Saturday, September 06, 2008

somewhere between our realities lies the Real

"I reject your reality and insert my own"

I really like this quote. Not sure of its original source, but I first heard Adam Savage say the line on the intro to Mythbusters

Lots of people in the personal development, spiritual quest movement (used to be called The New Age etc. but its not really "new" stuff they believe or teach), ALL talk about "Reality" as if its some kind of cosmic fluid you can choose to drink or bathe in.

There is the school of Objective Reality which Ayn Rand the author was famous for postulating. It's not really followed widely as a fully fledged concept or idea anymore although there are lots of people around who still aspire to her teachings on the subject (Atlas Shrugged is one of Rands most outspoken novel describing her ideas on Objective Reality. Great read but the OR stuff leaves me cold. It's a bit dry and hard to understand). Lots of people also tend towards the dictates of this philosophy even without really realising they are!

Basically, Objective Reality is that "Reality" exists totally separately from consciousness. Our thoughts, feelings, beliefs have no merit if they can not be objectified into physical, experiential space and we cannot truly know what is true reality until it is quantified or understood through our rational perceptions.

In my understanding, Objective Reality is very much about progressive structure of environment - and the person - in the here and now. 'Onwards and Upwards' is the OR meme in a sense. It's dictates are based firmly in the Self and the personal pursuit of one's own happiness, not for any spiritual reasons (they are not objective), but because Rand thought that "Rational self-interest" was a moral obligation for the human being.

Rands philosophies have been pretty much lambasted by other philosophers and to this day, much of her ideology is ignored or forgotten. She just didn't like ANYthing that even suggested subjective interpretation of Life! And this got her into a bit of trouble in the end as she effectively dismissed much of the art, philosophy, faith systems and ideas of some very influential people in history!

Now days, many aspire towards a kind of Subjective Reality. Steve Pavlina is probably the Internets most prolific and popular writer on this ideology.

Subjective Reality IS very much a "belief" too! It is the exact polar opposite of Objective Reality where belief is discounted in favour of factual evidential enquiry and actuality, and instead, things can ONLY exist as a function of, and as a result of personal consciousness. "I believe and therefore manifest" is the SR meme in many respects (and yes I know I am over-generalising in both instances, but you don't want me to ramble on here forever now do you?)

Subjective Reality says there are no "facts" that cannot be reinterpreted through your consciousness. Your feelings, "vibrational alignment", your beliefs and perceptions, thoughts, intelligence and conceptions of what you see, feel, touch, taste, smell, want, desire, know, is what will define and construe reality into what it is! So, what for you is a form of "reality" can be interpreted and experienced entirely differently by someone else and so on.

The notion here is that there is NO such thing as an Objective Reality as its all relative to how one perceives Life.

Remember the scene in The Matrix, when The child in the waiting room at The Oracle's home told Neo that "There is no spoon" as the kid manipulated the spoon to morph, bend and defy gravity without touching it with his hands, just his mind?

This is sort of the extreme end of Subjective Reality. You can do and change ANYthing you wish just through the power of what you believe about what you know through your senses. So far as I know, not having delved very deeply into it, but I think Zen Buddhism tends towards this kind of thinking. Reality is Relative to the individual and therefore it cannot truly exist.

Now here's the interesting thing about these two systems of thought: both of them are about the Self. Both aspire to creating a "better" world but they do it from the basis that the Self comes FIRST!

Hmmmm! Intriguing is it not?

No wonder Faiths such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are so battered and abused in the modern era! You see, these very old faiths ALL say that Reality is BOTH Objective AND Subjective.

The old religions (outside of eastern mysticism and some ancient pre-Judeochristian religions), all take the middle road. The accept, quite emphatically that there are facts...objective data...and a Reality that exists independent of human endeavour and perception.

However, these faiths also dictate that within that reality is also the Free Will of the Individual to interpret and construe things exactly how he chooses to. The free will of the individual to percieve and respond to incoming data from the Objective, becomes immediately Subjective in that process and an unique experience for that person.

It's not a bad thing this!

In fact for me, so far as beliefs go, I prefer to know that there is something that is very Objective and definitively Real outside of my rather messy perceptions. I screw up my incoming data so readily that its nice to believe that God has everything under control despite me and despite all those nice people around me who also like stuffing things up for everyone.

I do believe there is REAL independent of my intentions and perceptions about it. I can't tell you what this kind of REAL looks like because it would immediately be subjective if I did. I just feel more secure knowing its there anyway.

The thing with these three major world religions that differs from most post-modern self-designed spirituality systems, is that the Self plays a rather small part of the picture. REAL has nothing to do with the Self. We can only respond to God/G-d/Allah, based on how we feel about him but it won't change the fact that *He* is Unchanging in the REAL.

The focus is outside of our Self and placed on *Him*. We are positioned on a completely level playing field with everyone else in terms of our subjective responses when this happens. No one is better or worse than anyone else.

And your version of what constitutes REAL can be as whacked out left of extreme as you like.

You may well be exactly and perfectly correct and have hit the Objective Nail on its Virtually very Real Head.

Insert your own reality here.


John W. McKenna said...


I've been lurking in the background here, reading your posts, and I have to wonder, "Why are you being such a scaredy cat?"

Okay, that's not the most politically correct thing to say to a woman who his experiencing some of the harder aspects of life but really, it is what I'm thinking.

So, what's going on? I mean really, set aside the mask and say what it is you are thinking. Here is what I think... Once you have found the person, the Michelle with whom you are comfortable, you will be that much closer to a sense of well being and feeling less like you are on the edge.

This is not to say that any journey is going to be easy, but at least you will have communicated a genuine picture of what it means to be living you life.

Take a risk, quit trying to be the blogger and tell us what it is that is stopping you from taking that next step.

Take care...


Porena said...

Mi! Whatever way you look at it: it ends badly. Gasping for breath that is not gonna come. What WAS it that was on the main agenda while it was working? As I see it, we are amazing appreciation engines, and we know what we like to appreciate. The appreciation is real. The invention of that whole set up is real. The ideas that we get in our head about what will give us that feeling on the other hand are not real in the same way. They hardly ever work out. Nor does following the messages from religions, advertising, books, whatever.
You know what is real cos you feel it. That is different from knowing intellectually. You don''t know until you feel it. If you stop feeling it you stop knowing it.
That's my experience...