HOW Does My Dimension of Belief Work?

I believe a lot of things – and trust my senses, which are not always reliable sources of accurate information. I believe that what I perceive IS what IS. Yet, I occasionally make sensual, judgmental, and thinking errors – optical illusions, incorrectly heard communications, biases and prejudices, and etc.

Sometimes what SEEMS to be is not what it SEEMS to be.

It SEEMS to me that I’m sensing a lot of “what is” – rocks, houses, my glasses, the sound of the truck outside my office, and etc. — “WHAT is that?” I ask. “SomeTHING, that’s WHAT!” I answer.

In Second Degree Illumination, I justify “things” with reasons WHY they are as I perceive them. My need to know WHY satisfied, I go on to justify HOW my justification is correct. This keeps me safely inside First Degree Illumination.

To get beyond the First-Second Degree bubble, I could ASK a question that elicits more questions – particularly those that question the question. While at the edge of the bubble, answering questions tends to serve to satisfy my need to know – delivering me back into the First-Second Degree safety bubble.

As I begin to question my trust in my senses, thinking, and beliefs, let’s investigate the relationship between WHAT and HOW in my world of perception…

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Patterns of Prediction or How I Avoid Humiliation and Awakening

Patterns – it’s the stuff of life. I don’t perceive reality – I literally create it with assumptions – based on my perception of patterns. I assume a pattern as soon as I “guess” that one exists. After that, I tend to “fill in the blanks” rather than test my hypothesis (my “guess”).

To illustrate my point, consider the following:

1, 2, 3…

Can you predict the next number? Of course you can. You assume it is 4. That’s because you perceive a familiar pattern. But, what if it is not 4. What if it is 5 instead? Is the pattern broken? Maybe – unless you can perceive a new pattern, you will not be able to predict the next or the next number.

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Does Having Biases and Prejudices Make Me a Bad Person?

Bias: “prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.” (Google)

Prejudice: “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.” (Google)

As a human being, I’m proud to say I have biases and prejudices – which separates me from the machines I live with. My coffee pot, for example, doesn’t care what color I am or how old I am or who I associate with – it brews the same pot of coffee regardless.

Biases and prejudices become dangerous when they spin out of control and threaten others. By allowing a bias to go unchecked or unacknowledged, I develop a perceptual filter – a blind spot – that blinds me to the harm I may be doing. Fed by this positive feedback loop of prejudice and perceptual filters of justification, unacknowledged societal biases can result in terrifying outcomes like genocide.

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Confirmation Bias and the Placebo Effect

When I feel ill I want to get a confirmation of my diagnosis from my doctor – placebo effect.

I believe my doctor can help make me feel better – placebo effect.

I set myself up for what the doctor diagnoses – placebo effect.

On the way to the doctor’s office, I reassure myself I’m making the right move – placebo effect.

I may have to wait to be seen. I ruminate over my story about why I’m not feeling well. In my mind, I reassure myself again that the doctor knows best for me – placebo effect.

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The Scotoma Solution

A scotoma is a mental activity in which one locks on to one idea and excludes all others – known as a “lock on – lock out” program. It’s my mind’s way of avoiding overwhelm, when faced with too many choices, by protecting what I wish to maintain as my truth.  However, a scotoma can get me into trouble, without me knowing about it.

A great example is in a Spongebob Squarepants cartoon. Spongebob wakes one morning and thinks he’ll create a fantastic dessert for himself. Unfortunately, his choice of ingredients cause him to have horrific halitosis (bad breath). He goes outside after breakfast, where he meets several people, all of whom scream and run away from him as soon as he opens his mouth and says, “Hello.”

His conclusion – “I must be terribly ugly!” Stuck (scotoma) in this erroneous conclusion, he weighs all future evidence only in light of it – discounting evidence to the contrary (called mental filtering).

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