August 19, 2010

Spiritual 'Magic Eye'

Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there.  I'm referring, for starters, to those scrambled images in the newspaper's Sunday Funnies section, where you have to follow the instructions just right or you won't see the picture 'pop out'.  If you've not seen one of those, Google it.  If you have seen one, let me tell you, I'm not very good at seeing the picture.  But that's not my point.

Imagine a country full of people with super short attention spans, who were functionally incapable of staring the right way, for the required number of seconds.  None of them would EVER have seen the coherent picture pop out of the scrambled image.  What would such a people conclude, about the process?

I can picture them breaking up into five groups:

A first group would pretend to have the experience.  They'd all read the instructions and claim to see things - but the different things they saw would cause conflict and division.  New members of such groups would be taught how to imagine the right experience, and how to describe it appropriately.

A second group would redefine the experience.  They'd claim the eyestrain and blurry vision themselves (which came only to those making supreme efforts) *was* the experience.  Their followers would be taught that the blurry version of the scrambled image *was* the "popped out" picture.

A third group would deny the experience.  They'd admit, with admirable bravery and honesty, that they'd never had the experience, and they'd try warning people against false belief in the obviously faulty instructions.

A fourth group would devote considerable effort to following the instructions, until they actually had the experience.  These people would frequently be misunderstood or patronized by the first three groups.

A fifth group would admit they'd not had the experience, but maintain fervent hope that it just might be possible.  For what it's worth, this fifth group would be my personal heroes.

Not that this makes a perfect metaphor for anything in particular.  :-)

It's just something to think about...

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"If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient observation than to any other reason."

-- Isaac Newton