Dog spider dreams

A colour woodcut by Yamamoto Shōun, 1906

A colour woodcut by Yamamoto Shōun, 1906

The world is as it seems; the world is not what it seems. We each of us hold to either statement in any given moment. For the greater part, we incline to the former; yet now and again must hold to the latter. How can the world be other than it seems; it is self-evident is it not? That is how we go about our days; at least, until reason supervenes and we see the evidence is faked.

Example: I observe a Heron on the far side of the river, for a while admiring its own still and statuesque beauty. My world is at one with nature, with this creature; I feel connected, blessed in some minor way. And then in an instant I see that the Heron is in fact a torn grey plastic bag that has become tangled in the distant bushes. The world is no longer what it seemed to be.

None of us knows how frequently appearances in awareness deceive us. We may wrongly think that instances such as I experienced with the ‘Heron’ are quite rare. Our minds create narratives from sensory input; and if all seems plausible, we take it that the world is as it seems. We render sensible our sense data, so believing our narrative always to be rational.

And yet we are not as reasoned as we would like to think, and are thrown into irrational responses very easily. There is a video on YouTube that demonstrates this point well; you can view it in the comments section below. So far, this video has been viewed well over 122,000,000 times. It went viral because what it shows is implausible, yet remains quite scary.

Night & Sleep. Evelyn De Morgan, 1878

Where do dreams begin and end? We tend to think of them as obtaining uniquely to our sleeping state. Some say they convey significant indicative messages; and doubtless this is so at times. Am I in the midst of a dream when I mistake a plastic bag for a Heron; and what might it possibly mean? Perhaps only that at that time I desired to experience beauty in the world.

Our notions of reality are just that, notional. They are suggestions we make to ourselves, perhaps formed upon tested theories; yet they remain only internalised representations of some collective otherness. And we never can quite know if our suggestions are true to that otherness, one which we regard as external to us. We are awake yet never know if we are dreaming.

Rationality is the arbiter; with reason, inference, syllogism, deduction and so forth, we distinguish any reality from our dreams. This all takes time; and whilst we have a hyper-fast form of reason known as intuition, this cannot be summoned by force of will. Most of the time, we depend upon our plodding reason to determine what we may come to regard as reality.

Example: At 3.30 a.m. I cross a deserted walkway, approaching the elevator to ascend a multi-level carpark. The lift apparatus forms muffled sounds which reverberate in its ghostly enclosure. As the doors open, I see a dead body on the floor, astride of which is a giant spider, some 3 ft. in span. It scuttles towards me; I run terrified from the scene, far too fast for reason.

The spider. Nikolaos Gyzis, 1884

The spider. Nikolaos Gyzis, 1884

Logic tells me that this event cannot be what it seems: there are no giant spiders; and if there were, we would not share elevators with them. And yet confronted with the situation I described, how would you react? Would you call on your theory that giant spiders are very scary, and run like hell just as I did, terrified? Or would you stand your ground rationalising the event?

In life, there frequently is no time to think before we act. We respond to the world based upon theories we hold about life generally, our past conditioning, and perhaps some genetic predispositions. To some extent we inhabit a reverie; we dream of our wakened state, seldom realising as much. So, our theories and our conditioning determine much of our life.

To recap: We never know to what degree our experience is purely imaginal. Only a fraction of our lives do we have time to endorse experience with reason. We unwittingly and perhaps frequently enter dream-states whilst awake, however fleetingly. Our life is a narrative formed of both dream-states and influences of the actual; so what we take to be reality is notional.

If you wish to view the video I refer to within this piece, please do so in the comments section below. Place yourself in the various scenes depicted and gauge your reactions as they unfold. Only with experience does knowledge about ourselves absorb fully; yet still we can imagine mock scenarios to good effect. You may find, just as I did, that you too have dog spider dreams.






140 thoughts on “Dog spider dreams

  1. A fascinating post, Hariod.

    Due to our Amazing Brains, and how we process information, much of what we ‘know’ has nothing to do with reality. Instead, our perceptions are based on who ‘we’ are and on ‘our’ experiences in life. Our brains like complete images, and dislike attempting to put together a jigsaw puzzle only to find missing pieces. When faced with a ‘missing link’, our brains search available data for stereotypical information to fill in the blanks. We use information stored in our memory banks on related subjects to fill in the remaining gaps and then get on to processing the next thought. Due to the speed at which it happens, we are not aware of the brain’s duplicity.

    • That sounds about right Nancy; and our “stereotypical information” includes percepts of scary giant spiders, ghosts and so forth. When I used to do meditation intensives many years ago, it was something of a revelation to first discover just to what degree I built my world upon the subliminal usage of retained percepts. This is a lot like what happens in sleep dreams, wherein the brain accesses and manipulates stored percepts so as to construct narratives in the absence of significant external sensory input.

      Many thanks for reading this article and for contributing such an insightful comment Nancy; I greatly appreciate both your presence and your willingness to share your knowledge here.

      Hariod. ❤

  2. I have been unable to view videos these last few days, so I will probably have to wait until I return from India.

    The other day I took a photo of some seeds inside of a small metal bowl. When I saw the picture it looked like the bowl was turned upside down and the seeds were on top. It was such a disconcerting feeling to not be able to see what was real. I have also had experiences with high blood pressure when I haven’t been able to tell later whether something I experienced was a dream or real. That was also very disconcerting.

    Your statement that what we consider to be reality may be imaginary more often than we think is very interesting and thought provoking. Like you, if I thought I saw a giant spider, I would be running in fear.

    • Thank you Karuna, for taking time out from what continues to be your busy schedule in India to both read this article and to comment on it; I greatly appreciate your presence here as always. Your anecdote concerning the photograph of the bowl and seeds is a perfect example of how the brain latches onto its ideas and then has trouble shaking them off; and as you say, it may indeed be quite disconcerting.

      I agree, it is also deeply troubling when we are unable to consciously differentiate what we think of as ‘real’ from what we think of as dream imagery. Such times as these are when we know either might obtain, yet for perhaps much of the time that is also the case; it is simply that we are unaware of our confusion. And yes, as regards giant spiders, then who is not scared witless by them, even though they do not exist?

      With much gratitude and respect.

      Hariod. ❤ _/\_

      • It is a bit scary to think that if we were aware we would realize that confusion would be the norm. That is maya isn’t it? It helps me understand that term, unless I’m wrong!

        • I would well imagine that both yourself and your fine son Sreejit, as meditators, are aware of the stream of mentation that runs as creator of your respective experience. I would also guess that you see a clear distinction between pure awareness and the constructs that form in mentation Karuna. So, I would think that for those such as yourself and Sreejit, there is largely no confusion, apparent or otherwise. Why so? Because you know that there are two levels to awareness: the pure illumination of it (its lucency), which may always be trusted, and the imagery projected within it, which is always in some degree fallible. When I spoke in my comment above of ‘confusion’ it was not meant there as referring to any conscious state, rather it is one in which both actuality and the fabrications of the mind are taken as one seamless reality. That is to say, whatever appears to me in awareness, I (mis)take as reality, or actuality; and I have no knowledge that all mentation forms my experience and that all mentation is also fallible.

          • Yes, I do have experiences of knowing/seeing the differences between what I think is pure awareness vs. mentation; although my path is not meditation in the traditional form. Right before I went to morning prayers this morning (an hour and a half ago) I read your post and also read the new weekly photo challenge “New”. I had interesting experiences during the prayers that I will share later!

              • Are you meaning the past experiences I referred to? I’m not sure if it really fits with what you were talking about, but what came to mind when I wrote that was experiencing a grief that was full of suffering and negative thinking as compared to having deep grief come up that has no thinking attached to it. It simply is. That feels like the ‘true’ grief. I also used to have experiences where I felt part of me was in spirit realm, at a party – one that the here and now ‘me’ wasn’t invited to.

                • You said just above “Right before I went to morning prayers this morning (an hour and a half ago) I read your post and also read the new weekly photo challenge “New”. I had interesting experiences during the prayers that I will share later!” Am I to take it that these insights into grief are what occurred during the prayers Karuna? In any case, I think I appreciate what you are saying about deeply held grief; it is beyond ideas and memories, and seems to me as if it is in essence a tremendous un-ideated impact upon our sentience and body as whole. It may outwardly reflect ideas and memories which are perhaps sorrowful and regretful, and yet the grief itself is more fundamental and all-consuming. Please feel free to elaborate if I have misunderstood what you perceived during prayer Karuna; and thank you for sharing this.

                  • In my earlier comment I had referred to past experiences and then later in the same comment I referred to today’s experiences. This comment was referring to those experiences from the past. I should have asked which of those topics you were asking about!

                    I will be writing a post about what happened this morning – maybe tomorrow. I will be writing it as part of a weekly photo prompt so I also have to create a photo to go with it! I’ve taken one but haven’t had time to decide if it will really work!

                    • I had an experience of you this morning and thought of this post. I looked out my window and saw two suns. It was quite disconcerting. I investigated and discovered that one I was seeing through the window and one I was seeing through a space between the window frame and the window – so it was not through the glass. Somehow the sun was being reflected in the glass and it gave the illusion of being two suns. I also thought of one of the acronyms for FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real.

                    • Thank you so much Karuna for letting me know this; it means a lot to me that in some small way, far across the world, the thoughts that chimed within me in writing this piece also chimed within another. And what a lovely example you give of precisely the thing we are discussing: how disconcerting it is when reflective thought is by-passed and we are confronted with a world that somehow throws us into a sense of disorientation. These visual hallucinations may well occur quite frequently of course; and perhaps for each occurrence of which we become aware, another fifty may go unnoticed? I suspect this happens even more frequently with audible phenomena, wherein we hear what we expect to hear and so no such disorientation occurs. I like your acronym of F.E.A.R. Karuna, and am reminded of a song by Ian Brown which consists almost entirely of acronyms of that same word, and is of course called “F.E.A.R.”.

                    • I’m having no luck with Flash this trip but I will for sure listen to this when I get home. I return to the U.S. next Saturday. It is interesting to consider how many incidents we miss!

    • Just looking at the still on the front of that video clip has rendered me too scared to view it Tina.

      “Pass out” – is that all? Surely a good old-fashioned cardiac arrest would be the order of the day?

      I am going to have a large sherry, two sedatives, and then see if I dare to press the ‘play’ button.

      • I suppose you’re right about the cardiac arrest. I’m sure I was being too generous with myself. There’s another elevator video floating around somewhere in which the floor ‘drops out’. In reality you’re standing on glass, but the illusion is pretty realistic. I’m sure on that one I would have a cardiac arrest.

        Although spiders are pretty much the scariest thing for me. I’ve been known to scream to the point of seeing stars and tunnel vision, almost blacking out, over an ordinary spider. The odd thing is I’m not too afraid of Tarantulas because they don’t move very quickly. If I saw one running at me, or if they did move quickly, I’d be having nightmares every night. That dog in the video was pretty fast!

        Enjoy your sherry and sedatives! Then let the games begin! (That is, if your eyelids are still open.)

  3. Yes, I agree with you Hariod; our perception of what we ‘see’ is often coloured within our own minds. I once read a book describing how what we see is not in actual fact there, as in it is a reflection turned around within our brains. This on its own led me to view differently what I see. I used to give colour-blindness tests at interviews within the textile career I had; and its amazing how many do not see the same colours.

    Going into the realm of dreams, then some of which I have had have been extremely real. Who is to say which reality is more solid, for, this world we create with our thoughts. Look around you; each thing you see was once someone’s thought – even the paint upon the walls. So it opens up a vast questioning of our perception and reality.

    Are we living within our dreams of creation? Or do we sleep and visit the world of what is possible to create within our minds? I know I have had battles with giant rats, and been saved by bears. Such is the wonderful world of the mind! And I so loved reading what ran through your own.

    Love and blessings dear Hariod.

    Sue. x

    • Thank you very much dear Sue for considering my words and for adding your own much-valued reflections thereon. Your observation about colour blindness is a good example of how ubiquitous this distortion of perception is. I developed a minor degree of colour blindness myself late in life; and I can stare at a deep blue or green and it can appear at first black, or then green, or then blue, each in turn dependent upon whatever the brain decides in a given moment.

      I quite agree with your observations as regards dreams, in so far as one cannot say that a hallucination is of itself any less real than any other phenomenon. Where exactly does reality end and so-called ‘delusion’ begin? The whole is mixed as one in a unified awareness which itself has no remit to make such distinctions; and it is only via that same awareness that we have any experience at all, be it of dreams or otherwise.

      With much love and gratitude to you dear Sue.

      Hariod. ❤

  4. Hi Hariod,

    Your articles always kindle the imagination and provide us the fuel to think beyond the ordinary. I appreciate your talent for tapping at the finer abilities of human mind. Each and every word of this post is reminiscent of a mirage – sometimes I wonder isn’t life one such dream? We go on and on into those flashes, knowing well what we are stepping into!

    Dreams are a philosophy in themselves, their interpretation with a logical mind is quite challenging and they tend to lose their beauty or bizarre nature if we try to do so. Isn’t it intriguing that our imagination possesses the power to transport us into a world of our choice, the world we want to see? I think this is an amazing mental faculty, which has taken us into unknown worlds.

    Thanks for such stimulating words. Have a wonderful 2015. Wishing you a happy, healthy and peaceful year.

    With reverence,


    • Hello there dear Balroop,

      Thank you so much for taking a little of your time to consider my reflections here; and thank you also for adding your own insights to what you have read; I value both very much. Your words encourage me greatly as I attempt to encapsulate my ideas in short-form writing here. I cannot say I have the organisational structure that you yourself exhibit in your own work; although I hope that I manage to create a degree of flow which imparts to the reader – your kind and generous words would indicate that I at least in part succeed; and so it is that I should thank you once more.

      I like very much your expression “the power to transport us into a world of our choice, the world we want to see”. That was exactly what happened in the anecdote about my imagining a Heron in place of a torn plastic bag. There is a flipside to this though of course, and we may on occasion find ourselves transported into a world very much not of our choice, one which we do not want to see; and yet which is purely imaginal. This all lies far beyond the means of any volitional control; and we just have to trust there are not too many giant spiders lying in wait!

      With much gratitude and respect to you dear Balroop.

      Hariod. ❤

      • Oh yes! I don’t believe in any giant spiders, nor do I like to imagine or see such creatures. By the way, I had to quit that video half way through as I didn’t like it. Sorry about that, although I can understand the symbolism. Thanks for the beautiful, respectful words.

        • I understand dear Balroop; and I intentionally left the video out of the main article itself because I knew that some people would find it disturbing. My mischievous friend Tina the philosopher then promptly went and submitted an even scarier video here in the comments; so please do not go to view that one! o_O

  5. “The world is as it seems; the world is not what it seems. We each of us hold to either statement in any given moment.” – Schrodinger’s World. That it is both what it seems and what it does not is in effect absolutely true at the same moment. I’ve seen the spider before and enjoyed watching it again. I can only imagine how high I’d jump and how fast I’d have fled under the situations presented! Another superbly constructed and executed post Hariod. Thank you. *smiles*.

    – Sonmi dreaming of electric spider wolves in sheep’s clothing upon the Cloud.

    • Dearest Sonmi, I do so hope that no cats were harmed in deciding the content of your comment. I very much doubt that would be so in your case; and please let me assure you that no whopping spiders were harmed in the least when I decided what to write here. Although I may on occasion jest as regards the separation of worms, the griddling of cow bums and so forth, then truth be told, I am a very long-standing keeper of Buddhist precepts and have not intentionally caused harm to another living being of any kind for many decades. My only hope is that you were not overly discommoded by my flagitious attempts at humour.

      Aside from your obviously eclectic and arty tastes, you demonstrate well that there is also a philosopher up there upon the cloud and somewhere within you. I was not heretofore aware of this aspect of Sonmi, nor either of your scientific bent; the ambit of your learning disgraces me in comparison. I shall have to up the stakes in my offerings of admitted pabulum here. What I hope will prove to be my future luculent lucubrations shall be spurred on by your possible presence dear, and of which I remain both indebted and deeply appreciative. Seldom is it so that one of your kind enters my world; it both seems so, and indeed is so.

      • “the ambit of your learning disgraces me in comparison” – this is vastly unlikely. *laughs a lot*. You are a brighter button by far Hariod, and I highly enjoy the light you beam out.

        Your last two sentences there have touched me very much, the feeling is reciprocated too. Which is a good job really or it would be most ‘awks’! *laughs*. ‘Luculent lucubrations’ – this is good enough to eat, and so I shall have it for tiffin with a nice pot of tea!

        – Sonmi smiling happily upon the Cloud.

    • Many thanks for reading this article and for adding a valued comment Paul. That is a most astute observation which you make; and I think there is much truth in the cited expression. Actually, it can be quite liberating letting go of the idea that we know anything at all in totality. Unlike our beloved dogs, we are both blessed and cursed in our capacity to think verbally. I wonder sometimes who benefits more from life, the dog animal or the human animal; at least the former refrain from hysteria in the presence of any spiders.

      All best wishes.


  6. The video is a hoot Hariod! I am fascinated at how we can be manipulated in our perceptions! I love this post; and Nancy’s common sense approach (pun intended!).

    We have to have filters otherwise our brains would be overloaded with so much information that we would be flooded. Can you imagine driving if we had to take into account everything around us all the time? We wouldn’t get far!

    I read that we can only process between 5-9 perceptions at any one time; and these are mostly unconscious. About 30% of the external stimuli survive our filters and that’s where we accord meaning.

    And of course, on top of the science is the whole area of consciousness itself. ॐ

    Thank you so much for this stimulating and beautifully thought out piece. 🙂

    • The video is indeed a ‘hoot’ Val; perhaps we might even say a ‘hootenanny hoot’? And yes, Nancy does seem quite good at the common sense approach; perhaps she could give instruction to some of the people in the video that Tina posted above – do have a look; it is excruciatingly funny. Well, it is if like me you find amusement in people being (momentarily) terrified! That sounds truly awful; though I think you know just what I mean.

      The example you cite of the experience of driving is one I am familiar with; and it is indeed quite impossible to drive safely if one consciously attempts to do so. The same is true of many skills of course; and we must simply trust in the body’s capacity to learn and then allow it to act unhindered by wilful intention and thought. Presumably, much of this comes into play in your yoga teaching?

      Thank you very much for spending a little time here and for leaving such an insightful comment Val.

      Hariod. ❤

      • This is where science and the wisdom on the sages come together Hariod. 🙂 Understanding how our brain functions is part of neuroscience and ’emotional intelligence’. It is no coincidence that the leading expert on EI is also a Buddhist. (Daniel Goleman)

        Our perceptions depend on the firing of neurons in different parts of the brain. We respond in the same way to external stimuli whether they are real or created in our imagination. When we understand that it’s just our brain functioning and not necessarily real, it opens up a whole new way of thinking about our world; and how we relate to what our mind tells us about it. 🙂

        • I am sure ’emotional intelligence’ enters the frame currently under discussion Val, speaking as we are about the reactionary responses of the nervous system, such as those of fear, anxiety, our holding of uncertainty, and so forth. This is undoubtedly a fascinating area of psychological research and one that interests me deeply. I tend to take a ‘hands on’ approach with this, insofar as I am a lifelong meditator and my own learning comes in the main from direct experience more so than any academic, or purely intellectual endeavours. Whilst I like to think I am quite widely read in this area, it is natural that one gravitates one way or the other – to the practical or to the theoretical.

          As I am quite certain you know very well, any system in which we develop introspective awareness has great power to inform us about the nature of perception, of conditioned responses, of volitional tendencies, of mental states, moods, and so forth. Whilst we can never see neurons firing, or quantum states collapsing in microtubules, or chemicals leaking through the cell walls of axons and dendrites, what we do see in aware appearances is how the mind operates on the subjective level. This too does just as you say, in that it revolutionises the way we engage with the world and other beings. It is vital though, to take into account the limits of any such introspective methodology.

          It is really lovely to exchange thoughts on this with you Val; and such sharing helps deepen my understanding of you as a much valued friend here in the blogosphere. H ❤

  7. Hi dear Hariod. Your story reminds me of the fable of the snake and the rope. I tried to find the link to post it here but cannot tonight. How does that parable go? Was it not about a man who thought he’d found a snake and went to beat it off, then found out it was a piece of rope? – there are many different ways of presenting this, and I cannot remember the best among them. Your story brought the parable to mind. I love your images and your new layout. Always perfect and perfectly pleasing. Hugs, Eve.

    • Buddhist version:

      A man, filled with a mind of fear, walks in to a shed and sees a snake coiled in the corner. Fearful, he runs away. Later, with a mind cooled of fears, he returns to the shed. There he sees that the snake is just a rope, coiled up in the corner.

      A recent Tibetan master elaborates thus:

      “Sentient beings, self and others, enemies and dear ones—all are made by thoughts. It is like seeing a rope and mistaking it for a snake. When we think that the rope is a snake, we are scared, but once we see that we are looking at a rope, our fear dissipates. We have been deluded by our thoughts. Likewise, mentally fabricating self and others, we generate attachment and aversion.”

      – Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

      Thank you very much dear Eve; I love knowing that you are reading and having reflected thoughts.

      Hariod. ❤

      • Thanks for sharing the Tibetan master’s thoughts, Hariod. So true.

        We have as many reputations as we have acquaintances and none is accurate because they see the world (and us) through the filtered lens of their own experiences ~ and we repay the compliment. Much of the attachment and aversion we feel to others is just mental fabrication.

        “Don’t believe everything you think.”

        • Is not the entirety of experience a ‘mental fabrication’ Nancy? That question leads us into another as to whether awareness can know itself as itself, rather than as a projection within itself, or as an image of itself. That may be a little too deep to go into in the comments section here, but please feel free to add your insights on this Nancy; I would certainly be most fascinated to hear them.

          P.S. I have now attributed the quote to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche; apologies for the prior omission.

          • No, I don’t see the entirety of experience as mental fabrication. I see the meanings, emotions and judgments we assign to people, places and things as fabrications.

            Taking this as an example:

            “Sentient beings, self and others, enemies and dear ones—all are made by thoughts. It is like seeing a rope and mistaking it for a snake. When we think that the rope is a snake, we are scared, but once we see that we are looking at a rope, our fear dissipates. We have been deluded by our thoughts. Likewise, mentally fabricating self and others, we generate attachment and aversion.”

            The rope is real. The snake is a mistake. Attached to the mistake is fear (due to the meaning the perceiver assigned to the snake). Once the perceiver sees the mistake, the fear dissipates. It might also dissipate if someone pointed out that the snake was harmless. Or dead.

            Right now I am sitting on a chair. I don’t believe that experience is a mental fabrication.

            • That is all well understood Nancy; though thank you for your further elaboration. My question really was whether or not you hold to a representationalist theory of consciousness. If you do, then it is quite fair enough to say that what appears in subjective experience is largely a fabrication forged psychically. This is not to say that the fabrication is a phenomenon discrete to itself, as of course it participates and has its genesis in sensory information and stimuli which of themselves are not fabricated, nor are they (re)presentations; they are instead primary phenomena.

              • You’ve changed the question. At first you asked: “Is not the entirety of experience a ‘mental fabrication’ Nancy?” Now, you’ve modified that to: “what appears in subjective experience is largely a fabrication forged psychically” based on “sensory information and stimuli which of themselves are not fabricated.”

                I agree with the modification, but not with the question as originally posed.

                And now I’m switching off my left brain to enjoy the present moment. Sweet dreams!

                • Ah, but only the first citing is a question Nancy, inviting you to let me know whether you hold to a representationalist theory of consciousness. What you go on to cite is a statement of what I hold to be true, which is to say that consciousness (i.e. being ‘with knowledge’) does indeed represent some aspect of otherness; it is some more or less accurate knowledge of that otherness.

                  The (re)presentation is not necessarily at odds with reality because it participates in it as a sort of fabricated echo if you will. To use your example of you knowing that you are sitting in the chair, then it is undoubtedly true that you are, and yet your knowing of that truth is neither the chair, nor you, nor both at once; it is a meta-level representation in awareness, an idea presented by the mind about the truth.

      • I was surprised the snake and rope parable is found also in Buddhism, because I always thought it was Hindu. Nice to see both use the same one though. Why not? – Ha! Eve.

  8. Well stated Hariod: “We never know to what degree our experience is purely imaginal”. It all comes down to our interpretations and our stories. We’ve all had moments when truth is staring us in the face but we’re so caught up in our own imaginary world that it goes unnoticed. It takes effort, time and a willingness to deconstruct this imaginary mindwork.

    And yes, I’ve often wondered about the dreams deal too; sometimes I wonder what’s real. Your post reminds me of something I’d written a while back, here’s part of what I can recall. I will share the rest once I get my hands on the scribbles. Closing with love until then. 🙂

    Last night in my dream,
    Seemed I lived and breathed.
    Unlike my wakeful trance;
    ‘That’ I fantasized,
    Or is ‘this’ the lies?
    I wonder!

    • Thank you so much Precious Rhymes, for sparing a little of your time to consider my offering here, and also for adding a much valued reflection of your own. You are of course quite correct when you state that “it all comes down to our interpretations and our stories.” That is precisely what I mean when I refer in the piece above to our ‘narrative’. We forge our interpretations, script our stories, and then (mis)take them for actuality. This is not to say that we err in our behaviour, for we have no choice in the matter.

      All we can do, at best, is just what you say, and which itself is an echo of what I write of in the article; that is to say, we can deconstruct the narrative where and when it is appropriate to do so. To question what is real as against the appearances in awareness is to some degree creating an arbitrary line of division; the same is true of sleep dreams as against daytime consciousness. This seems to be what your poem is about, though I would love to read the whole at some point.

      With gratitude, love and respect.

      Hariod. ❤

    • Thank you Nancy; I will certainly read these articles of yours over the weekend at some point. I am familiar with Jill Bolte Taylor to some extent, and have of course watched her TED talk amongst other things. I think that her talk was a little compromised – as they all are due to time constraints – and in particular she over-stressed the aspect of brain asymmetry I felt. It is also highly questionable as to whether Nibbana/Nirvana is within the domain of brain function alone. Brain asymmetry or lateralisation is not quite as clear cut a matter as popular psychology would have us believe. If you get really bored at any point this weekend, you can read this technical article on the subject:

      • I took a peek at the article. Probably more depth than I need. I enjoyed the explanations Jill offered in her book regarding how her perception of reality shifted when her left brain no longer dominated the conversation.

        • I agree Nancy, the Plosone article, whilst very interesting, is undoubtedly heavy going. It sounds as though Jill’s book is one that I should read at some point based on your recommendation. However, I am beginning to realise that for every title I read, at least two more appear on the already implausibly long waiting list!

  9. Hi Hariod,

    Thank you for this fascinating post. Challenging one’s perceptions and beliefs can be an interesting process for sure; and just as interesting and challenging can be the testing of other people’s perceptions and beliefs. Perhaps it is the commonality of the two processes that helps to deliver a truth? The Dog Spider – that was real right!? (an attempt at humour).

    Warm regards, Karen.

    • Hi there dear Karen,

      Many thanks for once again dropping by and lending an ear to my musings; it is always lovely to hear your words from the other side of the world. I like your approach, ‘though it demands tact and sensitivity to begin teasing apart the cherished beliefs of others of course. It also requires a rare open-mindedness from both parties, and with all in place then as you say, we truly are able to approach delivering a truth – to use your expression. Perhaps such an approach was utilised by yourself in the past at the level of therapy, along with your wonderful art project?

      For the most part however, we each of us prefer to cling to our beliefs along with the narratives we construct about ourselves and others; I am sure you would agree. This helps smoothen the passage of life to a large degree, although to some extent we each of us remain within a dream, one of our own design and construction of course. And then there are those times when monumental events occur – as you know all too well, as do I in my own life – when reality is altogether too much to bear. And yet we must.

      With much gratitude and respect to you dear Karen.

      Hariod. ❤

      • Yes Hariod, you are right about when we are sometimes jolted into what might be considered ‘the real world’, when we have had to face monumental events in our lives. It is at these times I have found, for myself, an amazing opportunity to see things in a different way, a way that can be life changing and offering a more fulfilling pathway, or a time where I get to view choices which I can consciously decide to take one direction or the other instead of just plodding along without a thought.

        During my art and creative writing group sessions, I was able to hear other women’s stories. It was clear at the time, these precious stories were an internal dialogue; a conversation with one’s self! I felt very lucky to have had the opportunity to witness such deep and personal thoughts and emotions – it really helped give me a deeper understanding of the mental struggle of others and a deep insight into my own; and in turn an opportunity to address these in such a way that would allow us to move forward with healthy mind-sets.

        Thanks for these chats, they are greatly appreciated.

        Sincerely, Karen.

        • I am very moved by your description of those group sessions Karen. It is no surprise that you felt privileged under such circumstances; it is so rare that others allow us to see the content of their hearts. In any case, when we experience a tragedy, perhaps it is so that sometimes in the immediate aftermath we know nothing but the deep ache of the heart, that words fail utterly, and that there is no energy remaining to express a single thing.

          We can feel stranded in a netherworld, one in which mere functioning seems effortful. And then, in time, we open a little; and if we are so fortunate as to know others such as yourself, some beginnings of aching expressions start to form; we gently step back into an engagement with a trusted few. To be present and to facilitate such a thing, if I am at all on the right track, must indeed be considered a great privilege.

          With love and respect.


  10. As the song goes: “Life is but a dream.” ‘Maya’. I have also lived in alternate realities where I didn’t see things or hear voices, but all things held special meanings specially meant for me. The TV, the radio, voices of ‘teachers’ in the street. A sort of parallel universe. How I held down a job whilst living in a world of special meanings and events is beyond my understanding now. I remember having to switch gears when people talked to me. I was living in two different worlds. We all do to some degree, which if I got the meaning of your piece is what you are saying; but there are different degrees of differences.

    • When you say that “all things held special meanings”, do you mean that quite literally Ellen; did each and every object convey some additional meaning beyond its consensus function or application? Or was this more of a random occurrence, one which would phase in and out of awareness? I hope it is okay to ask this of you? H ❤

      • Not every single thing held special meaning, but all that captured my attention did. An inobtrusive sign in the background on a TV show, conversations heard through the walls, on buses, in the streets, songs on the radio, a woman sweeping the street as I watched from my window, inanimate objects, the exhaust fan in the laundromat – it was exhausting (not the fan, my days and nights). The arrival of the New York Times truck. Everything meant something beyond the surface representation. Books I catalogued were sent to my desk to ‘teach’ me something. I had to decipher the meaning. Marks on the wall taught me about prenatal memories. Sounds totally crazy, right?

        Now the world is just plain old Maya with one dream and one meaning. It’s easy to totally dismiss the duplicity of worlds as psychosis; however, one thing could not be summarily be dismissed like that. One day I had the distinct feeling of pricks on my scalp, and I went to do a ‘reading’. In such a ‘reading’, I would randomly take a book off the shelf (I worked in a library) and would again randomly open it and point my finger to something. Well, this day, when I went to do the reading, I opened to a page with a picture of Christ with the crown of thorns. Now what are the odds of that happening? It was all synchronicity. I am not saying I was not psychotic. But I think there are other realities out there. I sort of miss them.

        • I am very grateful to you for sharing these matters here Ellen; truly I am. I find it fascinating that you “sort of” miss these experiences, though not altogether surprising. What you experienced during this process of searching for and seeing meaning may seem only by degree different to what the brain does in any case; and so it certainly does not sound ‘crazy’ as you suggest it may to some. Of course, in not having had these experiences for oneself, one could only say that is how one might interpret what you are describing; and the subjective experience itself, as well as its objective rendering, may have been of a different order entirely. Still, from what you describe, then it might sound more like an extension of the brain’s pattern-seeking imperative, and I wonder if you would reject that idea entirely?

          Now of course, had each of your searches for meaning been corroborated in the way that the library experience appears to have been, then surely we could say that some traction or foothold had been gained in other levels of consciousness. Was that the case though? I do not mean to suggest this was not so, as I only know what you have described just here Ellen. When you ask what the odds are of something like your library experience happening, then one would have to take account of how frequently (hidden) meaning was being sought and over what timescale. Only you have the necessary recollections; and as you feel certain that you were tapping into some synchronicity, then presumably your recollections of frequency and timescales add weight to this assertion.

          As an aside, then I certainly know from within my own experience that awareness at times accesses what is not available through the physical senses or memory. What I am saying is that the mind/awareness is not localised all of the time, and has the capacity to be with phenomena which exist at a distance, or at another point in time. There is much to say on this, though this is not the place; save to say that I am not in the least dismissive of your ‘synchronicity’ (if I interpret the term correctly). Perhaps the intermediate stage between ordinary consciousness and these other levels is what we think of as ‘intuition’. That is a capacity which seems to arrive in force with people when they come to and gain facility in concentration practices. I tend to regard intuition as thinking/reason operating at, say, the speed of light.

          One final question, and I must ask you to forgive me if you feel it is an inappropriate one Ellen. Is there some sense in which these past periods of ‘synchronicity’, and which some, as you say, would dismiss as ‘psychosis’, were felt by you to be privilege, a temporary (mixed) blessing of a kind, or some such?

          Hariod. ❤

      • P.S. Of course, it is okay to ask this but also nice of you to inquire. And now that I look back, I think there were times when things were in one reality – respites if you will. Two realities is exhausting.

  11. Hi Hariod,

    A very thought provoking post. The video wasn’t too bad especially after seeing how cute the dog was at the end. 🙂 If I was in it though, I would have totally freaked out. And Tina’s elevator thing would have killed me. Creepy! I think they are great examples of the point you are trying to make.

    Saw this in one of your comments:

    I wonder sometimes who benefits more from life, the dog animal or the human animal

    I think about this myself. While our more complex brains give us clear advantages in life it sometimes appears to be the bane of our existence.

    • Hi Howie!

      Thank you very much for stopping by and for offering a valued reflection on this article; I greatly appreciate both.

      Yes, the dog-spider video is quite tolerable to view objectively; and then when we imagine ourselves as the subjects appearing within it, the response changes somewhat. o_O A few here have not felt comfortable watching the clip, and I cannot be sure how many have successfully engaged as if they were the subjects being filmed, which is not at all easy to do of course. I did not include the video in the main article because my intention is not to spook people, but rather to provide a little thought experiment, which I do here on occasion.

      I found Tina’s video very funny observing it in a detached way; though just as you say would be so for yourself, should that have happened to me in actuality, then doubtless I would have been freaked out – at least for a moment or two. And yet I have to ask myself why, because either I have simply not noticed the girl was there previously, the whole scenario is a set-up, or she is an innocent little ghost. Even though I have never seen a ghost before, she appears for all the world just as a real life little girl. So in fact, I am afraid of my idea about ghosts more than anything. And possibly, having seen The Exorcist decades ago, dishevelled little girls are intrinsically scary to me when encountered out of context?

      As to the dog animal/human animal reference, that was one I made to Paul who specialises in things canine. It possibly seemed an odd thing for me to have said without knowing as much, and yet the question is perhaps worth pondering. You identify the downside of our brain complexity, and I think what you point to is our ability to conceptualise the world in verbal formations and then to manipulate those concepts so as to form projections and scenarios. This is a wonderful facility, yet we become enslaved to it. Carl Jung noted how we slip imperceptibly into the habitation of this world of thought and concepts, and once there, largely remain. As you say Howie, it can indeed turn out to be the bane of our existence.

      With much gratitude to you once again Howie.


  12. Dear Hariod,

    I’m now convinced that the rosy and innocent image I’ve created in my mind of yourself may not have been quite complete. You’ve proven that we see what we expect to see. It makes me wonder how we advance our learning much at all!

    Well, I’ve learned a bit about myself, and why I haven’t typically been clicking on the play button for most web videos. I expect my dreams tonight will be quite interesting, not to mention my next several elevator rides. . .

    Thank you for the various and several insights.


    • Dear Vincent,

      Thank you so much for reading this article and for adding a much valued comment in response; I truly appreciate your presence here. Sadly, you are quite correct, I am not all sweetness and light, nor “rosy and innocent” as you had erroneously imagined. I am in fact a wicked Buddhist of the first order; one who likes to scare others with gruesome videos designed to create lasting nightmares within them. What hell states await me I wonder? Please refrain from answering that Vincent; I would rather wait and find out in the fullness of time. And anyway, whosoever is quite what they appear to be, even to themselves?

      Thanks again Vincent.


  13. Thank you Hariod, for writing about the gap between what we ‘see’ and how our brain interprets this. About 14 years ago, when my son Gokul was around 9, we were hiking along a river in Montana. At one point his mom and I were walking ahead, going down a hill and around a corner when we saw a bear sitting in the middle of the path. We both froze for what seemed like a very long time. A few seconds later our son reached us and we quietly told him to stop as we pointed to the bear. In a normal voice he asked what was going on. We whispered “a bear”. He said “It’s just a small boulder!”, with a tone that to this day I interpret as “are you crazy?”; and he walked right past us. As soon as he named what it was, I saw the form of a small boulder. I laugh out loud as I write this, and yet there was that moment back then when I swear I saw a bear and I was scared. I hadn’t thought of this in years; so thank you for the opportunity to enjoy this memory and to have a good chuckle!

    • My thanks are due to you Arati, for both reading this article and for commenting with such an excellent and apposite anecdote. What you describe is more powerful than my experience with the ‘Heron’ that I write of in this piece; and I can quite imagine that it was indeed a scary experience – where there’s one little bear, there’s a big one not too far away! Then again, perhaps the ‘small boulder’ you speak of was a sort of double illusion, in that you were deceived not only in what it was, but in its perspectival distance too.

      In most respects though, your anecdote is uncannily similar to my ‘Heron’ experience, because although I do not mention it in the article, I was in fact with my then partner at the time. I said “look darling, there’s a Heron on the far side of the river”. My partner immediately accepted my own hallucination as their own, and the two of us stood there fully 20 or 30 seconds admiring this torn grey plastic bag. I then realised my error and said as much to my partner, who then immediately untangled their own misperception.

      Once again, many thanks for sharing your wonderful anecdote Arati.



  14. Oh dear. I have refrained from calling you a trickster at times – you have a knack for shape-shifting I have noticed by reading your varied responses to posts throughout the WordPress land; but don’t we all, especially for ourselves? Nagging thoughts often recur for me when I realize someone does not like me – I have grown accustomed to being liked. What a gift to be disliked, to get to roll with that – to do nothing in response to gain affection, to live with a mirror that says, “you are not the fairest of them all” and enjoy the freedom of that gift – which today looks to me like release. Often my greatest gifts have come in the form of poisoned apples. (Every time I come to this page, I want to go buy paint, brushes, canvas, and quit gainful employment 🙂 You are a rocking, kick-ass, skin-walking [shape-shifting], talker! xo! Marga.

  15. Funnily enough Marga, I was making this very same point to Eve (see ‘E.D.’ above) just last week on her own site. It came within the context of a brief exchange on interactions in blogs, and I made the point that effective communication necessarily entails an ability to shift-shape as it were, to be able to engage in a manner appropriate to a particular site and in accord with the blog author’s own front-end persona. The WordPress medium itself fosters this ‘skin-walking’ you refer to with its theme identities; and who wants to read any ‘stream of consciousness’ writing? Certainly not I, there being quite enough cranial flotsam and jetsam to wade through without tackling that of others.

    Each of us projects a certain style, or presents a certain consistency, as regards our own blogs I think; much as in the same way we respond broadly consistently within any particular environment – be it the home, our workplace, social circle, or whatever. Any facility in communication entails a degree of flexibility in this projection, and as a teacher you will know this better than most perhaps. It is the profession closest in kind to that of acting is it not? So yes, whilst I shift shape quite often when appearing in different places, here, I am perhaps most consistently closest to my default state of engagement. I would not call it my ‘authentic state’, because that is something not transmissible in words.

    I imagine you are picking up on my ironic comment to Vincent just above when you go on to talk about people’s reactions to us within this medium. I have to say Marga, I cannot conceive of anyone taking a dislike to yourself from what I have come to know of you so far. Speaking personally, I have once or twice ruffled a few feathers with my occasional contrarianism, and again when insisting that someone makes a false point. Example: A Buddhistic blog once retracted a comment of mine, one which made a valid point of Dhamma, when the author was unprepared to admit of their own capacity to exhibit animosity, even though this same author had just written of it in other terms.

    I try my best to leave my scary spider costumes in the back of the wardrobe Marga. I have only been blogging for 8 months now, and have not yet been forced to don it. I am genuinely touched by the kindness and supportiveness of all those who visit here, such as your good self, and had initially thought that if the balance of positive to negative was 60:40, then that would be a reasonable result. To date, there are around 1,400 comments accumulated here in those 8 months, all of which are at least in some degree positive, and many greatly so. I have only ever censored 1 comment, which was from a passer-by who I thought had no conception of what was being discussed.

    Thank you so much for your kind and generous closing words Marga; we all appreciate a little encouragement as we go about our virtual web-weaving here in the blogosphere, and I certainly am no exception. The equanimity you point to in your comment is one which, whilst good to have in reserve so to speak, can be let off the leash when it comes to such gracious thoughts – gratefully indulged my dear! All that remains is to encourage you to get down to the artist’s supplies store and pack the car full of pigments, oils, brushes, pallet knives and canvas. What might be your first picture I wonder? Still life hardly would seem appropriate – but a spider eating a poisoned apple perhaps?

    Hariod. ❤

  16. Wonderfully written and complete post almost requiring no comment at all but nonetheless I will try 😄. There ultimately is no reality that we can be sure of. We don’t know for sure if we are dreaming, imagining, or awake. We can only know there is a dreamer/imaginer. We can only ever be sure that we are, even if that pure being-ness is without any conceptual content.

    • Thank you very much Graham for taking time to read this article and for adding such a concise and perceptive comment; I greatly appreciate both. As I am sure you realise, this piece was not intended as a foray into ontology or metaphysics as such, and so is to be taken within the paradigm of consensus reality [i.e. what in the normal run of things we take to be ‘real’] and to point up the limitations of that consensus.

      However, as with yourself, I find the term ‘reality’ runs out of meaning once we are deeply attuned to the nature of awareness and its content; that content being what we think of as ‘consciousness’, meaning ‘being with knowledge’. If we remain within the level of our conventional paradigm, we can talk about deductive reasoning, inference, and so forth, and we can discuss how these factors establish that same paradigm.

      Ultimately though, and as you say in other words, we can only know the appearances that present in awareness, along with a sense that ‘I am’; which is to say there is a verb-like being-ness which runs along within awareness. The imagined homunculus within, the supposed ‘self’, in accessing cognition [i.e. it is egoic] regards itself as the ‘experiencer’, the ‘dreamer’, the ‘imaginer’; and this itself is the on-going dream.

      You express the whole of this quite beautifully Graham: “We can only ever be sure that we are, even if that pure being-ness is without any conceptual content.” Many philosophers, ancient and modern, insist that any being-ness, any awareness, must of itself be conceptual in some degree. This, I think, results from a dependence upon reason and thought, and a few years in contemplative silence would change minds.

      With much gratitude and respect to you Graham.


  17. Hi Hariod!

    It feels like ages since we’ve exchanged thoughts; though in reality, only a few weeks have passed. I’m happy to say it feels longer.

    I loved this piece. It hit home on so many levels and made me think of the many, many examples from my own life. The further I read, the longer the list grew, and I quickly realized how difficult it is to separate perception from reality. What is reality, anyway? I (mis)perceive moment to moment and am reminded of this only with the help of others. Just as you’ve so beautifully done here.

    I’m also so taken by the stunning and vast works of art you curate for your pieces. Simply a joy to experience.

    Thank you!

    Lauren ❤

    • Hi Lauren!

      Great to see that you’re back on the scene my friend, and I trust that the holidays were wonderful for you and yours. It has seemed like ages since I read anything at your place, so the feeling you describe above is mutual. I am slightly paranoid at the moment because so many people are having blog subscriptions mysteriously drop off their lists, and it does seem to be a quite widespread issue (see my comment to Sarah directly below). Do please let me know if you have experienced anything like that, as I am trying to ascertain exactly how commonplace an occurrence it is. Anyhow, I don’t suppose you have been writing over the Christmas break, but will keep a keen eye on my notifications to learn about the festive mayhem chez-tu.

      Many thanks for your kind words and presence as ever dear Lauren.

      Hariod. ❤

      • Oh no! I wasn’t aware of that glitch and am saddened to hear of it. That hasn’t been my experience so far, though I’ll write if I feel there’s a lapse. As for my writing, I took some time off during the holidays to retool, as they say. So you haven’t missed anything, but I’m touched by your inquiry. I plan to post anew next week, and will also reach out if I don’t notice your presence. That’s frightening about the glitch/trick/bug/error. Thank you for letting me know to look for it!

        Talk to you soon, Hariod, & well wishes.

        Lauren ❤

    • Thank you for reading this piece Sarah; I am delighted that it managed to stimulate some reflection within you.

      With all best wishes,

      Hariod. ❤

      P.S. I have just realised that the famous disappearing trick that WordPress seems occasionally to inflict upon us has been played upon me – you have vanished from my list of blog subscriptions. I am so sorry Sarah, and have corrected the matter now of course. Do let me know if this has been a widespread problem for you, as I would be keen to know.

      • The video was also very powerful but I wouldn’t have got so much from it if I hadn’t read your words first.

        Best wishes to you also. ❤

        P.S. I answered your postscript elsewhere.

  18. Yikes Hariod! I always come away from reading your writings with thoughts that not only linger but give my life richness; and these are jewels that always shine and glow when something happens and I remember them at such strange times and when they really matter. The conversations you always evoke between other bloggers is so very fascinating!

    Thank you, dear Hariod. xxx (Back to reading it all again.)

    • Thank you so much for reading this piece dear Meg; I truly do appreciate your giving of a little time to both read and make a treasured comment. The presence of a talented and creative writer such as yourself makes me shudder a little at the thought of any prospective analysis, but to hear such words of approval are a great encouragement to me. This effort was perhaps rather dry and perfunctory as regards what little creative elements exist within me, though I am pleased to have caused a few ripples of reflection, as appears to be so within yourself. Many thanks also for reading the comments of my cherished readers here; I feel greatly blessed that so many lovely people gather at this humble place every now and then.

      Hariod ❤

  19. Much more than “a few ripples” Hariod! And thank you, but you are the blessing, it is easy to see with so many of us that follow and share here in this amazing land of comments. I am going to name a planet in the imaginary universe I often reside in “Hariod’s Comments”. I’m not very technical yet, and I dont know just how to share a video with my iPad, but there is a YouTube video entitled “Plastic bag scene” from the movie “American Beauty” that reminds me of the ‘Heron’ you mention. And I would send a red heart but I don’t know how to do that either! Xxx

    • You are altogether too kind to me Meg; though I know my own writing rarely suggests anything more than mediocrity. Now, you have hit upon something very interesting my dear. I have just been over to YouTube and watched the video you mentioned, and which I of course remember from when I saw the film many years ago. What I found was quite fascinating, and I would invite others here to see if what I experienced holds true for them.

      What happened with me, was that after becoming mesmerised by the plastic bag and following its dance for a minute or so, I developed an affection for it. How is this possible when at all times I am conscious of the bag’s inanimate and essentially mundane nature? This seems to me a wonderful example of how we can at once inhabit a dream-world whilst our sensory co-ordinates at the same time give us accurate readings of phenomena.

      Hariod ❤

      P.S. To add a red heart, simply type "<" followed immediately by "3". There must be a space either side of the two characters Meg, and no space between the two characters. And for the avoidance of doubt, do not include the quotation marks. To include a YouTube video, simply copy the short code that you will find under "share" beneath the video. If you use the entire URL, the video does not display.

  20. Hariod, I apologize in advance, for I cannot help myself. I found myself wondering as I read this post – much to my delight to find another brief offering here, I might add – about what it is we are left with once we realize things are not what they seem. For once we accept that our methods of apprehension cook the books a little bit, it is natural to wonder what the books look like in their uncooked state.

    As you noted above, in well-intentioned efforts to discourage precisely what I am about to attempt, the alternatives available to us once the taken-for-granted reality has been found wonting are far broader in breadth and depth of possibility than the simple world we once inhabited. The alternatives range from one extreme, (and you are much more adept with the philosophical terms than I), which is the hypothesis that if we strip away the mind’s book-cooking with the courage to pull the thread until it won’t pull anymore, we’ll find there’s really nothing whatsoever to grab hold of and it’s all really concocted by our conscious-forming organs and instincts, to secondly, the idea that the uncooked reality is really quite solid, and perceivable through rigorous methods (like science) that help us to take our propensity for subjective concocting out of the equation.

    The same room, viewed through various portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, will look quite different, and yet this type of contrast allows for the notion that there is some structure of matter and energy at the core of the conscious apprehension. It suggests there is something ‘real’ and ‘consistent’ behind all the different images it offers depending upon how we look. Then we find the ‘real’, ‘consistent’ thing is at its most fundamental level constantly disintegrating out of existence – never quite fully here and never quite fully there, just as the human body is composed of a steady stream of new cells and getting rid of the old. There’s a consistent ‘image’ portrayed by an inconsistent ‘dynamic’. We find that all appearances seem to provide solidity and stability, but are all ultimately based on fleeting motion and component parts which spend fractions of a second in measurable existence.

    So, we could stop there and say, you’re right Hariod, nothing is quite what it seems to be. Instead, it’s this meta-stable, dynamic underlying thing. We could stop there. But I’m disinclined to stop there. Despite fulfilling the objective of revealing that reality is not what it seems, it provides no solid basis for experience, no solid basis for identity or meaning, no reliable means of navigating difficulty. For that, we must somehow step beyond explanations and deconstruction, and immerse into the purity of experience. For while reality was perceived as the simple, solid, reliable field of solid objects, we were ourselves fixed, solid beings. Experience was about what was happening. Experience was explained by the interaction of objects. When this is shown to be an illusion based upon strange, flickering, probabilistic, coarse-grained winks and nods, our solidity is likewise taken away. Where and how do we touch bottom?

    Somehow we discover – and don’t ask me how! – that experience itself is not the product of flickering phenomena. Somehow we realize, there is an experience that we are that is not dependent in any way upon the energetic whirlings of phenomena. It is rich and beautiful, utterly reliable, and not subject to interpretation, nor predicated upon any embedded dynamics ‘deeper down’.

    The world is clearly not what it seems, but what is it then? This is what I wonder.

    Much love.


    • There is no need in the least for any apology Michael; your probing responses give both myself and other readers here much food for thought, and for which you are due my many and deep thanks.

      You appear to have noticed a comment I made to Graham to the effect that the article is no foray into ontology or metaphysics as such, but rather is to be taken within the paradigm of consensus reality and to ask what limitations that consensus imposes upon itself. It is perfectly fine that you should want to go further, if only in speculation, and this is precisely what I had always hoped the comments section here would facilitate. Whether or not commenters agree with my take on things is by the by, as I make no claim to possess any particular knowledge and have always hoped to learn from others here, as I do. I know you understand all this, my friend.

      With that in mind, let’s move on to your “cooking the books”. The first question that occurs is whether it matters or not. In asking what it is that we are left with once we realize things are not necessarily what they seem, then perhaps this is more of a concern for you than it is for me Michael, and that is quite fair enough. If I may make the distinction between consciousness and awareness, wherein the former is our knowledge of things, then I am happy to accept that this limited aspect (the displays of thingness) of a greater unknowing awareness is always fallible. The illumination is true and consistent, but what is projected is necessarily in some degree fallible. One could say that the perception of fallibility is itself fallible of course, and there we must place faith, or not, in reason, inference and so forth. One could also say that this is all we are left with, to come full circle with your question. In other words, we dwell knowing we are not knowing; and this of itself can feel quite liberating, as I am sure you know well.

      You go on to say that it is natural to wonder what the books look like in their uncooked state; though of course, they can only ‘look like’ they do to the sentience of the particular species’ doing the looking – your first ‘extreme’ hypothesis. So here, I would say we’re talking about a Representationalist model of human consciousness. The things I know, I only think I know; they may be reasonably true to what is other than itself (let’s refrain from calling that otherness ‘reality’), but as I can never know that thing (that otherness) in itself, my representation is always fallible. Your second ‘extreme’ hypothesis is the domain of reasoning, empiricism, ‘science’ and so forth. Here, I would question whether we really can, as you suggest, take our subjective concocting out of the equation. I don’t think we ever can fully, despite the general reliability of the methods. This is the main reason why some declare there can never be any true Science of Consciousness. We are forever caught up in the gearbox of our own comprehension, so to speak.

      You further go on to question what may lie at the base of everything, to wonder as to whether our perceived thingness, including what we think of as our holding of knowledge, has any firm and consistent basis. You conclude that there is no such thing, that all there is, is experience, and also that this ‘experience’ is what we are in essence (I think I have you right?) Perhaps we can speculate that this ‘experience’ is an elementary function of the way in which the universe is slowly becoming self-aware within an evolutionary process? A wild indulgence: If each of us in effect acts as a cell does within a brain, then whilst each is particular to itself, and has its own mini and subjective ‘experience’, yet still each remains connected to others (you are reading this!) in forming the big picture: the ‘experience’ as and of a unified and integrated whole. You’ve heard me babble on previously about the ‘experience’ of non-duality, yet I haven’t a clue what’s going on with this Michael. Suddenly though, there is only ‘the big picture’, and it’s as if at once all the cells are connected together, melding into the whole knowing itself, not as an object, but as itself. Perhaps these transcendent episodes, or flourishes of immanence, are what you too point to, and which are as close as there is to any ‘base of everything’?

      As to your final question, which amounts to ‘what the hell’s going on?’ I really haven’t got a clue.

      Hariod ❤

      • Thank you for such a lovely comment, Hariod. A few things jumped out at me:

        While I may be further along the spectrum of concern regarding the bag we are caught holding when we realize things are not what they seem, this gem stood out: “The illumination is true and consistent, but what is projected is necessarily in some degree fallible.” Somehow, I feel you have at least a toe in the water as regards what lies beyond our fallible perceptions. . . 🙂

        I’m with you on our inability to fully get out of the gearbox of our own comprehension. Perhaps this is at least in some small measure due to the fact that our comprehension, our very being, cannot ever truly be separate from what you have termed illumination? In other words, a fractured perception, however broken and blunt a tool, is always underwritten by a liberated, pure awareness? In other words, were it the case that we could truly objectify experience and get out of the cogs of our own awareness, would this not be an altogether different sort of experience than ‘what is’ in which separateness was genuinely possible? Would that not be the world we ‘think’ or been led to believe ‘exists’, but doesn’t? I’m kind of ruminating here, so I hope you will bear with me.

        Lastly, yes, when I say we are experience itself, I’ve been forced off the domain that is mapped by language, and resorted to half-cocked, poetic allusions. I believe I am referring to the same as what you would term a transcendent episode.

        Having said all of that, if a dog dressed like a 3′ spider jumped out of an elevator at me, I would run. 🙂


        • Thank you for your further ruminations Michael, which in turn give rise to more of my own. Let me first expand on what I mean by the term ‘illumination’. By this, I really mean what I also call more mundanely ‘awareness’ when specifying it as something distinct from ‘consciousness’ – etymology: ‘with knowledge’. As I see things, (what I call) awareness ‘illuminates’ what become the objects and otherness of consciousness; knowledge is not intrinsic to it, and that is why I referred to it above as “a greater unknowing awareness”. In practical terms, then I am for the most part apprehending this splitting-off, branching or dichotomy as I go about my daily activities. I note when mentation bubbles into being, when consciousness collapses and coalesces around such bubbles, and the experience feels tight and ‘dumb’, in the sense that it only knows itself, its own little bubble world. Most people, I think, would perhaps just see my ‘awareness’ as the Tabula Rasa of consciousness. But as I said, that then makes ‘consciousness’ a misnomer as there is no knowledge present in or on the Tabula Rasa. Awareness is “true and consistent” as it has no measurable qualities and cannot corrupt what it does not contain or possess intrinsically.

          I am unsure as to whether I quite grasp all the content of your main paragraph. Let me run along through it with some probably redundant reflections and speculations:

          Is our being ever truly separate from the illuminating awareness? I incline to the idea that awareness is somehow (?) a universal; I instinctively feel (f.w.i.w.) that something like panpsychism is going on. Much of this feeling results from past noetic or non-dual experiences that have no rational explanation. Sure, there are correlations in the brain, but in the experience itself, one is convinced and sees that it cannot be imagination – it’s just too weird to the mind and reason (though to itself it’s no more than glaringly obvious), and is not a mind-creation, a representation. So, if pushed, my answer would be ‘no’, we are never separate from an illuminating awareness. Nothing is: fir trees, spiders, corpses, pixels, cases that house nuts – be they pine or H-shaped nuts. I’m going out on a limb here!

          I don’t really know what you mean when talking about ‘truly objectifying experience’ Michael. I take it that you point to something beyond the consensus reality, in which the dog-spider is really just a dog in a costume. If you mean to ask what is a true representation of any object appearing within experience, I can only imagine it would be identical to that same object, otherwise it would not be true. You also ponder upon whether there is a valid separateness in any true experience (I think that is the pondering). Here, we come to the paradox of non-duality (apologies for the repetition of the term), in which subject and object both appear yet remain as one, each category being seen as mind-constructs alone i.e. there are no such categories other than as formed by the mind. A phrase I came up with in the midst of such an experience was ‘the world and consciousness both exist and are identical’. So, by my lights, there is both separateness and a unicity, the latter of which enfolds upon the separateness and itself. It’s not really an either/or situation. This segues neatly back into John’s quote from the Third Zen Patriarch: “Deny the reality of things and you miss their reality; assert the emptiness of things, and you miss their reality.” Unfortunately though, I seem not to have adhered to his advice to the effect that: “The more you talk and think about it, the further you wander from the truth.”

          • Hariod,

            I may have poorly stated a few things, and misunderstood your own previous comment, so let me try and clarify one or two things. I understand better now what you mean by the idea that pure awareness illuminates, but when I responded I was actually thinking of the way you use the term presence in your book as the “silent knowledge your being has of its own existence.”

            And in my speaking-without-thinking ramble, part of what I was suggesting was that were there to arise anything truly separate from all other things which arise, it would be truly something else. Then, and only then, could we have true distinction between a subject and an object. Since nothing arises that is not interdependent with other arising phenomena – inasmuch as the reality we perceive that is so often found to be “not what it seems” is, more deeply contemplated, a sort of interconnected, interwoven display of light and sound – then it is not possible, though it seems we do it all the time, to truly look at something from the ‘outside’. I was trying to reaffirm the notion that we can’t get out of the “gearbox of our own comprehension” because there is literally nothing we experience that we are not a part of. The separateness that would be required to get out of the gearbox simply doesn’t exist.

            I think it can be confusing to say that both separateness and unicity exist, although I think I understand what you mean. And how else does one say it!? I have, I feel – though we’ll see if this holds up to contrarian scrutiny – made sense of this within myself by acknowledging that all that we call separate is of the formed world, and as such is fleeting and temporal. That which unity is, is invisible and without form or dimension or quality. The latter is always an inhabitant of the former, a permanence dressed up within impermanent robes. In this sense they both exist, but they are not on equal footing. It is the misperception of their being on equal footings that causes so much suffering I think. For if we identify with a fleeting body and identity and call that just as real as the unity within our being, there can be no terra firma on which to rest, and no foundation for peace of mind. For we have identified with that which will pass into seeming non-existence. But if we can understand this separateness and unicity in their proper relations, we can discover the peace of mind that comes from identifying with unity, which is timeless and eternal, even as we express that which we are through seeming separateness.


  21. Golly, Hariod, I love the way you fire the neurons! And I am glad I waited a few days to comment, as I always profit from your exchanges with Michael. I simply want to peek through some facets as we dance around Indra’s web:

    1. I am reminded of the classic Taoist story of Chuang Tzu who dreamed he was a butterfly. But when he awoke, he did not know whether he was Chuang Tzu who had dreamed he was a butterfly, or a butterfly who was dreaming that he was Chuang Tzu. Wow! Talk about parsing the un-parsable.

    2. Deepak Chopra once suggested that everything – everything – we see is 99.99999% emptiness. The only thing that provides solidity is the spinning of the atoms (to use an outmoded model). There is a story of an MIT professor who always wore huge slippers in his house. He didn’t want to fall through the floor in case the atoms slowed down a bit.

    3. More seriously, the perspectival illusions you so clearly and entertainingly underscore are augmented by a fact/value dichotomy hiding in this discussion. My values (survival in the case of giant spiders) play a role in determining what I see and how I see it. As Robert Pirsig once put it: “There are a thousand facts in this room, and I cannot possibly assimilate all of them. So I put together a highly subjective room that is crafted by my values. I see what I want to see.” Pirsig says that it is like standing on a vast sandy beach. I reach down and pick up a handful of sand, and call that handful ‘the world’.

    4. Sometimes a cigar is only a cigar. As for spiders and bears, I reckon I will run first, and think later.

    5. I would emphasize the difference between ‘reasoning’ and ‘thinking’.

    6. Finally, mentation can be a fine tool for navigating our quotidian world, as long as we realize both its limitations, and its greed for control. There is a humming vibrancy, the white light on the other side of the prism, Rumi’s field beyond ideas, the undifferentiated aesthetic continuum, that in wonderful moments of non-duality the mind becomes quiet and Being simply is. I love the Hsin-Hsin Ming of the Third Zen Patriarch: “Indeed, it is due to our grasping and rejecting that we do not know the true nature of things. Live neither in the entanglements of outer things, nor in ideas or feelings of emptiness. Be serene and at one with things, and erroneous views will disappear by themselves. . . Deny the reality of things and you miss their reality; assert the emptiness of things, and you miss their reality. The more you talk and think about it, the further you wander from the truth.”

    7. I guess I have wandered enough.

    Blessings on you and yours, my friend.

      • Yes Michael, John’s responses are always so special aren’t they, on a par with your own in my view. I feel it would be ungracious not to respond, and yet as with responding to your comments, it feels rather like offering words in one’s appraisal of a Rothko or Braque – what the heck’s the point? All that can be seen and said already has been. Still, one thing that did occur to me though, and that might be worth sharing, is in connection to John’s comment about Chuang Tzu. So John, if you are listening, I have this anecdote, which as far as I know is just that, and not apocryphal:

        The late Indian sage U.G. Krishnamurti had for some time been attending meetings with Jiddu Krishnamurti, who at the time he took to be his teacher. One day, whilst making his way to the meeting, the thought and feeling arose that he really could no longer be bothered with it all. He decided to skip the meeting and instead headed to a striptease club. There, whilst watching a young lady undress, his sense of self dissolved and he had no idea whether he was himself, or the stripper, or neither. It sounds like the daft interjections the rational mind makes when trying to understand a non-dual experience.

  22. This reminds me of a very powerful quote that has remained with me over the years. It is from the late Stephen Covey, “We see the world not as it is. but rather as we are.” We perceive everything that occurs around us through a set of lenses that are only in focus for us based upon many factors – our upbringing, our experiences, our deeply held beliefs – even if we have never acknowledged or thought about what those beliefs are and where they may lead us.

    I concur that we really have very little time on many occasions to ponder before action is required. And yet, when we take the time to invest thought in what our deeply held principles are – and prioritize them, internalize them – an impromptu decision is so much easier to make.

    You have a very eloquent and philosophical depth to your words Hariod. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and best wishes for an inspired day. 🙂

    • Thank you very much for taking the time to consider my words Dave, and for adding a most insightful reflection; both of which are truly appreciated. What you identify appears to be that also which Professor Hanagan identifies just above when he refers in his third point to a “fact/value dichotomy”. I wonder if the both of you are pointing, by other means, to what I write of in the article when I state that “we respond to the world based upon theories we hold about life generally, our past conditioning, and perhaps some genetic predispositions.” I think that in any event we are pretty close in our respective understandings, though it is encouraging for me to hear that one such as yourself – and the good professor too – come at least close to my own appraisal. Given that I like to keep my articles here fairly concise, it is always so that much more can be said, and I am so grateful to you Dave for adding to the rich discussion that we have here below the line in the comments. Finally, as to my having an “inspired day” then reading your wonderful work earlier has already acted as a guarantee of that.

      With much gratitude and respect to you Dave.


    • At your leisure Bert; I only post once a month; so subscribing isn’t too much of a burden. Many thanks for your kind words and for taking the time to visit – I appreciate both greatly.

  23. Hello,

    Lovely post. Fun to run across the spider dog video – I re-posted it myself on Oct. 31st. It made me laugh, and laugh again. Such a commentary on our nature, as is your essay about it. My faith in pure illumination, or at least human ability to fathom it, is not as strong as yours, but that’s OK.

    We didn’t make ourselves. Quieting the chatty mind calms the body. The part of the brain that is quieted during meditation is also the part that controls spatial awareness; hence, the sensation of being one with everything (which we technically are) has a physical explanation. That’s as far as my limited brain will take me, but even that much is a wonder to behold.

    • Hello,

      Thank you very much for visiting and for taking time to read this particular offering. I appreciate also you taking the trouble to leave a response, as it is this sort of interactivity that makes blogging a pleasure to me. I have only been up and running here some eight months or so, and it is always a thrill when a new reader announces their presence – thank you! And how interesting that you too have written about, or featured, this same video on your own site. If you have a moment and could send me a link I will certainly make a point of reading it.

      Now, you mention something called “pure illumination”, and I take it that you mean seeing the world as it is, more or less, uncorrupted by prior prejudices and what I called in the article the “theories we hold about life generally”, or what Professor Hanagan (see above) refers to as a ‘fact/value dichotomy’. So, when you mention that I might believe this predicament to be resolvable, may I ask, what is it that gave you that idea, and what makes you think that there would have been any degree of faith involved were I to hold to such an idea?

      I take it from your second paragraph that you practise an introspective method of some kind; may I ask which, if this supposition is correct? Also, what takes you into pointing to Nondualism – I ask because there is no mention of it in this article. You appear to be an adherent to Physicalism, and I wonder if you are completely settled on the matter. As doubtless you know, current thinking is very much divided on the nature of consciousness, and I can’t help but feel we need remain open to the ideas of people like Tononi, Koch, Chalmers and so on.

      Many thanks once again, and if you have the time and inclination to respond, I would love to hear further from you.


      • My re-post of Spider Dog was just for fun, to celebrate Halloween.

        ‘Pure illumination’ came from your reply to someone above, a meditator. You were distinguishing mental constructs from pure awareness.

        Tononi, Koch and Chambers [Ed. by H.B. – ‘Chalmers’] are certainly exploring consciousness in interesting and exciting ways. I’m also a fan of Edward O. Wilson.

        Yes, my mind is far from settled.

        A ‘physicalist’ doesn’t exactly explain my view. Are neuroscientists considered physicalists? Sorry, only vaguely familiar with the term. Anyway, if so, it is my feeling that this is the age of physicalists, where neuroscience is making discoveries in great leaps and bounds. We lay persons have the gift of following along, where we can. As in all human endeavors, we will be limited by our own brains, even in neuroscience.

        My meditation practice is haphazard. I’ve practiced yoga for almost twenty years, and taught for ten. I would call myself an instructor more than a teacher. I try to meditate regularly and use very simple imagery to calm my chattery mind. It has been a great boon in my life.

        Thank you for your questions and thoughtful reply. Cheers.

        • Many thanks for your kind and generous further response. I tend to draw back quite a bit from placing too much faith in Neuroscience’ ability to account fully for consciousness. Actually, this comment of yours reminded me of David Chalmers’ TED talk in Vancouver last spring. He references the fact that neuroscience is dealing with correlations, yet this doesn’t address what Chalmers famously once referred to as The Hard Problem. Some say there simply is no Hard Problem (e.g. Daniel Dennett), though along with Chalmers and many others, I find this position rather absurd. Anyhow, in case you may be interested, here is the link to the talk; it’s an 18 minute long video:

            • Yes Wyrd, his delivery is perhaps a bit wooden, and he can hardly do justice to his thinking within any 18-minute TED Talk of course, though he remains balanced, open and respectful of opposing views, as well as having the courage to stick his neck out – something which few have historically done in the sphere of any academic study of consciousness – and move away from the safe ground of seeking only brain correlates.

  24. I’ve been trying to guess what my reaction would be to seeing a dog in a spider costume suddenly revealed in an elevator. I’m sure the initial reaction anyone would have is: WTF?!?! But I don’t believe in spiders that size (insect physiology prohibits – fortunately for us – insects above a certain size), and I certainly don’t believe in spiders with a dog’s face. Seems like, after jumping back startled, I’d look again and see, oh, just a dog in a really funny costume.

    I don’t believe in movie-type monsters (the human-type monsters scare the bejeebers out of me), so I think my first thoughtful reaction would be to suspect a trick (and I totally believe in tricks). Something I’ve noticed is that I’m rarely fooled by dream sequences in movies or TV shows. Anytime things get really bizarre, my first thought is, “Ah, this must be a dream sequence.”

    I’ve even done that in my own dreams. I’ve never had a nightmare. On the rare occasions things get dicey in my dreams, my response seems to be, “Hey, wait a minute. This is my dream, and I won’t have that sort of thing!” And the dream changes.

    Where does that grounding come from, I’ve wondered. I think it comes from consistency and knowing how things work (just one more place where, the more you know…). Things that are inconsistent demand a rethink. So do things that aren’t how things work.

    It’s bad enough that we never see the world the way it actually is. We never see the billions of solar neutrinos that sleet through our bodies every second, let alone all the radio and TV waves that fill the air. We can’t see molecules, let alone atoms. We’ve talked (at length 🙂 ) about the illusion of wetness. We only hear certain frequencies.

    And even the things we do see often trick us. Optical illusions and your ‘Heron’. Our minds ultimately have to arbitrate all this, and it seems to me that consistency of reality and understanding of reality are crucial to finding our way among the illusions.

    Or something like that…

    • Thank you so much Wyrd, for engaging so fulsomely and for actually considering the matter. It should be borne in mind that the elevator scene you reflected upon also has another factor to consider: death. The dog-spider is astride a corpse, and one would think this invites some unbidden response along with any reaction to the moving creature. I’m far from convinced I would flee the scene myself, and whilst I greatly doubt I would be as cool-headed and analytical as yourself, I think I would have some presence of mind that, whilst the nervous system may freeze the body, tells me that this isn’t what it seems. Perception will run ahead of thinking – both yours and mine – and I strongly suspect that initial perceptions would include some mixture of confusion and fear. In truth though, and as with so much of our emotional life, it is only in the experience itself that we come to know how we would react.

      From what you say, you appear only to have what are known as ‘lucid dreams’ – is that right? Are you generally aware that you are in a dream state when you are, and can you direct your dreams by dint of will? You seem to be saying that your dreams are a little like ordinary consciousness for you, in that you/we let things run their course for the most part until such time as we feel then need to intervene. Perhaps you tread some middle ground between completely lucid dreaming and a sort of monitored dreaming. You also seem to be saying that you take your everyday knowledge of how the world works into your dreaming, and it is this that interrupts when things look out of kilter. Doesn’t that make the dreams rather mundane, at least in their visual apprehending? Then again, your understanding of how the world works would not prohibit amazing things occurring, and I know you have a richly imaginative appreciation of the world as it is. You could still be bewitched. 😉

      • As you say, it’s impossible to accurately guess how one would actually respond. Based on various past situations where I have been startled, I think (as you mention) the first reaction might be to freeze and assess the situation. (Judging, perhaps, whether fight or flight is required?)

        Some of the video’s scenes involved just the dog running around, and I’m pretty sure I’d recognize a dog’s gait pretty quickly (not to mention the extra four legs in the center 🙂 ). The spider’s ‘legs’ were pretty clearly not providing motive power, nor was the creature moving like any spider I’ve ever seen.

        The elevator scene with the ‘corpse’ – there would be, on top of being startled – the sense of ‘human down’ and an urge to assist. (A blogger I know recently mentioned a time she slipped on the ice crossing a street, was stunned due to hitting her head, couldn’t get back on her feet, and was in danger from oncoming traffic. She had to crawl to the curb on her belly like a soldier crawling beneath barbed wire. Passerbys just watched the show. I cannot believe I live in a world where that could happen. W!T!F!)

        But, yeah, this is all armchair analysis. It might depend more on whether you’d just come out of seeing a horror movie or from a pub after a few pints.

        I’m not quite sure my dreams qualify as lucid. Often, the recognition that I am dreaming wakes me. When it doesn’t, it’s a brief moment that allows me to shift the dream, but the lucidity doesn’t persist. (Example: I’m a passenger in a car, and I suddenly realize I need to exit the vehicle and start running away. The driver begins shooting at me. That’s when I think, “Hey, wait a minute… this is my dream, and I won’t stand for this.” That dream stopped, the lucidity went away, and some other dream began. All I really remember is that moment of taking control.) But I would love to have fully lucid dreams.

        My dreams do tend to be narratives of some kind – sometimes quite involved and complete. I tend, in life, to ‘be’ rather than ‘do’ – I’m very inclined to see what drifts past in life. My dreams are equally passive in that sense. I tend to sit back and watch the show.

        As a life-long reader of SF and fantasy, there seems little risk of mundane dreams. Sometime I wake up from a long one thinking, “Wow! I’d pay money to see that as a movie!” (I can indeed be bewitched! 😉 ) I’ve written some blog posts about some interesting dreams I had if you’re interested (or sufficiently bored):

        This one is more a screed against the Olympics, but does mention a dream:

          • Well, 445 posts ought to be good for something! (In fact, some posts are expressly for referring back to during online discussions. Saves typing the same thing over and over.)

            • I see what you mean; I’ve just read your two main dream posts and you’ve reiterated in brief here a couple of things you mentioned in them. I didn’t leave any comments because, really, how the hell do you comment on such stuff with sounding either accusatory, mocking, or like some cod psychologist? I was a bit disappointed in you for killing those spiders, who you would otherwise tolerate, simply because they crawl up your wall Wyrd, and I hope you tolerate your neighbours when they dare step outside their front door! Just kidding; I know you’re a very gentle soul full of good intent. I get what you mean now when you say you don’t have nightmares – I don’t either in the sense that you mean – but nonetheless can have, or have had in the past, mildly anxious dreams. I suspect they are actually quite commonplace when we have worldly worries that we can’t resolve in our waking hours, and the symbolism is pretty obvious to read. You and I are both retired now so perhaps we are less subject to such mundane stresses. Fingers crossed, it’ll remain that way.

              • [Fingers crossed!]

                I admit, I’ve never really understood the idea of carefully preserving a single spider’s life. As a meat-eater, I’m indirectly responsible for far greater death, and as a fisherman, directly responsible. I respect the heck out of spiders, but they need to learn to keep out of sight.

                Same with the neighbors, actually… 😈

  25. This, like most good posts, reminds me of myself, and how, on an irritatingly regular basis, I must, either vocally or through the written word, remind my assistant, as well as the few visitors I receive, that “there is no telling”. Thank you for your comments (on my site) that allowed for me to escape the hypnotic pull of my own navel in order to come here for to better sharpen my focus.

    The President and Founder

    • There is indeed “no telling” about very much at all in my experience TPAF – please forgive the acronym and speak up if the full title should always be used, as I would always wish to respect the proper protocols. To be pedantic, as is my wont, then that which seeks to be told in fact has no need of the same, for the telling occurs to itself in, as it were, untold ways. This seems not to be the case, or trunk, as the case may be, for all the long while the imaginary assistant seeks to be told, and to tell, the both in equal measure. This is what we call here in the land of contentedness an ‘ontological farce’, one which is easy to get farce about face unless great care is taken. The best thing to do is to return to the aforesaid navel on each occurrence, with all earnestness and diligence and perhaps a few supplies; for it may be some while before the whole matter resolves to all the player’s satisfaction. Above all, beware the dog spiders – they will eat your sandwiches.

  26. This is such an intriguing post, Hariod. When I question reality I find that I am able to see situations in new lights and appreciate the circumstances more deeply. Often people view the world as having one layer when really it is so complex. You offer us many things to ponder here!

    • Thank you so much for your interest and for your kind words Christy; I greatly appreciate hearing your response. That is an interesting idea – questioning reality – revealing as it does how we take as a given that what is before us is what is real. Of course, we have no option but to operate in this way for most of the time, otherwise we would be constantly back-referencing the whole of experience. We must therefore accept that we live partly in a true knowing and partly in a false knowing. The question perhaps then becomes one of how much we value, and identify with, our thoughts and perceptions. Can we live contentedly knowing our circumstances are subject to such uncertainties? Yes, I think we can.

      With gratitude and respect to you Christy,


  27. Oh my gosh, Hariod.

    “Our notions of reality are just that, notional. They are suggestions we make to ourselves, perhaps formed upon tested theories; yet they remain only internalised representations of some collective otherness. And we never can quite know if our suggestions are true to that otherness, one which we regard as external to us. We are awake yet never know if we are dreaming.”

    Amazing that we can drive our vehicles at 100 kph, isn’t it? 😉

    • Well, that immediately raised a big smile, so thankyou for that, Robert. You do appreciate that consciousness is indeed only an internalised representation of some collective otherness? It is largely accurate, of course, in that it produces, if not a facsimile, then a decent enough approximation of that otherness for our species’ survival purposes. I doubt very much that you are a Naïve Realist, so will take your comment as the good-natured leg-pull that it appears to be my friend, and thankyou most warmly for it – your continued interest and engagement is both welcomed and appreciated, as is your very fine sense of humour. XD

        • Good, although it can sometimes be a little tricky to distinguish between the sceptics and the jokers, especially as the former sometimes disguise themselves as the latter. I tend to take things at face value just here on this site, as it is easier that way, and hence the little – and unnecessary – qualifier in my response. Blessings on the day Robert!

          • Anytime I say something ridiculous, I hope I have said such in a joking manner. 🙂 I have my serious, though ridiculous moments, however. 😦 Your articles are always interesting, Hariod, and in all seriousness, some of your reader’s responses remind me why I changed my career choice while at university.

            • We sound quite similar in some respects then, Robert, for I too have my fair share of ‘serious, though ridiculous moments’. Perhaps you would agree that the older we get, the easier it becomes to recognise them quickly and laugh at ourselves. We are stuck in this slightly absurd condition as human animals, it seems to me, and we may as well learn to laugh at it.

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