YOU ARE HERE

Or Are You?

There is an old joke about a man, who asks a stranger the way to Edinburgh,

to which the stranger replies: “If I were going there, I wouldn’t start from here.”

The message of this blog is: wherever you want to go, you always start from where you are mentally (your worldview). The question of this blog is: do you know where you are mentally? Where you are mentally now may not be where you think you are because much of a person’s worldview lies outside of awareness.

To know where you are mentally, you have to know your mind. The biggest problem in knowing your mind is that you have to use your own conscious, unconscious, subjective mind. As a perceiver, understanding the way you see things becomes circular. You become both the object and the subject of your investigation. Your worldview, the beliefs that determine the way you see things, is in your own, subjective mind.

Each mind inhabits a private universe of its own devising.  Diane Ackerman

Two metaphors might help you gain awareness. You can tell a lot about a restaurant’s recipes by sitting at a table and sampling the food, but to really know what is going on, you have to look in the kitchen. * Human consciousness, the way you see things, is like the mind’s recipes. To really know what’s going on, you have to look inside the “mind’s kitchen,” where the mental processes that cause beliefs and behavior are prepared.

Deciding where to look for your mind’s recipes could be like deciding where to fish. ** You don’t go where the river is not accessible and you do go where it is well known that fish are there. Brain research is interesting but not easily accessible and not much help in fishing for your mind’s recipes. What is well known to be part of most peoples’ recipes for seeing things, and a good place to go fishing for your mind’s recipes, is your background of personal experiences and your subjective cognitive biases.

Knowing where you are mentally is self-awareness. The next question then becomes: to get to where you are going, is where you are now mentally the best place to start from?

Wherever you go, there you are.  Jon Kabat-Zinn

  * I borrowed this metaphor from Leonard Mlodinow in his book Subliminal, 2012

** I borrowed this metaphor from Stuart Frestein in his book Ignorance, 2012

 

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One Response to YOU ARE HERE

  1. Marianne says:

    Interesting thoughts. I wonder if we can really know what is in our minds’ kitchen without the help of someone else; someone who can give us observable feedback about our behavior. Makes me think of the saying, “to know yourself is to be known by another”. We need help from that “other”.

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