What is True
I know I am conscious. I know I have the experience of having a body, having a mind, and interacting in a "physical" world. I don't know what this world is, what I am, or much else with full certainty.
My bar what is really true is very high.
Beyond what is self evidently true, such as being conscious, being the observer, I am also curious about other patterns that appear true.
I like to rank sources of knowledge as follows:
- Direct experience right now
- Direct experience in the past (mental impressions)
- Logical inferences made from mental impressions
- Secondhand experience from trusted peers
- Secondhand experience from untrusted peers
1. Direct Experience Right Now
The highest, purest form of knowing is self evident, and it is what I am experiencing right now. I always am here right now. I am never in the past, or the future. I can have thoughts about the past or the future, or even meditate and "visit" the past or future, but my experience of the future or past is always right now.
Therefore the experience I am having, and the experience you are having are the only things each of us know with total certainty. That which I am experiencing is only true as as far as I am know I am experiencing something. I have the experience of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, feeling, and the internal mirrors of these in the mind.
The true nature of what I am experiencing is not self evident, simply that I am experiencing it. For example, if I consumed a substance that altered my perception of reality, what I experience is true, but I can only say I experienced it, not that the experience was "real", in some absolute sense.
Does this really matter? I don't know. If I live my entire life in utter delusion, is it really delusion?
2. Direct Experience in the past, leaving mental impressions
As we live our lives, we accumulate experiences as impressions made in our mind. We can remember them, and use them as a basis for understanding what is real and to guide our intentions in order to change "the future", or more precisely, to change the present to be what we desire it to be.
I trust that my memories are somewhat reliable, and somewhat trustworthy, but am aware I may remember incorrectly.
I assume that there are two different experiences that fit under the bucket of intuition.
- True intuition, coming from a higher self (I have no proof this really exists)
- Thoughts and feelings arising from complex pattern matching occurring in the subconscious mind
Both are valuable, and the second type of intuition seems to be something that can be trained and developed through living a rich life full of diverse experiences. The so-called "sub-conscious mind" appears to collect all these experiences and bubble them up as feelings, so as not not overwhelm the present moment with all past experiences.
If true intuition exists, I assume that it is coming from a higher mind that has true knowledge of what is real.
4. Logical Inference from mental impressions
If we use our minds with discipline, we can make certain logical inferences about what is true. We can take the body of all mental impressions and organize them into patterns that have predictive power. Put more simply, if every time I drop an egg, it cracks, I can assume that if I drop another egg, it will crack too. I can also make the logical inference that even a new type of egg I have never seen before will crack if I drop it, even if I have never dropped that particular type of egg.
Assumptions and Intuitive Input
I don't live in a fully rational, logical world. As I've established, there is very little I know as true. Therefore, to think at all, I must make certain assumptions. Making an assumption is consciously or unconsciously defining a frontier or boundary of thinking where rationality cannot cross. It is selecting a certain idea or thought as true, without knowing for certain whether it is. These assumptions inform how we see the world, and how we thinking.
One part of my inner work is bringing unconscious assumptions into the present moment and examining them, and asking if they are really true, or worth keeping around. Some assumptions may prove to be wholly false, while others may be left as unknowable, but valuable to my life. I may assume for example that I have a body, although I really only know that I have the experience and sensations of having a body.
This also allows the input of intuition. Let's say I have a feeling, or intuitive knowing that wearing blue today will result in more calm. I can make that assumption, and then use my mind to examine my memories and mental impressions and see if blue being calming seems true. I can even live my life selecting more blue colors to wear, to decorate and experience, even if I don't know if blue really is calming.
5. Secondhand experience from trusted peers
I value hearing the experiences from peers I trust, and believe will say what is true. They may tell me something false because, they are lying, or they do not know, or because the experience only applies to them, and not to me. There may be other reasons.
I only give so much weight to second hand experiences, especially given that reality may be very fluid.
6. Secondhand experience from untrusted peers
If I hear something from some random girl on the street, or some random dude on YouTube, is there any reason I should immediately trust it? I say no. I will let the idea interact with my existing mental impressions, both intuitively, and with logic and see if it is congruent with past experiences. I will allow intuition to enter the picture, but will be clear that intuition