Reality

Most of what we will ourselves to do is a response to this thing we call “reality”. The tricky part is that the purpose we use to walk into perceiving and doing something with reality profoundly defines how we see it.

Reality is the stuff around us we can’t easily change. We can change some things, but the universal rules they operate on are immutable. A few clear examples are the color black, pain, and adrenaline. Philosophers debate endlessly about this, but knowing the nature of reality has very limited practical use because it doesn’t remove the components of cause-and-effect.

To put it more simply, reality is the part of existence that we all agree on.

The mechanism of cause-and-effect exists in a variety of forms beyond human perception (though even that is hotly debated):

  1. The physical cause and effect (e.g., a ball rolling across the ground).
  2. The abstraction of the event (e.g., the thing that is the same with all balls that roll across the ground).
  3. The contact of the thing with other things (e.g., the ball’s relationship with the ground).
  4. The imagination of that thing (e.g., one who perceives a ball rolling, and all their thoughts linked to it).

Uncertain

The trouble with reality is that it’s never 100% certain. Instead, most things are likelihoods and we trust the gaps aren’t relevant.

Some intelligent and thoughtful people can fall into an existential froth over how we can’t 100% prove anything. After all, there are deductively only a few possibilities for everything around us:

  1. Everything really does exist, so existential uncertainty about it is silly.
  2. Everything doesn’t exist and is some sort of illusion or fabrication. But, it’s reliable enough to predict things somewhat accurately and therefore not worth worrying about.
  3. Everything is unknowable, but we can’t really know, so it’s probably one of the two above and should be treated as silly or not worth worrying about.

Since they’re mostly the same, we have trouble imagining reality versus our mind’s illusions. However, believing things are changing is usually more accurate and useful than believing in things staying the same.

One thing we can’t attribute to our minds is legitimate pain, since something must cause that and it’s not likely something we fabricated for our own purposes.

Since pain is so certain, we’re forced to believe one of a few possible value structures:

  1. To our perspective, reality is nothing but pain. This is the most accurate if we don’t believe anything beyond it, but is absolutely useless from a cultural point of view.
  2. There are presently unknown good things. This requires belief in the unknown, but allows us to accomplish and inspire others toward meaningful actions.

Experience

We have sensations and experiences, but those aren’t technically what call “reality”. Instead, we form small values off reality and call that reality:

  • Light waves are a frequency of light that hit our eyeballs, but the color “blue” is a mental label that uses language to make sense of it.
  • Scent is a cluster of molecules picked up by the nose, but we’re interpreting the scent itself using feelings.
  • Our nerve endings detect things we touch, but then we assign groupings to it like “sticky” or “creamy”.

Time is particularly difficult to understand. The past only exists in our memories, and the future only exists in our imagination, so the only thing we really experience is a consecutive string of “now” that we treat as a passage of time. We only believe it to be constant because we’re relatively accurate at tracking it.

Even without any outward evidence, some things exist by the pure principle that our minds create it. A relationship between two people, for example, is simply a person’s collection of memories, beliefs and ideas about another person, with the other person having something resembling the same. The as-of-yet unknowable, therefore, isn’t as “unknown” as we imagine it is.

Facts

Facts are the elements of understanding that do exist, to the best that we can define it. They are values based on what is true. We often believe incorrect things, but share a remarkable number of conclusions about reality with most other people.

Multiple facts can’t contradict each other, though many points of view will imply that two true statements are contradictions. Our tendency to focus and prioritize certain things means we tend to grab more facts that confirm our preconceived bias unless we’ve disciplined ourselves to have more patience to look beyond initial impressions.

We can’t precisely grasp facts as they are in nature, but we can assemble them into stories we do understand. Other people tend to interpret the same stories, and we will then “agree” on seeing the same stuff if we communicate back-and-forth. We tend to rewire many parts of our understanding to conform/repel others’ beliefs, and need that feedback to validate what we see.

Good facts are often difficult to find. Usually, we must purpose ourselves to seeking diligently for them, and they’re often not that useful by themselves.

To find good facts, we need hefty amounts of analysis, as well as reaffirming truths we already know. We can increase our understanding to make it easier with education and proper use of technology, but we’re profoundly influenced by who we listen to.

Our story-based method of understanding interferes with finding immaculate truth. As we gain awareness, we can prevent our feelings and beliefs from interfering, but it’s never perfect, even with training. Beyond a certain point, it also has limited usefulness.

Often, the people who say that something patently obvious isn’t necessarily true have a hidden purpose to obscure the truth. Other times, their perspective has a whole different set of values that define how their bias runs. Most of the time, everyone’s a little bit right.

Details

When we analyze reality closely, every single thing can be divided, and then divided again, all the way down. Taken far enough, we have many tiny components, but we can never find an end to the smallest possible things we can divide (e.g., a human body has many parts, one of its parts is a heart, one of its heart valves is a muscle, etc.).

The small components form parts to a whole. That whole, whatever it is, is (typically) of dramatically more value to us than the individual parts, often from either our purposes or from what we love. The added value of the whole is the value of the parts, but often includes something that makes us feel it to be more complete.

We often see the whole first, then must observe closely to find the parts. However, we end up discovering patterns that carry from the parts into the whole. When that whole becomes a part of something else, the bigger whole reflects the pattern as well.

Wisdom and understanding often come through seeing the parts that fit into most things. Often, by sidestepping cultural sensibilities, many things have common patterns that are taboo to address.

Denial

Often, accepting reality at its most raw can force overwhelming changes. Most people deny or adapt elements of reality to cope with those changes (especially if it’ll affect their social standing), and the easiest ways to do it are by altering language a little to shift the implications of the story that reality portrays.

Most people are terrified of the consequences of reality in its rawest form, so their habitual mode of thinking will subconsciously alter their views to fit more easily with what they knew before the new discovery. After all, a past perception must be useful or it wouldn’t have been perceived, right?

The only cure for a defective understanding is love from both the conveyor (to expedite the change through gentleness) and by the receiver (to forgive and release).


Application

We shouldn’t be hasty in judging something as reality, since we could be wrong.

Test what you know against what you’re told, and don’t presume one thing is more correct until you’ve thoroughly examined it and can trust the source.

Each of us must find our own journey to truth in our own way.

Whether we can or can’t know reality doesn’t really matter. It’s very consistent either way. Even if we’re really in some dream, we can find meaning through doing the best with that dream’s rules, and living the good life only requires doing and doesn’t concern itself as much with truth.