Look within and look around. You are not lost.
As with all philosophical and practical considerations, not much can be accomplished without an agreement of terms. So I will begin by asking some questions. How do we know we are alive?
Experiences. How do we distinguish our selves from our experiences? Heartbeat, respiration, brain wave activity. That only means that the body is alive.
Rhythms established not by ourselves, but by the natural world that allows for life here in the first place. Even brain wave activity has recently been accepted as interlinked, if only to a very limited degree. Just as our body takes its form from genes that arise in our environment, even independent of the strictly human form, our experiences arise from patterns that exist in our environment as well. These have been called our memes among other things. Jung referred to them as archetypes even going so far as to advance a model of a shared unconscious domain of awareness. Much evidence supports this. Even physically there is not really any such thing as a closed system.
In my experience, it often seems like we have two major challenges to personal growth. Neither of which actually have anything to do with any fixed state of mind that any individual may or may not adopt. Ever notice that you either change your mind without willing it, or cannot change your mind when you do will it? Does it seem random or just some strange personal failure?
I was thinking it is Alzheimer’s slipping in as of late. Well, mental illness has a pronounced memetic vector to my observation, as do cognitive degenerative diseases. But that is a different issue than today’s topic. Your brain behaves much like your heart and functions with a set of principles that you didn’t choose.
It always seems like a personal failure when I have experienced it. I would offer that it is not, and why it seems that we fail to exercise free will goes beyond just any momentary choice. Just as our bodies attempt to maintain health by preserving homeostasis, our minds seek the same balance, and we don’t have to will this to happen. It happens universally and has nothing to do with either character or intellect. It is just the “genetic” or memetic component of our consciousness.
Thank goodness. Indeed, it is a blessing in disguise, because there is a reason all myth and delusion has a basis in reality and this has nothing to do with our personal cleverness. The mind has a survival drive just as primal and potentially all consuming as the desire for food and shelter. It seeks shelter in what we might call a paradigm.
You cannot avoid having a paradigm. You have memory and experiences, but more deeply than this, your very senses have a way they have evolved to make sense of your world. It’s even why humans can’t avoid developing some form of language. It may be crude or sophisticated, but you will form a set of concepts related to your experiences and you will cross reference them with each other, compare and contrast each with the others. The mind operates by achieving a synthesis of experience, just as the stomach operates by achieving a synthesis of ingested substances.
We become accustomed to a shared paradigm for the same reason we become accustomed to an environment. We eat what is available there to eat, and use the resources there to serve our survival, and the suitability of any of this is not relevant in any absolute way.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.