Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What is reality?

Sure, we all know what reality is, right? Reality is what is… well …REAL.

But what is it?

Wikipedia tells us: Reality, in everyday usage, means "the state of things as they actually exist." Literally, the term denotes what is real; in its widest sense, this includes everything that is, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible.

It’s simple enough to confirm that the chair we sit in is real. The ground, the cat, the roof over our head, the food we eat. These are solidities.

What about ideas? Are they real? Is death real? You can experience it, sure, but are you really extinguished for eternity? Is there a heaven or hell? Will you sing with the angels or roast in everlasting fire?

These are “realities” which are debatable.

There is such a thing as personal certainty, and that may or may not be real. Certainly, when we find someone claiming that the Martians are out to get him and wearing funny hats made of aluminum foil, we are quick to reject his “reality.” We even shut him up in a sanitarium if he appears dangerous.

So maybe “reality” has something to do with agreement. If many people in America are told with enough “authority” that terrorists are out to get us, is that real? Well, it’s real enough until debunked. (Some say, in fact, that we create terrorists by creating conditions which are unbearable.)

For many years most of us thought that the USSR was a viable threat, until it fell apart and we discovered that its people were living in poverty so that some politicians could divert all the resources of the country and its satellites to maintain a posture of success.

Well, if I tell you that you are basically good and that you are an immortal being, is that real? I believe it, so it’s real to me. A number of people I know “understand” it as a personal truth. But if you haven’t personally experienced it, it won’t be real to you. This is an area of ideas, and reality is subject to our agreement.

And wouldn’t it be nice if it were true? What I would like is for you to look for yourself. Can you really imagine a world without you in it? Check out Scientology.

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