Enlightenment – what is it?

“Enlightenment” (intentionally placed in quotes) – what is it, and should we care?

How it seems to me is something like this:

There does seem to be a “reality” “out there” that is part of the matrix that provides the conditions for the existence of our bodies and brains and minds. Our bodies and brains seem to be the result of evolution by natural selection acting on replicating molecular systems in the environment that was/is the Earth.

It seems that our minds have developed in these brains in part as a result of an analogous process of evolution in the realm of memes (units of transmissible information) that has given rise to complex language and “culture”.

It seems that each of us as individuals starts with an essentially empty mind, which is in the first instance essentially filled by the culture we happen to be born into.
It seems that our minds also have an ability that is variously known as intuition or abstraction, which allows us as individuals to distinguish patterns at new levels that were not previously available to our awareness.
It seems that this ability to intuit or abstract is a function of the way in which our brains store and retrieve information as interference patterns (which are distributed across large areas of the brain, as distinct from the localised serial storage and retrieval used by digital computers).

It seems that each of us must make these abstractions and distinctions to higher levels for ourselves, though there is some logic to the process, and much can be done by analogy to speed the process for others.

It seems that we must all start with simple distinctions, simple binaries, like true/false, and from such simple beginnings, move to wider contexts which are, for the most part, infinite in extent.

It seems that ideas like “truth” have this sort of “child like” aspect to them (in the sense of being a first approximation at dividing into two something that is infinite in its complexity).

It seems that reality is what it is, and that our models of it must always be less than the thing itself (however accurate they are in some particular aspect), such is the nature of all “models” or “maps”.

Thus it seems that the whole idea of “truth” is but a childish illusion in a sense, in the sense of there being a knowable absolute truth.
Similarly the idea of relative truth seems to be a first approximation of a reaction against the idea of absolute truth.

Each of us as individuals has the models we have. To call these models “Truth” seems to me to an act of hubris. To call them relative seems egoic. They are the models that they are.

For me, enlightenment is not about “The Truth”, it is about catching a glimpse of the infinite possibility, the infinite variability, and the infinite creativity, that is available to us.

It seems that what is, is, and what has been, has been, and that these two sets of things are fixed and unarguable (however accurate or inaccurate our models and or percepts of them are or are not).

It seems that what may yet become is infinite and unbounded.

It seems that there is an infinite class of the possible to choose, from, and an even larger class of the impossible in which to make our mistakes.

Infinity is a bit mind bending in that aspect. It can contain other infinities. It is possible to have an infinite class of the possible and still have more things that are impossible.

For me, enlightenment is more like wakening to the meta truth, that absolute certainty about anything real is an illusion.

It seems that we may have certainty of a sort in the realm of logic, or any other realm which we can contain; but not in the realm that contains us, for we will forever be an unknown to ourselves in some essential sense, and thus the “fly in our own ointment”.

And even here, Kurt Goedel has done a masterful work with his “Incompleteness Theorem”, that is to my mind probably the most profound thing any human mind has ever created.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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