The only thing I can be certain of
If I'm going to write more stuff it made sense to start with "The purpose of life, the universe and everything" and fit the rest of the world into that. Doesn't it? Made sense to me.
As I was writing the blog post "The purpose of life, the universe and everything" I realized that the answer to such an important question should be based on what I knew with certainty, and not on commonly held assumptions or theories or illusions.
There's only one thing of which I can be certain, so I made that the basis for my argument.
Then, after <embarrassing number of> minutes spent searching for an earlier post that I thought I had written on the subject, I decided I might not have written what I thought I'd written. It might have been another illusion.
So I wrote this.
And then I spent <embarrassing number of> minutes of my existence trying to decide whether to incorporate this into "The purpose of life, the universe, and everything" or making it a separate post, I decided to solve it with "Coin Flip" as I recommended to myself, here.
I did, in fact, write about the things that I learned from reading Sam Harris' book Waking Up. But I seem to have failed to write one of the most important points. So here's my do-over.
If you examine something carefully and it changes into something different, then what you started to examine was an illusion.
We know that the human perception system is subject to all kinds of illusions.
We know that the way we perceive reality is based on a set of illusions. Each of our eyes gets a slightly different 2D image and our brain combines them to tell us that there is a 3D world "our there." There may be such a world, but we don't perceive it. Instead, we see an illusion created by our eyes and nervous system.
The ONLY thing that can't be an illusion is my in-the-moment experience of my own consciousness. If I'm not conscious, right now, then there's nothing there to be tricked into experiencing conscious.
Anything else CAN be an illusion. In another post I argue that it MUST be.
Some other observations:
Most of the things that I do, I do automatically, without being conscious of doing them or having intended to do them. I say that they are done by my "conditioned self."
My experience of "waking up" is the sudden transition to being "conscious of being conscious." But what was the earlier state? Conscious, but unconscious of being conscious? Unconscious? I don't know. I can only be sure of "conscious of being conscious" and only when I am in that state.
My memories of having been more or less conscious at other times could all be illusions
The only thing I can be certain of is my present consciousness. Assuming that I am conscious.
The "self," the "thing" that I perceive as being conscious could be an illusion. The BIG IDEA from Harris was this: after experiencing "waking up" see what I feel is now awake, and see whether it might also be an illusion.
My experience: every time I carry out that last step, looking inward to "the thing that is conscious" I discover myself looking outward, at the world around me.
All that seems to have required me to write this, so that I can post this.