Experiencing and Interpreting the Larger Reality
Q: From a practical standpoint of reducing entropy how are metaphors useful to us or are they only belief traps?
Tom: They are only belief traps if you believe in them. Religious People sometimes kill, dislike, or feel contempt for each other because of their strong beliefs in differing interpretations of the same data. That is a seriously counterproductive belief trap. A metaphor is a way of expressing information by analogy and symbol. Analogies are seldom perfect representations of complex conceptual content. Consequently, the content of an NPMR experience communicated by metaphor is likely to contain much uncertainty depending on your ability to find an accurate combination of analogy and symbols within your experience base and the receiver’s ability to interpret your analogy and symbols accurately in terms of the content of his own experience base. Our language (any spoken or written language) is nothing but symbol and metaphor – that is what words are – simple symbols and metaphors that describe PMR experience. Every word’s meaning must be interpreted independently by both the sender and the receiver. Consequently, meaning always has some uncertainty attached to it due to the limitations of the language itself and to both the sender’s and receiver’s individual skill, ability, and experience. That is why one is often not certain what someone means when they speak -- we must interpret their meaning. How much more difficult is that interpretation when the content they are trying to communicate lies outside of the languages natural reach and beyond both the speaker’s and listener’s experience data bases.
In summary, words are metaphors and symbols for concepts, ideas, feelings and types of things. “Rock” is a metaphor for hard lumpy clumps of minerals or for up tempo music with a pronounced beat or … several other things. Each of us interprets words in our own subjective way based on what we come in with, our abilities, and our personal experience base. Those from the same culture understand each other better because they share many of the same (understand each other’s) metaphors and symbols.
In either case (believing in them or not) metaphors certainly can be useful. For example, healers do heal with their light beams. The light beam metaphor is simply a tool that helps its user focus her intent. If they believe their light beams are fundamentally real and essential for healing, they are stuck with them. If they realize they are just metaphorical tools, they can develop any number of useful custom tools for their unique selves that will be just as good if not more effective. Belief, as always, is limiting. Metaphors are very useful as communication tools for complex experiences even though they are subject to individual interpretation on both ends of the communication – that is the same in PMR and NPMR. In NPMR, the bounds of interpretation are typically much wider because we don’t study NPMR carefully enough to understand its nature or become a part of its culture. Like zinging into China for an hour and reporting the significance of what you saw and heard – bound to be lots of misinterpretation unless you are a part of their culture. Keep in mind that NPMR is a lot stranger to us than China and most of us have very little experience with it.
Q: Applied to NPMR, is darkness or what’s called the black void also a metaphor?
Tom: Yes. It must necessarily be a metaphor. However a metaphor of something very basic and fundamental is more likely to be interpreted accurately by almost everyone. Thus the concept of the void is more easily and accurately communicated to a large heterogeneous audience than a green guy with pointy ears selling vacuum cleaners, or a fox hunt.
Q: Also do feelings such as love or fear exist in NPMR. If I understand correctly our interpretation would be metaphors, but what about the feeling itself? I’m thinking of the light being that I felt love radiating from. Was me feeling this love a metaphor?
Tom: Yes feelings exist in NPMR and they are interpreted in terms of feeling-metaphors (as opposed to language or picture metaphors) based on our personal experience data – the same answer applies to feelings as applied to the void. Feelings that are fundamental and basic, like love and fear are very likely to be interpreted accurately by almost everyone. Many feelings are fundamental and basic (are therefore cross-cultural or pan-cultural). Consequently, feelings received in NPMR tend to be interpreted accurately while feelings in PMR that must rely on words (instead of body language) are very easily misunderstood. The result is that feeling is a more solid mode of accurate communication in NPMR than it is in PMR. People who don't process feelings well are at a disadvantage.
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