We start life where the way we live informs the way we think. We are raised as children and then eventually grow into adults and we only know life how we experience it. The majority of people stay there. They only ever think as far as their experiences allow. So for most people, their entire worldview is shaped by the life they have lived.
Occasionally though, someone breaks out of this. Their brain develops more than their life would have allowed it. This causes the brain to start to self-reflect in a way that wasn’t normally possible before. The brain starts to look at its own life and find discrepancies between the life that is being lived and the thoughts that are being had. It’s like the transition from an individual moving from subjective to objective type of thinking. Eventually this individual can see their own lives a bit more objectively.
Up until this point, all thoughts we would have were dictated by our circumstances. We are simply products of our environment. But when this moment of transition happens and we pass through the threshold, we acknowledge that we don’t want to be pawns to a system that we didn’t create. It’s like we finally push aside the idea of fate and take into our hands free will. Once we ‘wake up’ to this realization we start trying to flip it. Rather than our thoughts be dictated by who we are, we try and define who we are by our thoughts.
I don’t know if this is actually ever possible. You know, to think objectively. However, it does seem plausible that there is a type of enlightenment that goes on with some where one moves from simply being stuck in a realm where the next steps are dictated to you and move into a world where you are attempting to pave a new path.
I see this all the time. I see it with many of my friends who have full times jobs or anyone who is wealthy. Their entire worldview is filtered through this reality. For this reality provides for their family, it is a ‘job’ or it is security, it gives them stability and it is kind of a self-fulfilling necessity and need. But every once in a while, one of them changes their tune, and something clicks. Rather than their full-time job dictating their life of stability and provision – they start to demand that their job provides meaning and utility to the world. For some that means quitting that job. Something happens. Some light bulb is switched on and all of sudden the priorities change. I see this as the moment when jobs/life/wealth no longer dictate your thoughts, but your thoughts dictate your job/life/wealth.
This is of course dangerous. Most people won’t touch it. The rich young ruler desperately wanted to keep the thoughts that his wealth formed in him. Instead, Jesus challenged him with new thoughts – one’s that would completely demolish his life. But anyone who has passed this line of thinking will understand what I’m talking about. Many people never make this leap. They are content allowing their circumstances to dictate their worldview. The world has enough of those people though. What the world needs more of are people that recognize the gap between the way they live and the way they think and start to do what is right and start shifting their actions to line up with what is right.
This probably means that I think ‘truth’ is something that we can get closer to when we think critically. I’m OK with that. I think Zizek was onto something when he said ‘Don’t Act, Just Think.‘ There is a faith in the idea of truth – that as you seek it the closer you will get to it. This is something I can vouch for. There are many brilliant people in the world that are not any smarter than the lives they live, because their knowledge is completely wrapped up into their lives. True wisdom will come face to face with the lives we live and challenge us to start lining up with truth, rather than bending truth so that we don’t feel bad about the way we live.