To some degree, every act of perception is an act of creation, and every memory is an act of imagination.
Perception is the Result of Memory
When we see, hear, smell, or touch something we think is the reality of experience. Not so. Perception takes place in the mind, not the senses. Blind people visualize. Deaf people hear sounds in their minds. Our physical senses are just one source of input. But, this input is filtered.
Every act of perception is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination. — Oliver Sacks
Many people would agree that this quote contains a great deal of truth. Reality isn’t something we are observing. We are creating it with our expectations. And, what we expect to find results from the parameters of our worldview or paradigm.
We think our perception is a clear picture of reality. This is a mistake. Perception is the result of several internal mechanisms that make up our worldview. These mechanisms are Ego and our dominant cultural narrative. None of these have anything to do with reality. They filter our perceptions through our worldview.
So, our worldview is not an accurate representation of reality. It is a product of memory. Our memory stores the values we get from the Ego and the cultural narrative. And, memory is imagination plus emotion. Again, both receive programming from our worldview. The programming of dominant cultural narrative overrides everything.
The mind expects what we should perceive. It fits reality into our expectations. And, if we encounter something that doesn’t fit what we expect, the mind simply ignores it. Or, if we can’t ignore it, then it must be a hallucination. Right?
There are a lot of moving parts. Our ego and cultural narrative are only a part of it. Some philosophers think the Observer behind perception also influences our memory. The foundation of memory is imagination. Memory uses the same processes to create as it does to store information. What we imagine can be far from what happened.
We can not think of the mind and brain as the same thing. The brain is like a radio; It is the receiver. The mind is the signal. You can’t find the music being played on the radio by taking the radio apart. So, perception is not the beginning of the process. Perception is the result of personal and cultural programming, our imagination and memory all mixed. Here is a graphic to show the complex working of the mind.
Imagination Plus Emotion
The limits of our paradigm shape the external boundaries of perception. These are the limits of our possibilities. Our imagination can break down these boundaries if we train it to do so. Our emotion is the fuel of imagination. This is why those in control want to program your boundaries and limit the use of imagination. These tools are dangerous for those in control.
Two main sources shape our worldview in our modern culture. These are harmful religions and greed-based cultural programming. The programming of these elements starts early and comes from multiple sources that we trust. So, as children, we don’t even notice this programming taking place. It becomes a part of our psyche structures.
Religion teaches us to react with fear to challenges of the paradigm with the same fear as facing a wild animal or fire. These structures work together with our dominant cultural narrative. They control our thinking and values. It creates ethnic and gender hierarchies and justification for prejudice and discrimination. All the while we don’t realize the force and effect these structures have on our ability to reason. We don’t “see” how it affects our perception of reality. Religion is the primary source of this type of programming.
Relationship Between Reason and Religion
Not all religions are harmful. Only those that create boundaries and dictate values and thought. As a result, these are harmful because they adversely affect our ability to reason. Some religions have more boundaries than others.
For example, Taoism and many forms of Paganism have the fewest constraints over freethinking. With these systems, you are free to explore and develop your own path. Whereas, the Abrahamic religions have the greatest number of boundaries. These are the religions of Semitic origin, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have the greatest number of boundaries.
Western Organized Religion uses several tools for individual and social programming. Some say that this probably the original primary purpose. They use a system of continuous indoctrination and programming to mold values and thinking. They are effective at establishing boundaries, restrictions, and limitations on independent thought. And, “tell” you what is wrong and what is right. They often dictate personal and social values that have ripple effects throughout society. And, their effects depend upon how emotionally invested you are in the propositions they are selling.
These systems sell hate, spawn genocide, wars, and discrimination of races, ethnicity, and gender. All the while proclaiming they are agents of love. Those invested in these paradigms can cherry-pick the doctrines to fit their needs.
Imagination Plus Emotion to Overcome Reason
Beliefs can distort our perception. And perception becomes a mask hiding the truth. The truth is not what you believe. Truth is something that is substantiated by facts. If you can program people to believe mythology is factual, then you can control their thinking and values.
Here’s how it works. Western Organized Religion is based on programming the mind to trigger the “fight or flight” response. This creates boundaries to anything that threatens ideas that contradict the religion’s doctrine. The more rigid, inflexible, and extreme your religious beliefs, the less is your ability to consider new ideas. Anything outside the boundaries of your paradigm is taboo.
Our research shows an inverse relationship between religious beliefs and common sense reasoning. Thus, the more extreme your religious beliefs the less you can perceive ideas outside of the paradigm. The more extreme the religious views, the more likely you are to reject facts and ideas that conflict with your views. You become a puppet. You react with fear or hate when you encounter any idea or fact that challenges any boundary.
Determining Religious Programming
You can tell how emotionally invested you are in your paradigm by the emotional reaction to ideas that challenge it. Here are some questions to help you see how much programming you have:
- Do you find you need to “defend” your religious beliefs?
- Are you operating under guidelines that prohibit you from exposure to ideas that would threaten your beliefs?
- Do you attend weekly or semi-weekly meetings where you expose yourself to groupthink manipulation? This is propaganda that “strengthens” the boundaries and restrictions on your thinking.
- Are you having a negative emotional reaction to this article?
If you answer yes to the above questions, this is a sign you affected by negative religious programming.
Memory is Imagination
There are three types of memory, immediate, short-term, and long-term. There is a lot more going on with memory than we realize. The memory of events differs from the memory of things that you program into memory using dynamic memory techniques. The latter is the conscious use of the mind to record data.
The memory of events or situations is different. These memories aren’t programmed they are transient. These memories are like a distorted form of time travel. The memories of events are change over time by the emotions attached to them and any cultural programming. They are definitely not consistent with “what actually happened.”
For example, during the inquisition of those charged with being Witches, it was customary to use torture and burn people in the town square. This was acceptable to the populace because of the cultural programming they received by the Church.
Memory works in conjunction with imagination to create a mental picture of the past event. But this picture is skewed by time, emotion, and cultural programming. How does this work?
First, the passage of time distorts our memory of past events. The older the memory, the more likely that our memory is not a true reflection of the event. This is why witness statements need to be taken as soon as possible in any type of investigation. It is a proven fact that time degrades the accuracy of memory.
Second, emotion also distorts our memories. Memories can have a positive, negative, or a combination of both emotions. And our emotional attachments to the memory can change depending on several factors.
Third, memories are colored by the judgments and boundaries of our cultural programming. This programming can be changed or removed, thus changing the emotional attachment and the memory of the event. This is how people believed they were on the side of God when the tortured and burned people.
In addition to our old friend cultural programming, our dreams and other day-to-day events can also affect our memories. A lot is going on. It’s no wonder our imagination gets confused and creative. Our imagination is the force that molds it all together. We imagine this or that happened. We “think” it was real. Then we file it away as a memory. When recalling it again, perhaps it’s the same, but it has more than likely somewhat different. Still, we perceive it as “what happened.”
It is most important not to confuse memories of past events with the use of memory techniques to lock data into our long-term memory. The latter is a conscious and specific use of the mind. The former is the perception of imagination.
Combining Perception and Imagination
Here is another example of how to use memory and imagination as a tool. Shaman use imagination as a tool within the Shamanic Journey. They see several possibilities within reality. And, that which is available to us is far greater than most people fathom.
The reality for the Shaman exists as several possibilities. One cannot “reason away” the experience of non-ordinary reality. We all know the realms of non-ordinary reality actually exist. Anyone who has had a dream while sleeping has the experiential proof. Dreams are proof that we have access to these other possibilities.
Besides normal waking awareness the Shaman shows us we can “traverse” other realms of existence. They describe upper and lower worlds, as well as a middle world that exists alongside our “normal” reality. Since the Shaman can travel to these other realms, they can understand perception from a different framework.
Outside of the framework of ordinary reality is where the Shaman Sees the connections of our Being to our surroundings and others. This level of Seeing is obviously not commonplace. Those that have this ability can help others. They can help us untangle and release connections that hold people, hostage, to unwanted memories.
There is an important equation here. Memory is imagination plus emotion. What we think of as dependent on external things is a reflection of these internal processes. Reality offers many possibilities, but our perception is limited by the boundaries of our paradigm. Perception is the result of our worldview, not a reflection of reality.
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia