Monday, October 28, 2013

The nature of reality

When people think of physical reality, most consider it to be "real" and anything not of physical reality is considered to be "unreal", regardless of ones religious or non-religious beliefs.  But if you stop and consider what "real" means, you'd find that the idea of "unreal" is meaningless because you first have to know something is "real".  But how can you know anything in physical reality is "real" if you are also a part of the physical reality?  You would have to prove you are "real" first.  I've written other posts regarding this point, but I want to consider in this post what this reality we experience is.  In a sense, the only thing that is "real" are the experiences we have, not the environment that provides the experiences.  The environment, and thus the reality we perceive, merely facilitates having experiences.

Here is a good example of why physical senses cannot be relied upon to determine "reality": Sensory Experiment.  The physical senses tell you one thing, but you can be "fooled" to perceive another.  The perception from any sensory organ all gets interpreted by the Ego mind, which is where our belief of our reality begins and ends.  The mind I am referring to is the Ego of the human form, not of the whole "self".  That whole "self" knows its true reality is not physical.  It is only because we are born into this reality with physical sensory mechanisms that over time through growth and indoctrination, we develop the belief in the reality of our world.  Prior to birth, we knew of a different reality, but choose to ignore that knowledge in order to experience this "fantasy".  It's the same thing that most people do when they think of their dreams.  They "know" their dreams are "not real" (I'm talking about the human Ego believing this), even though in the dream, they seem to "act" as if it was real.

Could you tell if something was an illusion?  How do you make that determination?  Most people use comparative reasoning to determine if something that they see is real or not.  Other types of illusions are logically reasoned based on repetition.  Like lab rats, we have been conditioned to only accept one type of sensory data from birth - our physical senses.  This has developed in us a very narrow and specific interpretation of our senses.  Through repetition, we accept our sensory information as being "real", and anything that deviates from this repetitive perception is considered "unreal".  From a visual perspective, anything we see that does not last, or is extraordinary, or defies logical reasoning, is considered an illusion or a hallucination.  You might say "But this world feels real or it appears real" without really asking what you are basing your judgment about "real" is.  If you're using physical senses to experience physical reality, then of course, it "feels" real.  But in reality, the only thing you can know for sure as being "real" is the experience, not the perception of reality.  Your feeling is real because it is an experience and all experience is real.  But you cannot know for sure if that which gave you the feeling is real.  Again, these conclusions about something being "real" are simply because we have been conditioned from birth to only accept one specific way to perceive and have been indoctrinated into one specific way of reasoning.  That is why society and social norms change over time, as people's reasoning changes through education and advancements.  Unfortunately, people misinterpret this "advancement" as meaning our world understanding is advancing (and thus perpetuating our acceptance in a perceived reality), but in reality, it is merely changing the way we reason and what we use to justify our reasoning.
Imagine that you just found out you have 1 day to live.  What reality would you like to exist after death rather than whatever ultimate reality you believe will befall you?  I'm not talking about some religious notion about the afterlife, but rather what fantasy or ideal condition would you prefer to exist after your death?  I would guess that the majority of people would have a fantasy reality to their liking rather than whatever current beliefs they hold.  But what if that fantasy becomes reality upon death?  While you are alive and without fear of dying in the next 24 hours, it's easy to believe what you've been taught or what you've rationalized as the after-death condition, but knowing your impending demise will either bring about wishful thoughts or solemn surrender to your beliefs.  In either case, if your idea of the after-death condition is based on your beliefs, then why would our current "living" condition be any less based on your beliefs?  If you understood your true nature, that you existed as consciousness before, during, and after you came into the physical reality, you would understand that you did have a belief (or a desired ideal) about what your "after-birth" condition would be like, just as you have beliefs (or a desired ideal as I asked earlier) about what your "after-death" condition would be like.  Just as Earth life is an individual experience in a group condition, your after-death experience is also individual, and created out of group thinking (in "life" or in "death", you "congregate" with those of like-mind, whether it's interests, desires, or beliefs, until you grow tired of that group-thought).

The age old questions of "How did we get here?  Why are we here?  Are we alone in the world?" and others such as these relate to our feelings of permanence and separation in time and space.  We feel that this physical reality is the only aspect of our environment that is real because we seem to be "trapped" in it while "alive".  But have you ever considered "where" the universe is?  Most do not think about that question, but instead try to understand "how".  Many non-believers of theism look to physical explanations for how the universe came into existence, while the many varied religious followers believe that a deity formed it.  In a sense, both explanations are correct.  The religions describe an intelligent source for the idea of creation, and the non-religious tries to explain how it was manifested.  These two points of view are two different questions: how and why.  They are not mutually exclusive, but complimentary.  Most people look at their life events and think they are either accidental, coincidental, or intentional.  Those events that appear out of your control only appears that way because you view yourself as being a part of this world, a world controlled by a mechanical system of rules, where you are merely another cog in the wheel.  Those experiences that seem negative or hurtful are interpreted that way because of the perspective from the Ego, but you are not the Ego.  The word "faith" has nothing to do with a belief in a supernatural world outside of your own.  You are as much a part of that supernatural world as those dogmas you believe in.  "Faith" means you accept your beliefs and it makes reality.  It's because you do not have true "faith" that the world seems to act on you rather than from you.  "Faith" and "reason" allow us to have beliefs in this reality because we do not accept our true nature, but even these do not fully explain what the nature of reality really is, let alone "where" it exists.

Consider that the universe must exist "somewhere" because you accept as truth the idea of space and time, but where is this "somewhere"?  What is the "vacuum of space", sometimes referred to as the "ether"?  What is matter and what is energy?  These and other questions seek to understand the "where, what, why, who and how" of this physical reality and every other reality such as the dream reality.  Science believes it understands some of the fundamental principles of this universe and to a very limited degree the composition of physical reality, but they do not answer the "where" question.  They may believe they know the "size" of the universe, but even that is only based on measurements by an instrument that has limited capabilities.  The notion of "infinite" is a very difficult concept to grasp, so we try to limit everything to finite quantities, something that is quantifiable and identifiable.  This is also the nature of physical reality.  How we perceive anything as being solid and real is because we do not realize we automatically turn a probability into an actuality.  What that means in mathematical terms is to take an undefined or non-discrete (non-whole number) value and make it well defined; to take a fraction and round it up to a whole number.  You can't have a fraction of something in this world (observationally, even a piece of something is by itself observed as a wholly separate and individually identifiable thing), so everything gets rounded up by the nature of this reality and our physical senses into a whole.  This is all done through our idea of what an "individual" is.  When we see things as "separate" or a "piece", we see it as a separate "whole" but also as a "portion".  But the actual value is not whole, and is instead a fraction of infinity, with an infinite precision.  This is the same with "us".  We too are a portion or a "piece" of the whole (the One), but the "piece" is itself "whole", and so we have "individuality" within the Oneness.  You could say that the physical universe is the particle state (individual) of an infinite wave (whole).  Everything is viewed as changes or differences and that gives us these concepts of "piece" vs. "whole".  The physical world was "designed" to be finite, discrete, and well-defined so all those who participate in this physical reality can create and make choices, with the results being observable (whole).  Our senses "quantize" ("round" to the nearest "whole") the universal data into discrete values in order to perceive and act within it.

Given this idea that the world exists "somewhere" and it is as a result of our turning a probability into an actuality, why would you believe "you" (the conscious part of "you") are a product of this reality since this reality requires you to do the actualizing?  That would require you to believe that "you" in the body, and this world you were born into, is "real", but to determine this requires something to compare it to.  We use our physical senses to make that judgement, but if the physical senses are also a product of this world and only capable of recognizing this world, then you cannot trust it either.  Limiting your choice of data to just physical senses will not provide the validation.

Imagine you are a bacteria living on your body.  From the bacteria's point of view, the "planet" is your body and other bodies are like other "planets" within the "universe" of the Earth.  "Where" the "universe" of the Earth is, the bacteria does not know, nor is it aware of anything beyond the Earth "universe" since it cannot perceive beyond the Earth's atmosphere.  There are "planets" that give heat like the sun (living things), and there are "planets" that are cold (like rocks and other non-living things).  From the bacteria's point of view, its idea of time is just as long as the human idea of time, because the sense of time (not the passage) is relative to its environment.  Time is a measurement humans created, scaled to human time.  If you were a bacteria, time would be scaled to your experiences.  While we may have many years worth of experiences, a bacteria could have just as many experiences in a sped-up manner such that it's life in human time scale may be short, but a similar amount in terms of experiences.  In other words, your body may live 80-90 years, but the individual bacteria may only live for hours or days and have just as much experiences in bacterial terms as a human.  A human body lives for a fraction of the time compared to how long a planet exists, but the amount of experiences a human has may be equivalent to a planet's.  Things change much slower on the planetary scale, just as humans change much slower compared to something smaller.  By extension, the planets and stars also live a fraction of the time the universe has existed.  If you can imagine the world from the point of view of a bacteria, your ideas about reality would be very different compared to the view of a human, but also the same in terms of experiences within an equivalently scaled time frame.

The point of the bacteria analogy is that "where" this universe exists is simply a lack of perception and information because our point of view is from such a limited position ("inside" the universe trying to see what's "outside") while we view the world from within the body.  As such, this notion of "where" should really make you think about how we can be "floating" in the middle of "nowhere".  Even more so, that we are aware and conscious within this "nowhere".  The scientific explanation might argue that we are "somewhere" by simple observation and that we exist because of that "somewhere".  So where is this "somewhere" and how can you trust observations when it is geared towards observing the world it was created within?  Your sense of sight requires you to accept what you see as being real, but if you don't have that sense of sight, what then will you trust to tell you what is real?  You can accept the descriptions from others who are sighted, but that also requires faith in the other person just as much as faith is required to accept the writings of any book as being factual, whether religious, educational, historical or any other writings claiming to be factual.  You might think truth in numbers, but the kinds of facts that can be corroborated through numbers isn't as relevant as you might think.  100 people may say there is an apple tree down the street, while one says it's gone.  The one may be right because the other 100 failed to update their knowledge.  All truths are relative.  What was once accepted as fact may now be incorrect, and what is accepted as fact today may be incorrect later.  This is true for any "facts".  That is why our lack of perception and information creates the illusions of reality ("facts") today.

When we dream or imagine, we create a world within our mind, but because we say "in our mind", we consider that reality to be "unreal".  If you switched your point of view to someone or something within your dream or imagined world, just like in the bacteria analogy, would you be able to realize your "real" world is really a dream and doesn't exist, except in the mind of the dreamer?  How would you know that your world is a dream, since you were created to be a part of the dream?  The lack of information and perspective would blind you to this fact.  If someone who has never watched television were to see it for the first time, they would not understand how it works and most likely believe they are seeing a miniature world within the box.  In the same way, if you in the body have never experienced anything outside of this "reality", how would you know this world is the true "real reality" except to say you are "real" within this "reality"?

Here is an interesting lecture by Alan Watt that describes the concept of consciousness: YouTube

The majority of people do not think about such things as this.  They accept their environment as being "real", and they live their lives following the "flow" of their environment.  If you were to look at an average person's life from an outsider's point of view, you would think they were sleepwalkers, blindly going about their business, doing this and that, and never considering that they are doing things according to their belief of this reality.  This physical reality's nature and the belief in it's reality is why people act the way they act and do the things that they do.  Why do you wake up and go to work, or school, or whatever everyday?  Because it is the nature of this reality for you to do those things.  It does not mean you have to follow this nature of reality, but most of us are sleepwalkers, unaware of our own true nature and our own true reality of freedom.

So "where" is this physical universe?  You do not realize you are participating in a large collaborative dream; that of the many identities and types of consciousness.  "Where" this "real" physical reality exists is in the infinite emptiness of the conscious collective mind, just as a dream world exists in the infinite emptiness of the dreamer.  This sounds confusing to most because they get confused by terms such as "physical" and "real".  These are just man-made words created to describe the environment we perceive with our physical senses, but the only thing that is substantial behind those and any words are the mental ideas and concepts, born out of mind to understand this physical reality we are experiencing.  Until more people wake up to their true self, the world will continue to move in the direction of the unconscious sleepwalkers, rather than being directed through their free-will of consciousness.  The disbelief of this ability is another aspect of our denying our true self.  Once again, the saying "faith as small as a mustard seed" reflects how little it takes for each person to release their true nature and thus change the nature of the reality we are experiencing.

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