• Art48
    150
    I recently saw the word “derealization” for the first time. A WebMD webpage(1) describes derealization as . . . a mental state where you feel detached from your surroundings. People and objects around you may seem unreal. Even so, you're aware that this altered state isn't normal. More than half of all people may have this disconnection from reality once in their lifetime. . . . During an episode, you might feel as if:
    • You are in a dream or “fog.”
    • A see-through wall or veil is separating you from your surroundings.
    • The world appears lifeless, muted, or fake.
    • Objects or people look “wrong” -- blurry, unnaturally sharp, too big, or too small.
    • Sounds are distorted, too loud, or too soft.
    • Time seems to speed up, slow down, or stand still.

    Let’s put derealization on a scale, at 0%. At the other end of the scale would be what? I once heard that in some countries, if you’re the only bus passenger when another passenger enters, the new passenger may sit down next to you and engage you in conversation. We can imagine 100% as a society where people put other people first, where you are almost as interested in the bus driver as you are in your children. A society where the supreme value is other people. We also imagine an extreme engagement with the physical surroundings as well. Look at that tree! I wonder how old it is. Imagine all the different things that have occurred in the world since that tree first bloomed.

    So, in a society at 100%, people would have extreme engagement and appreciation of each other and of the exterior world. (Hm. Maybe extreme engagement and appreciation of the interior world, too? Would that mean the practice of meditation?)

    Given those two extremes of realization, 0% and 100%, it is logical to suppose our society lies somewhere in the middle. Where? I’d arbitrarily say 50%. If I’m on a bus, I noticed the people around me. If someone was in distress and I would help if I could. But I don’t sit down next to some person and start talking.

    Of course, most people don’t (and can’t) stay at 100% all the time. That it would get in the way of the important ego-driven things we need to do, like earn a living. No sitting in the office appreciating co-workers and the view out the window. Focus on what needs to be done, ideally to the exclusion of everything else. Of course, if we habitually narrow our focus, then life itself may seem dull, boring, even not worth living. Is more engagement a solution? The proverbial “take time to smell the roses”?

    I think one way to picture of the practice of mindfulness is that it aims to increase our engagement percentage. I once read that Buddhist monks don’t habituate the way normal people do. Scientists rang a bell periodically and monitored people’s brain waves. The brain waves of normal people eventually stopped responding to the bell; they ceased to notice it. I once experienced something similar when I moved into an apartment near a rail line. At first, I heard the trains; after a few weeks I didn’t notice them. Buddhist monks in the bell experiment continued to hear the bell, as evidenced by their brain waves. Of course, it would be annoying for the average person to perpetually hear a bell. Average people have things to do, and tuning out distractions like the bell is to their advantage. But to the person aiming at a higher engagement percentage, with other people and with the environment, continually hearing the bell is part of what they are trying to accomplish.

    We can use to 0%-100% scale to ask some interesting questions. For example, suppose we say our society is at 50%. Is that where it “should” be? By what standards might we decide? It seems we need a standard as to what is the highest goal, as to what is supremely valuable. What is the purpose of human life? Is there a supreme good we should all be working towards? That involves theology and philosophy and probably other fields.

    And suppose it was decided that ideally society should be at 75%. Then exactly what steps could we ethically take to change society, to move it towards 75%? Totalitarian states have ways of persuading the populace but, hopefully, our supreme value would forbid the use of such methods.

    I just did a google search for “philosophy ideal society” and see some interesting links. Hm. That’s all for now.

    (1) https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-derealization-overview
  • javi2541997
    2.2k
    Let’s put derealization on a scale, at 0%...Art48
    So, in a society at 100%, people would have extreme engagement and appreciation of each otherArt48
    And suppose it was decided that ideally society should be at 75%.Art48
    We can use to 0%-100%Art48

    "Ideal society", "engagement", "derealization" or "appreciation" are not measurable terms...
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    So the OP boils down to the query "how mindful should we be?" Is there a sweet spot for vigilance between excess and deficiency?

    For starters, it's a good question and would require a cost-benefit analysis since, despite Janet Jackson insisting "the best things in life are free", there's no such thing as a free lunch.

    As for an ideal society, I don't see how being mindful helps in establishing one. Bees, ants, termites and other social animals come close to ideal societies in some respects and the notion of being mindful seems N/A, at least in the sense it's applied to humans.
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