This essay explores the phenomenon of spirituality by delineating the rise of free will as a product of a reflective consciousness synthesized from conditioned responses resulting from external demands.
- Reflection as a starting point for analysis and reducibility
- Necessity of cause
- Predictors of Demand
- Rise of Ideas
- Free will
- Reflection as Action
- Distance Defines Knowledge
- God’s Nature
- The Rise of Spirituality
Reflection as a starting point for analysis and reducibility
Many people go about their life never questioning, never reflecting on the source from whence they came. For many, the formulation of God as a super divinity overflowing with answers is enough to assuage the task of inquiry. However, these formulations, whether belief or superstition or paradigm, need to be traced. An origin must be uncovered. As something, we do not sprout from nothing. We should assume that thoughts, a product of natural processes, follow the same principled behavior as other matter. No matter is created or destroyed, but constantly transfers and transforms. Thoughts and beliefs have a source, and if one should ever wonder whither they are going, they should ask whence they came.
Perhaps we believe that history is irrelevant, that our creative intuitions are endowed with enough insightful possibility to supersede all the constraining forces of developmental and environmental influence and ascertain truth. Presuming that, as Aristotle said, “all men desire to know”, that the intention of life is the reconciliation of truth and belief, we would never question whether our methods of investigation were faulty, whether our mind is capable of yielding truth. If they were, they would continue leading us astray. We would continue carrying on, simply manifesting evidence from the justification of these beliefs. Of course, it is vitally important that the clarification of intention is laid out before we question the utility of beliefs. No one would doubt that beliefs are justifications of intention, ends and aims, and that if desire were grounded in rewards alone, namely pleasure, one would adopt terribly disjunctive beliefs with respect to truth and natural process.
It is then necessary to confront and explore self-deception and disillusionment. If you find yourself resisting the possibility of being wrong, this is a sure indicator you are deceived. The terrible thing about self-deception, which keeps a mind blindly steeped in false knowledge, is that it is the only deception that covers up its tracks. This is why we must retrace the origins of belief, so as to prevent the weeds of corruption choke the breath of life.
The whole notion of retracing steps is metaphorical for serious general reflection. Reflection, in itself, is maintaining two separate concepts while simultaneously weighing their congruency to your understanding as they relate to your aim for truth. Truth must be naked, exposed, stripped from bias and faulty intention. Inquiry, precise questioning, facilitates this divestment by removing the inconsistencies.
The nature of reflection comes to life when we consider the word reflection. A reflection is a reproduction of something; a giving, turning or casting back. The most obvious example of reflection in action is that of mirror. The reflection that occurs introspectively functions similarly, but with thoughts.
Concepts1used for reflection are recalled from memory. However, consciousness itself is a continual recall of memory, a post-processed recollection. There is a time-lag that occurs, however finite, as we perceive with our senses. Even the act of acknowledging the present removes one from the present. Being conscious of oneself in the present requires entering a state of direct recall where we access memories as fast as they occur. In contrast, if there is no memory recall of experience, there is no consciousness of experience. In an unconscious state, there is no memory and hence no reflection.2
The idea of reflection as a mechanism for discovering truth lies in its ability to compare, contrast, and weigh the significance of various recalled experiences, or memories. However, these memories are biased in their very nature. All experiences are stored under an assumption that the current operating perceptual framework3 accurately processed demands and information that serve the intention towards truth. This overlooks natural and psychological concerns that serve to misconstrue the nature of events, your response to those events, and, as a result, your memory of those events.
Provided that a consistent perceptual framework is employed during the formation of memories, reflection offers to illuminate the result of causes by examining their effects. A past memory may yield evidence that an action or cause took place. Upon reflection with present circumstances, it is possible to arrive at knowledge of the consequences of that action and induce the probability of certain effects.
Necessity of cause
One may argue that using creativity to generate new possibilities is enough to aid in the development of knowledge. This implicitly infers truth as a relative fixture hinged on fabricated beliefs. If truth is to be conceived as inherently immutable, it would follow that the veracity of ideal facts lies in their resiliency. These are not a normative ideals sprung from an assorted synthesis of competing intentions. Such ideals are evidenced as cultural ethics, or agreements and compromises, which are constantly deluged with the tides of change. The enduring endorsement of the ideal resides in their ability to satisfy the appetites of the broadest spectrum of human demands. As a result, one cannot simply dismiss the past. Its exploration is vital for hewing the knowledge of truth.
Supposing reflection to be the necessary method for establishing true knowledge, one can derive a general principle that might be applied to the investigation of origins in general. The idea of reflecting, of recalling the past for present observation, contains an inherent principle of ‘going back’, residing within the prefix re-.
The principle of going back, utilized as a way to investigate truth and belief, can be applied to adjust intentionality and verify beliefs. This allows for the correction of intentions, aims and ends contained throughout the course of life, to ensure that past-origins and future-intentions reconcile into a coherent present pursuit.
Assuming that natural inquiry, or experimental investigations, yield observance to cause and effect across all physical mediums, can we not extend this notion of cause and effect to the rise of mind, or reflective consciousness itself? Would this task overlook the embodiment of reflection contained in its function?
The notion of free will supposes an inherent ability to choose. The choice lies in the decision to act or not to act, as well as to choose among alternatives. Ideally, this choice is autonomously made. However, to what extent are we autonomous? Is there such a thing as freedom of choice? Or, are actions mere precipitations of mechanical chain reactions? Answering these questions requires the exploration of the science or philosophy of the mind.
Predictors of demand 4
According to current scientific understanding, the mind is a product of the brain- not a soul divinely imbuing a body.5 Only if there is agreement on this point can we progress to the inquiry of real freedom. Our consciousness arises from complex cross-interactions among specific faculties of the brain which are performing and synthesizing various functions simultaneously to justify external stimulus demands.
The genetic code can be likened to programmed predictors of demand.6 Random mutation allows for the retention of programs that best satisfy demands, and the loss of those that fail to adequately do so. The genetic code functions as a long list of programs (sequence of genes) that can be triggered by external demands. Referring to the beginning of an individual’s development, the first triggering of these programs occurs during the fertilization of an egg, or the fusion of the X and Y chromosome, which yield a complete program for life. This fusion causes a chain reaction of cascading genetic triggers. Each genetic program triggered orders the organization of matter to meet certain demands. This occurs by allocating resources (chemical building blocks, or nutrient resources) for organization, or by triggering more programs that work in simultaneous conjunction to organize more complex arrangements of matter.
These demands are hardwired into our genetic code so that a healthy person develops to predictably meet these demands, e.g., the human naturally develops in homeostatic equilibrium in order to cope with environmental demands. The mind (consciousness) is unique because while our physical bodies are dependent on nutrient consumption for their development, our mind relies on the stimulation of our senses.7 If the mind is not stimulated, it will not develop the ability to sufficiently manage the environmental stimulus demands.8
In order to develop the mind, the senses must be exposed to stimulus demands. Only in this way can a program be triggered to respond.9 As a person develops, the mind adjusts to the environment, and becomes conditioned to its demands. Over time, the mind loses the ease in which programs are triggered, i.e., learning becomes more difficult with age.10 Repeat exposure to stimulus causes the mind develop algorithmic systems of interpretation that stratify and categorize sensory demands.11
Demands that began as sensory stimulus data eventually develop complexities that give rise to new demands. These demands are not literal environmental demands, but created demands due to conflicts that arise due to the inability of the currently instantiated algorithms to reconcile multiple demands. These created demands are problems that arise when a created demand cannot be satisfied with instantiated responses. (This is where the notion of free will may come in: Do we choose what problems preoccupy the mind? What is the role of desire? Do we desire certain states, or choose certain demands?)
There is no problem or created demand where there is no intention or desired outcome. A desired outcome exists where the attention of the senses and mind is directed and attuned and a demand is seeking to be satisfied. In order for a problem to exist, there must be a solution lacking. If current algorithmic systems of interpretation cannot adequately solve the problem or satisfy the demand, new algorithmic systems must be creative developed or employed. This is done when the mind begins looking for consistencies and similarities between the demands and the current algorithms. In this way an algorithm can be developed to solve the problem.
These environmental stimulus demands bombard the senses. Each exposure to the stimulus provides a consistency that can be isolated from other stimulus sensations. The consistent exposure to stimulus crystallizes the sensory response as distinguished and unique for other sensation. This allows for the stratification and categorization of sensations which allow us to navigate our environment.
Rise of ideas
These created demands or problems give rise to abstract concepts such as ethics (laws/principles/virtues), social relations, cultural meanings12, physics, mathematics, etc. Each of the aforementioned has no literal place in the world, yet they exist as fundamentally real properties of life. These abstractions exist as fabricated algorithms that developed as we reconciled conflicting algorithms in our pursuit to satisfy demands. (Explain how the manipulation of matter gave rise to physics, how a consistent relationship among arbitrary variables gave rise to mathematics; how the predictability of responses between people allowed for communication, for the manipulation of those responses to aid in satisfying shared demands gave rise to social relations, etc.)
While some of the algorithms man develops relatively naturally, many of these algorithms are impressed upon the mind by parents, societal surrogate role models, and cultural inheritances of religion, education, politics, history, etc. As a result, these problems, or mankind’s broader dilemmas, are passed down generationally as each wave of newly developing persons gains access to solutions derived from the previous human genetic pool.
Nature endows the propagation of ‘life’ wherever its demands are best satisfied. Most life is solely concerned with managing the demands of the physical environment by registering stimulus and reacting according. Humans have developed a mind that has the ability to satisfy a wide variety of environmental demands, as well as abstractions generated to satisfy specific demands resulting from reconciling separate algorithms, i.e., understandings.
The contrived demands occur when we are concerned with reconciling conflicting algorithms, i.e., additional understanding provides solutions to problems, thus achieving a peace and tranquility in the mind. The mind becomes conditioned over time as the same algorithms are employed to satisfy the environmental demands. Without a continual change in demands—new experiences or exposure to novel stimulus or challenges that contain new demands—no new algorithms are developed and the mind remains unchanged.
The mind is simply an operating system that satisfies demands. Choice is a matter of the mind acting to satisfy a set of given demands. Given the parameters of a problem, the mind will come up with an answer or solution by retrieving past algorithms to employ, or by synthesizing existing algorithms to create a new algorithm– the creation of new possibilities through synthesizing existing understandings. The latter is the closest one can get to achieving free will.
As this relates to the conversion or adoption of God, people who fail to satisfy demands and problems are simply not imploring the powers of their mind. They fail to acknowledge that a solution exists and embrace the dissonance within themselves as an inherent human flow. This is the lack of responsibility I refer to that causes people to convert to God. They accept their currents limits of understanding and refuse to acknowledge the possibility and potential that resides within them and their world.
Accessing free will depends upon where the mind focuses its attention. Attention upholds the perceptual frameworks that filter sensory data needed for the mind to recognize what stimulus is demanding from where. Where attention is being allocated and focused at the time will result in different interpretation of demands and therefore different responses. The resulting choice is dependent on the attention to register environmental stimulus within a circumstance, as well as every available consideration stored in the memory that would aid in producing the best response or choice. Due to conditioning, certain responses can be triggered by stimuli, or cues, that can influence attention, thereby altering the perceived demands and resulting response.
Determinism would have us believe that choice is limited. I posit: choice is limited to combinations of environmental exposure and perceived experience, something that cannot be adequately described as limited. Determinism would blind us to our ability to recall and create.
Insight gained from past memories is limited to the perceptual framework that was employed during the memory.13 This framework acts as a filter that processes only relevant information at the time. Out ability to create relies on the quality and diversity of the past experiences we recall. Quality refers to the perceptual framework that can interpret and contextualize the relevancy of many details into memory. Diversity refers to the number of experiences one has in different circumstances, as well as variety of perceptual frameworks employed in each of those experiences. Experiences are great for giving you a holistic understanding of things, but true depth of understanding is achieved through repeated exposure to similar circumstances using different perceptual frameworks.
These perceptual frameworks record mental and emotional states of being into memory. These records can be recalled later to induce a state of being in the present. While a perceptual framework may have been recorded at an experience unrelated from the present, it can nonetheless be recalled, induced and applied. In addition, various combinations of these perceptual combinations can be recalled and combined to create new perceptual frameworks.
Reflection as action
As reflection occurs, there is an invitation for expansion in the mind. As noted elsewhere, consciousness arises from the syntheses of our response to environmental demands. The better we become at responding, or satisfying, these environmental demands, the more ‘material’ or ‘programs’ are available to synthesize for the creation of new thought. In the sense that there is a conditioned path in which a demand was satisfied and remembered, these responses are simply programs. Concerning this synthesis of creating, the more programs, or responses, that occur, the more possibilities exist. Similarly, the more land there is, the more crops can be grown and the more goods can be derived, leading to endless combinations. It is simply a matter of what seed is planted, much in the way of what response is demanded. We name these condition response programs thoughts.
This is not to trivialize thoughts. Thoughts are more than mere response programs. While one thought alone is not much value, many thoughts yield infinite possibility. It is in the combination of thoughts that open up a space in the mind for new thoughts to sprout.
Before I continue with formulations of intelligence, it is important to stress the function of well worn thoughts. Repeated exposure to demands gives rise to easy access and familiarity in the same way frequently traveled well worn paths provide easy access and familiarity to a destination. This repeated exposure is simply a conditioning to demands. While this allows for the atrophy of ones ability to synthesize thoughts for the creation of novel solutions, it is paramount for computing responses to demands with speed.14 While this may not serve well for adaptability, it serves for excelling in an environment with relatively static and predictable demands.
Creativity gives rise to new entirely new thoughts. The more abstract and foreign and unrelated the origin of these thoughts, the more potential exists for intelligent insight. The more sense data registered, the more sensations to draw from, the more accurate representation can be constructed. As it relates to the phenomenon of reversals, this is their source. Only, reversals are a manifestation of the larger process of creation. It is creation that transforms preexisting thoughts into entirely new thoughts. However, one must keep in mind that first thought finds its origins through environmental demands.
Place a man in trying circumstances so that the corporal body is forced to endure demands and he will have two options according to his conditioned constitution: accept or create. Upon accepting external environmental demands, one becomes an inauthentic being. Bearing circumstances as they are, he responds to environmental demands mechanically, like a drone. The inauthentic being does not create and therefore places no demands on the world. This man never realizes a sense of self, nor does he develop a sense of place in the world; rather he remains a corporeal medium through which the natural world exerts its demands.
The authentic being creates demands and carves out his sense of place beyond the worldly. This authenticity chooses the creation of an entirely new demand, one that is internal and possible. The internal demands alter his frame of mind, the perceptual framework in which he processes environmental stimulus, and creates new sensations and inspirations. The creation of this new demand is not rooted in the ‘present’, nor is it a direct product of environmental demands. It is an entirely new space of consciousness—higher level of thinking, transcendent reflection, spirituality—that now exists ‘inside’ the man. This resonates with Nietzsche’s conception of the slave revolt. However, it is not a product of an insidious will to power. Rather, it is a naturalistic response to satisfy demands by the recombination and syntheses of existing thoughts (response programs) to create new demands that force a detachment from immediate environmental demands.
The question facilitates the creation of these new demands. It is only when a demand exist that a response can follow in answer. If there is no demand, there is no response. Likewise, if there is no problem, there is no solution. The question creates within the mind a dilemma, a vacuum demanding to be filled. Depending on the nature of the demand, if there is an inherent incentive associated with its satisfaction, either through the alleviation of discomfort or the pleasure of reward, there is an opportunity for the creation of an entirely new space within the mind. This space is occupied by explicit responses such as reason, or implicit responses such as feeling.
Derrida’s notion of conflicting binary reactions that give rise to new meaning is simply the creation of space. While Derrida is accurate in describing a violent conflict, almost binary reaction, that occurs during deconstructionism, its nature is not, as he posits, vertical or hierarchal in nature. If it is this way, it is only because it is a more favored interpretation or habituated categorization. Rather, this conflict is a result of the creation of a new demand. As one seeks to reconcile this demand, seemingly contrary thoughts (conditioned responses) are being forced together. If the demand is strong enough, or if the thoughts are weak enough, or if chance would have these thoughts soften and coalesce momentarily, a solution is presents itself that is experienced. This is actually the synthesis of conditioned responses (thoughts) to environmental, or fabricated reflective, demands. These demands create an entirely new response (thought) in the mind. If the demand is strong enough, the synthesis of these combined thoughts (responses) will continue to maintain their cohesion. If the demand is weak, the thoughts will fall apart, reverting back to their original inclination to satisfy a more engrained response.
For maintaining the creation of space, the creation of experienced thoughts and knowledge, it is imperative for intention to either pursue and grasp hold of the clearest possible notion of the thought as it occurs, or continue returning to the demand. The proximity of intentionality to this demand forces familiar understanding of its constitution and parameters, much like the proximity of objects increases their inter-gravitational pull. Proximity to demand triggers a response that directs our intentionality (attention) exactly where the demand occurs. As a result, the constitution of demand reveals itself, and we are capable of producing a response or solution.
As long as demand is static, and depending on the reservoir of past thoughts (experiences), there are, one could say, infinite ways of satisfying the demand. This translates to the value of using thought to create infinite possibility for your life.
Distance defines knowledge
If one sees a distant object, one’s understanding of its essence and properties is limited by proximity, or distance from it, due to an inability to recognize its constituent components. As one gets closer to the object, parts become decipherable as independent, and a sense can be gained about each part. Perhaps we encountered earth from space. As one continues traveling closer, more details give rise to a holistic understanding of a sphere suspended in space. As one approaches, its distinctive blue sheen is distinguished and from green and white as we observe a separation of parts. Moving closer, a depth is observed as mountains; green melts to brown as shades of desert become pronounced to the eye. Moving closer still brings one to a local level, where living animations move across detailed landscape of vegetation. The closer one gets to the parts, the easier they are to perceive, and the more familiar one becomes with their characteristics and components. This is where knowledge is derived. Intimate experience with parts is a fundamental maxim for knowledge acquisition.
Pious and impious use the word spirituality to describe a transcendental mental attitude or world view. Because I was indoctrinated at home from an early age, I didn’t convert to Christianity on my own volition, per se. There were moments in my religious walk where I renewed commitments to God and reaffirmed my belief. This caused an awakening within me which inspired my efforts to bridge the gap between ‘God’ and self.
The process of conversion requires the displacement of ego in exchange for ‘God’s Will’. The very idea of displacing the self is a powerful and transformative experience. In Christianity, you’ll often hear the ‘testimonies’ of people coming to Christ and refer to the exchange of self for ‘God’s will’. The notion of ‘dying to self’ is customarily used to indicate how one lives a ‘God centered’ life.
Despite being armed with the deftest faculties of reason, we men are wary of relinquishing the comforting notions of a moral curator and universal architect in fear of braving the cold indifference that existential freedom bestows upon meaning and truth. We hesitate to open unknown doors, seeking the shackles of delusion before the responsibility of liberty. We fear the unknown, not because it is unknown to us, but because we are unknown to ourselves. Liberty and freedom are only known to the will, the mechanism of choice. Freedom propagates only more of what we are, exposing our ability to be, and this strikes terror. To be known to ourselves requires the responsibility of choice, and acceptance of who we are. Contrary to our fears, we are infinite.
Inactive freedom casts an ominous shadow, a think blanket of darkness on potential. It bleeds the rivers of change and chokes the ground of growth. Never mind the stark realities of life; we are coddled by these chains, pacified by our delusions. We offer our will, our most sacred possession, as a living sacrifice for comfort and security. This is in the name of God- of truth. The irony is searing.
Say we undertake the yoke of freedom. While freedoms brilliancy illuminates ignorance and unveils truth, we are left obligated, forced to exist and bear the responsibility for that existence. We are an end in ourselves; existence and being is now a lone affair. We are the intercessors of fate, the arbiters of potential, the beginning of essence. And to whom are we accountable? I, the self, freedom incarnated. But we are unknown to ourselves. For just as we wearily shirk from the unknown, we shirk from the abysmal darkness within us, unknown and unexplored. Whence did we came? Whither will we go? Must I choose? In this way the huddled masses congregate, feverishly maintaining the conception of an invisible, powerless God.
There is a spectrum of conceptions that evolve as we accrete understanding of ourselves, our world, and what/who ‘God’ might be. Generally, this evolution of mind correlates with an increased openness towards the world and a transcendent mental attitude- or spirituality- that allows us to see the interrelation of all things.
The first conception, and most primitive, is the anthropomorphized patriarch with a long gray beard seated at his throne in heaven- presumably located somewhere between the sky and space.
As our holistic understanding increases, we accept the irrationality of God existing as a literal being. Instead we adopt a God that can, as far as our current understanding will allow, rationally exist within the confines of reality and constraints of nature. This God is an invisible power that maintains a sentient and forcible will. This God is actively involved with the affairs of men. Actively believing and adhering to religious dogma- prayer, doing good works, following commandments, tithing, attending religious services- are all attempts to gain ‘God’s’ favor and align with his will.
I’ll postpone the discussion of how and why religious adherence and beliefs foster self-fulfilling prophecies for God’s existence due to naturally fundamental and beneficial principles within the doctrine and psychological phenomenon.15
The next conception of God revolves around the congruency of belief and outcome. If one hopes to lay claim to knowledge, one must familiarize with reality and the laws of nature. This inevitably exercises the powers of reason, which forces the mind to reconcile the irrefutable nature of statistical probability. Outcomes are determined through circumstance that only the actions of individuals or the mechanics of nature can induce. As a result, one comes to grips with changing outcomes by influencing or predicting God’s will. No amount of prayer will suspend gravity, solve global warming, prevent wars, or achieve any desired outcome without intervention. At this point, a believer could easily transition into a Deist by maintaining the existence of an impersonal, yet Supreme Being.
The final conception is that God is a disassociated projection of the internal man. As self knowledge is garnered and ideals coalesce, we are left with the formation of the conscience. The conscience functions as a subliminal consciousness that reconciles actions with desired outcomes and what should be. Perhaps this is the voice of God; the Holy Spirit’s whispering convictions. Because mans thoughts and imaginings are not limited by the laws of nature and confines of reality, they are infinite. When mans ideals about what should be are misconstrued with what is, internal dissonance occurs. As a result, we must disassociate ourselves by objectifying our ideals. By projecting these ideals onto something or a figure outside of us, their value can be realized and sought after, without being tainted by our current limits. This inversion allows for the manifestation of ‘God’ as the sum of all that should be, a mere projection of the best of our, albeit limited, understandings. Here is a complementary quote:
“Consciousness of God is self-consciousness, knowledge of God is self-knowledge, by his God thou knowest the man, and by the man his God; the two are identical. Whatever is God to a man, that is his heart and soul; and conversely, God is the manifested inward nature, the expressed self of a man– religion the solemn unveiling of a man’s hidden treasures, the revelation of his intimate thoughts, and the open confession of his love-secrets.” [Feuerbach]
There are two conversions that occur relating to God: an atheist to a theist, and a theist to an atheist. Both produce massive reversals of mind that overturn entire frameworks for world view. I mentioned that the conversion to God involves a displacement of self. This is incredibly invigorating and, seemingly, liberating.16
The experience of conversion to God is liberating because the displacement of self with God. As we place our faith in a something outside of us, we are not left with the responsibility of changing our circumstances. Changing our circumstances requires the acknowledgment of certain limitations due to circumstance- in knowledge, emotion, or physicality. Instead, the conversion suspends choice and freedom in exchange for the belief in God—be it the manifestation of God as a projection of self-knowledge, or the interpretation of religious texts, or in between). The benefit for the conversion to God and displacement of self is baited with reward and possibility. Rewards generally concern an ideal afterlife, not tainted with earthly inadequacies. Possibility and empowerment is achieved as we align ourselves to Gods will. Of course these benefits vary precisely from religion to religion.
Many religions assertive warn that ‘idolatry’ and idol worship is ‘evil’. Who would worship inanimate objects? Anyone who seeks to worship anything outside oneself; namely, those who wish to displace self.
The word spiritual is loaded with historical, cultural and personal meanings. To treat this concept as an absolute or universally understood experience would destroy the intimate power it contains for each individual person. However, there is an essence that can be derived.
When people talk about spirituality, they often refer to another worldly existence, somehow separate from reality. Its essence is metaphysical.17 Spirituality is usually achieved by ridding oneself from material anchors in order to escape into this higher realm of thinking. How does this shedding of worldly preoccupation transcend one into spirituality?
The world is constantly commanding our attention as stimuli bombard our senses and beg for a response. This forces our consciousness to manage observable and readily apparent circumstances. This reality is far different from our mind because the dualistic nature that exists between reality and our mind.
The reality exists in the here and now. It is in flux only according to the very precise physical processes allowed by nature. It cannot be changed instantly without external influence. Our external world is bound by the laws of physics. No amount of manipulation and effort can alter these laws. It is only through the familiarizing ourselves and understanding these laws that we can manipulate reality and nature to conform to our mind.
In contrast, our mind is infinite. Our imagination has no bounds or constraining forces. It dreams, fantasizes, creates, and imagines. The external reality that is projected inwardly is manipulated by our reason and distorted by our passions and emotions. Our ability and decision to think has no limits.
So the reality of nature grounds reflection, the imagination, and reinforces itself in our mind, limiting imagination.
Spirituality is when the mind rises above reality, present demands of the here and now, and observes the sum of reality by recognizing the interrelation of all the individual parts. The mind softens its perception of what is, so to speak, so that new connections and relationships can be formed about what could be.
The Rise of Spirituality
Conversion to God opens the mind up to this spiritual world by forcing it to be receptive to something outside reality. The idea of God requires a faith in something with no place in reality and nature. The mind, trying to reconcile the conception of God, escapes from reality. This forces the imagination to reconcile the possibility of God by creating justifications from the imagination. These imaginations are otherwise delusions fabricated to accept Gods existence.
This conversion to God transcends the mind into a world of possibility. This is necessary for understanding how and why god is the answer for those wrestling with a lack of responsibility for their existence, the overall stagnation of potential, and avoidance of freedom.
My conversion from a believer in God to a non-skeptical realist18, was marked by a decision to seek understanding, dispel delusions, and eliminate self-deception. The process was slow and gradual, yet I retained certain spirituality. I find that when many people are asked if religious, they reply that they are spiritual. I responded similarly. But what does this mean?
As far as I was concerned, spirituality was the residue of my faith in God. God represented possibility. Recall the teachings: “In Christ all things are possible” etc. The conversion to God opens one up to possibility by suspending limited beliefs and opening the mind to possibility. Spirituality is faith in possibility. Conversion away from God can leave the faith in possibility intact.
Spirituality exists among a wide spectrum of people, religious and irreligious alike. Some people join religions because they recognize the value of certain universal principles of good within the doctrine, while others seek the escape from responsibility of self that it brings.
1Conceptions are formalized thoughts, embodied understandings that constitute a specific knowledge.
2 Even in dreams we are conscious on some level by accessing past memories and experiencing through them.
3 A Perceptual framework is a representational theory that is explained more below*****
4 The concept of ‘Genes’ is used as a metaphor to describe the occurrence of natural (biological) reactions (responses) as they manifest mentally and influence the phenomenology of perception)
5 Science relies on the existence of an objective (onto-epistemological?) reality. Because the existence of such a reality cannot be proved, many persons of faith attempt to discredit science as a legitimate vehicle for arriving at absolute understandings.
6 Define this demand system, e.g., demand as external stimulus.
7 The five senses: Vision, audition, gustation, olfaction, tactition.
8 Babies lacking touch, i.e. affection, develop mental disorders and in some cases die. They do not physically grow to normal standards, nor do they develop socially.
9 At this point I am left curious if there is a genetic mechanism that causes a human to seek solutions for these demands (determination).
10 A child’s mind contains the most potential because it has not been fully conditioned. It maintains access to the widest spectrum of programs, i.e., they learn with incredible ease.
11 I use algorithms to refer to the way the mind systematically stratifies sensations in order to make sense and understand information, i.e., knowledge, or methods the mind uses for predicting and deducing information with given stimuli inputs.
12 Particularly language: Conveying specific meaning through written words and their syntactical arrangement, both written and spoken—In contrast to interpreting arbitrary marks on paper or static noise.
13 If we are told to count all the quarters in a coin jar, we may remember the number of quarters and a variety of other details, but we will not remember how many pennies there were, etc.
14 This speed causes the solidification of certainty and prevents the creation of new space brought on by moments of hesitation that lead the reflection necessary for synthesizing demands and new creative thought.
15 Religious beliefs cause a variety of psychological effects: Confirmation bias creates biases that influence interpretation of positive feedback to be used as evidence for maintaining and confirming biases and reinforcing pre-existing beliefs, e.g., I prayed that it wouldn’t rain, and its sunny out, therefore God answered my prayer, or I prayed that God would cure my aunt of cancer and she survived, so God is real; Hawthorne effect is the awareness that you are being observed influences your behavior, e.g., knowing people look at/treat you as a Christian example causes you to maintain Christian behaviors; Pygmalion effect is the awareness of higher expectations that lead to increased performance, e.g., God is watching leads to more mindfulness, better behavior; Stereotype threat is our evaluation based on negative stereotypes when facing a disruptive concern, e.g., anyone who is not a Christian is a sinner and evil, so when bad things happen its because of non-Christians, etc.
16 From my experience, most people that convert to God, especially later in age, do so in hopes of achieving a salvation. This salvation is from their pain, their emotional baggage. This is objectified as sin. People who experience conversions to God do so in order to relieve their state. Their previous beliefs in themselves, in their past, about life caused dissatisfaction. The delusion of God, however justified, is a scapegoat, or lamb, for their suffering. What these people fail to realize is that suffering is a result of misaligned expectations. These misaligned expectations are a result of a lack or avoidance of responsibility. Freedom is terrifying. They cannot conceive who they want to be, so they remain as they are, unknown to themselves. These are the people that subscribe so desperately to various doctrines and beliefs of mainstream culture, never ‘thinking’ or willfully contemplating who they ought to be. This weakness, this ignorance, allows the will to atrophy as habituation and conditioning fully inundate.
17 It is of a particular meta-cognition.
18 Essentially agnostic