What is reality? Each of us has our personal read on it.
Yet, nobody knows for certain. Each of us is locked into our own
paradigm, and can only see things that way. The same world in
which we all live, is actually totally different, depending upon
who is viewing it. It is perhaps for this reason, more than any
other, that the world abounds with conflict.
As an example, take the different worldviews possessed by myself
and my cat Hermes. Each of us lives in the same world. We see
almost exactly the same things. However, our interpretations
could not be more different. I watch the TV and watch politicians
discussing the latest world crisis. My cat views the same
pictures and sees something different. He probably does recognize
the figures as people. Nevertheless, the noises they are making,
and the things they are doing, have no importance to him. In
fact, in his world, there is NO world crisis.
When we both look out of the window and see a cat, the
significance we each infer is totally different again. The roles
are now reversed. To me, it is a cat and nothing more. To Hermes,
there is a tremendous significance in its actions that I cannot
fathom. There are levels of meaning present that I am blind to.
He watches intently and his body becomes tense. In my world,
there is nothing much going on, but in his there is.
People can be like this too. A person born a Muslim, a Jew, a
Christian or a Hindu experiences a totally different world to the
others. Even in mundane secular affairs, the same applies.
One person’s fundamental assumptions often do not permit them to
see things that are clearly present to another.
This point was very plain during my former career in Investment
Banking. During this period, I functioned as a Technical Analyst:
a market forecaster who uses price charts of past market action
to predict the future market direction.
Clearly, I had spent many years involved deeply in this subject,
and had developed an expertise for it. Moreover, many unbiased
people found that my work was effective. However, throughout my
career, I always found myself in conflict with the economists.
These people function as the “establishment” within the banking
industry, and like to think of themselves as the intelligentsia.
In their world, the markets are random, and have been proven so
by “infallible” mathematical procedures decades ago. The argument
is closed. Consequently, anything I was doing that assumed price
relationships between one day and the next was utter nonsense; to
be completely frowned at. The fact I was doing it marked me as a
person of clearly inferior intelligence, and not to be taken
In one instance, I even tried to demonstrate some of my methods
to one self-pronounced Finance professor. Amazingly, he literally
could not see what I was showing him on screen. To me, a bond or
stock price chart is a meaningful connected entity, whose past
relates to its future. There is a continuity present between the
dots. To him, all he saw was a series of daily points, with no
connection whatsoever. Hence, he could not comprehend what I was
trying to explain.
As a result of different presuppositions to mine, he lived in a
totally different world. Not only did he not believe in the
possibility of what I was doing, in HIS world, it literally IS
Especially in the matter of human affairs, reality is a relative
matter; relative to the individual mind viewing it. You would do
well to always remember this whenaver you are in conflict with
another, or when you see the terrible conflicts taking place in
the world. For example, what is a definition of sanity? If there
is one, it is determined by the habitual behavior of the majority
of the population. Certainly, the insane do not regard themselves
as such. The very definition of sanity depends upon the
prevailing culture. The Biblical prophets, with their ranting
visions of doom, might be locked in an asylum today. Yet, in
their time, their words were preserved and regarded as holy
Even good or evil cannot be absolutely defined. It is necessary
to make final reference to a deity who is beyond question; in
truth, a sort of philosophical “cop-out”. Of course, the only
question that then remains is whether that deity exists at all!
That question alone, and the specific nature of the deity and its
pronouncements, is itself a source of massive world conflict and
yet another source of “reality relativity”.
At present, the political powers of the West would like to
picture the present world conflict as a battle between Good and
Evil; themselves being “good” of course. Only the extremely naive
would ever take such claims seriously, especially when the “good”
forces engage in destructive actions every bit as deplorable as
those who oppose them. Human motivation is far more complex to
ever be reconciled into such simplistic dualistic formulas as
Good and Evil. In every conflict that ever existed, the “evil”
ones also considered themselves to be the force of Good, waged
against the force of Evil. Each side is trapped in its own
paradigm, its own “rightness”, incapable of true mutual
understanding. Each is bent upon the destruction of the
other, thereby proving that whilst our toys have become much
more sophisticated, our minds clearly have not.
The innate Buddha/Christ Consciousness that underlies our being
perceives all things as they really are. That is why esoteric
teachings constantly exhort us to get in touch with the only
reality there is: the Reality within. However, the interaction
between our senses and our intellect, create delusive layers that
obscure that reality. They are delusive because they have not
developed under the guidance of higher consciousness. Rather,
these layers – which we call out life experience – have developed
largely without discrimination as a result of cultural and
The human brain is remarkably efficient at extrapolating meaning
from a very small amount of data input. Doubtless, this was
useful at a time when detecting even the slightest movement in
the long grass could mean the difference between life and death.
However, in the present day, this ability leads us to rapidly
draw and store conclusions that are often erroneous. The
intellect continually creates mental shortcuts, without truly
checking out all the facts available. Even when we do, we must
inevitably filter them through the framework of our previous
mental constructions and prejudices. In that sense, we are all
slaves to our own intellects and the forces that shaped them. We
are locked into a box of our own creation. That is why esoteric
teachings emphasize that Enlightenment is a process of going
beyond the intellect and contacting the higher consciousness once
One key to improving relations, both on a personal and
international level, may be to go beyond mere mutual
understanding. We need to realize that we
cannot totally understand the other person’s world, because we
have nèver truly experienced it. In realizing this, and in
nèvertheless being willing to celebrate the differences without
necessarily understanding them, we can a long way to eliminating
the blocks to human progress that seem so impassable.
The best way to approach our personal view of reality is to
consider it a useful model, and nothing more. Let us not take
ourselves too seriously, or get too attached to what we regard
as “facts”. When we approach another being, we are approaching a
wholly different world. It may bear a resemblance to our own,
depending upon the extent of common education and cultural
heritage we share (or lack) in common. However, it can never ever
be completely the same.
“Reality” does not lend itself to revelation through intellect.
After all, many of the great conflicts of history have been
battles between world views. So let us be less willing to believe
all the hype and simplifications that we are continually
presented with, and which appeal to our intellect’s taste for
simplified rules to believe. Rather, let us seek to be ever
less judgmental and more willing to work upon revealing the
ultimate Reality; that which is within.
Copyright 2002, Asoka Selvarajah. All Rights Reserved.
Asoka Selvarajah is a writer on personal growth and spirituality, and the author of “The 7 Golden Secrets To Knowing Your Higher Self”. His work helps people achieve their full potential, deepen their understanding of mystical truth, and discover their soul’s purpose. You can subscribe to his FREE ezine, and get his FREE ebook “Inner Light Outer Wealth” at:
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