Conventions of Communication

Patrick Quanten MD

In our every day life we don’t stop to take notice of the obvious things that surround us. That is why we also do not question why things are the way they are. Do we need to? No, not really. It is absolutely possible to live a full life without bothering oneself with the intricacies of what might or might not be behind it all. On the other hand, if the questions about life start to bubble to the surface in your life, the search is on to find out more, even if we are not always aware of it. Wouldn’t we just like to go back to the innocent ignorant stage? Too late then. It is impossible to ‘forget’ the questions that have come into our consciousness. You may try. You will only become disappointed.

And where do we start to ‘enlighten’ us? What is it we need to become aware of if we want to understand the world around us? Maybe it is all too complicated for a simple mind like mine to truly understand? Well, maybe it is, but that is no excuse for not trying. Let’s see if we can simplify things, because when all of it appears all at once, it certainly will look as if it is all too much.

Why don’t we begin with the simple observation that all names are only conventions?

What does that mean? It means that we have, at some point in time, agreed for a certain thing to be ‘named’ a certain way. When we call a thing ‘a chair’, we all know what we mean by that. However, modern art and the freedom of imagination have confronted us with objects that we may have difficulty still recognising as a chair, even though it is. This indicates that the name has created a certain form in our mind, which we use as a template whenever the name is used or a similar subject is seen. Now it is easy to understand what, in general, is meant with the name ‘a chair’, as we compare objects and words with the template we have stored in our brain.

The name you were given when you were born is a way of identifying you amongst all the other persons. In fact, you are no different in virtual all aspects from all other humans. This has been confirmed by DNA examinations; 99.9% of the DNA of all humans is the same. This means that all the differences, that we emphasize so much in our society, are to be found in the absolute details of our beings. And yet, the name that we are given ‘identifies’ us, by convention. Other people have accepted the name that you have been given and that way you are being identified by that name. We know whom is meant by Jack, Cleopatra and the President because we have all agreed to the name.

When we widen the net to include words that name something less substantial, it is not so obvious anymore. We are supposed to know what is meant with peace, love or a thought. The only way we can communicate with each other is because of the convention that names these things and tries to describe them. We have dedicated a large book to this convention; it is called ‘a dictionary’. But what it really means to an individual might vary amongst a number of people? Also, does ‘love’ or ‘honesty’ mean the same thing to you now than it did when you were twelve? But if these things change in time and demographically then it is no wonder that we do not really understand other people. Does ‘terrorism’ mean the same thing for Israelis as it does for Palestinians? What one calls ‘a reason’ the other calls ‘an excuse’? Two different words to describe the same situation. How is that possible? It is not only possible; it is the essence of nature.

Just as we call the potato chips of the European continent ‘French fries’, we can call things differently from what other people call them. The things are as they are, irrespective of the name given to them. The ‘Freedom Fighter’ is the same person as the one called ‘a rebel’, depending on your point of view. So, the way you look at it determines the name you use to refer to it. Does it change the nature of it? Not at all. The terrorist and the freedom fighter, or the martyr for freedom, all act in the same way and are the same people but we choose to refer to them differently. And it is our view that colours the person, the situation and determines the feelings we have about it. It is the colouring that determines the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, not the thing itself.

To call something ‘right’ makes a statement about the viewpoint of the person judging something to be right. It doesn’t actually make anything right! Not even if we all agree. Since the word ‘right’ is nothing more than a convention by which we all agree to name the things that we approve of, it clearly leaves the door open for other interpretations. And they do exist. People in different cultures have different views and consequently different interpretations about what is right or wrong. What is also interesting is that, no matter how much we argue and discuss the various viewpoints, the best we can do is come to an understanding. There will not be a change of mind as such. What we consider to be right is steeped in history and is pretty much determined for us. It is the culture and the authorities who decide the right’s and wrong’s in our lives. As an individual you have no right to decide that not wearing a helmet on a motorbike is right for you. That has been decided for you. Just as what is the right approach to your health, what treatment is right to have (even though they change it every few years, or never, even in spite of evidence that they should change it), what you should eat or not eat; all has already been decided. The next phase of the programme is to stuff your mind with headlines that make you remember these decisions.

The truth of life is slightly different. There, one can never come to conclusions for the always and for everyone. And this observation of fact goes deep into the essence of life. For instance, it is impossible to say that one should never kill! There, we can see that things are as they are and are best to be judge at that moment by the person living the moment. It is not a free for all to judge and sentence the other. So there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Or, put more accurately, everything has a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ aspect; everything can be viewed to be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Judging it one way or the other only tells you something about the person judging, not about the thing being judged. That still is as it is, no different for the judgement.

Society, and the way it has been organised, puts emphasis on certain aspects of life and labels them as right or wrong. Our society is structured on vision and hearing. For this we have standards that ‘everyone’ should adhere to, has a right to. This means that there is a visual picture of the world that surrounds us that is considered to be the right one. If you have a different view, say for instance you are myopic, then you need visual correction. Who decides that? Why don’t the others have lenses to change their sight to the myopic sight? Oh, I get it: it’s because the majority of people see the world one way, we all need to see it that way.

First of all, the ‘majority’ does not partake in a natural life. What is good for the majority is, per definition, not good for everybody; or in other words, what the individual needs cannot be gotten from a majority viewpoint. Also, does the majority viewpoint proves what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’? When the majority of people buy their food in supermarkets does that prove that supermarkets sell the best vegetables and fruits? When the majority of people tell you that chemotherapy is the best you can do to get better from your cancer, does that mean that they must be right just because everyone knows that? Have you ever considered that it might be because we have stopped thinking for ourselves that everything we watch and get excited about has to do with popularity? What is the most popular will be subscribed to by the majority, which then ‘proves’ that it is the best for everyone.

Secondly, not everyone benefits from ‘the average’. Just because we have decided that our standards are the best ‘for everyone’, it doesn’t mean that everyone benefits from them. The reason for this is exactly the fact that people are not average, and when the individual wants to benefit from a decision made by the whole, then he will have to largely ignore it and find his/her own way. If a person is myopic, the sharpest views will be achieved right in front of the nose. The world further away will appear hazy and unclear. This means that anything that is of real importance to that person will have to come up real close. Correcting the vision will allow the person to see further into the world, but at the same time he/she will have lost the sharpness right in front of the nose. If the person wants a real sharp view he/she will have to remove the corrective lenses because they impair the vision. In fact, this person with the corrected view no longer has a sharp view of the world anywhere. The convention that we do need to see a certain distance allows for our visual senses to be overwhelmed with images that bring messages to us that, in the natural state of things, are pretty much irrelevant. Which view is right, and which one is wrong? The truth is that it is as it is. It is neither right or wrong, it is different. The view of the world through ‘ordinary’ eyes or ‘myopic’ eyes is different; one is in essence not better or worse than the other, it is only so by convention.

Have you ever walked around with both ears blocked for a while, whether due to excessive earwax, congestion or earplugs? Society has decided that in that case you don’t hear very well; your hearing is impaired. Your hearing is not right. Once again, what is this right hearing? We have lists of frequencies that will tell us whether your hearing is right or wrong. Question is: who decides? It is neither; it is just different. When our hearing towards the outer world is impaired, our hearing towards the inner is heightened.

When people complain of a numb feeling somewhere on their skin, they very often say they can’t feel anything. When examining this properly almost always you will find that it isn’t the case that they have no feeling; rather they have an ‘altered’ feeling. And because the sensation is ‘strange’ compared to what they felt before, they are not used to recognising the different sensations. But herein lies the way forward.

If ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ both exist together and things are just different, and the labels are nothing more than a convention, then ‘altered’ functioning of our senses are also neither right nor wrong. Similarly, they are different. And nature shows us that! A blind man ‘sees’ colour differently. An MS patient ‘feels’ the bodily sensations differently. After chemotherapy you ‘lose’ your taste. No you don’t, it is just different.

What is interesting about this different is the fact that the range and quality of observations has shifted, not necessarily diminished. The measured effects may have diminished, but that is measured within the conventional range. It is as if people are withdrawing from the conventions. And what we observe is that where there is a heightened sensation it is inwardly. The less you see on the outside, the more you see on the inside. The less you hear of the world that surrounds you, the more you become aware of the inner world. You can test this out very quickly by sticking your fingers in your ears. Not long afterwards you will become aware of your heartbeat, which you hadn’t noticed before. Very soon other ‘sounds’ will be picked up from inside? There is a clear shift from our senses picking up signals from the outside towards signals from the inside.

Shutting out the world we, by convention, have labelled the ‘good one’ is neither good nor bad, it is just different. By looking at life as a whole, in a different way, we will encounter different truths, as modern physics has beyond doubt established: the way we decide to look at something determines the way that something is. And as most things have been ‘created’ for us it becomes very difficult for the individual to create a life that totally fits into the way he/she experiences it. But by doing things differently we allow ourselves to explore the possibilities that were hidden before. That is where we can find and create the world we all need, as an individual. By ‘listening’ to other sounds, ‘seeing’ other pictures, ‘sensing’ different things, a whole new world will open up in front of us. This is the way to discover a different world, one of the different worlds that exist right here right now, but that falls outside our observation field. As the world is the way we observe it, it stands to reason to accept that, if we observe differently, we will become aware of a different world being at the same time at the same place as the one we are dealing with. It is no more or less than light being a particle and a wave at the same time. By looking at it in a certain way we will find evidence that light is made up out of particles; looking at it differently delivers evidence of light being a wave. Which one is it? It has been established that it is both! And that simple truth is the central part of all of creation. All possibilities exist; by choosing one of them, by ‘naming’ it the truth ‘collapses’ into the one possibility we are experiencing. That’s the one we see, and the only one at that.

Drop the conventions and set yourself free in order to find the real self. That is the only way to experience more of life and to allow yourself the luxury of fitting into your own life, irrespective of how that may look or feel to someone else.

Health, as life, is individual.


Patrick Quanten has been a general practitioner since 1983. The combination of medical insight and extensive studies of Complementary Therapies have opened new perspectives on health care, all of which came to fruition when it blended with Yogic and Ayurvedic principles. Patrick gave up his medical licence in November 2001.
Patrick also holds qualifications in Ayurvedic Medicine, Homeopathy, Reiki, Ozon Therapy and Thai Massage. He is an expert on Ear Candling and he is also well-read in the field of other hard sciences. His life's work involves finding similarities between the Ancient Knowledge and modern Western science.

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