Try thinking of a pencil without thinking of it as a pencil.
That is do not think about the word ‘pencil’.
Do not think about any symbol associated with a pencil.
Do not think about the pencils structure,
Don’t think about what constitutes a pencil.
Don’t think about the stick of graphite.
Don’t think about the wood or the metal.
Don’t think about the eraser.
Furthermore, don’t think about what constitutes the material.
Don’t think about the atoms building the wood.
Try zooming in as close as you possibly can into the pencil and its atoms. Where’s the end of it? Where do the objects forming the object end?
For your reading pleasure…
Don’t think about the elemental particles, electrons and protons forming the atoms.
Don’t think about what builds up these elemental particles. Don’t think about the quarks.
Can an object like a pencil, exist without other objects that create him?
The more scientific progress we make the better lenses we make for microscopes. We hope to find an elemental building block of the universe. For a long time it was believed to be the atom.
It’s not, we can zoom into the atom and find even smaller stuff. The more powerful the measuring device, the more stuff we discover. There’s stuff all the way down and I believe it will never end.
A well-known scientist once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?” “You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”
It’s turtles all the way down.
If all you can think about is turtles all the way down, you’re objectifying.
If you cannot think about a pencil without thinking about its attributes you’re objectifying.
If you’re objectifying you’re disconnecting yourself from a deeper understanding of reality. Objectifying is one of the modes of thinking the brain can operate on. It is a good tool if you’re trying to read the manual to your DVD or build IKEA furniture, but other than that it creates misery, not only for you individually but for humanity in itself. People fight each other, because of the concept that we are different. That we are objects separate from one another.
The human mind works on symbols and abstractions. It cannot go beyond that. Would you ever know what a pencil was if you have not created appropriate symbols for it, like the word ‘pencil’ or a mental image of a pointy stick with graphite? This is why we can only see turtles all the way down. It’s just wood, erasers, colors, atoms. The more we look the more we see. Because all we want to see are objects.
Objects are just symbols that hide the truth.
Words are one of the most powerful symbols of all. We take words for granted and use them as if they were real things. Symbols are mistaken for reality.
A pencil is not THE pencil.
It’s hard to imagine that the pencil is actually not the pencil. It’s a fucked up linguistic trick that our brains play with us all the time.
There is a philosophical game you can play with yourself. Grab a pencil, look at it and start repeating to yourself loudly “pencil, pencil, pencil, pencil, pencil…”. Do this until the word pencil loses its meaning and becomes just a grunt coming out of your mouth. This excercize is magical and I recommend it.
Words have associations with everything we can think of. We use them for thinking. There is no escaping this. The question is what is the problem with this, why would you need to understand this?
Most people never question the symbols that are used in everyday life. Do you ever question the words you use and do they always mean what you want to say?
I never say what I truly want to communicate because most of the time I am lost for words. And even if I have the words, communication is a two way process and there is always something lost or distorted. This is why I know that whatever I write here isn’t ever going to be fully understood if you’re not in the same state of mind as I am (Chakra: I don’t smoke anything). But you will always understand something and take something from it, maybe use it. Maybe question my ideas, I have no problem with that, at least you’re trying to think. Just always think that you might be wrong too.
Are the symbols you use serve you? Or do they serve a social role?
Like think about the word ‘Muslim’.
What connotations does that have? Probably depending on the culture you live in it will have different meanings. Symbols are not universal. Muslim has a negative, positive or neutral meaning, depending on your background and context in which it is used. Let’s say you have a negative connotation with that word. Now, why would you think like that, is there a real threat here? Or did somebody impose a meaning to that word, for their own selfish reason, which you have taken without questioning?
Think of the word ‘bad’.
What if you say to yourself you’re bad – not good enough, not worthy. Now why would you use this symbol? What purpose does it serve you? Is it possible that thinking negatively about yourself serves a social function, like the pecking order of chicken?
So getting back to our pencil.
A lot of discussions here on this blog are about the existence of reality and what it is. There might be a confusion that says I do not believe in reality, sorry but far from it. I believe in the existence of an ultimate reality. It’s just that what we have in front of our eyes and especially in our minds is NOT IT. The world we confuse for reality, is the world of abstract symbols we create, obtain and manipulate for the purpose of living in an ultimate reality. So the pencil exists but does not exist. What we think of the pencil is not the pencil itself. So where does the pencil exist, in our minds, in reality, or both?
I don’t know, but if I stick it in your ass you’ll feel it.