What is Reality, really? Does Reality primarily consist of physical objects, spirits, or emptiness dancing? Or perhaps all of the above, or none of the above, or whatever you choose? Our answer determines our approach to personal development, so let’s explore some possibilities….
1. The Case for Waking Life
Waking life is the most real of all human experiences. In fact, everything else is illusion. Dreams are just the brain defragging while the body is in “sleep mode.” What’s real is physical, observable, and measurable reality. The scientific method is the best way human beings have of understanding what is real. Happiness should be studied scientifically. Seeing entities or hearing voices is evidence for insanity requiring immediate psychiatric intervention and heavy medication. You are a physical body and after death, nothing whatsoever happens. Thinking occurs primarily in words. To live fully, be aware of your impending death and make the most of your life.
Reincarnation is utter nonsense, as are out-of-body experiences, which are easily explained by neurochemistry. Meditative experiences of oneness and peace are also just brain states, although meditation has been scientifically shown to reduce stress. Physics is the most real of the sciences. Human beings are products of evolutionary biology, and biology is just chemistry, and chemistry is just physics. All thoughts and emotions are just neurons firing. Neuroscience is really exciting because we are finally understanding something real about the brain, and getting rid of all the superstition that has plagued humanity’s past. God is a persistent delusion. Coincidence is random chance, and people are easily fooled if not trained in critical thinking. Human progress and personal development depend on sober rationality.
2. The Case for Dreams
The real world is hidden from sight, yet obvious to those who have eyes to see. Everything is energy. Spirits, gods, angels and demons are everywhere. Coincidences are meaningful synchronicities. You have a soul, and so does everything else. Thinking occurs primarily in images. Visions are really important, and dreams are the most important basis for big decisions in life. Psychedelic drugs and plant medicines open the portal to the Real. The rational mind is a filter that all-too-often keeps us from experiencing deeper realities. Science and technology are destroying our Mother Earth. Progress is a myth. Cultivate ecstatic states and your third eye will open, and you will experience Reality for yourself—which, by the way, is really freakin’ trippy.
We have fallen from the original state of paradise, where everything good was naturally in abundance. Language and rationality caused the fall from grace—we can get it back by expressing our deepest feelings, embodying feminine wisdom, and envisioning the better post-apocalyptic world our hearts reveal to us as possible (for apocalypse really means “revelation”). Don’t be surprised if the post-apocalyptic utopia looks a lot like Burning Man. What is created on the astral or visionary plane must come to pass on the material plane, therefore holding positive intentions is of the utmost importance. Dreams are expressions of the individual and collective unconscious. You are an immaterial soul that can travel in many strange realms, either with aid of plant medicines or rigorous spiritual practices.
Magick is real and everywhere, and prayer works if you work it. One of the first steps towards expanded personal development is keeping a dream journal. In the Dreamtime, we can all dance around the sacred fire together, as one tribe, with One Love.
3. The Case for Nothingness
All the world of the senses and the mind—including dreams—is illusion. Thinking that this stuff is real is the basis for suffering. Reconnect with the ground of all being (luminous emptiness, rigpa, prajnaparamita, dharmakaya, your True Nature/Buddha Nature, your Holy Guardian Angel, Cosmic Consciousness, etc.) in order to attain ultimate liberation and insight into the Truth. And the truth is that all of it is empty, devoid of permanence, satisfaction, and lacking in any “self.” Thinking is what keeps you from the truth. All your notions of self are impermanent and untrue. You are not your body. You are not your social roles. You are not your ideas of who you think you are, and new ideas don’t fit the bill either. But throughout all of it is something that it permanent, timeless, vast, spacious, etc. and that is who you really are.
Until we awaken, everything we do in life is to avoid the Void. Stop running, stop craving, stop resisting, and sink into the emptiness and you will die to what wasn’t really you anyway, and wake up into the Real of the profound Truth of life as-it-is. Science, while useful, studies illusion—only the science of the mind can discover Reality. Visions of gods and demons are ephemeral—look deeper to find what does not change and you will find liberation in the Truth. Abandon self-improvement, for there is no self to improve. Either meditate, or simply and directly give up seeking for anything to be different altogether. And if you don’t get it this round, aim to be reborn as a human so that you can try again.
4. It’s All Good
Yes, yes, and yes. All the above are real. This simple chart explains it all:
Impressive, isn’t it?
Don’t understand yet? Let me make this so simple a 2nd grader could get it: unmanifest Reality tetra-arises holonically via eight primordial perspectives or zones that develop through multiple lines and levels on a hierarchical spectrum or spiral from ultraviolet to clear light (or beige to coral, through two—or three—tiers), and through gross, subtle, causal, and nondual states which can—through meditative practice—solidify into state-stages (not to be confused with structure-stages), and appear in infinite masculine and feminine emanations, thus guiding the Kosmos (which is Consciousness) in an ever-unfolding evolutionary impulse towards greater integrated complexity.
If you understand the sentence above, you are part of the chosen few who will usher in the Integral Age™, which means you are very cool. Or to put it even simpler, the states of waking, dreaming, and deep dreamless sleep are all included in the non-dual, which is consciousness, and consciousness develops in ever more complex ways. We know this because some very advanced meditators can experience being awake during all three states, and because various developmental models seem to line up pretty well, at least if you fudge the details a bit.
Postmodernism misses the point, and breeds extreme relativism (also known as the Mean Green Meme) with the performative contradiction “there is no absolute truth.” 2nd Tier consciousness solves this problem by making a place for all perspectives, yet allowing for natural hierarchies—which I just so happen to be at the top of, naturally. Develop yourself in all lines with a consciously designed Integral Life Practice. Nobody’s smart enough to be 100% wrong—well, except our critics.
5. Reality Construction is Violence
What is this “Real”? If you are wanting something “objective,” then there is no such thing. Stop lying to yourself and accept this—the sooner the better. We construct ideologies of The Real primarily to gain power over others. While it is horrifying to peer into the void, when you do so, it peers back into you—which is somehow liberating or something. All so-called “realities”–including meta-theories like Integral theory–are socially constructed, therefore subjective. In our postmodern condition, there is no hope for creating a unifying meta-theory anyway.
Reality depends on people to create it. The notion of “objectivity” simply deletes the observer, the one who does violence to the Real, thus entrenching us deeper in the lie. All elements of human society and culture are simulacrum–copies with no original. All communication is violence, distortion, bias—including spiritual and religious ideologies of “unconditional love” (which we all know is bullshit, given all the wars started in the name of God).
God is dead. Every notion of the Real is violent, and we create such notions to a-void facing self-annihilating meaninglessness. Values are relative, life is irrational and absurd, and there is no absolute ground to stand on. If you’re not feeling a kind of existential anxiety, you probably aren’t asking deep questions about life. Searching for the Real in a romanticized past will not give us any escape, nor will praying for a techno-optimistic singularity. In fact, we must give up all hope entirely and embrace the absurd. One of the most important questions an individual can ask is “Does the realization of the meaninglessness and absurdity of life necessarily require suicide?” Now excuse me while I get back to my cigarette and absinthe.
6. Reality Selection for the Metaprogrammer Within
Realities are like clothes. You have to wear one to function in the world, but once you realize you can take one off, you can try on some radically different realities—for fun and profit. What the thinker thinks, the prover proves. Nothing “is” real, but some realities feel more confining or freeing than others. LSD, psychotherapy, Neurolinguistic Programming, General Semantics, and various spiritual practices can help dismantle currently realities and engineer more a more interesting trip.
There’s no way to see the blind spots of your preferred reality tunnel without stepping outside of it and looking at it through a different reality tunnel. So if you want to have more freedom, break out of your habitual reality and try on some new ones. Have fun fellow traveler, and try not to fry your nervous system with too much experimenting.
What is Real?
Feel free to either argue for how I’ve misrepresented your preferred reality and how it is in fact the most real reality, or experiment with arguing for all 6 (or others not mentioned here) in the comments below. Which reality do you live in primarily, and how does it affect your approach to personal development?
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