Defining Reality

Pardon me if you’ve answered this before but what definition of “reality” do you use when you write?

signed,
Really Curious

Dear Curious,

Cool question. Thanks for writing. I don’t mean to pull a Kobayashi Maru on you, but in essence the question itself is nonsense from an enlightened perspective. It presumes there is a fixed, permanent thing called reality and it also supposes an absolute point of view. But as the famous film Rashomon pointed out, reality is a judgment made from a specific perspective. It is not an objective thing. So the closest universal thing you could say about reality would be that we all create it for ourselves the very same way, using common materials, tools, abilities and knowledge.

367 Relax and Succeed - Never say neverAfter a lot of thinking the French philosopher and mathematician Rene Decartes realized that the only thing that he knew for sure was, “I think therefore I am.” Because we’re asking ourselves we can’t really trust our answers. Like that Chinese dude said, “last night I dreamed I was a butterfly. Could I not now be a butterfly dreaming I am a man?” That’s trippy but true.

So the only thing we know for sure is that we exist because we’re doing something right now. But Curious, I can’t even prove you’re you. For all I know you’re a figment of my imagination. Or maybe we’re both characters in the same dream but we don’t know that. It can seem silly at first, but the more you think about it the more profound it gets. And doing that has value because you are in essence taking your perspective apart. This is a very healthy thing to do.

The more you think about “yourself” the more you realize that you are a construct. Reality is this incredibly massive awesome unrealizable everthingness and we are like filtering machines. We filter out zillions of possibilities and we solidify one to live within by believing in it. So like the weightlifter I previously wrote about who couldn’t lift a certain weight until his coach lied to him about how much he was lifting, what we believe is where we think the world ends. There were people that did not think Orville and Wilber Wright were ever going to fly. Some people still think Elvis is alive. And they would pass a lie detector on that because they genuinely believe it.

367 Relax and Succeed - I am realisticSo there is no objective reality, there is only what you believe in, and those beliefs were in turn taught to you by other people who had also been taught a bunch of beliefs. That’s why we go faster, higher and farther in every Olympics. Human’s just keep finding new limits to everything. As we change our beliefs about what’ s possible we literally expand the borders of the space within which we can dream. And that doesn’t just apply to Olympians. That applies to all of us.

Reality should be seen for what it is: a flexible self-presentation of what’s possible. Change your beliefs and you change what is possible. And how far that goes is anyone’s guess. So do your best to keep a quiet mind. If you do have any self-conversations about the world, make them be less about what you can’t do and more about how you would do. And in doing so you will immediately expand the borders for what’s possible in your own life. Enjoy.

peace. s

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