The Limits We Believe
Have you ever eaten a banana?
Can you prove it?
This is where things get complicated.
There is a concept called the Last Thursday Paradox. It states that you cannot prove that the universe was not created last Thursday.
According to this idea, every single thing around you could have been created barely a week ago. Everything was created to give you the illusion that it was much older. You cannot argue with this idea because every argument you give can be used to justify the argument. « Well, » the argument goes, « God could have created that too, to give you the illusion of reality. » And indeed, it is possible that fossils, books, movies, memories and all the other stuff we use to justify reality are fake. The issue is that we cannot know for certain what is true and what isn’t.
There is another concept called Occam’s Razor. It is the philosophical concept that if there are two explanations for an occurrence the one that requires the less speculation is usually better. I.e., the more assumptions you have to make, the more unlikely the explanation. The simpler the idea the better. The more complicated you make something the less likely it is to be true.
Since I’ve been introduced to this idea I’ve been forced to accept that you cannot prove the nature of reality. It has opened my mind to many new ways of viewing the world.
Why do we believe something in the first place if you cannot know anything for certain?
You believe something because if you didn’t you wouldn’t be able to function, the level of uncertainty would be too difficult to understand. Humans need to believe in something. That is a law of human nature.
If you want to accumulate power, sow confusion and offer people something they can believe in and they will. It is the basis of what Robert Greene calls the 27th law of Power: « Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cult Like Following. »
All wars are based on a clash of beliefs. My people are better than yours, my God is better than yours or there is only one God, but actually, before that concept existed there are many gods. All of it. A disagreement on who is right and who is wrong. But what if they’re all right?
The past is but an image in our heads that does not exist. It is a story. It only takes a little imagination to realise the past and future are only illusions. Only the now exists. If you think about it, there is not a single moment in your life where you breathed in the past, or in the future. You were always anchored in the present. You body is limited to the present moment and all that is, was, and ever will be. That is why breathing is the main tool used in meditation. It brings you back to reality.
I remember walking in Colmar an old town in France and looking at the old buildings. Thinking of how it must have looked to people before me. Pretty much the same, actually. Of course some of the buildings and roads would have been different but the oldest buildings would have been the same. And the people? How would the people have been? Pretty much the same. Perhaps a different language, different fashion but in the end still humans with the same needs and instincts as me. In fact I now have a very similar human perspective as any human that lived in this town and walked on the roads I’m walking. An unusual feeling of relief and belonging washed through me. I’m not alone, nor have I ever been.
Of course the things around me have changed, but not my experience of them. Not my feelings, emotions and perceptions. Those are the same. People before you have felt the same things and dealt with the same type of problems you are dealing with. That is why people today still read wisdom from generations past. They all had the same problems as us. How to deal with your emotions, how to find meaning, how to deal with people, how to deal with suffering, how to be a good human being. It stays relevant because it is timeless. That is all Religions, Spirituality, Mythology, and the handbooks of Famous people do. They offer solutions to the perception of reality around you. They help you deal with it, with Life.
The past isn’t some black and white photo-reality of old people as I imagined it to be. The past is just a now that has ended. All events happen now.
When you shift your reality, you open your mind to new possibilities.
What have you believed up till now that might not actually be true? How do you know it is true? Can you be absolutely, beyond the shadow of the doubt, certain that it is true?