(You can now find the complete collection of eight installments on this Page.)
Book 4: Find Out!: The Real Way You Are Supposed to Act
Installment 8 (Below)
Chapter I: Seeing Through Illusion: Bridging The Gap (continued)
“Though my work can fall into the category of what people refer to as spiritual, I don’t like to consider it that way. If anything, it is naturalism, which can be taken to carry a type of spirituality, if you please, but it is not how I consider it. For me this awareness is straight up science, a mindful recognition of what is plainly material reality in our face. It is an example of materialism or physicalism. If one takes any aspect of physics seriously, meaning, what we consider real, then this is the category my work falls under. Bridging the gap in my practice means understanding what action really is. It is the labeling of a physical event we can see with our naked eyes. Regarding our own actions, we see our body in the space, and sense its weight on a surface. This is science 101. Observing a whole material entity transferring weight to another material entity. Additionaly, part of identifying something as real is acknowledging that there is no way for it not to be occurring.
Astronomers observe the moon to be where it is, doing what it’s doing, its weight, composition and movement in relation to other matter in its environment. If they needed to name its action, they would do so based on these ingredients. This is no different than how we can indicate human actions: our weight, composition and movement in relation to other matter in our environment. If we define our own personal actions from this standpoint, there is no confusion about what we observe, when we happen to look. If this account is different than how we mentally think about our actions, then it is obvious which wins out as truth, in the same way a myth about the moon will lose legitimacy to a scientific report of its behavior. What I mean by bridging the gap is that we generally don’t think about our actions as something physical or even a verbal report of what is observed materially. Rather we think about actions as the story in our head about our life: the comments, opinions, judgments, predictions and desires wrapped around our mental descriptions about what may or may not even be happening. Bridging the gap means seeing clearly that which is, and therefore, like the moon, must be.
My use of the phrase bridging the gap refers to the general error in perceiving there to be a mind-body separation that needs to be joined, or as sometimes called (in philosophy) a mind-body problem. Actions are not of the mind. They are only of the body, the one body that acts, without any confusion about what should be when there is no error of observation in what is. Another philosophical way of saying this is that actions are determined by brains (nervous systems) which are only physical, comprised of neurons following none other than physical laws. So like the laws that dictate the moon’s behavior, neurological activity is of the same source, molecular and atomic.
In this case, we would say the mind is the brain, so there is no confusion about what is making decisions, if we are looking to something internal. But for my work, since I am not a scientist, I am pointing out that we can clearly see our body as purely physical in its movement with no doubt it is 100% physical. We already know that actions are what our body does in real time, because it’s in fact what we are describing when someone asks what we did today: I washed the dishes, paid some bills, worked on the computer, sent a few text messages, and spoke with my friend Bill. These sentences are familiar to us. Actions are wholly physical because we are wholly physical and wholly whole. The problem is that it is not how we perceive ourself, and Descartes’ statement that the body was wholly physical absent the mind (which was of something nonmaterial) did not help. This mistaken declaration provides fodder for those claiming consciousness is something special (and that we are something special because of our conscious qualities and capabilities), and for the players in western philosophy who are trying to answer what is called the Hard Problem of Consciousness. The latter refers to how we get our so-called qualia-filled, personal experiences in the private way we seem to, which is different and unique to everyone else’s experience and which must somehow be explained by something other than science.”