“All that we are is the result of all that we have thought. It is founded on thought. It is based on thought.”
-Buddha, The Dhammapada
William James, the father of American Psychology, once told a story about an encounter with an older lady who believed the Earth rested on the back of a massive Turtle. Entering her model of reality, he kindly asked her, “Well what is holding up that turtle?” She responded quickly, “The Turtle is standing on the back of another turtle.” Before he could ask again she let him know, “It’s no use Dr. James, it’s Turtles allll the way down,”
Now before you label this lady as “delusional,” I think you’ll realize that ALL humans perceive their reality in the same fundamental manner, whether it’s Turtles or some other model of the world.
Dr. Leonard Orr once noted, the human mind behaves as if it were divided into two parts, the Thinker and the Prover.
The Thinker, the more complex of the two parts, can essentially think up anything. For example, depending on the time period, the Thinker can think that the universe is nothing to get excited about (Buddhism) or that the world is flat (Many Athletes seem to has this view these days.) The Thinker can think the cosmos is meaningless (Scientific Reductionists) or depending on the school of philosophy/religion that man is moral/immoral, mortal/immortal, or some combination of the two. The Thinker can also Think himself/herself sick and back to health, which the medical industry is still trying to figure out to this day.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone, it just simply shows that our instrument/tool for perceiving the world “outside,” our nervous system, has the ability to construct many types of maps depending on the time, culture, language and leadership for that specific environment.
I won’t go into detail in this blog post about what the Thinker is comprised of, but to provide some structure it appears to this day to be a combination of genetics, early imprinting, subsequent conditioning, and any new types of learning throughout the individual’s life (These are the main categories).
Now comes the fun part, the Prover. Now that you have your model for the world, the “map of the territory” as Alfred Korzybski artistically put it, you set out to Prove your model, to see if it works and makes you feel happy/secure. Whether you Prove this through the Deletion, Distortion or Generalization of information (It’s always a combination of the three) you will attempt to Prove it is so.
For example, lets take the fun model of the world that some celebrities are adamant about, the Flat Earth Theory. Once this individual incorporates this belief into their map of the world, they will distort, delete and generalize information to Prove the world is flat. They do this without being conscious of it. On the other side of the model, his/her friends will distort, delete and generalize information to Prove their model, that the Earth is round and “floating” in space. What the Thinker thinks, the Prover Proves. This example seems to me to be the least abrasive, but as some of you connected the dots, any economic, political, religious or philosophical belief can be inserted above 😉
Many individuals are quick to point out how silly of a belief system others have, but do not realize that they, themselves, have constructed a model on the same basic principles.
Until you become WOKE AF, find enlightenment, satori, whatever your phrase is, which simply means you have been able to become aware of the distinction between your subjective map of the world and the objective territory itself, we will be in a continuous loop of dissatisfaction trying to fit the world into our model that we ourselves have created. If you haven’t noticed yet, this can not be done.
Most of the humans throughout the course of history Thought they had THE CORRECT MAP of the world and set out to Prove it, by whatever means they felt necessary, which sadly, is still going on today and is the source of most of the turmoil.
We can not operate without a model, but don’t forget, you have created the internal model yourself. So take some time to reflect on what your Thinking, and what you set out to Prove each day, or don’t, what do I know, this is just what I Think.