it has also been invaluable when I work with people helping them overcome difficulties and challenges in their lives and businesses.
But no matter how valuable I have found it, I have a notion that there is very little room for what these types of experiences represent in the western society and in the science which is fashionable nowadays. However, it is my hope that the lack of public acknowledgement and fashion doesn’t stand in the way for us to learn from them.
To me, it is beyond any doubt that the clarity that I am talking about is available to every single person on the planet.
One of the fallacies of our conceptual mind is that it innocently creates limitations but there are ways of extending ourselves beyond our conceptual capabilities.
To go beyond is to realise this limitation. This in it self as most people already know can be really hard. And reading this article through I cannot help but feel that it might induce and invite the limitation I hope to steer clear off, but I guess it is too late now.
I hope you enjoy it!
Ps. Although I use terms as logic and theory I want you to consider everything that is written here merely as a proposal, an invitation to look at things in a different way than you might be used to.
The content is a direct result derived from my own life and experience and it is based on my own observations. I have no investment (at least not any I am aware of) for this content to get any acknowledgement or special traction. Any value whatsoever can only come from within yourself.
The survival factor: Our conceptual capability
In order for us to navigate more effectively humans have this enormous capacity of modelling our environment by conceptualising it. By conceptualising our mind helps us see the logic of how something works and remember it for future reference. This capacity has led to the creation of lots of wonderful things which has been most helpful in our progress throughout history – language, tool creation, calculus, geometry, religion etc.
To see the logic of the physical world is very valuable and we start to learn from the very moment we open our eyes for the first time. When we take our first look we are really free from any concepts and we have no clue of what is going on. We cannot distinguish the sound of a passing car from the chirping of birds in the tree as little as we can distinguish the faces of our parents from the all the other shapes and colours that fills our vision. To us, there are just noises, shapes, colours moving around. We haven’t created any concepts about these sounds and shapes yet.
But this quickly changes. When we grow up we start to learn and understand the meaning of solid objects, the effects of gravity, the meaning of a deep growl from a four legged creature with sharp teeth and so on. Our minds develop constructs (or concepts) which we then use to navigate effectively around our environment. These concepts becomes our model of our physical world and protects us from doing all sorts of stupid things like walking out the window from the third floor to use our hands to open doors instead of trying to walk through them.
To use an analogy we can look at these concepts as programs that guides us.
The key to understanding is seeing
What is important to point out is that these concepts are learned through different ways of observation. To understand we first need to clearly see. Without seeing there is no real understanding.
The logic of the forces of the physical world reveals itself to us simply by our ability to observe them and then create concepts. An every day example would be, when we hit a wall, we observe that we can’t penetrate it by mere force and the following pain simply informs us “don’t do THAT again”. A new program is created. And when we push our favourite porcelain cup of the top of the table we get to witness how the cup disappears and transforms into lots of small and sharp pieces.
To a little child the disappearance of the cup is magical, to an adult there is no magic at all. The only difference is that the child lacks a correct understanding. The adults mind is aligned with a more correct understanding.
The key to our learning and the foundation of real knowledge is observation and understanding comes from seeing something clearly. And when we see that it always works the same way we will eventually (yes, even the stubborn ones) see the logic of how it actually works.
Seeing the logic is helpful, not seeing the logic creates all kinds of illusions and confusion. It is not only valuable to understand the reality of our surrounding physical world to navigate it more effectively, it is and has always been an invaluable part for our physical survival.
But what about the logic of our inner world, our psychological reality? Is there a logic to how our inner world works?
If there is, how valuable do you think it would be to learn, see and understand this logic?
Even though the logic of the physical world is ever present and we are able to observe it, it often takes us some time to understand the logic of it. It is somewhat funny that humans have the image of the donkey being stubborn even though the human capacity for stubbornness is vastly greater than any donkey. History shows that changing perception and seeing the most apparent logic can take mankind decades, centuries and even thousands of years to realise and accept.
So we are slow learners and now we have a much harder nut to crack – finding the logic of our psychological reality.
Finding the logic of our psychological reality
It seems to me that to explore this specific topic we need to take a closer look at the following:
- What does our inner world consist of? Are there any building blocks?
- Are there any “forces” at play which affects us?
- Are these forces observable?
- Do they follow any pattern? Like a rule or a law?
- What do these rules or laws look like?
- Are these constants, rules or laws individual or universal?
That should get us started.
Most of us can probably agree that in any given moment the inner world (or psychological reality) of human beings consist of a mixture of several different things or forces like thoughts, ideas, attitudes, feelings, moods, emotions, perception, awareness and so on.
In the spirit of Ockham, Einstein and Sydney Banks I prefer to keep thing as simple as possible and there are two key observations that in my mind are relevant for us for the task at hand. I also think that it is fair to conclude that any person would testify that these observations are not just theoretical but actual observations of every day life for all human being. The key observations are:
- Our inner world seems to consist of many different forces.
- All of which is in very moment are ever moving, always changing.
Let us dig a little bit deeper. What about observing these forces.
Can they be observed? And how?
At this point in our exploration we have to come to the realisation that this task is impossible to conduct by an agent other than the subject itself. The exploration and the findings can only be found by ourselves and not in some lab by sophisticated instruments. Simply because what we are exploring is beyond our conceptual capacity so instruments created by the means of the conceptual mind would probably be inadequate. Much in the same way that we cannot think out ways of looking outside what we call the universe. Our conceptual minds cannot expand beyond the system where it was created.
We are therefore at a point where it gets a little bit more tricky. For obvious reasons some of these forces are easier to spot than others. But when it comes to perception – the lens or way through which we see things within and without, and awareness – by some described as the receiver of what is perceived, we find ourselves on very loose grounds and it starts to get really difficult to keep a straight line.
In my mind I think that one reason to why we are having difficulty observing these forces in action is that our conceptual mind operates on the same level as these apparent forces. Another way of putting it would be that we are trying to examine a system from within that same system which would be the equivalence of trying to catch a glimpse of our own eye. We are bound by the limits of our minds conceptual capabilities.
But what if there is another way of observing? Another means of discovering what is actually going on?
But before we get inte that, let us examine our findings a little bit more. It looks like our inner world is created by several different “forces”, which are more or less visible to us. For instance, a thought is much harder to observe than a feeling. And observing perception is much harder than to notice our own mood. You see where I am getting with this.
But I am going to propose something quite different.
What if all the forces that make up our psychological world are made of the same “stuff”? What if thoughts, feelings, moods, ideas, emotions, attitudes and even perception and awareness in essence are modalities of the same stuff in and that the reason why we use different words to describe this “stuff” indicates where in our mind and body and when this “stuff” is being observed rather than them being different forces altogether? The different names might rather suggest that there is a level of subtlety involved.
That would simplify things a lot and it might even qualify as being a constant, a principle. This might be the logic we are looking for. Maybe even a unifying theory of how our inner world is created.
Let stop for a moment and see what we have got so far.
In my mind it looks something like this: That the inner world, the psychological reality of every person is created from one single thing, one single force. It comes in seemingly many different shapes which is why is it so hard for us to see the logic of it.
But what about the other key observation me made? That the “forces” that creates our inner world is in constant change? That isn’t very reliable or is it?
Well, when it comes to constants, principles, or laws there is in my mind only one rule. Whatever we examine, in order to call it a principle it must be conclusive, reliable and without any exceptions. In other words, it has to work only one way, and the same way all the time. Like gravity.
The constantly changing of our inner world would most definitely qualifies as a principle. For it to not qualify we must find at least one example where a human being inner world has been fixed for a period of time, a person that has had the exact same thought, feeling, emotion, state-of-mind, perception, mood and level of awareness for a while. To me this seems impossible to test but if we take a look at this premise for ourselves we would probably end up with the conclusion that the possibility for a human being to have a 100 % fixed experience of life isn’t likely.
Is it universal?
If there is a principle that constitutes every human beings inner world it must be universal and not individual. Let’s take a look at where we have arrived at this point in our discovery and see how it applies when it comes to being personal or universal.
What we know is that every human being is having an own set of unique experience – a private experience. This experience is made of different “forces” but when we examine these forces more closely we find that they might be made of the same stuff which appears different depending on the way we examine them.
So is the human experience individual or universal? Well, if we take a look at the content of the human psychological reality it is most certainly 100 % individual. But if we look at what that content is made of we clearly see that the psychological reality is delivered by the already mentioned forces. And although I don’t have any means of knowing this, I think it is fair to assume that there isn’t anyone alive without an psychological reality.
My conclusion is that there most certainly is a logic to how our inner world is created. A natural law of how our psychological reality is created from moment to moment. It is somewhat observable but not clear because of the limits of our conceptual mind.
In my mind the logic looks like something like this:
- Our inner world, our personal psychological reality, is made of one and the same “stuff”.
- Depending on how we examine this stuff we use different names. We call it thoughts, ideas, attitudes, feelings, emotions, moods, states of mind, perception, awareness and so on.
- We live in a constant flow of this “stuff” which explains the constant changing of our inner state.
In my mind one of the pitfalls is the inclination to try to narrow and pin down the building blocks (the “stuff”) or the source of those building blocks. This is the way of the traditional reductionists which with their razor sharp minds (conceptual) innocently are cutting, and cutting in the quest of reaching an end of the cutting. Cutting leads to that everything gets fragmented and separated from the whole.
Richard Feynman, David Bohm and Nassim Haramein are good examples of great scientists who have realised the limitations of cutting and been open to other ways of exploring. To me it seems more valuable to focus on discovering the principle or law rather than form concepts around the building blocks and their origin.
One of the fallacy of our conceptual mind is that it innocently creates limitations but there are ways of extending ourselves beyond our conceptual capabilities.
To go beyond is to realise this limitation. This in it self as most people already know can be really hard. As already mentioned the key lies in seeing. This particular seeing has nothing to do with vision or cognitive visualising capabilities. It is a different kind of seeing.
I am not trying to create a new field of study. In my mind, creating more concepts about “limiting concepts” is probably not very helpful.
Or as Sydney Banks, the Scottish philosopher, said: “If we insist of keeping complicated ideas alive, our lives will be controlled by well-defined illusions.”
I hope you found this article valuable. The content is parts from the work I do. If you are interested in diving in at a deeper level feel free to get in touch.
About the author: Patrik works as a coach, trainer, speaker and writer. By looking at the deeper mechanisms behind top results and well-being he helps people and businesses to reach exceptional levels of success in their lives and businesses.
He is based in Sweden where he carries out his work. On his web page you can read more about his programs, services and events.