Perception and “The Dress”

So this picture of a dress has been going around – you may have seen it – and apparently 74% of people see white and gold. I see blue and black. I’ve tried really hard to see white and gold, but it ain’t happening.

Go here to see the dress: https://www.yahoo.com/health/is-this-dress-blue-and-black-or-white-and-gold-112194158507.html

And here’s an explanation for why people are seeing different things: http://www.wired.com/2015/02/science-one-agrees-color-dress/

This incident with The Dress – and the way people can see the same thing so differently and are so sure they’re right about the way they see it – reminded me of some conversations I’ve had with others about God and Nogod. Many of those dialogues have been frustrating for everyone involved. But there was a dialogue I had on this blog a year ago with Andrey Pavlov, a young medical doctor and atheist, that was one of the most enjoyable conversations I believe I have ever had with another human being regarding “God.” I had met Andrey on the sciencebasedmedicine.org website, and he had kindly joined me on my blog so we could carry on our conversation.

I’d tried to describe to Andrey what “God” is to me. I’d written: And perhaps “God” IS nothing more than my own consciousness of good, really – but I feel this Good as a presence in my life. It’s as real to me as the air I breath. It speaks to me – not in a man-voice – but… it speaks to me as Truth. As Love. In times when I’m scared, I feel this presence of Love and comfort around me – and, again, maybe that’s nothing more than my own thoughts – but whatever it is – whether it’s just my own consciousness – something inside me – or whether it’s something I am inside of – this power I call God has been with me when I’ve been sick, and when I’ve been scared, and when I’ve had to make important decisions in my life – and this presence has helped me.

And Andrey responded with this –

“This is interesting to me. I believe you, I really do. I absolutely believe that you have these experiences and feel the things you do as you say them. And I do not think these are evidence of any sort of psychiatric illness, cognitive dysfunction, or anything someone may call ‘abnormal.’ I don’t really know (nobody does) but there is plenty of evidence to lead us to think that this is simply one of the many fluid ways in which an individual processes the universe around them.

“It is, IMO, important to realize that everything a person sees, feels,experiences in any way is highly processed by the software and hardware of our brains. We (mostly) all agree that an object which reflects electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength of 650nM looks ‘red.’ But how do I know that what you actually experience as ‘red’ is actually what I experience as ‘red’? I can’t know and you can’t know. That is what philosophers refer to as the ‘qualia’ of life – that purely internal subjective processing and experience of life and the universe through the consciousness we have. It raises this interesting idea of ‘p-zombies.’ Dan Dennett has written a fair bit on them and it stems in part from the concept of a Turing test.

“So when you say that you ‘feel’ the presence of Love, Goodness, etc. I believe you. I can’t possibly imagine what that means in the same way I can’t imagine what it means when a synesthetic says that someone’s name is “lime green” in color. But to that synesthetic, it is a consistent, meaningful, and very real experience.”

I really appreciated the way Andrey listened – heard me – and made an effort to understand my perspective and translate it into something he could relate to in some way.

And wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if we all could do that for each other?

Perception and Connection

One moment of divine consciousness, or the spiritual understanding of Life and Love, is a foretaste of eternity.
– Mary Baker Eddy

Went for a walk along the dike yesterday, and came upon this sign that said, “Keep Out”. On the other side of the sign was a wheat field, and beyond the wheat field was a road, and beyond the road were hills, and rising above the hills – all majestic and beautiful – was Mount Baker. And I was obedient to the sign, I did not bring my body beyond it. But my eyes went beyond the sign and the sign wasn’t really separating me from the glory of Mount Baker. And then it hit me – no sign could stop me from bringing that image of the mountain into my conscousness. In fact, even if I never saw that mountain again, it would still be a part of me, living in my consciousness. All that I’ve perceived in my life is part of me, isn’t it? Not outside me, separated from me by my skin, or by time or space – but connected to me, and carried around within me. And that includes every book I ever loved, every sunset and rainbow I ever saw, every song that ever touched my soul, and you!

perception

– photo of Mount Shuksan taken by Karen Molenaar Terrell

Breaking away from the mutations of time and sense, you will neither lose the solid objects and ends of life nor your own identity. Fixing your gaze on the realities supernal, you will rise to the spiritual consciousness of being, even as the bird  which has burst from the egg and preens its wings for a skyward flight.
Mary Baker Eddy

…remember Jesus’ words, “The kingdom of God is within you.” This spiritual consciousness is therefore a present possibility.
 – Mary Baker Eddy