top of page

Addressing a problem by changing the premise

Updated: Jun 5, 2020

If a problem appears big and complicated, burning up time and resources trying to solve it might not be the best approach.

Perhaps the premise needs changing.

World peace and climate change are big problems to solve. By changing the premise from which we address them, new avenues of experience open up to us.

For instance, what would happen if the traditional Western view of reality itself was challenged by a counter-premise? Where could that lead?

The traditional Western perspective is that matter (quarks, electrons, etc) came first (after the big bang) which eventually gave rise to conscious beings. Consciousness is thought of as an emergent phenomenon.

By this model, “dead” matter coalesces into clumps of “live” matter over billions of years of evolution and these clumps of “live” matter become conscious after some kind of critical mass or permutation is reached.

Intrinsic to this paradigm is the notion of “I” as a separate entity from other objects and animals in space-time. The idea is that there is a real world “out there”, made of matter – outside of our perceptions – full of objects and animals and that “I” – the observer, or subject – am separate from it all.

Inevitably, hierarchy is given to objects and animals (and, humans) as some are considered more “conscious” than others. “I” am more conscious than an ant and an ant is more conscious than a rock. Therefore “I” am more important than an ant and a rock (and an ant is more important than a rock).

Separation, isolation and difference are concepts ingrained in the traditional Western premise of what reality is.

But it could be that the objectification of other entities, of other humans too, as separate from “me” is endemically harmful. The moment “I” distinguish myself from “you” or anything else, alienation is triggered, soon to be followed by threat and conflict.

The counter-premise

But there is a different perspective of reality: non-dualism. The non-dual perspective is that there is just consciousness…

… which appears to itself as the universe.

This perspective assumes that there is no world or multiplicity of things “out there”, which “I” the separate subject observe. There is just consciousness and the modulations of consciousness appear to the human mind as the universe in which separate objects and animals appear to arise.

This means that “I” am not really separate from “you”, or from any other object or animal. “I”, the apparent, separate, thinker am an illusion arising in consciousness along with all other objects and animals.

By this model, I am consciousness. And “I” – the egoic mind – am yet another concept (or collection of concepts) arising in consciousness.

(So the Western premise is: there is a world “out there” that gives rise to consciousness, and the counter-premise is: there is just consciousness in which a world arises).

From the counter-premise, problems like world peace and climate change morph into different shapes to contemplate.

By accepting that there is no difference between “me” and “you”, that I am you, and everything else in the universe, why would I want to harm you? Why would I not want anything but the best for you?

Why would I want to exploit you, or bomb you, or deport you, or pollute you?

See videos of non-dualist Rupert Spira on consciousness:

9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page