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Creating Flow

The Freedom To Be

Tag Archives: Abstract

The head throbbed.

A dull heavy fog enveloped it from inside. Just as a computer hangs by pressing too many keys at the same time, the mind dissolves into a dull grey mist when it begins to see a single situation from multiple perspectives. Nothing is what it seems. Yet everything seems to be a little of what seems. Like a pea pod. On the outside it seems like a singular green piece, simple and easy to make sense of, yet when one peels it open it reveals peas of different shapes and sizes inside. Each pea is real by itself, yet it does not constitute the entire picture. There are other peas exerting their own reality. People are like peas too. Each person living and talking his and her reality.

In the sea of multiple realities, what is real?

It is easy to generalize. Paint life with two colours. Black and white. The preferred colours of the binary mind. “Yes” or “No”. “Good” or “Bad. “Right” or “Wrong”. Yet when one dives deeper generalizations blur. Like pouring water over a beautiful landscape painting. The blue of the river spills into the brown of the mountains and the yellow of the sun dissolves into the green of the trees. One cannot say what is what anymore. The distinct landscape turns into abstract art. While abstract is a good for creative expression, it is not the most ideal state for making decisions or taking actions. The mind seeks black and white. While life offers multiple hues of dynamic subtle colours to choose from.

Can inaction can be action? Can choicelessness be a choice? Allowing life to paint the picture it wants to paint and not interfere in its creative (or destructive) process. Watch the painting happening outside and inside. On the inner walls of the psyche, using colourful brushstrokes of multiple thoughts and varied feelings. Some strokes impressing themselves with great intensity, others soft and gentle. Observing and experiencing each stroke carefully. Its colour, texture, thickness and fragrance. And when life has completed its picture it will let you know. Perhaps it will say “Done for now.” It will set down its paintbrush, lean back and have nothing more to say.

For now.

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Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure it was real? What if you were unable to awake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world, and the real world?

–           Morpheus in the movie Matrix

***

What is Real?

Certain events in the past few days made me ask myself  “What is real?” Not just in an intellectual sort of way. Intensely. Deeply. Really wanting to know.

I googled it.

Came across an interesting article by Philip K Dick, a prolific science fiction writer . He says, “Each of us live in a self created universe. Place 10 people at the scene of the crime and they will all come back with 10 different views of what happened. We live inside a world of perceptions, interpretations and opinions which has nothing to do with reality.”

It captured my confusion well.

In fact, it added another one.

Whose reality is real?

If each person lives in his own private-mind-created-world, does a world inhabited by 6.8 billion people, have as many realities?  If so, whose reality is more real? Whose reality prevails when these realities bump into each other?

Power prevails.

The entity with more power prevails. The authoritative parental symbol. Family, school, corporations, political, social, religious, spiritual organizations. I depend on them for meeting my needs. The power each institution exercises differs according to the need it fulfills.

In essence, I barter my reality for the security I receive from a more powerful entity.

What happens once I have bartered my reality for security?

The reality of that institution becomes my reality. This process in simple words is called conditioning. In its stronger avatar, it is called indoctrination. In a corporation, the CEO’s reality colours the organization, the family-head influences the younger members, the Guru’s words are ultimate for his followers, and the leader’s decision prevails in politics. The remarkable thing about conditioning is – not that it occurs. The remarkable thing is that I am not aware of my own conditioning. My conditioning becomes me.

A  Christian American baby would acquire a perceiving lens, very different from a Muslim Pakistani baby. Their cultural experience creates a lens by which they view the world and create their reality. I may dislike anything with a Pakistan association, simply because I was born in India and vice-versa. It was written into my script even before I was born.

In effect, my experience of reality is conditioned. If the conditions change. Reality changes.

How we know what we know?

The universe is in a perpetual state of flux. All life is a process of change. Even inert matter – like chairs, tables, stones – are a whirl of electrons, at a sub-atomic level. The world at that level has no inherent location, physicalness or separation. There is no definite world. Only waves of probability.

Where does the material world come from?

Observation.

“Observation alters the probable world into a definite world” says quantum physics.

Everything is happening at the same time. A cosmic dance of energy. I experience this dance through the limitation of my five senses. I take a small snapshot of the world around me, add words (meaning) to my experience and create my reality. The picture I click using my sensory camera depends on the conditioned lens I am wearing. It re-affirms what I already know. I do not experience anything anew.

Irrespective of the quality of my lens, the fact is whatever I experience is real for me. The experience of a schizophrenic is as real for him, just as my experience is for me. Others may judge our reality as factual or distorted, authentic or fake. The fact is. Fact and fantasy are both real experiences.

The Scale of Reality

Is there a scale by which I can discern fact from fantasy? What creates fantasy?

The scale of reality depicted above, moves from fact on the left end towards fantasy on the right. A progressive interpretation of sensory data. The more I move towards the right end of the scale, the more I am living in thought. The more I add thoughts to my perception, more subjective is my reality. The shift is from what happened, to what happened to me. A hallucinating person imagines a reality in the absence of any external stimuli. To a certain extent, we all hallucinate. While we modify our beliefs according to social norms, a mad man follows them to the very end. My opinions, concepts, beliefs, judgements, prejudices, ideology are building blocks of my imaginary world. A personal symbolic world.

Thought fragments perception. I divide the world into a number of things. Then attribute cause and effect to these things.

The Illusion of Language

I put my hand in the fire; it burns.

This may seem like a factual statement. Is it?

I have through language broken inseparable sub-atomic reality into parts. I have created a Me, a Hand, a Fire, and a process called Burning.

Cause: Me putting hand in fire.

Effect: Burning.

In actuality, does any of this happen?

If I had a lens that could view the whole universe together, as One, I would see that events are happening simultaneously. One universal organism breathing and moving together. The me, the hand, the fire, the burning. Are all One process! I separate it using language and thought.

Similarly, events are happening inside my body simultaneously. I use language to label them into different parts. Heart, blood, body, parts. Then say. The heart pumps blood to other parts of the body. Perhaps there is no heart, no blood, no others parts and no body. It is simply one hologram functioning – on its own energy.

Says Alfred Korzybski, the founder of general semantics “Language enslaves us by conditioning our brains to perceive a false reality. The map is not the territory; the word is not the thing defined.”

Living in Abstractions

As humans, we make abstractions all the time. An abstraction, simplifies, condenses, or symbolizes a phenomenal event in order to talk about it or think about it.

Says Alfred in his book Science and Sanity “The world is what it is. We can make all kinds of maps and models of how the world works. But the models and maps and any words one can put together can never do more than approximate the actual world or the actual phenomena being examined. The actual territory is beyond verbal description.”

For every event, we find meaning, reasons, possibilities, outcomes, judgments, concepts – becoming more abstract, personal and imaginary. Our reactions are based on the perceived meaning of an event, more than the event itself. Meanings give rise to feelings. Feelings give rise to meanings. An endless chain of meaning- feeling-meaning- feeling.  A slight itch is converted into big bleeding bruise due to constant meaning-feeling scratching.  We get lost in an ocean of words and their associated feelings. The initial phenomenal event may have affected us briefly. The perceived chain of meanings and interpretations affects us endlessly.

Is this how were meant to live?

Is there a way out of this world of abstractions?

Is it possible to have an experience free of memory and thought?

Freedom From the Known

The most fundamental fragmentation of thought is –

There is a Me and there is the World. I am separate from the world. Is this real?

Am “I” real?

The “I” is made up of the all that I know about myself from past experience and the desire to become something in the future. Built on self-concepts, ideas and beliefs. Is it real?

Perhaps the secret to what is real, lies in inquiring into this “I”? The source of all perception and experience.

Irrespective of the changing nature of my reality. Awake, dreaming or asleep. One thing remains constant.

I exist.

I Am.

Beyond concepts and sensations. This is the only reality that does not require any external proof or validation.

Perhaps the answer to discovering reality lies in exploring my own existence at the deepest core of my being. Perhaps the only qualification required to do that is a deep earnestness to know.

The truth of reality.

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