What Makes Something Real to Us?
What I've just said is that no one can picture the things which are either too strong, or too weak, for our optic nerves to carry. We can't even imagine these things. Why not? Because our imaginations live by the same rules as real life. We literally can not see, in our minds, what we could not imagine seeing in the real world.
Of course, we rarely notice this. Why? Because the alternate category, what we "can imagine seeing," is a heck of a big category. For instance, we can imagine seeing literal, real world things, like parked cars and red roses, because we can actually see them in real life. And we can picture things like arguments and depressed moods and losing jobs because we can picture these things in real life as well.
We can even imagine seeing "possibly true things," like angels, and demons, and the spirits of our dead relatives. Why? Because for one thing, to even know what these words mean, we need have seen at least one visual image for each of these words, even if this image was from a movie we once saw.
Thus with possibly unreal things, like angels, or demons, or with the spirits of our dead relatives, we can picture these things only because we have seen at least one image which, to us, gives us an idea of what these things may look like.
I call these images, "representative images," and they are what allow us to picture "possibly" real things, like angels, and demons, and spirits.
What's my point? That we can only picture things for which we have representative images, even if these images are of known to be unreal things, such as Superman, or The Hulk, or of ourselves telling off the boss.
What makes this concept so important? The opposite concept; what happens to us when we have no representative image.
What happens? Well, if you have no representative image for "Relativity," then you will not understand it. Even if you can recite enough of the facts to pass a physics exam.
And if you have no representative image for "covalent bonds," then you will not grasp this concept even if you can get an A on it on a chemistry test.
And if you have no representative image for your anger hurting your spouse, then you will be unable to believe it hurts him or her, even if they repeatedly tell you it is killing them. And that they are ready to leave you.
Here, then, are the two basic rules by which our minds function. To know something, you must be able to picture it. No picture. No understanding. Moreover, this holds true for everything from getting the love you want to things like "consciousness" and "God." In fact, folks who pray but have no picture for "God" will most times simply parrot their prayers. In other words, if they cannot picture who they are praying to, then they will struggle to pray authentically. Even if they genuinely want to pray and want connect to their spiritual maker.
So what makes us unable to picture something? And why can't we simply make up these pictures?
The answers to these questions are among the most important we could ever ask. Especially when it comes to the things for which we once did have representative images but which we can no longer picture. Why not? Because we suffered a trauma in which we lost our ability to picture these things, a painful experience in which these particular images became so psychologically charged with the pain of the event that we get startled into blankness from even trying to picture them.
Said in other words, trying to picture these psychologically charged images empties the screen of our minds.
What Makes the Screen of the Mind Empty?
Can this be true? Can images become so psychologically charged with the pain of a trauma that they we can no longer even imagine seeing them?
Yes. In fact, each and every human mind literally has thousands of these charged images within it, most of them created before age seven.
What creates the charge? Getting startled.
Does this always happen though?
No, it does not. In fact, while we should never deliberately subject ourselves or anyone else to trauma, most trauma does not wound us. Why not? Because the startling moment is what wounds us, not the suffering. Why? Because being startled empties the screen of our mind. Always. Every time. In fact, we humans literally can not be startled and at the same time, picture anything on the screen of our minds. We simply can't do this. It is literally impossible. And because we involuntarily record this experience each and every time. No matter what our state of psychological health or spiritual condition.
Please go slow now. Please. And please pay particular attention to how much of what I have been saying you can picture.
In all likelihood, you will be unable to picture most of what I have just said. Why? Simply because you have no picture of it.
More important, until you do have a picture for what I've just said, you will be unable to know for sure if what I am saying is true. Why not? Because whenever we try to picture something for which we have no image, we cannot believe it. More important, whenever we try to picture something for which we have no image and begin to get an image but lose it, we get startled and go blank. Which then puts a permanent charge on the thing we were trying to picture.
Moreover, most people, when this happens, simply then dismiss whatever they were being told as being untrue. Why? Because this is simply human nature. It is the way we are programmed. We are programmed to dismiss, or at least, to disbelieve, whatever we can not picture. This holds true even in cases wherein we want to believe this thing is true. We simply can not believe as true things which we cannot picture.
The Visual / Logical Dilemma - The Two-Sided Nature of Disbelief
Here again, the idea I've just offered is a another big one. So please go slow.
What I'm saying is this. If you cannot picture something, you will be unable to know whether it is true or not. Even if you see logical proof it is true.
Now think about it. If I tell you something is red, but I do not let you see the thing I'm telling you about, then will you know for sure if what I've told you said is true? Of course not.
And if I tell you something is old and useless but I do not let you actually see this thing, then will you be able to know for sure that I am not lying? Of course not.
Now consider how important this idea is.
We all make important decisions in life. We also base these decisions largely on whether or not we believe the things they are based on are true. In fact, we pretty much base all of our important relationships on our ability to discern the truth, including everything from which car we buy and what food we eat to who we love and where we live.
So what is it like to hear me tell you that you can not know the truth about anything unless you can picture it? Is this hard to believe? I would think it is. After all, few if any of us today have been instructed in the significance of being able to see things. Except, of course, if you study the Skeptics, such as Carneades or David Hume.
Can this be true? Can we have been overlooking something this important? Absolutely. In fact, this is why, on paper, we separate theories from facts, but at the same time, trust logic more than our very own eyes. This logic is what allows us to ignore a lot of what we cannot see. Moreover, we need to do this. Why? Because we would literally become paralyzed if we were to trust only what we can see. Moreover, these same philosophers, the ones who have been telling us we can trust as true only what we can see, have also been telling us we must use our logical minds to live as best we can anyway, even when we do disbelieve what we are seeing. Everyone from Descartes and Socrates to Plato and Kant.
Now let me restate what I've just said.
What I've just said is that if you cannot picture something, you will be unable to know whether it is true or not. Even if you see logical proof for that it is true.
On the other hand, if you wait until you can picture something in order to be sure it is true, then you will end up so paralyzed that you will literally be frozen in indecision much of the time.
So what is the solution?
Most scientists solve this dilemma by honoring logic over visual evidence. They literally ignore, and even dismiss, what they cannot logically "see." As do most mathematicians. And psychologists. And most theologians, as well.
There are even sound "reasons" for doing this. The reasons? Exactly what I've just said. That we could literally not live life if we did not overlook our inability to picture things at times.
Unfortunately, this reliance on what we can logically "see" leads us to trust as true a lot of common sense hog wash, such as that we can predict stock market changes and anticipate earth quakes. We can't even predict the weather reliably.
Somehow, we believe the weatherman anyway.
What else could we be doing?
For the weather, not much. At the same time, there are a lot of things for which we could be relying on what I've previously referred to as "perfect truths." Remember? Perfect Truths are things we know to be infinitely variable in time and meaning but absolutely unchanging in information.
Where should we be using these truths?
For things like architecture. And plumbing. And carpentry.
So can you imagine not doing this? For instance, can you imagine driving across a bridge designed by an architect who had never learned geometry? Or hiring a plumber who had never pictured water? Or a carpenter who had never seen nails?
My point is, we cannot see everything about which we need to make decisions. Thus, we need to rely on logic. At the same time, we also need to be able, at times, to see perfectly true images of things in order to make decisions and in order to follow up on these decisions.
Two categories;  the things we literally can see, and  the things we literally cannot see. And two ways of "seeing" what is in these two categories;  literally, and  logically.
Are you beginning to understand what is surely one of the more significant dilemmas we humans face, at least, as far as making decisions as to how to live?
Now setting aside which things go into which category for a moment, can you see how this dilemma plays out in our lives? For instance, can you imagine, for a moment, if we were to believe only in what we could literally see? We could not live. At the same time, can you imagine believing only what seems to be logically true? This is no way to live either.
This dilemma, then, is why we have so much trouble knowing what is true and what is not. It is also a lot of what makes us have such a hard time making decisions. And why we make so many bad decisions.
This dilemma is also what makes us so often ignore what is right in front of our eyes. As well as what makes us ignore the "holes" in our literal ability to see things. As well as not ignore what we imagine to be true when we should ignore it. For instance, have you ever pictured the janitor at your office having stolen something you've lost, or heard a noise at night and pictured that a thief has broken into your home?
These visual, "false positives," in fact, are what is at the bottom of a lot of our getting so scared or angry at times. And why people who cannot picture these things have no problems with being afraid of these things. These folks are not necessarily more brave than we are. They simply cannot picture this trouble happening. Why? Because they cannot picture it at all. Thus they cannot feel afraid.
So how do we know what we can trust? Let's start with what prevents us from literally picturing things. In other words, what makes our minds empty?
How Being Startled Empties the Mind
Still having trouble seeing what I've been saying? What I'd now ask, then, is that you allow for the possibility that your inability to know that whether what I've been saying is true may be more related to your inability to picture these things than that it means they are untrue. In other words, if you cannot picture the points I've been making, then please allow for the possibility that these ideas may simply be things for which you have yet to see a representative image.
As for how the mind empties, let me try to give you some representative images, starting with an image for the idea that being startled empties the mind.
Know first that what we are about to discuss is directly related to how we can know if an immeasurable thing exists. What I previously referred to as the "non physical" things. Or in other words, the so called "unscientific" category of things.
We call these things "unscientific" largely because we cannot picture them. Reliably, at least. These things include everything from beauty and courage, to the Divine and to the nature of creative genius. Moreover, while being able to picture these things means we can at least know they can "possibly" exist, we have trouble believing they exist because we cannot provide logically "static" pictures for them. More on this in a moment. For now, let's stay focused on the idea that being startled empties the mind.
So let me ask you? Do you have a picture for how getting startled empties the mind? For instance, can you remember a time wherein you were startled, and can you remember how this felt?
To make it easy, let's use a common real world situation; "getting your picture taken by a wedding photographer." Moreover, if you have not experienced this event in real life, then please try to follow along as if you have. In other words, use your imagination. Believe it or not, what you learn will be the same.
OK. So picture yourself standing somewhere, posing for a wedding party picture. Where are you standing? Inside? Outside?
And where in the party are your standing? In the middle of a line? At the end of a line?
What time of day is it? Is it day time, or night, or somewhere in between? How about front to back. What I mean is, are you standing in the middle of the second row, or on the end of the front row? Or is there only one row?
How about how tall you are compared to everyone else? And are you taller, or shorter, compared to the others? Or are you an average height for this group of people?
How are you doing? Can you picture all these details? Do your best.
Now imagine the wedding photographer is walking out in front of the group. It this person a man or a woman? Tall or short? Young or old? Loud or soft spoken? Picture all these things as best you can.
Now imagine the photographer has you all posed and ready and that he has just suggested you all say, "cheese."
Now hold this image in your mind for a moment. In fact, imagine that you have a pause button for your mind and that you have just put your mind on pause.
Have you been able to picture all this so far?
Most likely, you will have been able to imagine everything I've just said. Even if you have never done this in real life.
Isn't it amazing how much we can imagine?
OK. So now try to actually picture the moment following the "cheese moment," the instant in which the flash went off. Can you picture this moment?
Most people actually can picture this moment. At least the beginning of it. Not all people. But most people. Why? Because as I mentioned in the opening lines of this chapter, we can normally see whatever is within our natural ability to picture on the screen of our minds. Thus, we normally can picture at least the beginning of a flash camera going off.
What about the next instant though? Can you picture yourself in this wedding photo shoot and being able to picture the next moment, the one right after the flash went off?
Please answer carefully. And honestly. Not just logically. But literally visually.
The truth? No one can picture the after-the-flash moment. If you could, you'd be able to picture the flash continuously, from onset to dying away slowly. Why? Because in truth, flash bulbs never simply turn on then off. They "flash" on. Then they fade off.
We, on the other hand, get so startled by the "flash-on" part that we see an "after image," a false visual positive, which then fades away slowly.
At some point, then, we go blank during the flash. Afterwards, when we can shake off the startling part, we slowly regain our ability to see. Usually after some head shaking or blind mumbling.
To some degree, it's as if our ability to see fades back in, in some way, proportionately to how the flash bulb fades out.
Finally, at some point, you regain your ability to picture once again. At least, in theory. In real life, many people actually get so wounded by flash cameras, that they incur a permanent blind spot in and around flash cameras for the rest of their lives.
These folks are often the ones who say they hate getting their picture taken.
This "hate-to-have-something-happen" thing happens to many people who get injured. In essence, we humans hate to get startled. And with good reason. Getting startled blinds us. At least, temporarily.
Often, though, being startled gives us a permanent blind spot, similar to the one most of us get from the wedding flash camera experience.
What's the big deal?
Simply this. These "visual blind spots" are the essence of all human injury. The true nature of all human wounds. What I'm saying is, the sine qua non of human injury is the blind spot. In other words, the the "wound" is literally "our wounded ability to picture something on the screen of our minds."
Not sure you see the importance of this yet? Please know, this under reaction is normal. Why? Because I've just told you I know a "Pythagorean Theorem" for woundedness and in all likelihood, you've never even heard of this idea let alone the guy who is telling it to you; me.
So what can I do to help you to see this idea, meaning, what can I do to give you a representative image?
We can look at what we can see. The symptoms.
Moreover, we can look at where symptoms come from. Why? Because seeing where symptoms come from will help you to picture the importance in what I've been saying. About truth. About woundedness. And about information in general.
Are you ready? Here we go.