Scientists are very careful not to mix up their models of physical reality with the false belief that the model is the reality.
A model is meant to give a human description to some aspect of physical reality such that accurate predictions can be made.
Judgments, beliefs, and dogma have no place in a model of reality. A model is a useful thing but it must also be readily changed. Therefore nothing within it should be held as inherently true or real. Otherwise you might wind up clinging to the model at the cost of alienating yourself from the reality.
As you say, our mind’s ability to think, discern, and predict are tools. That’s all.
Every moment is a completely new experience. To pretend otherwise is just a way to avoid recognizing your lack of control over that moment. We use our knowledge and understanding of the past so as to interpret the present into something coherent. But that interpretation is a model, not the reality.
That’s not a problem. The model is a model and the reality is the reality. The point is to be thoroughly aware of the difference between the two. Both are here at the same time. You don’t need to get rid of the model in order to recognize reality nor do you lose touch with reality by making use of the model.
Therefore, the model should not be your way of understanding who and what you, others, and the world are. The model is your way of navigating, it does not take the place of genuine discovery and exploration.
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To be totally honest, I don’t know who I am. And I don’t think people ever will know who they are. We have to be humble enough to learn to live with this mysterious question. Who am I? So, I am a mystery to myself. I am someone who is in this pilgrimage from the moment that I was born to the day to come that I’m going to die. And this is something that I can’t avoid, whether I like it or not, or — I’m going to die.
So, what I have to do is to honor this pilgrimage through life. And so I am this pilgrim — if I can somehow answer your question — who’s constantly amazed by this journey. Who is learning a new thing every single day. But who’s not accumulating knowledge, because then it becomes a very heavy burden in your back. I am this person who is proud to be a pilgrim, and who’s trying to honor his journey.