11 June, 2019 Philosophy

The World Is What You Think It Is

The first principle of Kahili Huna boldly supposes that everything we experience is an arbitrary interpretation of our minds- and when we go looking for an objectivity below it because we think there must be, we find none. Better to accept it and use it for our and others enjoyment of life.

My tradition of Hawaiian Shamanism is commonly told as seven principles, which were put together in this way buy an extremely competent shaman who first was taught the shamanic meaning of common cultural proverbs, and then organized them in an ingenuous way.

Mind you, the system is still arbitrary. He made it up. It's special because it works so well. You've got a problem you can't quite put your finger on, you go through the seven principles to see which apply most, and by golly you start seeing ways to apply it by deriving very simple logic from the principle. It works wonderfully, and it brings much needed clarity to something as vast and rich as the nonphysical cosmos.

So let's jump right in. The first principle is called The World Is What You Think It Is.

What this means is that there is very little, and one might well argue nothing at all, that doesn't come down to how you interpret things.

Having grown up in our society it can be a challenge to look at things this way, because our upbringing emphasizes familiarizing yourself which the supposedly unchanging so much. It takes this grand jumbling of the rules that has been happening on afterburner for the past decade or so for a softening of those stances, when it becomes clear that the old rules of living life are no longer the best shot at success. But true it is. The world is changing so fast now, yesterday's common sense is already dead. Unless it's not, but you have to consider it might be.

So, yes, there are certain rules that change slowly, such as gravity, and there are pretty good ways of approximating those. But now flip on your imagination. There is no gravity there. You can think of a bouncing ball, but you can think of a ball spinning in mid air just as well. Wait, wait, wait, I hear the materialist calling from the back, the sensory is material and real, while the imagination is, well, just your imagination. Now that's a bit of circular logic if I've ever seen one. The imagination should be discounted, well, because it's the imagination. The truth is, if you want to be effective, you should place more emphasis on your imagination than on your sensory input, because your sensory input will tell you only what you have previously imagined. The best machines, and the theory of gravity itself, came about first in somebody's imagination.

So, while there is a small subset of life experience that is mostly relevant if you're performing a bit of engineering were the importance of interpretation is not so obvious, in the vast majority of situations there isn't anything else.

Say, you have two people working at a desk. Depending on your background, they could be a manager monitoring an assistant, two entrepreneurs discussing a grand scheme, two coworkers having a chat, two researchers analyzing data, or two siblings looking at pictures. With no further information, you just wouldn't know. Yet if you look on from the outside, and in the vast majority situations you have no additional information, and you're constantly filling in the gaps to craft a somewhat coherent narrative.

I think you might suspect where this is going now. Change the way you change your narrative, your interpretation of ambiguous events changes, your behavior changes, and then everything changes. Shamanizing is about consciously doing just that.

Now let's say it's the siblings. They know each other well, so they are constantly looking at each others faces and posture and tone for cues, and constantly interpreting those in a way that's not much more based in actual information than the two people above. Depending on what they are expecting, and what they decided similar behavior meant in the past, they could consider their mutual expressions a fight about to break out, a neutral conversation, something unusually touching, an expression of forgiveness, or casual affection. In relationships, more than anything, it doesn't matter what the actual expressions are, it's the meaning we give to them.

Let's say you are walking down the street, and you need to stop at a red light. This could mean a great comfort, a minor annoyance, business as usual, or an unbearable infringement on your sovereign rights as a human being by a tyrannical overreaching government, depending where you get your information from, and who you chose to believe. You can believe the Queen of England is a lizard, if you want to, and you will start getting evidence that will further convince you. Mind you, it might or might not be practical to believe that for any particular purpose, but it is certainly practical to know that some people can believe that, without being particularly crazy or dysfunctional, with much earnestness. And, if you really think about it- how is believing the queen is a lizard any crazier than believing that there is a queen at all? It's all a matter of what we're used to.

So there is no queen- unless we agree to make it up. There are no roads. There are strips of concrete people built with the idea of a road in mind, for sure- but those are not intrinsically roads. You could use them for landing an airplane, skating a longboard, cracking nuts, squishing a melon, or you could put up a table and chairs there and have dinner. Of course, as long as everybody else believes that those concrete things are for fast moving high powered transportation machines, you're better off agreeing with them and bringing your picnic elsewhere. But the point is- the value of that is practical, not philosophical. The idea of a road most certainly exists, but it's your thought process and your inner authority of belief that decides that concrete winding thingy indeed is a road and should be treated as such, get out the car keys. And it is further completely up to you how far you want to keep those interpretations in sync with what most people agree on.

The neat part, and I would argue the shamanic part, is that no one will know the difference if you actually buy into the idea that a road is a road is a road, or whether you treat the road ephemerally. And you don't really know how many other people actually believe in the road. Maybe we're all shamans, but we think the others are not, so we all play along with each other for the others sake. But if you probe a little, for the most part you can get a pretty good idea how shamanistically other people think. Drop the odd hint and see if the other person picks up on it. If they don't, they probably don't care if a road is an agreed upon concept and they will just use it to get to work and back and for the delivery guy to get them some pizza.

Mind you, I frequently enjoy work, and I love pizza. I also know neither really exists. But I chose to play along because it's fun, and this time and age is the only time you can have it in just this way.

Now that was a bunch of illustrations of the first principle, the world is what you think it is. Let's have a look at the practical value.

If anything is that way just because someone said so, you have liberated yourself from anything that doesn't work for you. Anything.

Mostly, these anythings are thoughts about yourself. Go a few generations back and walk right past all the pretty bows and ribbons and nostalgia-inducing lingo and lovingly crafted furniture, and you get to see a place where people are pretty darn mean to each other. To anyone yearning for a nicer time, well I really don't want to shake your imagination of the past, because you created that right now and if you serves you more power to you, but if you just take a bit of a look at social norms and pick up some clues on how people behaved to each other, the darn place is just full of people being cold, mean, judgemental, and rather nasty people rising to power to be role models. Arguably the same is still true, but you just have so many more alternative places to go. The Hippie movement, the New Age movement, and all the little niches and subcultures where it's okay to be loving have left a huge mark on mainstream culture. If you wanted to look for someone who did some amazingly significant stuff, well it probably had to be the general you admire, because society wasn't quite back on its feet again in a way that would make it obvious to you to admire an artist- or even just a neighbor who happened to be kind.

Mind you, there was always alternative culture, and there were always kind people. But people deliberately training themselves to be kind according who in a lot of ways perhaps were not, and that happening on a massive scale? That's new. Children used to pick on each other, and it was just the way it was, because children always picked on each other. No more- someone figured out, hey, if we tell them not to, they won't, and in many schools today, children are actually nice to each other, regardless of their parents, just because someone changed a pattern in the way they are taught. It's amazing.

What happened? What's so different about the past and the present that would suddenly allow us to make changes like that? Now these are my questions and my explanation, but I think they are good ones- it suddenly became acceptable to change. In a small way, we have all become shamans. We recognized that patterns are not sacred, traditions can be kept for their good parts and the bad parts discarded, and most importantly, we realized collectively that if we can think one way, we can also think another, and make changes, and that those changes in thinking will change our changes in how our life actually is- because there's nothing else here. We made the change to our thinking, and we changed the world, because there isn't anything else on this plane of existence. We changed the real deal.

Now, mind you, you are already constantly changing your thinking and getting different results. The shamanic idea is to do it on purpose.

What do you think is true? Can you see it? It's all around you, your life experience reflect it. Can you see some areas where a change might be in order? Can you think in a new way about the things that are happening right now? That alone will make a world of difference.

There is nothing that has to be- unless you think there is. But you don't have to do that. We live in an age where the off-and-on most valuable company of the world uses "Think Different" as a slogan. Whether you like their products or not, that alone is nothing short of amazing. Do you have an inkling how borderline-insanely stubborn mainstream thinking used to be? You learn your stuff once, and then you repeat it until you drop, and let's burn those who don't. Well, no more. We can now know that the world is what you think it is, and that means that whatever you would like to experience, there is thoughts you can chose to think that will bring that experience, that world, into being. Many, many people are already doing it, and many, many more will be needed to bring out our world's highest potential that way. Because if you liberate thinking from the pins of dogma that hold it down, it becomes free.

How free would you like to be?

Commonly, past thought was all about limitation, suffering, poverty, lack of deservingness, aggression, victimhood, and the old time favorite, the blame. You most likely know all of these all too well. The idea that the world is what you think it is teaches us that these ideas are the cause of the circumstances that come with the people who hold them, they are not the effect. "What are you talking about", says the old-timey cobbler, "life has always been about barely scraping along and making shoes the way we were taught." Well, if you believe that, then yes it is. If you happen to believe that life is full of opportunity, and life is going to be good for you- if you were going to be making shoes, you most likely would have found yourself inspired to make some that were more fashionable, or cheaper, or different, or more exciting, using whatever you had available at the time to make a difference. You might not even have needed the shoes- you might have just happened to find a gold pot buried somewhere- or picked up an object you didn't know and got invited to a very exclusive club as a result (all those stories happened). I have personally changed my thinking using a variety of techniques, first and foremost the Haipule, and I'm telling you friends you wouldn't recognize me any more. A lot of old friends don't. I'm strong, I happen not to be a tragic figure any more, on the contrary, I'm pretty much considered to be the luckiest guy alive by most people I know, and in a lot of ways I am! Money comes really easy, but I did spend a lot of time improving my relationship with it, again using the Haipule. My love life is wonderful. My famliy life is just a gift. I really feel very good about myself and I constantly manage to turn bad situations into wonderful ones. I really only got proficient at changing the way I think about them but I respond differently, people I tell about them respond differently, and the new circumstances that come around can be pretty much observed on their own to be very, very different than the ones they came from. And boy I used to be a mess- I was depressed, unfriendly, had no sense of direction, was considered very smart but useless to work with. I probably wasn't even a hot mess- just a mess. Just really hard to imagine an advantage to hanging around me for anyone, including myself, only I didn't have the privilege of going elsewhere. I managed to get myself into a situation where it seemed like a good idea to live in somebody's shed- in Switzerland, the world's richest country. I mean, I got creative about taking a great situation and making it pretty terrible.
Mind you, I did learn some things and had important experiences. But pleasant it was not. The only good thing that happened, except from learning the hard way what having a terrible chaotic time feels like, was that I learned that it was because of my thoughts, and that I could change them. And boy I did. I had nothing to lose and a lot of motivation.

What it boils down to is lots and lots and lots of repetitive thinking about stuff you want, and talking like that to yourself and others, and acting like it, and learning how to have more energy (to override old thoughts). So I started repeated to myself that I have ten million bucks.
I don't have them yet, but I have a significant portion at the time of writing, and I hardly did any work for it (and it was ethical and everything, just lucky). My job pays well, and started from not being able to imagine having one, to having one, to having a cool one, to having a lucrative cool one, to most likely not needing one at all in the near future. And yeah, I've been repeated that phrase and imagining what that might be like every day (or lots of days), on and on and on. It took a whole lot of effort, but boy did it add up over time.

The same thing with praising things instead of criticizing. You want to be happy? See the good (or something good). Want to be grouchy? See the bad. It's that simple. So I built the habit of finding the good. And, to a large extent, I was able to. And I'm doing pretty good!

So my recommendation is, accept as the basis for your thinking that the world is what you think it is, and whenever you're in a situation where you don't seem to have a lot of options, deal with it best you can, but remember that you always have the option to think differently.

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