Tabula rasa means something like blank screen.
A supposed condition that empiricists have attributed to the human mind before ideas have been imprinted on it by the reaction of the senses to the external world of objects. John Locke.
The idea is that when you are born, your mind is a blank screen. Then through your senses your mind starts to be imprinted.
Your 'senses' would be your camera lenses of the screenplay you are watching.
If you started this life as a blank screen, then your senses itself did not exist in your mind yet at the moment you where born. I'll leave that idea to explore in another article.
The question I have here is how blank is your screen when you are born, what is imprinted on it once you are born and how does that effect your life today.
What is a car? Perhaps before you were born you did not know what a car was. Then at some point after birth, you observed something you were carried into and that seemed to move around. Later you were told the name of that thing is a car.
Fine, we have objects in the world and we give them names.
Next, you may be someone who was told that cars have different prices and that rich people drive expensive cars and if you want to be liked you need to drive an expensive car to show you are successful. Or, you may have learned by being told that a car is simply a way to get from a to b, and the look and price of it is entirely unimportant in life. And so there are likely as many versions of car perceptions as there are people on the planet.
We have moved from the agreed upon naming of the object car to the perceptions and beliefs about cars (by the way, do we call these three wheelers.
You may see why your beliefs play such a large role in your life.
You believe what you have learned and accepted as being true - and those beliefs shape your experiences fundamentally and entirely.
In this writing I call this process of belief forming 'colouring your screen' or 'moving further down the path'. As a screen it starts as a blank black all surrounding screen which gains color as your beliefs evolve. As a path it starts infinitely wide and becomes increasingly more narrow as you add more and more beliefs to the thread that starts as an object, became a car, became a status object, etc.
What your perceptions and beliefs about cars are, determines how you experience cars. Some people know everything there is to know about cars. Some can't tell the difference from one brand to the other. And so we have beliefs about everything we know about: houses, countries, peoples, animals, plants, food, products - it's endless how many beliefs we have.
Let's say you were told to believe that people are unreliable and you accepted that to be true. Although you had until that point never experienced an unreliable person, it has entered your mind as a fact and now further colours your interaction with people.
Now let's say a talking bear walks into your house. You have never seen a talking bear before, but that shouldn't be an issue. You had never seen a car before either and didn't have a problem accepting what your 'senses' showed you. However, you were already down the path of bears and what you accept to believe about bears. Talking was not on your bear path - not talking was. Nobody challenges you on the characteristics of a car - everyone agrees it drives around and looks a certain way. A talking bear is a different story. You have been told animals don't talk, you have never experienced a talking animal - so talking bears don't exist. If you actually met a talking bear - you might simply refuse to believe it, you might think you have gone crazy or you might now believe that bears can talk - all depending on where you are on the bear path and how easily you move back and forth on it. After all, parrots can talk too, right? So why wouldn't a bear be able to?
Next you call your friend and tell him you saw a talking bear. Now your friend is really challenged in believing you. He or she has not actually experienced it, so now he needs to believe it based on your blue eyes.
Yet, we accept many things to be true based on what other people tell us. If you take this medication you will get better. If you buy this product, you will be happy. People from this country or neighbourhood can't be trusted. You must eat meat. Cars can't fly. The world is flat, etc, etc, etc,. A lot about what you believe about yourself and the world is based on what you've been told without ever directly experiencing it. And since your experiences are coloured as we can see with the car example, all that you have come to believe also influences what you experience. You don't just experience the object called a car - you experience all that you have learned to perceive and believe about a car - and where did all those believes come from?
Let's go back to the state of tabula rasa - your screen is blank. We'll let you go back in time to the moment you were blank, or pushed the reset button and erased it all to become blank again. Nothing has been recorded, there is no idea, no belief - nothing other than blankness. You are not you, not human, there is no world - nothing. What is left of you is just being blank. There is a black screen all around you with nothing appearing on it. There is nothing in you to be projected and there is nothing to be perceived, because you are blank. The possibilities are endless.
Now a first pixel appears on your black all surrounding screen. Your attention is on it, because, well....there it nothing else to see - it's very difficult not to look at it. The one pixel becomes two, and before you know it there is a cluster of millions of pixels. Much later, you learn that that was a car. Every pixel on your screen is information stored in your memory library. Now your computer uses that library to project on your screen and you move your attention across your screen to experience the next pixel cluster appearing on your screen. Once you have accepted beliefs about cars, every next car appearing on your screen will be interpreted based on those beliefs. The possibilities have narrowed. You now have preferences and biases - it's not longer just an object. It's beautiful or ugly, strong or weak, desirable or undesirable, affordable or not affordable, cool or uncool, etc. It's no longer both beautiful and ugly, which it still was when the screen was entirely blank and the car itself had not even appeared yet - or even after the car had appeared but no beliefs were added yet. As your coloring of the screen continues, your path becomes increasingly narrow. You are set in your ways deeply. Blue cars are bad, yellow cars are good. You don't even think about it any more. It's a fact now.
The possibility of a talking bear is excluded immediately. You are way down the path of your beliefs about the world and what's true, fact and possible. All else is fantasy.
Let's take another example. Your parents. You believe your parents are abusive. But they are your parents, so you still need to visit them on Sundays and call them every other day. Is that a fact or simply something you believe? Since many people do not believe they need to visit their parents on Sundays, they consequently don't visit their parents every Sunday. So what is fact and what if belief? Notice here that we are already pretty far down the narrow path of 'parents'. Like we have a name for cars, we have the name 'parents' for the two people who created 'me'. Next, we have been told and experienced many things about parents. Often we are so far down the narrow path that we can no longer question whatever started the path. Large parts of this pixel cluster are set in stone. You have parents and they created you. You must do this and that in relation to your parents. Just like you must wash your car every week, service it monthly and change its tires at times, there can be an entire set of instructions around parents. Who says I need to wash my car ever? Well....if you don't then....etc etc and so we keep walking further down the path and keep colouring the screen.
There are a lot of clusters like this. Your house, your children, your pets, your neighbourhood, your friends, your extended family, your boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, your money - it's a very significant book of beliefs with preferences, biases, instructions, musts and do's, don'ts. At this point, your screen is very colourful.
Who decides what gets into your book?
The significance of this question is that the book tells a story and the story continues. You are on a path and you keep walking it. It's connected. It's a pattern. It has direction. Cars don't just stop being cars once they have become cars. in your mind. If you believe cars give you status, you don't just undo the sense that one car isn't equal to another car. The book makes your story. Call it a matrix, prison or paradise: it's a structure in-forming all aspects of your life.
You may therefore care a lot about what is in the book and who is writing in it.