the ultimate zen assessment – pseudo object oriented reality…

Warning – the analogy to object oriented programming is FALSE

(if you want to see the point of this post go here)

Everything you and I perceive takes place in the mind. Your senses provide information to your mind. Your mind becomes aware of what you call reality due to information supplied by your senses which is then subsequently processed according to your established interpretative neural networks. These networks are evolved through awareness and analysis of these perceived conditions during your evolution as a perceiving, conceiving being… i.e. whatever you have experienced and then ‘made of’ these experiences.

Clearly, this involves your total historical and psychic environment. It is then clear that ‘this certain something’ that ‘you’ perceived was an interpretation of an interpretation, and was only an image of ‘the real thing’ whatever that was. This certain ‘real thing’ cannot be known absolutely. That is why great masters such as HUANG PO pointed out the ‘error’ of conceptual thought processes:

“There is no  “self”, no “other”. There is no “wrong desire,” no “anger,” no “love,” no “victory,” no “failure.” Only renounce the error of conceptual thought processes and your nature will exhibit its pristine purity-for this alone is the way to enlightenment.” HUANG PO, Wan Ling Record 24, p.86.

This ‘error’, is merely the knowing that what is perceived as ‘the truth, the Absolute Real Reality,’ even in its brute external form, as Searle would describe it, is NOT IT ITSELF. It is only ‘one interpretation of it’, and this is all we CAN KNOW. We cannot know ‘IT ITSELF’, because for us there is no ‘it itself.’ All we can know is what we perceive and then conceive through interpretation. This is relative reality and is different for all beings. This is ‘our world’… This is ‘my world’, this is ‘your world.’ This is why it is said that we ‘create the world.’ This is why there are as many cities you live in as there are perceivers of the city. There is not ‘a city’. There are no unique events.

Clearly there are ‘events’ at some level. There are earthquakes, there are floods. There are divorces. There is love. You will be hurt by the master’s stick. Yet you are the perceiver. You ‘create’ your specific take.  You create ‘your’ world. The external, the unknowable, is the CLASS which is knowable to us only as a fragment or ‘taste’. The specific, our individual  realities, are the INSTANCES.


huatou: I am the world


a wondrous gift…



have no fear of being

never compare yourself to others

all sentient beings are unique

love life, be strong

there are no ‘objective’ events…

If you agree with the above then the consequences are the acceptance of diversity and complexity as grounding assumptions of any learning space you can devise or operate within…

There are no ‘objective events’. (See Poppy Pilgrim below). This is an illusion just as absolute space, absolute time are illusions of common sense and Newtonian physics. The illusions ‘work’ as a general rule and in the normal course of life up to a point, but the concepts are non subtle and simplistic. Listen to Einstein:

‘Considered logically, they (space, time and event) are free creations of the human intelligence, tools of thought, which are to serve the purpose of bringing experiences into relation with each other, so that in this way they can be better surveyed. The attempt to become conscious of the empirical sources of these fundamental concepts should show to what extent we are actually bound to these concepts. In this way we become aware of our freedom, of which, in case of necessity, it is always a difficult matter to make sensible use.’

Appendix V, Relativity and the Problem of Space, Relativity, the Special and General Theory, 1920. Appendix added 1952 My parentheses.

Bringing this through into the domain of teaching events, which are more complex than the domain of inanimate matter we could postulate that though it appears ‘obvious’ that for example a ‘teaching session’ (event) is taking place, the event as an absolute object is located nowhere but in the minds of the participants. Furthermore, all will perceive ‘it’ differently, according to their perspectives, capabilities and state. Hence it is clear that:

we must give up the idea that unique events exist

i.e. in our case, we must give up the idea that it is even possible to design and construct a teaching space that objectively exists separate from all participants and their perceptions, and that by following certain procedures, definite outcomes predicted beforehand will occur. The real situation is far more subtle and complex.

Hence a more subtle and illuminating relativistic concept, similar to the new conceptualisation of space, time, matter and event in Einstein’s general relativity is that:

there exists an event field which is potentially infinite, out of which diverse, multiple and unpredictable consequences will inevitably ensue

Events are located nowhere but the minds of the participants and, far from assuming uniformity and homogeneity (and striving pointlessly to achieve them by partitioning of various kinds).

we should assume diversity and complexity

This should be the grounding basis for proceeding with the enhancement of teaching, learning, planning, assessment and reflective and reflexive practices. All problems which then may proceed as consequences should be taken as food for thought for the analysis and transformation of current practices so that labelling, specialisation and marginalisation are inhibited and so that diversity and richness may flourish in their place in holonomic classroom worlds.

We must give up the generality still quite common in teaching and amongst the general population including politicians of all parties that the teacher teaches and the children learn unique objects, and that further more, if they do not learn these unique objects it is somehow the fault of the child.

By giving up the generality this does not preclude us from saying that in clearly obvious and simplistic learning situations, the ancient and limited view expounded above pertaining to the ‘objective’ illusory world of common sense, may in fact ‘work’, just as Newtonian mechanics is quite adequate to describe the motion of planets in their orbits of our central star, the regular predictable appearance of comets, the precession of the equinoxes and the ebb and flow of tides. Planets and comets are simple objects in comparison to the interpretive nets of human consciousness. Sir Isaac Newton was, as Descartes remarked, probably the smartest guy who ever walked the surface of this planet. His achievements marked the beginning of the last three and a half centuries of human scientific endeavor. However to quote Albert Einstein again:

‘Newton himself and his most critical contemporaries felt it to be disturbing that one had to ascribe physical reality both to space itself as well as to its state of motion; but there was at that time no other alternative, if one wished to ascribe to mechanics a clear meaning.’

Same source, p135

what exists?





Peter, I heard you once say that places don’t really exist. What did you mean by that?

Well, they do and they don’t. I mean, take Moulay Brahim. You’ll find it marked on a decent map just to the south of Marrakesh, just off the S501, and there’s no doubt that if you told a friend that that’s where it is you’d get no weird responses. Everyone would agree. It’s one of Searle’s ‘brute facts’. However, once you start to ask questions, such as “what’s it like in Moulay Brahim?”, or go there and experience it for yourself, you’ll have to agree that because of the particular things that you are bound to experience, including any preliminary information or stories or expectations that you might seek out, the Moulay Brahim that becomes represented in your mind will be unique and different from everybody elses’ representation of the place. Because the representation is not a ‘place’ is it? We can’t BE Moulay Brahim, we can only create images and feelings and memories. Where are these memories and why they are different for us all is indeed very interesting. In fact don’t you think it’s a wonderful idea that whatever you personally construct Moulay Brahim to be is a unique gift entirely and totally yours?

Yeah, I see what you’re saying but it sounds a bit scary too. If you look in a guide book you’ll see things like the shrine and it’ll probably mention places to eat and so on……..

Certainly. Searle called those kinds of facts, non-mental brute physical facts, and really guide books should be considered to be just that. Lists of brute facts. You see once you are introduced into the equation, interpretation begins and this will be unique to you. How can it be any other way? You will also experience things that will be different to the person who wrote the ‘guide’ book. Maybe you’ll meet an interesting helpful person or maybe you’ll be mugged. You might get food poisoning or you might have the most wonderful meal of your trip. The sun might be out or the weather might be uncharacterically cold for the time of year and so on. You might be feeling a bit down or not too lively etc etc. All these factors will colour the ‘representaion’ you will construct about Moulay Brahim. There are as many Moulay Brahim’s as there are people who’ve been there. There’s no escape. In fact everything is always like this. It’s great.

OK, but what was it like for you though when you actually went, if you can put it like that?

Of course you can, but the point is that you mustn’t ‘believe’ my version, go and see for your self. It was OK. My partner and I were travelling with two friends who lived in Marakesh and they knew a few tricks such as eating a ‘safe’ meal straight from a steaming hot tagine with some freshly baked bread. That was very tasty and a welcome interlude. We wandered round for a while looking at horribly nasty bits of dried creatures hanging in stalls. I mean we didn’t talk to people much as we don’t speak hardly any arabic, and I know I felt uncomfortable about taking photos of poverty stricken people, so I hardly did. Some people looked happy, some appeared to tolerate our presence, no more. I really had little idea of what was going off in their heads, what they thought of us, what they did. We were basically aliens, wandering round on an alien planet. We bought a few things, had a coffee. Whilst walking round a few back streets the girl in the picture and a few of her little friends threw stones at us and tried to hit me with a stick. It was a priveledge to be there but we were tired and in a way it was a relief to get back in the car and head off back to Marakesh. It sounds a bit pathetic really.


Well, its different..


the journey 1

If you engage with arithmetic, or anything else, and you really want to know, you will begin a journey. It will probably last a lifetime. Once you have become a black belt, seventh dan, you may choose once again to wear the white belt. If you are a consultant doctor, you become Mr.

One gains knowledge and wisdom but never reaches an end. There can be no end. If you think you have reached the end you are mistaken.

It is clearly the same with engaging in the Cui way.

It is, or should be, not a way that is prescribed. You have to make it your own. As such, your way will be different in many respects to others’ interpretations of the way. This is normal and proper. There is nothing unusual about it. Everyone must start somewhere. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. It is your journey.

There are so many inappropriately incomplete and partial journeys generated by the present education system.

I live in a city. Where is this city? It exists in every inhabitants mind. There are as many cities where I live as inhabitants of the city. Clearly it can be located on a map, but the knowledge and understanding of the city and all that it means is personal.

This is the difference between a prescribed content, as a list, and a full and robust ‘feel’ of the meaning. You have to work at this kind of learning. It is beyond facts. It engages your whole being. You have to create the meaning yourself, through wanting to. If you don’t want to, you won’t begin. No one can force you. At least, you can be forced in school up to a point through fear, guilt and external discipline, but this is an unnecessary crime.


So, just begin.