It is often said that people only see what they want to see. That’s frequently true, but I prefer to say that people only see what their ideas about the world will allow them to see.
A few years ago when I was preparing to lead a book study of Willow Polson’s The Veil’s Edge (one of the few books available on advanced Pagan practice) I came across this quote by Clive Beck, Professor of Education at the University of Toronto: “Knowledge is the product of an interaction between our ideas about the world and our experience of the world.”
To illustrate the quote, I made this simple Venn diagram.
From birth (and maybe before?) we learn about the world from our experiences of it, both first-hand and second-hand. But those experiences are little more than isolated data points until we compare and contrast them to other experiences and fit them into our model of Life and the Universe.
Last summer I had a spiritual experience while visiting Mesa Verde. As I stood at a canyon overlook, the wind came up, I experienced the wonder and power of nature, and I had a moment where I was a part of it all. I can’t describe it except to say it felt right.
A creationist can’t see the evidence for evolution because his ideas about biblical literality and the age of the universe won’t let him see it. A homophobe can’t see the love in a committed same sex relationship because his ideas about physical attraction won’t let him. A materialist can’t see magic and spirituality because his ideas about quantifiability won’t let him.
What are you missing because your ideas about the world won’t let you see it???