Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mental Discipline

Reality is a funny thing. In a way, it only exists in our heads. There's a whole lot going on in the bigger world that we know nothing about. Our very senses only sample a tiny slice of information. Telescopes and microscopes opened up new worlds we didn't even know existed. No doubt there's a lot more to existence that we have no way of seeing.

From our very limited sample of the universe we make a model of reality in our heads. That's the map we navigate our lives by. A wise person will try to continually add to their knowledge base, making their mental map more useful.

No one's mental map is the same, in spite of the efforts of standardized school curriculum. The best we seem able to do is to establish enough common territory on the maps so we can navigate through our daily relationships. Even there we often stumble.

It's obvious that some people's mental maps are more useful than others. Ignorance can be a sad thing to watch. Willful ignorance is even worse. Don't be too smug though, even the smartest person the world is ignorant about the greater part of everything.

What's a person to do with this view of the world? For me, it makes me very careful about what I believe. I monitor my own thinking to see if self defeating things have crept in. Has experience shown me that parts of my mental map no longer correspond to the territory? How often have we done something for years without even thinking about it? Then one day we wonder why the heck we are doing what we do? What purpose does it serve?

From a practical standpoint I can do two things. I can absorb more and more information to improve my map. The second thing is to be open to the fact that once in a while my map will be of no use at all and I have to go with the flow.

I know just enough about reality to not take my version of it too seriously.



  1. Wise words, sixbears. Reality is as subjective as his-story and about as authoratively factual. I continually question my own perception of reality. There is sooooooo much to learn about out there.

  2. I once read somewhere that the purpose of education is to show us our ignorance.

    1. That's the difference between education and schooling.

  3. Some may call it flip flopping.
    I prefer to call it learning as one progresses.
    Willingness to change is a mark of intelligence !
    However changing just to go with the flow is the sign of a fool.

    1. I worry about those who are proud of never changing their minds. Politicians are bad that way.

  4. Here's something to wrap your mind around: 96% of the universe is missing: