If I asked you how many senses you’ve got, you’d tell me 5. If I wanted you to list them, you’d say; see, hear, taste, smell and touch. At a first glance we perceive the world through the data provided by these senses. Our brains give meaning to the data collected by these senses through our thoughts. Dear reader, the key word here is “giving meaning”.
The best example could be that certain smells can remind you of someone or some place or your childhood. Here your brain, enters archives and scans every emotion you’ve got about that smell. As a result you give meaning to that smell and decide if you like it or not, or if it’s something you’ve smelled before you stick with your previous assumption (oops prejudice).
This is not the strange part, the strange thing is that you’re capable of perceiving something you have already given meaning to in a different way. For example you’re not someone who can eat spicy food but one day someone you care about convinces you and all of a sudden you start eating spicy food and you love it. Your sensory organ didn’t change, you just changed the meaning you attached to spicy food.
If things can change so easily according to how our senses perceive them can we really believe what we see is real? If they’re not real, are they all illusions? Take for example my high school crush. If when I look at a photo of him taken when we were in high school and I don’t find him attractive as I did back then, what does this indicate? It means whatever meaning I gave to him has long been gone. Doesn’t this kind of look like an illusion trick made by a magician. I most certainly saw that person in a different way. Isn’t this question a classic because of that, “I can’t understand what you see in him”. You don’t because this is my illusion not yours.
A better way to detect an illusion is anorexia patients. Even when all their ribs are visible when they look in the mirror, they still think they need to lose weight. It’s like they see a distorted reality. The image in the mirror doesn’t match the image they have in their head.
From the moment we open our eyes in the morning, to the moment we close them at night, we give meaning to everything we perceive through our 5 senses. The bed that’s too soft for you can come as very stiff for me. Shower water which is very hot for you may be tepid for me. What’s too salty to you may come as not salty enough for me. In fact, it is not the pleasures that are separate, but the illusions, the ways of perception. So what is real?
What can we trust if not our senses? The answer is simple. Of course we trust our senses, we just need to notice that our thoughts are us giving meaning to things. This will enable us to accept different ideas and opinions. We’ll be able to say, “Wait a minute, my thoughts don’t reflect the reality completely. I don’t have to be x,y,z. Me and the whole world can change. There is no single bad, good, true or false. If I think there is I’m living an illusion.”
Dear reader, today I got you a little confused. So tell me, can we say that all of our thoughts are 100% true? Mind you, we’re not discussing our values but just random thoughts that go through our heads daily. If you write your answer in the comments, please remember to explain why.