Conceptuality and Actuality

Yes. But the question is: do these things have a truth for our mind?

People talk about God as though they knew what that word ‘God’ means. But God is really just a word, a concept, an idea for people. So it has no truth.

There may be something that the word ‘God’ rather clumsily points to, but that reality is beyond anything that thought can grasp. So to grasp it, our mind must also be beyond thought and concepts.

But our minds are not beyond thought and concepts. In fact, our mind is pretty much made up of our thinking and conceiving. So to face this in ourselves is to face reality. It is to face - as K called it - actualities in the field of reality (‘reality’ meaning in this instance ‘thought’).

But we can drop this narrow and specific way of using the words ‘truth’, ‘reality’ and ‘actuality’ if we have grasped the point. Which is: we mostly live in functions and problems of our own creation, and to deal with this we have to see ourselves factually, as we actually are, and find out if we can go beyond what we are (and if there is, apart from nature, a ‘beyond’ to discover).

As I said to Rick on another thread, and as I said in the text of mine that I have quoted already above, once one has grasped the principle of the distinction K and Bohm were making - between reality, actuality and truth - one can relax one’s language and use the words ‘reality’ and ‘truth’ as they are commonly used (i.e. as referring to actualities, facts, etc).

So, in the case above, the word ‘truth’ - used with reference to the Christian idea of God - has to do with its lack of activity, it’s non-actuality. The Christian is using the word God like a Hindu may use the word Brahma or Vishnu. It is a word with cultural content, thought made content, but no actual content. This was my meaning behind say that the word God, in the above context, has no truth.

I think this has already been explained hasn’t it?

‘Reality’ - in the specific context we have been discussing above, but which we can drop once we’ve understood its meaning - means anything put together by thought. Illusions - such as the standard belief in God or in Brahma or Vishnu - are also put together by thought. So ‘reality’ includes illusion.

I don’t follow? Are you talking about perceptual illusions, or something along those lines?

Unfortunately you have not been very explicit about what you are rejecting or questioning.

If you are talking about perceptual illusions, then that is another discussion. The kinds of illusions I am talking about are psychological.

I think we are not understanding each other. Is this my fault for not writing in clear sentences, using clearly explained definitions and logic? Or is it your fault for not making clear where you are encountering difficulties in understanding what we have been talking about?

As we have already discussed, there is a reality which K has pointed to which is beyond thought and beyond matter. He called this the sacred, the immeasurable. I have no idea if this is actually real or not.

Then there is the reality of the physical world, of nature, of animals and plants, stars and sunsets.

In addition to this there is what thought has created in the world. Thought - human thinking - has created wars and terror, which is actually going on.

Thought has also created the contents of my consciousness: fear, hurt, jealousy, envy, sorrow.

Thought is also responsible for creating the images that I have about myself, my narrative memories of growing up, as well as my hopes for the future.

Thought has created technology, literature, art, music, buildings, medicine.

And thought has created religions, gods and goddesses, nation states, social divisions, etc.

The question we have been asking is how much of this is truly actual? Actual in the sense that it can stand without being propped up by one’s thinking?

Nature exists independently of my thinking about it. So we can call it actual.

However, when it comes to man made social and psychological realities, these may not be actual in the same way. Wars are created by human thinking. The actual violence and horror of war is actual, but the content of the thinking that sustains war may not be actual at all.

Similarly with inward psychological states, such as hurt or suffering. The actual feeling of suffering is real, genuine, but the sustenance of that emotion by thought may be entirely unnecessary. The content of the thinking that sustains suffering may be non actual, and so capable of being dissolved.

This is what I understand us to have been talking about. If you still feel you cannot grasp this after all we have talked about, then I’m afraid I cannot explain it any more clearly than this.


What concept do you think I am “promoting”, and what concept do you think I am “rejecting”?

I have a feeling that you are not engaging with me in an open or sincere way. Am I wrong? You seem to be more interested in nibbling around the edges of the subject, poking holes here and there, without putting your teeth into anything.

To be forever skeptical and suspicious, stand-offish, becomes boring after a while. I feel that to find out what life is all about, how we are to live, how we are to meet the crises in the world, and the problems within, requires a more sincere, more open hearted approach than this going back and forth over trivial misunderstandings or prevarications.

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In other words, the content of the thinking that sustains suffering is psychological content.

If psychological content is more provisional than actual, like typos and other errors that can be corrected or deleted, the problem is thought’s failure to be mindful of what it is doing. Thought is over-confident.

Yes. Thought doesn’t see what it is doing.

A person thinks by habit, and as he or she thinks he or she build up images about other people, about the world, and about themselves, without any awareness that this is what they are doing.

Some of these images may have more congruity with reality than others, but no image is ever truly actual, and many are entirely divorced from reality, are wholly illusory.

The brain reacts chemically and physiologically to these images without discerning which images are congruous and which images are unfounded - the result of which is a disturbed brain.

So our job is to become aware of this movement of image-making and thought as it is happening, to catch ourselves in the act of forming images. This may help us to perceive where the images have value and where the images have no value.

If it is perceived that an image has no value, then it no longer has power to affect the brain.

This is how I understand it.

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This may be. If I misjudged your intentions, I’m apologise.

This distinction of K’s (between reality, actuality and truth) for me, is something I heard about years ago and clarified for myself then, which is why probably I don’t have patience to go into it indefinitely now.

What interests me at this point is exploring what the implications are of the fact that our thinking has created so much of our reality, and asking whether this thought-created reality can be broken down through our awareness and insight. This is what I meant by “getting one’s teeth” into the subject.

The question of absolute truth interests me, but I realise for myself that unless the brain has been adequately freed of its psychological conditioning, of its preoccupation with thought, then it will not be possible to be in a state of quietude to perceive something deeper. This is why I put the question of absolute truth aside for the time being.

Then, I take it, what interests you is understanding the nature and activity of thought in the world; where thought is appropriate, and where it has no place at all?

As we have already explained - and I assumed mutually understood - by ‘reality’ we do not mean what we conventionally understand to be reality. Actuality includes what our thinking has created, but it exceeds what thought has created.

So when I am talking about the reality put together by thought, I do not include in this - as I have explained a dozen times already! - nature, the senses, what our senses perceive to be ‘out there’ in the world: stars, sunsets, trees and oceans, etc.

If this has been clearly understood, then we can ask what place our concepts, our thoughts, have in the world.

Clearly there is a difference between using thought to communicate in words - as we are doing here - and using thoughts to build up illusory images about each other (such as happens with social prejudices, racist views, or xenophobic views), or about the nature of reality (such as happens with fundamentalist religion, superstition, etc).

What have you explained, Pilgrim? I dispute your contention that you have explained. I have asked you again and again to explain, clarify, what you are objecting to. But you haven’t. You have made oblique references to things I have said, taking them out of context, cutting my words out of the sentences in which they made sense, and retorted with one line dismissals or generalised objections which make no clear sense (to me at least).

So what have you explained? You have said that I am defending one concept and rejecting another concept. Is this an explanation? Clearly it wasn’t very explanatory because I had to ask you what you meant by this - to which I did not hear you answer.

The clearest thing you have said up to now is that “absolute truth is a concept that doesn’t interest [you]”. But considering the fact that I have been labouring to converse with you about the reality that we create through our thinking, as well as the world that exists independently of our thinking, this non-interest of yours is neither here nor there. I have voluntarily said that I am interested in discussing thought created reality and actuality, not truth.

You also said that you are not interested in enquiring into the nature of thought - saying that “one concept is as good as another”. When I tried to reason with you that there is a clear difference between thought used for communication through words - which we are doing here - and thought used to create hateful images in human brains, the result of which is war, you simply ignored my reasoning.

So rather than explaining anything, clarifying anything, you seem to be intent on unexplained rejections, dismissals or simply ignoring of what I have been saying.

This is why I said previously that there is an appearance of not conversing in good faith. You gave disputed this, and have said that for you, you are being open and honest. But your understanding of openness and honesty seems to be entirely on your own terms, because you give the appearance to the contrary.

Please explain clearly, in your own language, what it is that interests you in relation to the topic of this thread, so that it is clear to me what - if any - questions you have, and whether there is any point to us attempting to communicate on the subject of conceptuality and actuality.

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We can leave the conversation there if you like. But you don’t seem to acknowledge anything I have been saying. I have offered you various aspects of the topic to enquire into, and you have either ignored, rejected, or disputed all of them. If the topic had no interest for you, why have you bothered to participate? And if there is some aspect of the topic that interests you, why have you refused to explain this in clear English, as I have asked you to do?

So, if you will forgive me, I don’t think I am blustering in asking you to be more explanatory.

If you are dismissing everything on the basis that all we can discuss are concepts because all language and communication involves the use of concepts, then I regard this as an entirely trivial point that you could have made right at the beginning.

I’m not sure what you mean by this. What concept has he explained?

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Why can’t you answer a simple question?

You said previously, didn’t you Pilgrim?, that you are not interested in ‘truth’. I assume you said this either because you are skeptical, or because you lack curiosity, or because you simply realise - as we have been saying - that there is no path to truth through thought (‘reality’).

This being the case, all we need concern ourselves with is thought and actuality.

I asked you whether you were interested in enquiring into thought, and you said “no”. So this leaves only actuality.

Actuality is not a concept. Actuality is what is actually happening in the world and in oneself.

This is why I brought up the example of war - which is taking place outwardly in the world - and psychological suffering (which is there in most human beings). But to investigate this would require examine thought, because thought has created external war and internal suffering (psychological suffering that is).

So as we cannot discuss this, I mentioned that what the senses perceive is actual. Not that the senses cannot be mistaken, or that there aren’t perceptual illusions that can confuse our senses of sight, hearing, and so on. But that the senses are our most concrete relationship to the actual - if one is interested in the actual.

This then raises the question of what does it mean to sense-perceive clearly, holistically, with one’s whole body if one can. To perceive without the interference of thought (if one can do so without having properly investigated into thought).

Does this interest you?

So what was it that interested you enough to participate on this thread (entitled ‘Conceptuality and Actuality’)?

Did you have some question or interest of your own with respect to this topic?

I am not trying to trap you in some clever argument, I am just asking.