Reality? Seriously…

Is it the thing that persistently presents itself before us when we first open our eyes in the morning? Or is that just our mind, rebooting?

More and more I suspect that it’s the latter.

One of the great spin-offs of all the work that I’ve done with shamanism over the years is to come to an understanding that everything is just perception. If I can shift my perception about something and turn it on its head, then I experience a deep shift in my reality. Some might argue that it is only my subjective reality that has changed and that the real deal (objective reality) is still out there doing it’s thing (whatever that is) and hasn’t changed a bit.

But I am yet to be shown any convincing evidence of the existence of an objective reality. Oh, there is such a thing as consensus reality, to be sure: what you and I might agree as being “real”, but is it? Just because we agree that it should be, does that make it so?

There is, in that extraordinary language called Sanskrit, a term for what appears as real but is not: Maya. Commonly this word is taken to mean illusion, but a more accurate translation is “not that”, referring to the only thing that can be said about reality with any accuracy: i.e. that it is not what it appears to be.

Maya is the power that enables us to see reality as we project it onto the blank screen that surrounds us. A little like the source code in the Matrix that enables one to do seemingly impossible things (stop bullets, leap incredible distances) because what is perceived as real is, in fact, not.


Where does this leave us? In deep water, I suspect.

I liked the moment in “Life of Pi” When young Piscine is asked to give a credible account for his extraordinary journey. The alternative that he offers is disturbingly dark. Perception? Your choice…

There is a common counterargument here: if reality is so plastic and so easy to mold, why do we not all live in the reality that we choose, want and like?

One answer to this is that what we believe is not dictated by our will alone – if it were the world might be a very different place. What we believe is unfortunately shaped and held in place by many forces: and none are stronger than our early, pre-verbal conditioning. Deeply held views about reality are seated in the depths of the subconscious and can only be eradicated by a fearless spiritual archaeology that only very few are willing to embark on, on account of the monsters that delve in those deep, murky waters…

An interesting quote I stumbled across the other day (week? month?): “Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.” We are more powerful than we know. Waking up to this might be essential if we are to meet the crises that are looming at the horizon, both internal and external.

Microsoft had an uplifting tagline in the mid 90s that hinted at this: Where do you want to go today?

Where indeed, if reality is no more than Plasticine at our fingertips…

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Posted 15 December 2017

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