What if there was a way to maintain things like scientific facts and truth, while shifting our sense of reality into something profoundly more flexible and enjoyable? How would we find that state of mind?
Are you prepared to let go? To think radically differently? Are you prepared to question your most basic assumptions? Are you prepared to accept that the problem really isn’t you, or the world? Would you even consider the possibility that your struggles are really not yours—but that they’re all about how we were all taught to engage with the world?
It is hard for your ego to believe, isn’t it? That you could really be okay, just the way that you are? And when our egos see suffering and strife in the world, it feels impossible that we could actually feel there was something sacred about that.
But what if it’s supposed to be ‘sacred’ rather than ‘good?’ What if, rather than good, it’s just supposed to just make sense, but in some extremely reliable and comforting way, that leaves lots of room for a rewarding life? Isn’t that what we all want? A reasonable world and a good life?
If you share the desire for a more peaceful inner life and a more peaceful world, then consider allowing yourself, and the world, to be as you are. The tense collection of emotions we experience are not generated by us ‘failing’ in the ego-world. Those are just the sensations that go with us resisting reality.
Instead, what if we made room for suffering, happily? We do that when we read books and see movies about things that anger us, or worry or scare us. We even pay money to have movies make us so sad that we cry. So clearly it’s possible to ‘enjoy’ all of those famously ‘bad’ emotions.
But what would that look like in our own lives? How do we even begin to become so friendly with negative states of mind, that we can start to enjoy them more like stories the universe is telling itself? To accomplish this, we will have question the very basis for our sense of realty.
Following my accident, as a kid, this is the sort of question I had: If people can die, and for some period of time they are not ‘in’ their bodies, then where (or what) are we? And how does that impact our sense of what it means to ‘be’ anywhere, including being ‘alone?’
At the turn of the millennium, the Earth was inhabited by about eight billion humans. We have trouble even conceiving how many souls that is. I live in a city of about a million. One million minutes takes us back two years, to about the start of the pandemic. But one billion minutes takes us to just 100 years after the birth of Christ.
Eight billion is fantastically more minutes/people than eight million. To have an equal number of people and minutes, we would have to go all the way back to the year 13,000 BC, around the time of the last Ice Age. Are you starting to grasp how many minutes/people we’re talking about? It’s fantastic.
While they each feel very personal to us, our lives are essentially made of archetypes, and we live out our personal examples as narratives. Essentially, every situation is some variation on a fixed number of basic life plots that can be clearly defined. It’s why, when watching a movie, we can often ‘identify’ with the emotional experience of someone nothing like us, who lived 1,000 years ago.
Like lottery numbers, there are only so many ‘types’ of people, and ‘types’ of experiences to have. With this many of us, all rolling the same dice, it means that many of us are simultaneously sharing in the same basic psychological and emotional life experiences, with only relatively minor changes to the details of the narratives. It’s how love songs manage to touch us. They strum what is shared between us.
We each may have individual realities, but we all create them using the same Truth. Reality applies if we’re wrongly accused. It applies if we feel ugly, or oppressed. It applies if our spouse is violent, or if they are the most beautiful person we have ever known. Reality exists as we struggle through an exam, or win an award.
Reality persists whether we’re suffering from imposter syndrome, or even if we are hitting the proverbial ‘wall’ while running in a marathon. Reality is even in our loneliest moments, when we are crushed by the loss of love, or wracked by death. It is even there when we are ashamed of our Selves.
Eight billion is such an enormous number that at this very moment, no matter where we ‘are’ psychologically, literally tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of people, are sharing that feeling with us. Humanity can fit a ton of narratives and characters into 15,000 years worth of minutes.
The important thing is to remember that our lives are narratives, and our consciousness is collective. So, even though we may be physically alone, we are never alone in spirit. Even on our darkest and most painful days, we can take comfort in the fact that we are always sharing that painful part of the collective consciousness, with countless other dreamers.
If you would like to work with me on your relationship to reality, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.