When we go to grammar school, high school, and college, we acquire a lot of knowledge, but what do we really know? Do we master the truth? No, we master a language, a symbology, and that symbology is only the truth because we agree, not because it’s really the truth. Wherever we are born, whatever language we learn to speak, we find that almost everything we know is really about agreements, beginning with the symbols that we learn.
If we are born in England, we learn English symbols. If we are born in China, we learn Chinese symbols. But whether we learn English, Chinese, Spanish, German, Russian, or any other language, the symbols only have value because we ASSIGN them a value and agree on their meaning. If we don’t agree, the symbols are meaningless. The word “tree”, for example, is meaningful for people who speak English, but “tree” doesn’t mean anything unless we believe that it means something, unless we agree. What it means for you, it means for me, and that’s why we understand one another.
The truth is that all of our knowledge, 100 percent of it, is nothing more than symbolism or words that we invent for the need to understand and express what we perceive. Every word in our mind and on this page is just a symbol, but every word has the power of our faith because we believe in its meaning without a doubt. Humans construct an entire belief system made up of symbols; we build an entire edifice of knowledge. Then we use everything we know, which is nothing but symbology, to justify what we believe, to try to explain first to ourselves, then to everybody around us, the way we perceive ourselves, the way we perceive the entire universe.
If we are aware of this, then it’s easy to understand that all of the different mythologies, religions, and philosophies around the world, all of the different beliefs and ways of thinking, are nothing but agreements with ourselves and with other humans. They’re our creation, but are they true? Everything that exists is true: the earth is true, the stars are true, the entire universe has always been true. But the symbols that we use to construct what we know are only true because we say so.
The word, as a symbol, has the magic and power of creation because it can reproduce an image, an idea, a feeling, or an entire story in your imagination. Just hearing the word “horse” can reproduce an entire image in your mind. That’s the power of a symbol. But it can even be more powerful than that. Just by saying two words, The Godfather, a whole movie can appear in your mind. This is your magic, your power of creation, and it begins with the word.
As an artist, there is no right or wrong way to create your art; there’s just beauty or there’s not beauty; there’s happiness or there’s not happiness. If you believe yourself to be an artist, then everything becomes possible again.
“Words are your paintbrush, and your life is the canvas.” – Don Ruiz
You can paint whatever you want to paint; you can even copy another artist’s work — but what you express with your paintbrush is the way you see yourself, the way you see the entire reality. What you paint is your life, and how it looks will depend on how you are using the word. When you realize this, it may dawn on you that the word is a powerful tool for creation. When you learn to use that tool with awareness, you can make history with the word. What history? Your life’s history, of course. The story of you.
Consider this: What if everything we believe about ourselves, is a lie, fabricated by the erroneous use of symbols learned in our lives? What if the ideals we hold ourselves against aren’t that utopian? What if we are already perfect, and everything the world tells us is a lie, that we buy into? They say “We’re not skinny enough”, “We’re not smart enough, “We’re not ambitious enough”, “We’re not rich enough.” What if we can’t differentiate truth from fiction because of the distortion of lies we tell ourselves and lies served to us by extrinsic forces? What if we are all so gullible we can’t tell the difference? Mass gullibility happened leading up to the 2007 market crash, when banks sold collateralized debt obligations (CDOs’) filled with subprime loans and no one bothered to question the structural vitality of the mortgage market. How do we break the chains of lies we bought into? Why do we believe what we think? Why do we constantly try to reinforce our beliefs, even if they are lies or half-truths? Why do we knowingly make assumptions on skewed information we choose to allow refuge in our minds? Is it our ego? Our narcissism? One persons truths are not your truths, values and beliefs? Hence the rise of human conflict in this world.
“The beginning of thought is in disagreement- not only with others, but also with ourselves.” – Eric Hoffer
“Skepticism is the first step towards truth.” – Denis Diderot
-Inspired by The Fifth Agreement, Don Ruiz
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