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Banbury Cross

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Post details: New Age Etude

New Age Etude

The other day I was watching a group of trees swaying high above my head when a strange idea occurred to me.

Maybe what we see is not always what we get.

Reality can play tricks on our cognition, and had our senses not been chaperoned by experience, they would have made a number of embarrassing calls on our journey through life. Consider what I just saw for instance. To an impartial observer without any prior knowledge of how the world operates it might seem that the trees above me are just flailing their limbs on their own volition, perhaps even gesticulating at each other as if having an argument over who bears juicier fruit. Sure, we all know it is just a wind moving the branches, but if you tried to convince the aforementioned observer who just happened to arrive from Outer Space you would solicit an incredulous look: "What wind? I do not see any wind?" And truth be told, wind itself is kind of hard to see really. The tree commotion, on the other hand, is rather obvious.

This silly idea made me pursue its tracks deeper into the world of meanings and perceptions and embark on a little New Age fantasy. What if our own consciousness is but a manifestation of something external that we merely react to? Kind of like the apparent motions of the tree boughs or spinning of the wind mill are only manifestations of the wind, but they are not the wind itself.

In other words, our lives and awareness may be just a secondary process, an illusion caused by actions of some other and probably much larger medium - the ever flowing universal consciousness of sorts. Or a "life force" if you prefer more mystical moniker. Perhaps what is important about our existence is the "wind" itself. Not how it manifests itself in thousands of little windmills it encounters along the way. What some may call soul would then be just a sensory artifact created by the spinning arms of our individual windmill as it interacts with this perennial and all permeating spiritual "wind". Naturally, we should ask then what happens to our soul as we depart this world. When the windmill breaks and its arms stop spinning, does that stop the "wind"? That is the million dollar question.

All this just goes to show that the more you try to figure out what reality is, the more entangled in its semantic webs you become. Attempting to espy the signs of objective truth through our subjective binoculars can be so frustrating that sometimes it looks like we might be better off just pouring ourselves some margaritas and spending the rest of the afternoon in the secular comfort of our hammocks. There we can watch palms swaying gently high above our heads and whispering to each other in a language of their own.

cc

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