-R K Chandrika
Having taken a quick look at what Physics and Neurosciences say about reality, we examine two more aspects of reality.
Reality at the mental level
How much do we own the thoughts and feelings you believe to be ours? How much of our response to events is of our own choice, and how much of it is just learnt or programmed behaviour?
At the grossest level we are conditioned right from the womb by what our mother, father, elders of the family, peers, books, neighbourhood and school lead us to know as true, including the conflicts and contradictions we hold. While some of our beliefs do keep changing and acquiring new contours as we get on in years, there are some very deep-seated ‘facts’ that unchangingly underlie our most radical shifts in perception.
The popular and landmark animation film, ‘What the Bleep do we Know’ may, like a lot of ‘New Age’ thought lines, persuade you to think outside your box of preconceptions and definitions, while at the same time strain scientific acceptability to the point of inviting outright scorn. But let’s not lose sight of the ‘fact’ that science is still growing, and self-admittedly does not have answers to an awful lot of questions. This is not to say that the unscientific has. If anything, it is riddled as much, if not more, with contradictions, wild conjectures, confusion and exploitation. Where exactly does that leave you and me, the individual, with respect to our reality?
The shape of reality, I’d say, thankfully lies closer with you, the individual. In court of law, it is readily accepted, as my lawyer friend often quotes, ‘There are no facts, only interpretations’. This applies even more to the law of the nature of reality we experience as individuals, depending on our history and conditioning of learning and expectations.
Akira Kurosawa’s film, 1950, Rashomon, explores the phenomenon of how the same event is described completely differently by different witnesses, to the point of complete contradiction. There have since been several films in many languages including Hindi, inspired by the Rashomon effect.
We do have an enormous lot of shared reality. We are all gravity bound (except for the wonderful people we hear about, but never see, who can fly, not counting Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman), we all see the same buildings, filth, and beauty (even if they do not affect us in the same way). We all see a shade of green as green (unless one of us is colour blind, and also when we are not seeing the same colour). So there are a lot of common rules and plenty of exceptions here.
What does often stand out are the unshared differences. The separation that leads us to be apathetic and indifferent to the others’ suffering at the mildest, and commit cold-blooded murder and calculated genocide at the extreme worst. This, in various forms, is probably the only thing, along with the feeling of lack and limitation that leads us to snatch and accumulate resources, recognition and clout at the expense and detriment of each other. This perception of separation and limitation is probably all that is there at the bottom of all human sins and crime against each other, as well as their suffering.
Let us assume that your reality is completely different from mine. If you examine this paradigm closely, there is no urgency or the slightest need, even to bridge this gap, as long as my reality does not impinge upon yours. If what you are doing does not prevent me from doing what I want to do, and vice versa, how does it matter whether you see pink when I see maroon, or you hear hymns when I hear heavy metal?
The human problem is not the different realities that we live in, it is our self-righteousness in wanting to being the one who has it ‘right’, and the other one to be invariably ‘wrong’. It is also our unwarranted greed, always arising from a sense of limitation and lack, to be seen as better – richer, smarter, more endowed, more famous, more enlightened, more popular, more desired, more something or the other than the other. Both these positions lead to identification with situations that lead us to be overtly or subtly exploitative of, and indifferent or hostile to anyone that is ‘not like us’. This definition of identification, as it gets narrower and narrower, ultimately leaves only you, the individual, versus the rest of the world.
Reality and Religion
Most religions,in the way they are followed and interpreted, despite seeming differences, have a ubiquitous common thread. They all have an all-knowing and mighty entity that has created the world and its life as we perceive it. They all involve varying degrees and forms of supplication in the form of rites, rituals and prayers to the entity for wishes to be granted, as well as to ensure a better life and after-life.
Apart from the implicit hierarchy of the creator and the creation, there is a definite assumption of separation and duality. The Creator and its creation are separate quantities. Mostly this creator, who is upheld as a benevolent entity, also metes out reward and punishment to its creation depending on whether they have satisfactorily carried out the rules of living set by it. This is the lowest common denominator (interpretation) of religion that most buy into.
If you were meant to be dis-empowered, and constantly dependent on something outside of you to take you where you desired to arrive, this is the meaning gleaned from scriptures that fits best.
But there are many layers, angles and depths in interpreting scriptures. I would be inspired by someone when they point out a new way, but would mostly depend on my own resources to distill meaning from them. The fearful and limited (and we have more than enough of them in every religion, ready with louts, clout and weapons) will rush to hang sufis like Mansoor Al Hallaj for proclaiming ‘An Al Haq’ (I am the truth), but then, no one can decimate truth, can they?
Mystics in every religion, in every era, in every part of the world, have defied the control, hierarchy and rigidity of their religious and social systems to demonstrate the freedom that an individual has to live life by their own definitions, desires and will. But they are merely exceptions that prove the rule.
What reality have they inhabited that frees them from the chains that tether most of us to the heavy burdens that we inevitably carry in our own reality?
Modern mystic, Neville Goddard pointed out that the best way to read scripture is to assume that the entire story is about you, and that each character in a parable (Bible, Mahabharat, Ramayana, Quran, Old Testament) is an aspect of you. I’ve applied this with astounding insights, and find that even within that perspective meanings of varying depths lie in the very same line, depending on the state of mind you approach it with.
So what is their last word on reality? Let’s begin with the first line of Quran which sums up everything: ‘La Ilahaillalah’. I read it as ’There’s nothing but God’. Which means everything that you see (and don’t) is made up of the same substance (that created it), for there is nothing else.
The Book of Luke, 22nd chapter, says ‘Scripture must be fulfilled in me’, and John 8:24 says, ‘For unless you believe I Am He, you will die in your sins’. (The only sin implied here is the sin of not recognising that you are Him, the God).
And finally, the Purusha-sukta of the Rig Veda begins with saying that all the heads, all the eyes and all the feet, are the heads, eyes and feet of the ViratPurush or Cosmic Being. When Krishna, one with the Cosmic being, ate one particle of food from Draupadiwhen she called upon him for help in the forest, all the people were satiated. This is in line with the claim of Chhandogya Upanishad, which says that being one with the Cosmic Being enables you to satisfy any desire… the Creative power vested in humans, if they awaken to it.
Which leaves us with the question, if everything is from and of the same, why is everything so different? Why are we so powerless, and why do we feel so separate from everything and everyone else? And why is there so much suffering, inequality and pain? Questions that each of us will plumb our depths to probably come up with very divergent answers. Those we’ll dissect when we get to next wonder at leisure what reality really is.
R K Chandrika has been imparting nature treatment and spiritual healing and practices for the past 20 years, apart from being a professional documentary filmmaker. She runs a holistic nature care enterprise accessible on www.grasroutes.com. You can send in your questions at [email protected]. She will answer the more relevant and generic questions of them, which will be carried the following Sunday.
Disclaimer: Everything related to health in this column is for information purposes only. Readers are expected to exercise their own good sense in following any of them, and consult a professional therapist or doctor for conditions that warrant doing so. The author and The Morning Chronicle bear no responsibility for any outcomes from following anything described herein.