Archived 1/04 

thepragmaticthinker.com

“Why do we live in BOXES?”

By Larry John

Have you ever tried to explain to someone who has never tasted a lemon, what a lemon tastes like? To a person who has tasted a lemon all you have to say is it tastes like a lemon and they know exactly what you are talking about. But what if you were talking to a person from the Arctic who has never tasted a lemon, how would you tell them what a lemon tasted like?  It is not that easy. You would probably say, it tastes kind of like an orange, but not as sweet, it is a lot more sour than an orange. To which the person would say, “Do you mean sweet like chocolate and sour like soured milk” to which you would say, “not at all….you know, like citrus tastes - like an orange or a grapefruit” to which they might say, “ but I have never tasted an orange or a grapefruit. What do they taste like?” … and it becomes very clear that words will never help the man from the Arctic to ever know what a lemon tastes like, until he actually tastes it himself. After one taste of a lemon, it is then, and only then, that they and you can really “talk” about the taste of a lemon and know that both of you are clearly understanding the same thing.

So it is when we live in boxes. We all do. We all live in the intellectual and spiritual boxes of our own choosing. We all live in these boxes either because we chose to live there or someone told us we should live there. It is not that living in boxes is wrong, it is that to understand higher or different thought, one must open one’s box in order to see and understand the box in which one is living. If one doesn’t break out of the box, one will always think that “his way” of seeing things is the only way of seeing things. It is like a chick breaking out of its shell and saying, “WOW there’s a lot more to see out here.” You don’t see a lot of chicks trying to go back in the shell and refusing to see the BIG world outside. But everyday I see people striving to keep their shell from breaking, or trying to get back inside their shell once they have been out. Why do we do this? Surely we are smarter than chickens. But if a chick lived its whole life in its shell, there would be no way the chick would ever believe you if you said there’s more to life than the little shell in which you live. But if a chick doesn’t fight to get out of its shell, it will die. A chick must work hard and peck its way out or it is doomed to die. And so it is with us humans when we are “chicken” to work hard and peck our way out of our shell, or from the boxes we live in and try to see the world as it really is. The world looks a lot different from outer space than it does from a parking lot.

So, what are the “beaks” that we have been given that help us “peck our way out” of our small thinking shells? Well, the “beaks” are QUESTIONS. If you seek, you will find. If you knock it will be open unto you. You have to seek. You have to ask. You have to be free to ask whatever you want to know and be willing to break out of your shell or open up the lid of your box and accept the answers that will surely come to you because as surely as night follows day, so will answers follow questions. It is the Scientific Method. You will never know WHY until you ask WHY? You can never know HOW until you ask HOW? In order to progress, you must QUESTION the process of progression. In order to KNOW, you have to know what it is you don’t know. You must lose in order to find. It’s a law of physics: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The opposite of an answer is a question. Once you have an answer, step one should be to have a question. 

I would like a nickel for every person that said his or her God was the ONLY true God. I would like a nickel for every person that said theirs was the only way. I would like a nickel for every scientific discovery that after a few years was proven incorrect. So, I question everything. Now I am questioning why I wanted a nickel. I should have wanted a million dollars for every stupid false representation of truth that people have believed as absolute. Why settle for a nickel when you can go for a million? But that’s exactly what we do. We settle for a nickels’ worth of truth when we could have a millions dollars’ worth of truth.

The only thing standing in our way is that we believe that we already know all we need to know. We see our small shells and small boxes as “all there is.” We should want to know the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But truth is relative to operate within the boxes in which it is placed or we place it. So, what is standing in our way of fuller lives based on truth? Well, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche said that, "Convictions are greater enemies of truth than lies." Or in other words, if we are so “convinced” that we are right, we can never learn more than we already know. Our greatest enemy, or the greatest lie we believe, is that we are convinced that we are right, and refuse to question our own answers. I only know that I don’t know.

I think it is interesting that once someone says they KNOW, people love to get in line and follow the KNOWER. But how did the KNOWER become he that KNOWS? By asking questions and realizing that they don’t know. But should they know anything, it is but a small portion of that which must be known. If you want to go to New York, you have to be willing to leave Arizona. If you are not willing to challenge the truths you hold so dearly, you can never know the truths that await you. You truly must lose in order to find. You must leave your “box” in Arizona and start the long and hard journey to New York.

Most of us are much more secure in the boxes we live in right now. Why journey if you don’t have to? The journey is not worth much to people who have a “place to lay their heads.”  “He that hath eyes let him see, he that hath ears, let him hear.” Most everyone has eyes and ears, but it is apparent by the scripture, that even if you do, you may not see or hear all that there is to see and hear.  But as for me, I side with the Buddha, "There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting." Think about it.