This piece of rope is 86cm long. There are 655 words in this article. The earth is round. These are all undisputable facts, right?
We take so many things in our lives for granted as rigid truths. A fact, for the Westerner, is something that we can sense. Something of the physical world. Something that passes the test of time and logic. If we can see it, it is true. If we can’t, it isn’t.
In reality – how factual is reality anyways? – facts are more subjective than we would like them to be. What is a fact for you now can be changed at any moment and is actually more of an opinion than anything else.
The “truth” is, what we call facts is just an interpretation of what we sense. That interpretation is shaped by your beliefs. A belief is just that, something you believe to be true, based on what you have accepted to be true. It does not matter whether you have accepted a truth consciously or unconsciously.
Take the screen you are looking at now, for example. You see something, a bunch of metal and plastic (to call it plastic & metal is already subjective by the way, but for the sake of argument, follow my line of thought here), that is all it is really. But because of our thoughts about it, the way the parts are fit together, it is an undeniable truth that we have a computer at our hands. If I would claim it is not a computer, I would probably end up in an insane asylum, because it is a computer after all! How can you not say it is a computer? That is a fact!
Give the device to a caveman and he will not know what it is and most likely not call it a computer. That is because he does not have any belief system in place about the pieces of metal and plastic. Different thoughts, different beliefs, different facts, different reality.
When you have accepted something as a rigid fact, then you won’t see that those “facts” are based on a belief system.
Hundreds of years ago, it was a fact that the earth was flat. We changed our belief system and now it is a fact that the earth is a sphere. What beliefs about our physical reality might change next?
Facts, as far as they exist, are based on how we interpret reality. We interpret that reality according to our beliefs and these beliefs can be changed at will. We can literally believe anything we want.
I would even go as far as to argue that facts don’t exist in an absolute form. You can only name, or label something by comparing it to something else. Our world is relative. Nothing can be perceived on its own. Take sound for example. Without silence, there can’t be sound. Sound simply can’t be on it’s own.
This also applies to your interpretation of truth (and therefore of facts). This is dependent on your state of mind. All that you experience now is a relative truth that can be changed at any time.
Whatever does not agree with your current beliefs is dismissed (usually this happens unconsciously). If you have come this far reading, that means that at least part of what I am saying is in agreement with your belief system. Unless you are super duper open minded of course.
Ultimately that is what I strive for; to be 100% open minded. Meaning that you can see beyond your own beliefs, acknowledging that we all have our own unique set of beliefs and that all them are equally true and untrue at the same time. To listen with an open mind means to leave your own beliefs behind and to see the fleetingness of them.
What are you willing to let go of? What are you willing to let in?