Red Pill, Blue Pill: Choice and Belief


I just had what would normally be a discouraging encounter with one of “The Ten” one of the authors in my cirriculum vitae, who have inspired me to begin this blog; a scientist who told me he’d been where I was “40 years ago” and long ago  dismissed those ideas.

He said he “no longer believe[d] in the existence of consciousness outside the body”.  His belief system no longer accommodates the existence of consciousness beyond the rational model’s parameters. 

Eckhart Tolle speaks of Descartes’ essential error – mistaking thinking for existence (“I think, therefore I am”).  This points directly to The Scientist’s essential error, mistaking the limitations of consciousness to what the rational mind can encompass.

Earlier, I spoke of the age of “spiritual maturity” being the age of 33 that Richard Bucke discusses in his seminal book, COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS.  As we reach maturity, we make choices about who we are, what path we will follow, and what system of core beliefs we will adhere to.  This is a non-rational process, we don’t “decide”, we “discover” these answers, each for themselves.

What I realized from my discussion – what I made real to my mind and my thinking (my beliefs already accorded with this, but I never had reason to externalize it before) – with the Scientist is that I’m not speaking to him.  He has chosen “the blue pill”, the external reality where reason and “objectivity” reign.  Consciousness is the ultimate in “subjectivity” experience, so it’s natural that the “blue pill” people would disregard it.

On a certain level of analogy, the culture wars are between the rationalists and the intuitionalists, the material and the spiritual segments of society and culture, underlying all the other conservative/liberal, right/left, gay/straight, white/everything else struggles that manifest as examples of this underlying conflict.  Recently, it was pointed out to me that the percentage of the population admitting to “spiritual experiences” has surpassed the 50% point, and the “spiritual but not religious” movement is about to reach critical mass.  What that “means” to the rationalist mentality is “take over”: spirituality is about to “take over” rationality as the operating principle of society.  What “rationalism” can’t understand is that the dominance they so treasure is ALL that will be lost, with the yin and yng as equal partners, not master and slave.  Those of the “rational” pill cannot comprehend a system of thought that exists outside of the rational mode; the spiritual mode is an attempt by modern humanity to re-incorporate both into one, larger, unitary system that recognizes, respects and utilizes both.

In terms of “developmental heirarchies”, the spiritual development is more complex than the rational dominance that is about to be superceded, it incorporates both, while the other resists, reviles and delegitimizes the “other”.

We Choose our Belief System and We Base our Thoughts, Actions and Choices on the System That We Choose

We choose what to have faith in.  Everybody has faith, it’s only in what they have faith in that changes – which is the core of the point; Belief and Faith are to the right-brain what Fact and Reason are to the left-brain, everything that goes on in those realms are based on those core pieces – and they operate in tandem, but independently, like a pair of horses leading a carriage, only if only one is used instead of both, the carriage is invariably carried off the path.

The Scientist chooses the objective reality upon which to base his beliefs, discounting anything that doesn’t register; his belief system, in underlying everything else the thinks and does and chooses is built upon the base of his faith in material existence.   Those of more interior sympathies, those who recognize and honor the internal experience of spirituality, base their beliefs, and thus their actions and thoughts and choices on both reason and intuition.

And I just noticed the doubling back on choice: Choice takes place in the mind, that field of information whose locus is the brain, but the mind is both reason and intuition, so it would be possible for the mind to choose what to base all the rest of its choices on; it’s just a paradox to the rational, sequential mind.

We choose the facts with which we make those choices, further confounding the idea.  This has always been the most difficult part of discussing these issues.  Like an Escher lithograph, it keeps doubling back on itself, looking different from different vantage points, and there is no “UP”, there is only “here” and “there”, which compounds the difficulties of expressing these concepts, ideas and analogies.

Choice is not a rational process; anybody that reflects on their own stupid choices can admit that.  Choice is not part of thinking, choice is an independent process that works with its partners in process, thinking and willing.  Of course, there are rational aspects to choice, we do think about the choices that we make, but the process of choice is not ruled by reason; it will accept the input, but not the mandate reason presents.  “The heart has reasons the mind cannot know”; that’s what this means.

So, from now on, I’m not addressing the Scientist, the Academic communities; I am addressing the 50% for whom experience is real, in both its aspects, internal and external, and know that both are one.  For the rest of you, just think of this as a work of speculative philosophy about –

What Reality Would Be Like if Consciousness Were Real.

… which wouldn’t be – or seem – much different from what reality is like now, only more complex.

Godel, Escher, Bach indeed!


One thought on “Red Pill, Blue Pill: Choice and Belief

  1. Comment from the gallery; some people defend their choice of pill beyond patience. The choice HE made is obvious –

    ‘Sure, sure, “The Matrix” popularized the bullet-time phenomenon and cinema was never the same again. Yes, fine, Plato and Baudrillard and Lewis Carroll all saw their prolific work borrowed for a modern-day sci-fi audience, and lovers of literature and highbrow cultural theory found themselves seated next to action-film aficionados. Why, then, 15 years later, is “The Matrix” so dull and dated? It’s all action and no substance, unless you like faux-spiritualism psychobabble and blatant metaphors about the simulation of reality. Because, gosh, we are just such a troubled society, so let’s use a seething Keanu Reeves and a smug Laurence Fishburne to prove it. “The Matrix” has the deadly combination of being both confusing and juvenile, and were it not for the Wachowskis’ impressive visual effects, everyone would have just taken the blue pill and shut up about it.’ — Matthew Jacobs

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