Friday, May 4, 2012

The truth about reality

From Rob Breszny's Facebook page:

The science newsletter, "Mini-Annals of Improbable Research," did a poll of its readers on the question, "Does reality exist?" Forty-two percent answered yes, while 31 percent asserted that it most certainly does not. The remaining 27 percent were undecided. A few of the latter believed that *their* reality exists but no one else's does. Two people said, "Yes, reality exists, but you can't get to it." According to one respondent, "Reality exists only when it is really necessary."

Oh man, I love being on a wavelength with my old buddy Rob. He is one of my favorite astrologers. His horoscopes are a little too pronoic, a reflection of his pervasive agenda - not a bad agenda, but it obfuscates a more objective reading, I think. However, his horoscopes are always fun to read.

What is real, anyway? In my society we're told to use our minds as barometers of reality. It's a big problem because the mind and ego are intertwined, one and the same. I'm speaking of the conscious mind of course. My first teacher of meditation, the luminous Jack Kornfield, said, "You have to practice mindfulness. You have to! Because your mind says, Go ahead, have a slice of peace pie. But right after you finish eating, your first thought might be, Why the hell did you eat that peach pie?"

Indeed. What the mind tells us is real is a wisp of smoke. In two minutes, it could look completely different. You can't count on it!

Of course it isn't the mind's fault entirely. The realm of emotion, long ignored or diminished by the rational people who study these things, is currently an area of great interest. They're finding that emotion is a fertile landscape from where thoughts, ideas, and a visceral sense of reality arise. This is supposed to be a brand new idea. Hmmm.

I am very excited about the new field of embodied cognition. More often lately I see stories about these researchers in the New York Times and other reputable places, whatever that means. These doctors believe the mind exists to serve the body, not the other way around. It's a fascinating development in medical research and as one of those "alternative" healers who was already on board with this idea, can I just say: Hell yeah!

I am thrilled we're moving away from brain-centered pictures of ourselves, very much looking forward to the day I no longer see stupid stories about how the brain is affected by what we eat, how much we exercise, "just like the body." DUH. Dudes, the brain is definitely tissue, a part of the body. How in the world did doctors, people who study brains, come to a place where they decided it wasn't part of the body? Too many brains pickling in jars in the lab, you guys? Are the fumes getting to you? What were you thinking?

What is real? I mean, really!

According to the Tao of Goldilocks, the most accurate way to understand "reality" would involve a balanced approach to perception: listening to body and heart, only then deciding with the mind what is and what is not. That approach requires curiosity, one of our most adorable human qualities. We have to be willing to question, to wonder and to be empty, "not like the bowl put away in a cupboard," as one of my teachers used to say, "but like the bowl on the counter, under the cereal box, about to receive." It's a beautiful idea introduced to me decades ago. I'm still working on it, as I will to my dying day, no doubt. The mind is such a bully!

All these thoughts are circling around my head. Imagine in the cartoons when one of the characters gets punched or something drops on his head. You know how birds, stars and punctuation marks fly around their heads as if in orbit? That's me this week. Maybe it's the super moon, who knows, but I feel I've slipped through a couple of membranes into a slightly different universe than the one in which I lived for awhile. Everything here is almost the same, but not exactly the same as last week. If this sounds crazy to you, then please read anything written by the cool, popular quantum physicists like Bryan Greene or Neil Degrasse Tyson about multiple universes and the membranes that separate them.

It makes me smile to realize that my mystical worldview, the Reyaverse, is backed up, more and more, by "solid" science. I really have stepped into a new universe, and I like it here a lot.


This gate is about 6" tall, part of a little fairy landscape some quirky neighbor built in their front yard. Were you fooled? Ha! What is real?


Anonymous said...

Well, I never question why I eat peach pie. It's peach pie, for heaven's sake!
The questions, when confronted with peach pie, are: is it really a good pie; and shall I have a second slice?
And the only reality my family can agree on is, if you don't get your slice of pie as soon as the pie cools enough to cut, it will all be gone. So eat now!

Reya Mellicker said...

Here, here!!

Reya Mellicker said...

You know, Jack Kornfield didn't eat enough. Even the Dalai Lama told him to eat more. He told us.

ellen abbott said...

when I read that last caption, my brain read 6' tall and so that's what I saw. or maybe it read 6' because that's what I saw? reality changes before our very eyes, like a river, always flowing. and when we go back to the old neighborhood and pass a property that has recently be razed, we know something used to be there but couldn't say for sure what exactly. A house, certainly, but which one that we have passed so often in our 35 years of living there? it's like it never existed. it's like the reality of it is gone and with it the very memory of it. or we'll pass a place that seems incongruous for some reason and we'll wonder, 'when did that happen?'

Reya Mellicker said...

Ellen, yes yes and yes.

Dan Gurney said...

I love the Tao of Goldilocks story about being an empty bowl. So simple, so helpful. It reminds me of Fulgham's Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten piece.

You're the one who turned me on to Rob. Like you, I like him.