Life is not primarily about what we can do, but what we can honestly accept. This is because the sum of what we honestly accept strongly influences what we can accomplish in life while the sum of things we dishonestly reject contributes to the scope of the harm we cause with our mistakes.
The above paragraph has become my highest principle. It was one of those thoughts that just flowed out in my writing one day, but I recognized it as something more than just another couple of sentences. This principle describes how I value my perception of reality and this fundamental acceptance of reality serves as the foundation upon which I’ve attempted to redefine my expectations and values.
Acceptance of our environment and our nature requires some kind of foundation; something in which we can impart trust. The obvious and true choice is physics, of course. Everything we experience is an expression of physics. We are each expressions of physics and are all an expression of physics, depending on the scale of consideration. The ongoing processes in our brains are expressions of physics, and so our thoughts, our emotions and our suffering are all expressions of physics. And this remains true for all ~8 billion of us, all of the time we remain alive. This is the simple cornerstone of my beliefs and worldview. If a an idea cannot be expressed as a direct expression of physics it is by definition imaginary. It’s an easy Litmus test. Imaginary isn’t synonymous with unreal, or untrue; imaginary concepts exist only when a physical brain exists to think them or to express them through physical action (such as through writing).
On some scales it is matter that matters. It’s easier for us to conceptualize reality through false compartmentalization; by creating divisions between physics and chemistry and biology and neurology and on we go. We all participate in the same system of reality, the same quantum field, the same Earth of rock and ocean. Our matter is not fundamentally different from the matter that surrounds us. We borrow matter from our environment to comprise our bodies and we relinquish it just as freely, all of the while pretending that we are somehow separate, different, and all too often “better” than the other animated arrangements of matter we encounter; that which comprises other animals.
Internally, if we render ourselves willing and determined to look, I believe we can each perceive more of the chemical processes ongoing in our bodies and specifically in our brains. I’m not suggesting anything outlandish. We ignore and dishonestly reject much of the information our bodies and even our brains try to inform us. We misunderstand yet more of this information, and we tend to create elaborate false conclusions to support our emotional cravings. It is denial we are lost in, through and through, and we are only cheating ourselves out of our potentials and our future in our perseverance – or stubbornness.
When I discuss these issues on social media I’m frequently asked what I’d suggest we do and my answer is to take the search inward, to consciously choose to value the pursuit of self honesty over other pursuits and values. The way I see self honesty is as the cognitive mechanism by which we distinguish reality from our imaginations. We all too frequently abuse our imaginative capacity in furtherance of denial of the uncomfortable, the painful or the otherwise unacceptable aspects of life. Such hubris we have, to consider aspects of life to be unacceptable, rather than to realize quickly that the act of questioning our acceptance of things we know to be factual is informing us of just how tenuous our grip on sanity really is as human beings. We are not as sapient as we believe ourselves to be, as we can imagine ourselves to be, and good! Or, at least, good enough. Because we must have room for growth. But we must also pursue growth, and this is best sought through pursuit of honest self acceptance so that we might someday constructively and collaboratively work on remedying our larger scale issues (like our climate crisis, for a start, or the ongoing resurgence of fascism in the western world). I think very little comfortable, privileged time remains in the grand scheme of things.
The practical value of acceptance is in its power to render the emotional content of memories and issues we consider optional, provided we adjust our held values to accommodate this principle. It’s the right thing to do. Accepting what is real provides the emotional relief it does by way of lessening our desire to induce unnecessary, and often unpleasant emotions. Emotional self control cannot be based on repression as repression is another form of denial. By the time we feel a feeling starting in us the molecules responsible for it are already racing through our blood because the decision to release them has already been made in our brains. By accepting the whole process of emotionalism for what it is I and we can take honest ownership of this aspect of ourselves, and make better choices about what feelings we want to feel in response to what stimuli, and which we would prefer to think about solemnly, without undue emotional distraction.
Emotionalism is the enemy of clarity, but emotions themselves are not the enemy. The value of our emotions should be predicated on our conscientious values, on expressions of our conscience, not the “flavour” of the emotion. In this sense there are no negative emotions. Even hate can be a beneficial and advantageous emotion, provided it is an honest hate, which means it’s a hatred of something changeable, something within our influence or control, and something that is abhorrent. It isn’t rational to hate things we cannot change. It’s just one example. Even frustration can be healthy in very limited scopes, at least that I’ve found. There may be more examples of this counter-intuitive nature of emotionalism and I believe it to be testament to our creative potential in exploiting emotionalism. The point I’m hoping to convey if that I think we look at emotionalism rather poorly and I think this, too, is a direct result of our endogenous addiction. I have to wonder what would happen if groups of people chose better ways, together. I think there would be a great synergy of effect, the inverse of the way suffering radiates out from a victim of violence into the lives of the people who care for them. I think what we would see, instead, is a strengthening of community and more equitable treatment of everybody involved. And then I try to imagine what millions of people might do with it, and I hit my imagination’s limit. Society would look very, very different. I just can’t see it clearly because the idea of so many people honestly cooperating on this scale feels preposterous. We could, in that we have the capacity, but we won’t, because our emotions are too easily abused.