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Banbury Cross

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Post details: Reality

Reality

People who come close to near death experience often recall images of a long dark tunnel with a white light at the end. But are those images real? What if the brain, in a desperate effort to cope with a previously unknown situation, frantically fires up random synaptic connections in order to find a way out from what it must perceive as an emerging emergency. Maybe it tries to open some sort of previously untapped panic room possibly hidden in the deep recesses of the cranium. We know that even under normal conditions our brain has a tremendous potential to create its own illusions. After all, that is what dreaming is all about. It is thus entirely imaginable that in the case of a looming catastrophe, our intellect is capable of mobilizing much larger banks of such resources.

Many teachings and philosophies (especially those of Eastern provenience) ask you to liberate yourself from the objective reality and seek solace in the vast expanses of your inner space. In it you can create your own little Universe and enjoy the streaming happiness on your own terms. The interior may seem black and empty at first, but once your eyes get used to the twilight zone luminosity, you may discover a complex non-material world which taps directly into your brain's spare capacity. That is basically what Nirvana is - an asylum for jaded senses. No wonder that many gurus advocate immersing yourself in the spiritual self discovery in order to reclaim these deeper layers of your being.

I can see their point, too. Molding the cacophony of sensory inputs into a coherent image is an uphill battle. It feels like composing a giant jigsaw puzzle while your peers - your friends, your relatives, your roommates, your coworkers - keep messing with the pieces on your table. It is so much more convenient to just shut the outside door and succumb to the vertigo of your spiraling mind - or slightly worse - to sniff some nasty chemical and stone yourself beyond the Kingdom Come. But if focusing our energies into the unfathomable depths of our soul is the answer then why not give up on improving this world altogether? Well, if you think of it, there would be global consequences. If we all thought that way, the world as we know it would not really be here. We would never have invented the wheel and the printing press, we would not have built pyramids and the Panama canal, we would not have time to design an electric bulb or a smart phone. We'd all be smoking our little weeds somewhere in the Neanderthal Valley, floating contentedly on cloud nine and eating grubs. Literally.

I think life is a constant struggle between the perfect inner and imperfect outer reality. Every day you have to get up and make a choice where you want to draw the separating line. Do you navigate your anxiety ridden raft through white waters of assorted social regulations, often under unfavorable conditions, or do you steer it onto the smooth surface of an underground lake on which you are the supreme ruler and where you can live free of inferior desires and petty greeds. In this mortal's opinion, it is all about the balance. On the one hand, we need our inner world as a safe haven we can return to if it rains too hard on the outside. On the other hand, we should acknowledge the existence of that pesky outer reality which we share with others and use it as a vehicle to improve this little planet. And maybe build bigger and better pyramids while at it.

But what do I know? It is entirely possible that we don't even see the true reality anyway. What if our reality is but a projection? Kind of like a silhouette of an oriental dancer swaying on a whitewashed tavern wall. However accurate the projection is, it still does not accurately portray all the attributes of the real world, or even all the relevant entities acting in it. Despite the successes of modern sciences in explaining our world, it may still be just a shadow on the wall, a partial image whose full meaning is hidden from us. Imagine dogs were trying to figure out the purpose of a Superbowl. They have all the sensory input we have (in the olfactory department they probably have more) and yet watching the game would have to be utterly confusing experience to them.

We think of ourselves as masters of the Universe, but in the end we may just be dogs staring at the Superbowl. Yeah - it is tough to be a human trying to figure out what on Earth is happening out there. Especially when all we can see is a vague spray of light tiptoeing into the dark cave of our ignorance.

cc

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