A friend and teacher said to me once; “Ideas are the building blocks of concepts and theories. When they are stacked and tied to each other in a particular pattern, they form a lattice in the conceptual part of my mind. But, as exciting as ideas may be to my mind, of themselves they are of no practical use unless put into action in some way. But it is at the point of initiating into the material level of reality from the germ of a thought, that the results become uncertain, often misguided, impractical or just outright wrong and damaging.
A lattice is a skeleton, an outline of a potential, a form waiting to be filled, to support what it is constructed to hold. Filled with what? Supporting what? Filled with actual experience! Without a lattice to arrange themselves within, experiences would have no way to be organized, understood and acted upon in a consistent way. There would be no conceptual framework to support them. Without a mental framework, how could consciousness read their patterns or learn from them? Without experience, the lattice is only theory … an intellectual skeleton in the mind, holding nothing but potential.
Theories not based on actual experience and replication rarely prove valid. Science is a system of search that first observes, then theorizes about what it observes, then tests to see if the same observations predicted by the theory can be consistently replicated, especially by others, without the risk of bias that the creator of the theory carries. In our individual, non-scientifically led lives, we rarely use this type of process to confirm our theories and opinions.
On the other hand, experiences not organized in a framework, cannot be understood as part of a larger whole. They are likely to be seen as singular events when they might also be seen as part of a pattern. The only one who can make this determination is the one who is having the experience. If an idea cannot eventually be linked with experience, then any initiative comes only from unsubstantiated theory. … a manifestation of imagination.
Experience is the soup of life from which theories are born and, simultaneously, the laboratory where theories can tested for their utility and explanatory power. If a plan of action comes only from the shape of an empty lattice devoid of confirming experience, assume that the initiative will be premature, naïve, ignorant and the results likely to be disappointing.
Why don’t we recognize and accept this? Three reasons come to mind. First, occasionally, we get lucky and the theory was useful enough to bring the result hoped for. This intermittent-reinforcement-pattern strengthens a habit and is the most difficult conditioned habit to change. Second, typically, when our theory is not confirmed, we tend to blame something or someone else rather than ourselves. Third, we tend to attach our theories and opinions to our sense of self, self-respect, self-worth. When I identify myself with my thinking, a criticism of the theory or idea is experienced as an attack on me, personally. If I change my mind, even based on new experience, I might feel or look weak, an admission that I was wrong. Then the lattice becomes my shield and I ignore the non-confirming experiences flowing through it.
A frame-of-mind is a lattice built of blocks of ideas. The space between the framework channels the flow of feeling, sensation, learning …. experiences. Has the lattice, as a pre-existing theory, shaped perception of the pattern of the experiences into a self-fulfilling prophecy… or … has the framework grown out of actual observation of the continuous flow of life, thus having its roots in experience?
A house cannot be constructed without a framework, a plan, a skeleton to support what will eventually fill it. One cannot live in the frame alone. The frame must be filled with rooms, furniture, utilities … and people … otherwise there is no point to the house. But a house of rooms, furniture, utilities and people cannot exist without a framework to hold it.
Perhaps we could metaphorically say that the lattice is like light when light behaves like a particle. It is a more solid something. Experience, on the other hand, is spontaneous, fluid, unpredictable. It is more like light when it behaves like a wave. What ties the two together is the processing power, the organizing capacities of the mind that is having the experience and looking for a framework in which to categorize the experience and see how it links with other events in life … the life outside or the life inside.