This will begin the series of blogging Book 4. Those of you who have been following my writing career will wonder what happened to Book 3: Reality in Action: How We Spend Our Time. Well, it is well on its way, however, is quite an undertaking because it covers topics that have required extensive research and notation by philosophers, neuro-philosophers, cognitive scientists, neuroscientists, and evolutionary biologists, which has taken me longer to finish than I anticipated. Though the writing itself is in an almost finished state, it will be a while before it is published.
As that process began in January 2016 (upon the completion of Book 2: The Myth of Doing), in the spring of 2020, another book began to emerge: Book 4: Find Out!: The Real Way You Are Supposed to Act. Though Books 1, 2, and 3 are all written in the same style (of presenting this body of work Mindful Reality—with all the extras elements I expand on) and have been quite academic and formal, in May 2020 I found my fingers pouring out material in a more conversational, casual manner, while I myself had been integrating all the research and enlightenment of writing Book 3.
Because I have not had something to offer through publishing in over 6 years now (though have been actively writing books), I am going to share Book 4: Find Out! on this platform, in short installments. It is in draft form, but chock full of ways in which this work and language have lived, breathed, and evolved inside me since the beginning of writing Book 1: Body Over Mind: a mindful reality check. This is my way of catching readers up on my process, as well as pushing me to continue working on this book. Generally, I will be offering about 500-700 words, but this opening installment will be a bit longer to get you going!
Book 4: Find Out!: The Real Way You Are Supposed to Act
Chapter I: Seeing Through Illusion
“I’d have to say the overall focus of my work is about seeing through the cognitive illusions that we take to be familiar and normal, and that relay a kind of truth about our existence that isn’t the case. This involves a feeling of sensing ourself as having an ability to do things that in fact we cannot do. We cannot do anything; we can only be in the physical state of affairs we are in, which is clearly indicated by the space we are occupying, which encompasses our body on some surface and the involuntary bodily movements of our bones/joints, vocal cords, brain functions that contribute toward writing, and the words that unconsciously spill out onto the page, phone, etc. These cognitive illusions are accompanied by a muscular contraction in the body that sets up as a fight-or-flight, startle reflex that becomes permanently solidified and retriggered with almost every move we make.
I live in an awareness of this work, and it is utterly fascinating. The realization that in fact we are only this body in the space, a whole material structure (not as it feels) moving as it does automatically (driven by cellular processes supported by physical laws with layers of unconscious influences), is starkly different than how we perceive ourself to be behaving. Thus, the illusion. We perceive through the illusion, the misperception via this habitual glaze of what feels normal, a film deceiving us from seeing our body in the space and actual whereabouts.
Why write about the illusion? Because it is so powerful to come out of it, or rather, to see through it. I spend a lot of time doing this, marveling at the difference. It’s very much like waking up out of a dream and realizing you are just in your bed in your room and you’re not in that story that was occuring in your sleep. Bam. You are suddenly woken to reality. I play this game called the “table setting.” I think of a giant table in Victorian times (like in the movies—or Downton Abbey) which is set for 20-40 people and has tons of stuff on it: lots of utensils and flowers and pitchers and bowls and glasses and plates, etc. Everything is exactly in its place and in relation to the rest of the things at the table. It’s not hard to see the reality of the table setting—the fact that everything is just in its place, weighted on some surface, next to something else as a whole table in a room. So, it’s really interesting to realize our life is the same way.
Generally, we are in our head about thinking about our life situation. We are imagining ourself in this story, in a kind of nebulous fashion, doing things in a kind of story way. You can suddenly wake up from this, like out of a dream, and see yourself instead as part of the table setting. That is your real situation. I like the word situation here because it implies something that is going on. What is going on is my body on a surface (a bed, chair, couch, floor, car, etc.) in relation to a whole bunch of other things in the room (or car, patio, outdoor area, etc.). This is your table setting. It is your specific placement among the other material objects in close proximity (like all the material objects on the large table described above). It is super simple to see this: yourself in the room on the bed, the bed on the floor, the desk on the floor, the fan on the chair, the chair on the floor, the dresser, nightstand, lamp on the table, table on the floor, etc. Everything is there just stably in its place, including your body.
Your body, however, will be the only thing that doesn’t seem like it’s stably there. That is because you will still perceive your body as existing in your head, not in the space you are physically occupying on the piece of furniture you’re on, in the room you are occupying. So have fun with this. This is the current situation of your life. It is the table setting of your life. Go ahead and see your body with your own eyes. You can look down and see all of you that exists under your head. And then, because you will still be perceiving the real you as in your head, you must touch your head (face included) to see that it is concretely there, attached to your neck, which you can also touch for verification, attached to the rest of your body parts, no matter how much it feels like you aren’t there. No matter how much tension you apply in your body (which tends to put us into a mindset of not being physically here), you are always here as a whole on the piece of furniture/floor you are on. There is no escaping this.
So right there, everything I just outlined, is the cognitive illusion we live with every day. Play with becoming aware of your table setting. You, on a surface juxtaposed with every single other physical object in the room, area, you are occupying, or outdoors with trees, bushes, flowers, street signs, etc.”