A Place Where The Eye And The Mind Meet

 The eye sees in things what it looks for and it looks for what is already in the mind.                   Motto of The Scientific School of Police, Paris

The quote above explains the intersection of seeing and believing and describes the role of the eye and the mind. Seeing always involves an observer and the observer’s eyes and mind. This blog is to urge readers to be a self-aware observer — paying attention to the way they see things, and why. “Why did I see it that way and why did someone else see it differently?”

The eye sees things and the mind believes things. This is the subjective part of observation. Objectivity is the subject’s delusion that observation can be done without him. Heinz von Foerster. It will take a self-aware observer to understand the complex process of seeing and believing. Seeing and believing cannot be disconnected. Do we see what we believe or do we believe what we see? “Seeing is believing” is an idiom first recorded in this form in 1639 that meant “only physical or concrete evidence is convincing”. It also became known to mean, “If I see it I will know it is true.” Buckminster Fuller, among others, pointed out the problem with this idiom:  Seeing is believing is a blind spot in man’s vision. 

 Since then, a modern version of the idiom has emerged: “Believing is seeing.” This version suggests that your mind has an influence on what you see. (School of Police quote). Others have explained it as well:

Your beliefs are cause maps that you impose on the world after which                                   you “see” what you have already imposed.  Karl Weick

We tend to see more through our thoughts and opinions that through our eyes.                        Jon Kabat-Zinn

 Being a self-aware observer is the “intersection strategy” to overcome this “blind spot” and to notice what your mind has imposed and/or how your thoughts and opinions have influenced.  Seeing is done by an observer, and the observer is also a believer. Whatever you see is what YOU see. What you see is not what everyone else sees; and it is not all there is. To be self-aware is to be mindful. Mindfulness is a way of looking into oneself and paying attention to what one is paying attention to and not paying attention to.

Be aware that what you see may not be reality. You see the sum rise and the sun set, but the sun isn’t rising or setting. You see the airplane getting smaller as it flies away, but the airplane isn’t getting smaller. The eye often needs the help of the mind when interpreting what one sees. Your mind may necessarily be interpreting what you see and/or unnecessarily determining what you see.

We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.  Anais Nin



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 It Will Politically Change The Way We Do Things

 The minute you make up your mind that the way you see things makes a difference,         it will make a difference in the way you see things — and do things.

The above quote has been a theme of my writing for ten years about “The Process of Illumination”, describing a process of illuminating, understanding and expanding our collective worldview one worldview at a time. I believe that we, the American people are beginning to see that the way we see things makes a difference. That belief is the reason for this blog.

The way you see things is important to me and the way I see things is important to you because the way we see things has consequences for everyone and the planet. Ten years ago most people agreed that the direction the world was heading was not where they wanted to go. But they apparently didn’t see that changing direction was up to them, or they didn’t see change was possible, or they didn’t see how they could make a difference. This was a case of “the way you see the problem IS the problem”

Today, even more people believe that the direction America is heading is not where they want to go. And it seems that recently many people are beginning to see that the solution to changing direction is up to them. Since the way we see things determines the way we do things, this is good news. What we the people do and don’t do, in todays world of turmoil, surly will have important consequences for everyone and the planet.

I believe expanding our collective worldview is beginning to happen. We are beginning to make up our minds that the way we see thigs makes a difference. And this makes a difference in what we do and don’t do. Changing the direction American is heading could depend on a collective worldview of we the people making up our minds.

Our minds are the source, and properly directed,                                                                           the solution to all our problems.  The Dalai Lama

A small group of people changing the way they see things could become a large group of people, which could become a majority. A majority of people making up their minds that the way they see things makes a difference — can make a difference.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change                       the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead







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And Partly Open-Minded

Its no good being absolutely certain unless you happen to be right.   Ashleigh Brilliant

My theme song has been positive uncertainty. The definition of words has frequently been an issue. In writing, different interpretations of language often interferes. This blog is my attempt to utilize the dictionary to help in promoting my concept of positive uncertainty.

For example, in my writing, the definition of the word certain is important. Here is a dictionary definition, with a user note: Certain: Definite, fixed; inevitable, beyond doubt or question; indisputable. User note: Although certain appears to be an absolute term, it is frequently qualified by adverbs, as in fairly certain. (The majority of the User Panel accepted this construction.) The user panel gives us some insight into the concept of uncertainty by saying it is ok to be a little uncertain. And maybe it suggests that being definite, fixed and beyond doubt is being too rigid and needs an adverb qualifier.

For me, to be fairly certain means also to be fairly uncertain, which means to have some doubt. My belief is that we should always be at least fairly uncertain and partly open-minded. This means we are receptive to new and different ideas and capable of changing our minds. To be dogmatic and closed-minded means to have no doubts and to be unable to change. To expect total open-mindedness and total uncertainty is probably not reasonable. But a little bit of open-mindedness and no dogma sounds a lot like positive uncertainty.

My Positive Uncertainty has been characterized as: “The benefit of doubt and the danger of dogma.” The dictionary describes: Doubt, to be skeptical or undecided; Dogma, a fixed belief or set of beliefs that people are expected to accept without any doubts. By definition uncertainty is the opposite of dogma; and this is my reason for promoting it.

To repeat my Positive Uncertainty rationale:

Decision making is about the future. The future doesn’t exist, it is uncertain and not predictable. If the future were certain, there is nothing you can do about it. Its uncertainty provides you with some possibilities. When you are making decisions about the future, doesn’t it seem wise to be fairly certain and partly open-minded?

The best way to predict the future is to create it.  Peter Drucker

Keeping the mind open in the face of uncertainty is the single most powerful                    secret of unleashing your creative potential.   Michael Gelb







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Is There Such A Thing?

 The power of science lies in its skeptical, rational, evidenced-based approach to understanding the world.  David J. Helford

On Saturday, April 22 the American people put on a demonstration about respecting science in today’s politics. This is in response to the Donald Trump and GOP current practice of dismantling and defunding environmental laws and slashing funds for scientific research. The scientific community, and now the American public, are urging precisely the opposite approach. Today there does seem to be alternative facts, false knowledge, fake news, and truthiness. Could it be we are now having alternative science?

The economy, not the environment, seems to be the focus of the alternative science approach of the current administration. Scientists are watching all this in horror, along with the demonstrators. Putting environmental efforts on hold for four or eight years of a Trump presidency is unthinkable for many scientists. Climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe, co author of the 2014 book National Climate Assessment, compared Washington’s approach to climate change to a person diagnosed with lung cancer continuing to smoke.

The scientific method involves hypotheses and evidence testing. The power of “political alternative science” is that they don’t have to follow the scientific method. Political laws, unlike scientific laws, are not hypotheses. They are not automatically open to scientific review. At this point in our evolution, there is no alternative to science because today there is no other rational, evidenced-based approach to understanding the world.

Republicans seem to not only be fighting democrats, they also seem to be fighting science. We need a government that respects and relies on science. The turnout at the April 22d marches demonstrates the amount of need in the voting public.

In this bewildering world we have to decide what to believe and how to act on that. In principle that’s what science is for. Science is not a body of facts. Science is a method for deciding whether what we choose to believe has a basis in the laws of nature or not.      Geophysicist Marcia McNutt,

Our government today, fighting against science, doesn’t use it as a method for deciding whether what they choose to believe is true or not. They ignore the laws of science and nature. Government can’t overcome science with legislation. No one can win in the contest against science. Science always bats last.

After I finished writing this blog, President Trump, supported by republicans in congress, separated the U S from the world of science by removing this country from the Paris climate accord. Alternative science?



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A Beginners Mind

“Genuine ignorance is profitable because it leads to humility, curiosity and open-mindedness.”   John Dewey

A lot is being written lately about the virtues of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Not many people are even discussing Genuine Ignorance (GI). I believe ignorance has been getting a bad rap. Perhaps that is because in our culture we believe that intelligence is a good thing to have, even if it’s artificial, and ignorance is a bad thing to have, even if it’s genuine. But if we could promote genuine ignorance as being profitable, it might catch on. In America, being profitable is probably more popular than being intelligent. The goal of artificial intelligence is to produce intelligent computers. The goal of genuine ignorance is to produce intelligent humans.

I want to join John Dewey in promoting genuine ignorance. Of course we aren’t the only ones. Will Durant once exclaimed, “Education is the progressive discovery of our ignorance.” And Will Rogers explained that, “Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects.”

My goal of blog writing has been to promote a collective worldview that is open and inclusive. We will need our curiosity, humility, and open-mindedness to do this. It is well known that humans have a need to know. One definition of intelligence is the capacity to acquire knowledge. Ignorance is defined as lacking in knowledge. But here comes the paradox.  Old knowledge blocks new knowing. Nietzsche. That’s because what you already know often prevents you from learning something new. Genuine ignorance will help.

Humans not only have a need to know, we want things to be perfectly clear. We want to know that this is this and that is that. It is so much easier and comfortable to be certain. However, today, the “new sciences” are based on things like the uncertainty principle, chaos theory, relativity, and complexity.  Being certain may have become a thing of the past. In today’s world; to know for sure may not be intelligent behavior.  How can genuine ignorance help?

Cultivate a Beginner’s Mind                                                       A beginner’s mind is a mind that is willing to see everything as if for the first time. Zen saying

The beginner’s mind is what Zen practitioners use when describing the notion that learning requires an empty cup. When full of what you already know it is hard to acquire new knowledge. A beginner’s mind is trying to discover its ignorance, not to disguise it. This empty cup, beginner’s mind idea is like genuine ignorance, and being child-like. Children don’t know a lot so they learn a lot. They have a beginner’s mind.

You might try thinking like a child. A child hasn’t yet learned rational, adult thinking. Almost all creative thinking techniques, brainstorming for example, involve the abandonment of rational, intelligent thinking processes. Sometimes, not always, you need to think and act playfully and foolishly (unintelligently). It is interesting to note that playfulness and foolishness are considered childlike traits. Try it, you might like it.

An open, beginner’s mind allows us to be receptive to new possibilities and prevents us from getting stuck in the rut of our own expertise, which often thinks it knows more than it does.  Jon Kabat Zinn


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What You Don’t Pay Attention To

Attention is our currency, and it’s precious. Florence Williams

Without it we don’t see, hear, taste.  Paul Atchley

We only experience what we pay attention to. Attention has two basic types:                 1) voluntary, active, directed attention and 2) involuntary, reflex action. Voluntary attention is clearly a very significant human commodity. But it is limited; there is only so much at our disposal, and it isn’t free. When you spend it on one thing, it costs you the ability to focus on something else. Paying attention to one thing necessarily comes at the expense of another thing.

The reason you can’t see the forest for the trees is that you are paying attention to the trees. You can’t pay attention to the trees and the forest. Attention is a finite source. Acknowledging that you can’t see everything helps you “see” your inattentional blindness, acknowledging being blind to what you don’t pay attention to.

For example, when you look at the trees, try to imagine and visualize the forest. You know more trees are there; you know much is hidden underground. And you realize past experience of hundreds of years has had an effect on the present. None of this you can see. Try to place your mind’s eye on what you don’t see. And ask yourself, “What am I not paying attention to?”  Can you do this with other hidden “forests” (the hidden wholeness) in your observable world?

Compared to living in the past, modern life presents challenges with overwhelming attention loads. Even paying attention to what you are selectively, voluntarily, actively paying attention to, is not easy. You need to learn how to be aware of your voluntary attention and your involuntary attention.  And of course this is probably not possible.

What is possible is knowing that there is voluntary and involuntary attention and that inattentional blindness exists. Encouraging you to be more consciously aware of what you are paying attention to and not paying attention to is the purpose of this blog.

Here is some helpful comments and advice:

“Out of necessity we learn to run on ‘auto-pilot, paying attention mechanically and passively most of the time. This underscores the need to pay attention deliberately and voluntarily, thereby liberating our awareness from robotic activity.”  Daniel Goleman

The eye sees in things what it looks for and t looks for what is already in the mind. Scientific School of Police, Paris  (Notice what is already in your mind.)

In all visible things there is a hidden wholeness. Thomas Merton. (Visualize the hidden.)

* The term inattentional blindness was introduced in the 1998 book of that name by psychologists Arien Mack and the late Irvin Rock.


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And The Donkey In A Different Room

Never the twain shall meet.

“The elephant in the room” is a metaphorical idiom describing a major problem or controversial issue that is obviously present but avoided as a subject for discussion because it is more comfortable to do so. “Never the twain shall meet” is an idiom used to suggest that two things are too different to coexist. The elephant and the donkey in different rooms implies metaphorically that the republicans and democrats will never be able to coexist in the same room discussing a major problem or controversial issue.

Today’s political parties can’t solve today’s political problems. That is because today’s political problems are caused by today’s political parties. It is better to blame the other party rather than become part of the solution. Therefore, the solution needs to come from the voting public.

This is not the first time this suggestion has been made. Much has been written lately, since the public demonstrations and marches, about the growing need and evidence that public involvement is required. The major political problem and controversial issue today cannot be avoided. Our current political system cannot fix itself. If the elephant and the donkey can’t get their political act together, the public needs to and can.

Since the elephant and donkey can’t get out of their “political silos,” some one or some thing needs to point us toward a common truth and common reality. Instead of left and right thinking, we need some “common good” thinking (for the benefit or interests of all).Of course we could think: “This is simply another typical stage in American politics; wait and we will get over it.”  To me, that sounds like “elephant in the room” thinking.

“Common good thinking” in the political room or even in the voting public is probably considered “pie-in-the-sky” thinking. But if not the people, the 1% rich people, the middle class people and the poor people, then who?  If not now, when?

… and that government of the people, by the people, for the people,                                        shall not perish from the earth.  A. Lincoln



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