One of the most important things I have done that has freed me from the troubles of this world and allowed me to take hold of God has been to become aware of the
assumptions I have about the big picture, assumptions that are rarely discussed and which seem to be taught to each of us nonverbally by simply interacting with other
people as soon as we are born. These assumptions may seem philosophical or esoteric, but I can say with confidence that reflecting on them and deliberately choosing what
I assume has transformed every aspect of my life and the way I see everything. Most people would jump on an easy job that paid $1,000 an hour, right? Think of this work
like that. Let me list what I can conjure up:
You may be telling yourself that you shouldn't make assumptions, and some philosophies even have this as a component. You may not agree with or understand the logical
arguments made above which would render the possible assumptions less than arbitrary. Consider, however, that whenever you take an action you must first make a decision,
and when you decide something you are calling upon your assumptions to calculate what you decide. Your assumptions get used whether you explicitly choose them or not. The
choices you make, consciously or unconsciously, depend on what to assume and have ramifications which extend to your entire experience, including the course your life is
taking, your goals, the person you believe you are becoming, how you feel, etc. etc. This isn't doctrine, it is my observation, based on years of reflection, but I believe
everyone is capable of reflecting on the workings of their own assumptions and observing the same thing. Once you see this it will be like finding the key to yourself in
your own hand.
- Is there life after death? For some people this is a fundamental assumption, but when I had a materialistic worldview this was actually a conclusion - that
there is no life after death because life, or consciousness, is entirely a product of the physical brain. When the brain is destroyed at death, there can be no more
consciousness. This satisfied me until I had a revelation that, for me, was a crack in the materialistic worldview through which I escaped. I was drifting in and out of
sleep, under the influence of an entheogen, when I noticed that I had no awareness of falling asleep until I awoke and noticed that there was a hole in my memory. I
realized that if I did not awaken again, ever, that I would never experience falling asleep either. Then I connected this with the experience of death, that if I lost
consciousness and never regained it, that the experience of losing consciousness would, in effect, never have happened from my point of view. Until that point I had assumed
that my subjective reality and the one I assume is out there, that we share, is one and the same, but this experience split them apart and destroyed my conception of death
from a materialistic worldview. The answer to this question isn't actually just an assumption, something you can't prove either way but are placing a bet on so you can live
your life. If you can grasp the idea that you can't perceive your own lack of existence, that death doesn't exist because it can't be perceived, you can actually prove to
yourself logically that there must be life after death. The form of that life is left entirely undefined, but self-awareness must go on. There is another logical argument
too, this time from the emotional abstract space. Consider these possibilities:
- There is no life after death.
- There is life after death, but nothing we do in life affects it.
- There is life after death, and the quality of that life is affected by how we use this lifetime.
None of these assumptions can be proven, except between the first and second two with the logical argument above. But look what the possible outcomes are depending on
which assumption you choose:
- There is no life after death: This can't be experienced, the same as saying it is impossible if looking from a personal point of view, which is all that is
left after stripping away your life. If you pick this assumption:
- If you picked right, you can't be glad or sorry since you won't exist.
- If you picked wrong, you can only be sorry. See below.
- There is life after death, but nothing we do in life affects it: It is conceivable that we will all find ourselves in the same situation after death, and
that there will be no reward or punishment for the way we spent our lives. The question I would have you ask, in studying this assumption, is how much of yourself you
would have to leave behind to not care how you lived your life? If your relationships survived because other people live after dying too, won't the way you treated people
in life affect how you feel after death? It seems to me that to have absolutely no concern for the way you lived, you would have to completely forget your life and the
person you became. The bottom line is:
- If you picked right, you won't even know.
- If you picked wrong, you can only be sorry. See below.
- There is life after death, and the quality of that life is affected by how we use this lifetime: This seems like the only rational choice, given the
comparison to the possible outcomes above with these:
- If you picked right, you will be glad to have prepared.
- If you picked wrong, you can only be sorry that you wasted the opportunity to prepare.
If you see any flaw in my logic, I welcome you to discuss it on my forum. As far as the assumed answer to
this question, most people in the world talk and behave as if they have assumed that there is no life after death, as evidenced by their fear of death, their focus on and
investment in the present life and the way language is used, such as "when I die..." and talking about those who died in the past tense, rather than "when my body dies..."
and "my late husband still loves me", etc. Deliberately choosing our language is an excellent way to reinforce deliberately chosen assumptions.
- What is the ultimate reality? Let me narrow this question to the possibilities I considered. The answer which almost everybody hands out, and which we are
therefore almost exclusively given after we are born, is that the laws of nature or physics underlie all reality. For those who believe in the big bang, the laws of physics
somehow "came with" the universe at its formation, and dictated the structure and properties of the space, time, matter and energy which came into existence from that
point, and it is the interaction of these mindless, heartless, sourceless laws which account for every aspect of the reality we now know. Another possibility, however, one
no more complicated, unlikely, or refutable than the first, is that everything started out as a mind, or consciousness, or as "God", and everything we know, including
ourselves, extended from that beginning, much as the content of a dream seems to emanate from our own consciousness on a relatively tiny and crude scale. This assumption
does not prescribe any particular nature for the mind which would underlie reality, but assuming the latter assumption were adopted, it would lead to other questions about
the nature of God.
The Garden analogy
Imagine that your mind is like a garden, and that as soon as you were born the world started scattering seeds on it, mostly weeds, which grew and became a wilderness.
Even if you were lucky enough to find a seed from the Tree of Life and you planted it in the middle of your garden, the sprout would be quickly overtaken by the surrounding
weeds and disappear. In the same way, even when I identify important assumptions which underlie my worldview and deliberately choose different ones, the ramifications which
emanated from the old assumptions, and which still control my decisions and actions, act to suppress and overturn my new assumptions. It takes time to train the fertilizer
of my attention to apply itself only to my chosen assumptions and their fruit, and to ignore the old assumptions and their fruit. It also takes time to tease apart the good
plants from the bad ones, since they can seem intertwined, and learn to recognize what is good for me and what is destroying me. In practice, this means reevaluating the
beliefs stemming from my old assumptions, examining my motives and decision making processes to consciously employ my new assumptions, and let the experience of acting on
my new assumptions reinforce my faith in them.
If you would like to discuss the material here, please join the Puzzle Piece forum. Questions asked there may end up
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