Part of what I am saying is that a human observer is essentially a perspective, A way of seeing rather than THE way of seeing. If I am sitting by the river I am not mucking the horse pasture. I am weeding the strawberries I am not writing poetry under the apple tree. If I am gazing at a sky full of stars I am not gazing a mushrooms in the compost.
At any moment, the observation of which you are comprised is both local and partial. At the sensorimotor level it includes whatever data is allowed by the intersection of the local environment with the particular organism. At the cognitive level, it includes your vast knowing predicated on all the years of your learning to be the particular human observer you are.
For example, my perspective on cows includes my father’s relationship with cows, which was complex and lifelong, and my own history with cows, which cannot be disentangled from my father. Nobody can experience cows the way I experience cows, and I will never experience a cow apart from the specific way that I experience cows.
Right now I am writing on the back porch while it rains. The sky is soft gray like the belly of a trout. The lilac is just beginning to bloom. The grass is rich and green, like the first time I flew over Ireland. The neighbor’s sheep are bawling. I am thinking about what one does when faced with disagreement, with a particular focus on some of Hugh Gash’s ideas about spirituality in a constructivist context.
That’s Sean – or was Sean, a couple of hours ago. Who are you?
If we can see the way our observing constitutes a perspective that is biological, mental, psychological, spiritual and so forth, then we can perhaps begin to also see how this is true for all observers. You are a perspective. Your neighbor is a perspective. Robins in the backyard are a perspective. A bee is a perspective. The lilac is a perspective.
The significance of this is that it loosens our stranglehold on truth or reality. It eases up our conviction that there is a 1:1 correspondence between our experience as observers and an external cosmos. There isn’t the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There are many ways and many truths constituting many expressions of Life. This is disconcerting at first, given our particular investment in being special separate selves, but as we come back to it over and over, its potential for peace becomes clear.
If there are only many perspectives – as opposed to a singular truth that can be known – then we don’t need to argue as much. Disagreements arise but they needn’t devolve into estrangement or worse. Of course someone has a different view than us. They also have a pair of feet that aren’t ours. Are we going to get bent out of shape over that, too?
So we relax a little and see a way in which to build a world in which it is easier for people to be good, forgiving, gentle, patient. A world in which it is easier to be loving. And we can build it together. That is the real work of being human – to build together a world in love.
Too often, we perceive differences as signals to defend ourselves or prove others wrong. It becomes a way of deciding who is valuable and deserving and who is not as worthy. That is a world in which love is constrained and denied its full expression.
When we appreciate that differences arise naturally as a fundament of the human observer, then some space opens up in which we are quieter, gentler, kinder and more nurturing. After all, this other could be me. To see that clearly is love. To let it be is love.
Thanks for giving me an observation of your porch scene. Love is in the examples! (not exclusively, but best “seen” there!). This post reminded me of the Tibetan practice of creating/destroying sand mandalas. Lost in being the human instead of the observing of the human, I’ll get uptight about “what” I create (including opinions). Uptight as either duality, avoid/can’t or driven/defend (with of course a yin/yang of each defining and circulary making the other). (i’ve observed a story in this me of avoid/can’t, yet that “couldn’t” help finding itself expressing “assertiveness” anyway) The investment in the separate-self (sand) mandala CAN only be loosened up by the willingess to accept the fact that we Are SEEING it, and not it. Your seeing clearly has proof in the example here as me – a gentler, kinder, very nurtured (observed) experience. Lovely. Thanks.
Thanks for drawing that analogy, Mike – I hadn’t thought of it that way, hadn’t made that connection, but it works, and is helpful. As you know, a lot of my energy is around de-mystifying or de-spiritualizing a process or experience that – for me – is clouded and restricted by overly spiritual language. But you always point out the way in which the experience can be constructed with both spiritual and less-spiritual (or other-spiritual maybe) language. I am very grateful for that, more than you know. Thank you.