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To Coin a New Term: Thought-Charade

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During the course of my brainstorming for a book I am working on, I had a phrase come to mind that seems to sum up a lot of what I see occuring in the world. I looked it up on Google and wasn’t successful finding any pre-existence of the word, so I’ll be happy to coin the word myself:

Thought-charade: 1. noun, empty or deceptive thoughts (The consciousness of humanity suffers from continual, compounded thought-charades.); 2. noun, plural, the game of defending known empty or deceptive thoughts to make them seem plausible, real, accepted by others (I switched on the television to find the talking heads playing thought-charades, attempting to make the case that the country is not in a recession.); 3. noun, the process of supporting empty or deceptive thoughts (George W. Bush’s thought-charade seemed to fool the attendees of the reception, but Alice and I knew his assertions were baseless.)

One of my arguments regarding perception is that it is always limited and provides only a very small window into reality. For example, the sense of smell in bloodhounds is far more developed than in humans. As humans, our perception of the “universe of odors” is only a small portion of reality, in terms of available sense data, yet we act and respond to our limited perception of sound as if it is all that is real. We take for granted that perception seeks to limit and define reality based upon selective data.

To take this idea further, humans build huge structures of belief based upon thoughts they form through the auspices of the physical senses. For example, the entire discipline of science, in general, is one such set of belief structures, which orders thoughts and experience (perception) based upon empirical data. The scientific method has been a long-standing measure of reality and functions in each and every one of our lives through our belief in its ability to provide an accurate understanding of observable phenomena (perception). Usually, if a thing cannot be observed or perceived in one way or another, then it is not known to be real.

We are beings who construct a picture of “reality” through the medium of perception, and yet on the other hand, we form beliefs about reality based upon the perceptions we experience. This is the definition of providing a circular definition.

When my daughter was small, she used to play make-believe a lot. She would play with her dolls and her doll house in very realistic ways. Understanding psychology, I recognized that she projected her own beliefs and experiences onto the imagined experiences of her dolls and she played out many of the same scenarios she had learned (through perception) through her dolls. She constructed a picture of reality for those dolls, generated through her own experiences and beliefs. While she asserted this reality in play, she was also asserting a lot more. She was reinforcing her perceptions as reality.

If we take for granted that our perception gives us access to reality, then this process seems self-fulfilling and is, no doubt, true unto itself. If we question whether or not perception gives us access to reality, however, then basing beliefs and claims to reality upon perception is just plain silly – especially when accompanied by the fervency with which so many people hold beliefs.

Think about it – people live by, die by, kill by and love according to beliefs they hold. If our thoughts are based upon only a small sliver of reality, how can we believe so blindly in what may be our own private illusions? How can we know that what we perceive is true, without pointing to perception itself?

This brings me to the point of the word: thought-charade. While many have asserted through the ages that life is a dream or an illusion (as in Hinduism, maya), the term thought-charade seems more appropriate. An illusion or dream suggests passivity on the part of the person who suffers them. Like a motion picture, the images appear as one merely sits by and observes. In my view, however, thoughts shape and mold “reality” and form experience. This is hardly a passive process!

Although, as a species, we are not very evolved in controlling our thoughts and directing belief in a conscious way, our thoughts and beliefs constantly and continually create our individual realities. We may not recognize the seemingly magical process by which our beliefs pull out of the universe that which we believe; nevertheless, it is still a process of consciousness that occurs all of the time, in every one of our lives by our active imagination and participation, whether we recognize it or not.

These thoughts and beliefs are chosen repeatedly through our lives. These choices generate experience. In turn, we form beliefs based upon these perceptions. Furthermore, beliefs shape perception so that experiences, viewed through the filter of belief, tend to validate the beliefs we hold. The person who goes around proclaiming, “People are assholes!” will, no doubt, find innumerable experiences that justify this position, thereby solidifying the person’s perception and “reality.” In this circularly-defined construction of “reality”, we find ourselves utterly lost and cut off from the Source – Ultimate Reality, asserting that all we are and All That Is is the world served upon the platter of perception. How wrong we have been.

In this way, each of our lives is a thought-charade. Until human beings recognize the importance of thoughts and beliefs in determining experience, they will continue to search for reality in perception – in experience itself, which is a product of thoughts and beliefs that are assertions of reality. Your reality is not found in sense experience. Take comfort in that because the picture of yourself which your physical senses tell you IS you, is not and never will be the fullness of what YOU are.

Reality exists and can be recalled when the thought-charade is seen for what it is, and the game is no longer played.

Collectively, the human race still has a long way to go to this realization. The game is “real”, it is the only game being played. And we’ve got a whole bunch of people with a whole lot of money being spent on manipulating your perceptions into believing their thought-charade.

They’re exceedingly good at it. If you do not recognize this fact, then I’m sorry to say, you’re living a thought-charade.

It’s a good thing there is one reality of our existence that we cannot change, which will bring an end to the thought-charade eventually … I only hope that each of us doesn’t choose to wait until then to begin the process of unraveling our tangled perception of reality.

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The mountains are calling me, and I must go.

The mountains are calling me, and I must go. ~ John Muir

The Raggeds

View of The Raggeds from East Beckwith Mountain

I woke up this morning feeling nostalgic for northern weather. Autumn is such a beautiful time of year up north. Here in Austin, not so much. Today should be in the high eighties and, since it rained, it will be humid. And sadly, I haven’t seen one leaf turn a shade of orange, red or yellow.

Michelle and I took a vacation to the Colorado wilderness this summer, when the weather was in the low seventies during the day and low forties at night. We camped near a beautiful alpine lake at 10,000 feet for a week. Snow was still on the ground in many places and the wildflowers were in bloom everywhere. There was nothing to do but hike, climb mountains, meditate and absorb the sights, smells and sounds of nature. Ahhh …

Colorado filled that need for northern weather, but it absolutely took my breath away. I find myself daydreaming of Colorado and the next time we make the trip to the mountains. The above picture was taken from the top of East Beckwith, looking north towards The Raggeds mountain range. With every step higher, the views opened up to utter magnificence and miles of mountains in all directions. I found myself being urged to climb them all.

Someday I will.

For now, it gives me comfort to escape the city – if only for a moment – and relive some memories. It was quite peaceful there, and I have more appreciation for the yogis and mystics who ascended mountains to commune with the gods.

It was nothing short of a transcendent experience.

Sunrise on East Beckwith

Sunrise on East Beckwith - View from Camp

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2008 in Nature and Outdoors, travel

 

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The Body Burden: Toxic Chemicals in our Bodies

About two years ago, I came across the website, www.ewg.org. At that time, the Environmental Working Group had just finished a comprehensive study of 8 random American adults. Using blood tests specifically designed to look for over 400 different man-made chemicals, the study found up to 300+ chemicals in one specimen! Many of these chemicals are known scientifically to cause: mutations, birth defects, tumors, cancer, hormonal imbalances, hormone disruptions, organ toxicity and much more. Because the cosmetic (and personal hygiene products) industry is not regulated by the FDA or USDA, EWG has been working to raise the awareness of what they termed the “body burden”. Most recently, their efforts have raised the awareness of bisphenol-A, an estrogen copy-cat chemical that is being blamed for a host of reproductive issues, as well as that of dioxane, a particularly nasty carcinogen found in some “natural” and “organic” personal hygiene products.

EWG has compiled a user-friendly database that consumers can use to search for his or her own personal hygiene products. This database includes the ingredients of each product, as well as the known toxic effects of those ingredients and the possible harm that substance may do to your body. Whether you smear lead-containing lipstick on your lips, spike your hair with endocrine disrupting hair gel, or moisturize your skin with cancer-causing, paraben-containing lotion, all of us are unconsciously subjecting our bodies to an onslaught of toxic chemicals. EWG’s studies have concluded that many of these chemicals are bioaccumulative, meaning they are not eliminated naturally by the body, but are stored as toxins in organs and tissues that later may manifest in a number of different diseases and/or afflictions. Did you know that anything containing “fragrance” literally contains hundreds of chemicals, many of which are synthetic, including phthalates, which are known carcinogens, tetragens and mutagens?

Needless to say, since first coming across this website, I have changed all of my personal hygiene products and have convinced those around me to switch to certified organic or all-natural, plant-derived products. For instance, I don’t wear cologne (so I apologize if my odor offends!), don’t use anti-perspirant or deodorant, use non-fluoride all-natural toothpaste, and use only organic plant-based soaps. I don’t use fragrances in my detergents, don’t use air fresheners, and use all-natural, biodegradeable cleaners around the home. Many of these items are readily available at larger HEB’s, at Whole Foods, and a growing number of places. If we demand these products, the manufacturers will produce them and we will be taking steps to alleviate the Body Burden of future generations.

Pollution is a growing problem in newborns

Pollution is a growing problem in newborns

Already, EWG has discovered that newborns share in this burden before they are given a choice. A recent study of the umbilical cord blood from a random sampling of newborns around the country has confirmed the worst: 150+ of these chemicals have already crossed the placenta barrier and are accumulating in the fetus, even before birth. With the onset of so many new allergies, conditions, syndromes and the pandemic rise of things like attention deficit disorder and autism, doesn’t it make sense to look to the chemicals that are known to cause these problems and which we are exposing ourselves to, repeatedly, day after day? Chances are, what’s in your home and vanity cabinet are more toxic to you than the foods you eat – or try to avoid.

If you want to learn more, visit EWG’s website. Or, click these links to learn more about the Body Burden we share, or the Pollution in Newborns.

Better yet, make the change today – visit the cosmetic database and find out how to make your life less toxic.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2008 in Current Health News, Health & Wellness

 

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