Choice, a Self-Referential Paradox

Could a choice be my initial defense of what I determine as right or wrong? Right may be as subtle as best or better than someone or something else. Wrong can be just as innocuous as not as good as or worse than.

A choice is a symbolic gesture of separateness, which represents defense of that symbol.

At the point of choice, I must first perceive separation between separate things. Through a values system, I then determine what’s more right and less wrong. I attach defenses that support my determination. I then choose a counter balance of defenses that represent why I didn’t choose otherwise. My choices are always based on a need to be right, which is instinctual – survival thinking. A self-referential paradox of separateness.

For example, I made a choice to wear my sneakers today. That seemed reasonable because the hiking trail is rough. Reflecting on that choice now while on the trail, I feel grateful I didn’t choose to wear my sandals. My choice to wear sneakers was based on “it’s better to wear sneakers on the trail” vs “it’s worse to traverse the trail in sandals.” My process has evolved from determination defended by choice to choice defended by choice.

The choices I make are at the foundation of survival of who I think I am. The truths that follow those philosophies are built on paradoxical reasons. The measure of value my truth possesses is based on the effectiveness of its reasons. The more effective my reasons, the more I feel the need to defend them. A self-referential paradox of choice!

My need to compete illustrates the power of choice

Out of my need to be separate came the paradox of thought, I experience competition between thoughts. Let’s look at time for example. I experienced time as normal prior to receiving anesthesia for surgery. When I awoke five hours later, I wondered where that time had disappeared. I felt confused and surreal because I could not account for my time. So, I accounted for that time with imagery that supports my life story.

My defense of a now and a not now seem different, yet, are the same. I plug a memory into my present experience as though they are the same. “Things never change!” As long as my concept of time supports my truths, I will continue to defend it.

Somehow, memories from a past that can’t exist now, do. I’ve sacrificed the present for a past irrelevant to it in content and context. Irrelevant also is a future where memory can’t exist, yet does. “It’s always been this way and it always will be!” A self-referential paradox of time.

The addition of time reckoning to my paradoxical perspective helps justify my separateness into what, how, and why I am. I can believe I am and am not my experiences.  A self-referential paradox of being.

The great defender of paradox

From one choice come many defenses – belief, truth, reason, philosophy, process, policy, and etc. Further defense serves to strengthen the choice that serves to strengthen the defense. A self-referential paradox .

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My Justified Life Story

“It’s my story and I’m sticking to it!” My life story is a history of justified emotions I’ve attached to my thoughts and actions through time. I defend any story that adds to the importance of my story.

My story presents a linear timeline that directs my imagination to access a string of memories. Those memories I choose to access validate and support my present emotional experience.

My beliefs hold my perceptions of time and emotions as universal truths, giving authority to my story. There’s a paradox. Although my emotions feel tied to time, they don’t exist there. For example, time flies when you’re having fun and seems to drag when you’re feeling sad. Emotion affects the perception of time.

Read more My Justified Life Story

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Struck by the Arrow of Time

A line from one of my favorite folk songs – sung by Harry Belefonte and made even more famous in the hilarious movie, Beetlejuice – speaks to my belief in the arrow of time. “Jump in the line, rock your body in time. OK, I believe you!”

Perhaps I jumped into my reality at conception – at which time the arrow of time appeared to start for me. Rocking my body through sensation, I became a believer. I believe in reality as I perceive it. And yet, there are problems. Time, for one.

When one looks closely at time, it just sort of vaporizes into nothingness. This behavior causes me to question my understanding of reality.

What does time have to do with my beliefs? How does its weird behavior affect me?

I’m fairly sure that time moves from past to present to future – the arrow of time. I’ve experienced it in this way every day of my life. Never has time reversed or suddenly acted differently than I expected… unless it has!

In 2011, I underwent a surgery that lasted several hours. As I entered the surgery room, I recall looking up at the analog clock on the wall and seeing, 7:00 (AM). I blinked my eyes and in that instant I felt a sensation of complete disorientation. Suddenly, I was looking at another clock on another wall that read 5:00.

“How could I have gone back in time two hours? And where am I?!” I shuddered. Slowly I realized I’d not gone into the past. I’d instantly traveled 10 hours into the future – it was 5 pm! I’d also traveled several hundred feet to another room! Space-time had pulled a trick on me – one that was at once terrifyingly, jarring, and awakening!

I’d lost connection with time and space. It took some time and familiar objects for me to reorient, to reconnect to the reality I recognize as mine.

Questioning My Reality?

Have you ever experienced days or weeks or longer in a dream and upon awakening after a short nap wondered how so much had transpired in such a short while? Or, as I had, experienced the perception of an instant in which much time had elapsed?

My surgery experience got me to wondering about my perception and beliefs about time – and reality based on it. Yes, it had not changed its direction – past progressed into future – arrow direction unchanged. The arrow traveled faster than I expected – and so disoriented my senses. Doesn’t time move according to some standard – like the atomic clock or something? Isn’t a second a second?

Well, maybe not.

Perhaps time, like the US dollar, is disconnected from a solid standard. Einstein theorized and others demonstrated that time is relative to gravity – messing with the arrow of time. Check out the movie, Interstellar, in which a group of astronauts experience a few hours while their companion at the distant docking station experienced almost three decades.

I’ve experienced this type of relativity myself – when I’m having fun, time seems to fly by. Time seems to pass relative to my mood. As I described above, it also seems to be tied to my conscious awareness and belief.

What if the instant I call now is quantum in the same way matter is quantum – appearing to me as I expect it to appear? Perhaps my reality, like time and space, does not exist as I perceive it – it only appears to exist that way – to me! Perhaps the arrow of time is merely a useful concept.

This raises the question, “What is real, then?”

To which I answer, “I don’t know!”

Considering the Seven Degrees of Illumination, questioning my reality may be useful in discovering whatever may be beyond the First-Second Degree bubble of awareness sense of safety in which I contain (maybe imprison?) my consciousness.

What if I presuppose and assume that my perceptions of time-space reality are incorrect? What if I assume that what I’m perceiving is NOT as I perceive it? In any case, then, I may assume that my perception is incorrect, wrong, at least inaccurate. This does not identify me as weak minded. It is perhaps an acknowledgment of a more realistic evaluation of the true nature of the universe and my place within it.

Perhaps a useful question for me might be to ask myself (repeatedly!), “How ELSE could I perceive this?”

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I See It Because I Believe It

The old Missourians used to say, “Show me!” – a variation on the theme of, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

My First Degree of Illumination “old Missourian” persona loves that saying, trusts authority, trusts my ego, and distrusts my Third Degree of Illumination questioning self.

Adhering to faith in my senses as though they were authorities that somehow know better… when they don’t (know better)… has on occasion caused me to believe in the impossible!

Allow me to explain –

My senses are part of my Second Degree justification system that seeks to make sense of senselessness. My eyes, for example, don’t see what is there. Rather, they reflect to me what I believe is there. Breaking that down further, I come to realize that I see only what I believe – there is no “there” to be seen – because…

Read more I See It Because I Believe It

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Suffering and the Arrow of Time

I sometimes ask myself, “Why do I do what I do when I know what I know?”

I’ve used this question to elicit a feeling of guilt for not meeting some standard I’ve set for myself or accepted from someone else.

Let’s investigate that question, check it for validity, “Is it true?” And learn something useful about “IT” in the process.

To start with, time rolls along in one direction – from past to present to future – called the arrow of time. I can imagine going into the past, yet I cannot actually do so. I must obey the arrow of time.

Investigations that follow the arrow of time tend to result in successful outcomes. Those that fail to take the arrow into account tend to result in suffering. Read more Suffering and the Arrow of Time

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