Saturday, March 15, 2008

Doubt Your Perceptions

Imagine yourself as a lonely creature, buried in a solid metal vessel full of thick chemical liquid, in the basement of a dark forgotten building. You were born there. You can’t get out of the box. Your body is so degraded that you have no hope of escaping. And so you will probably die there. The darkness of the box is all you know, all you have ever known and all you will probably ever know.
And yet you get information from the outside. It comes through little messages that are sent to you from helpers, creatures that you have never directly met but which you are convinced are there. They send you these little messages through wires that reach directly into you and feed you images of the outdoors, the smell of the rain as it hits the asphalt, the rustling of the leaves as the wind rushes past them, the slight rasp of a violin bow as it hits the strings, the gentle touch of lips against your skin… it’s all being sent to you, it’s all being communicated through little wires by your trusted helpers… trusted helpers that you have never met, that you didn’t choose and that you have no discernible connection with.
Given such a predicament, it is very tempting to simply drift and dream, let your degraded body float in its endless bath, close your eyes and let the movie play. Enjoy the constant flow of messages and let them wash over you. In this dream world, you may have a job that you go to every day, you may have a wife, a husband, a boyfriend, a lover, you may have mountains of money or none at all, you may have people talking about you or you might be ignored by the masses. You may have parents that love you, or say that they do. You may have kids who are very loving or who can’t stand the sight of you. You may have friends that swear undying loyalty or you may have enemies that wait behind doorways ready to stab you in the back. No matter what the images are, you may feel that the best course of action is to let them flow over you, let them come and go, and just enjoy them for what they are: ghostly images sent to you by unknown directors.

Maybe one day something doesn’t match quite right in the images you receive. Something rubs against something in a way that seems wrong. Somebody has made a mistake. Something else has come through… maybe something you were not meant to see. It could be as small as a sentence in a book, as big as the sky painted in the wrong color, as subtle as a moment of time repeating in every detail and revealing its unreality. It doesn’t matter what it is, but you can taste that there is a quality to it, something that feels different.
A strange itch may begin within you, an uncomfortable sensation that something has been present with you all along but you have not been able to look at it directly, an anxious feeling that tells you that you have assumed too much, that you have rested too long and that it is time to act.

A long series of questions may emerge within you, questions that were not there before, each like an ancient comet that you have sighted in the distance before but now rages like a ball of fire in front of your eyes:
What is really outside the box?
How can I trust these unknown helpers?
Should I figure out who they are? What they are?
Is there something else out there?
Something that is not the images I receive?
Have I been lied to?
If so, who is lying to me?
Why are they lying to me?
Is there something Real out there?
What is Real?

You will need three bowls.Fill the first bowl with hot water, the second with very cold water, and the third with water of a medium temperature.(The hot water should be quite hot, but not scalding as you will be submerging your hand in it.)
Put the three bowls in front of you, on a table or other surface, within easy reach.
Place your right hand in the bowl of hot water and your left hand in the bowl of cold water.Count to twelve. Then place both hands in the medium temperature bowl of water.Pay close attention to what each hand seems to be experiencing. Each hand will register a different sensation, even though they are both subject to the same environment.
Consider that you may not always rely on your highly sophisticated data processor (also known as your nervous system) to objectively determine what is Real.

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