What the heck does that mean? I guess I’m asking is what comes to us through our consciousness a true reflection of the world? Or, is it somehow colored by factors of which we are generally not aware?
I’m sure most of you know that what is delivered to our consciousness by our senses is simply a limited snapshot of what is going on around us in the physical world. Obviously, we only hear a small range of potential sounds and see only a small sliver of the light spectrum. Dogs howl at sounds we cannot hear. Our skin burns when we are outside on a cloudy day from ultraviolet rays cannot see.
Even within the sensory inputs that are within the range of our physical senses, we tune out most of it as unneeded background noise. Our consciousness delivers to our awareness only those sensory inputs that are deemed important. Simply consider those times when you’ve been in a crowded room and tuned out all the noise but immediately came to focus upon your name being spoken across the room.
So yes, there is a lot going on around you of which you are unaware. Even so, can we rely on the validity of that which is both delivered to our senses and then delivered to our awareness? More and more science is telling us no. Studies have shown that our awareness is colored by our history, our background, our worldview. These factors interpret our sensory input invisibly.
But what about the information that comes to us from beyond our senses? What about that “inner knowingness”? What about intuition? What about spiritual experiences such as those received during meditation? Can’t we trust those to be true and real? Unfortunately, the answer according to Integral philosopher Ken Wilber is no, we cannot count on these experiences to be untainted either.
Wilber says that the failure to consider the extensive evidence that shows how our subjective personal reality is constructed by intersubjective cultural connections leads us into naïvely believing that there exists one purely objective, pre-given world for all to experience free of any cultural bias. One of our greatest mistakes he believes is that we inaccurately think that our inner experience, no matter its original source, is a pure reflection of reality.
The reality Wilber says is that no matter how much we meditate and develop our consciousness there will always be invisible structures which play a role in constructing our consciousness awareness. Without an awareness of the impact of these structures, we may think something is ultimate truth when it is not. Some of these structures include linguistics, cultural beliefs, and our level of development on what Wilber calls “lines of development.” A simple way to think about these lines is like multiple intelligences… cognitive, social skills, moral, emotional, etc. will speak more of this at a later time (or you can go Google “integral lines of development”).
What I want you to consider for a moment is this….you are born on the planet and you are growing… not only physically, but that there are aspects of your being within you and your consciousness which are also developing through various stages… and these inner states of consciousness generally settle into one stage which then becomes predominant in “coloring” your awareness of life.
One model which has been helpful to me in understanding these stages of development has been Spiral Dynamics. An understanding of this model will help you better see how these invisible structures are at play. For the next few days, we will look at Spiral Dynamics and its relationship to the Science of Mind. I hope you will find it as fascinating as me!
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!