Reality – Nothing but a Collective Hunch #1 #cong23 #reality


Even if there is a shared reality that is “out there” each of us is “in here” and we have no choice but to experience it through our own filters that are unique to us as individuals.
From a western scientific perspective, this makes true objectivity tricky to say the least, but it is also one of the most useful aspects of reality in that we can change our own realities by changing our own filters. Our reality filters are not all fixed. This makes each of us active participants in the creation of our own realities.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Reality really is a collective hunch
  2. A large part of what we call reality is actually perception
  3. Perception is something we have some control over
  4. By changing our perceptions, we can change aspects of our own realities

About Sean McGrath:

Sean McGrath is a software engineer, musician, songwriter and armchair philosopher based in Galway. He is married with 3 children.

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By Sean McGrath 

The comedian and actress Lily Tomlin is credited with the aphorism that “Reality is a collective hunch”. The western scientific world view resists this and sets out to show that there is an “out there” out there. A reality that is independent of us and is shared between us. I.e. it is “the same” underlying reality that we are all experiencing.
The western scientific world view has made incredible strides in a few thousand years and given its success, it can be hard bet against it and yet…even western science has reached the point where its own amazing method known as “the scientific method” has uncovered aspects of reality that are a bit uncomfortable to most western scientists. Kurt Godel proved that mathematics will always have holes in it. Quantum Mechanics strongly suggests that “observers” are involved in the creation of physical “reality” moment my moment.
Meanwhile, outside the western scientific world view, the eastern world view has accumulated thousands of years of thought about the nature of this observer and the role that the observer plays in constructing reality. Bookshelves are creaking these days with New Age books talking about the growing overlap between western and eastern thought on this subject and the term “spirituality” gets thrown around a lot. I am not going to go into those deep waters but instead just focus on one small but powerful aspect of this whole thing which is this: I believe we all possess the ability to influence our own reality.
Simply put reality is not exclusively something that is “out there” that happens to us. For sure, some of it most likely is. A tornado is a tornado. A broken ankle is a broken ankle. Rain is rain. Bereavement is bereavement. Leaving aside the possibility that we are all living in a simulation, these are all real.
But – and this is the key thing – reality gets to us “in here” through our filters. The first layer of filters are our five senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch plus the two lesser known vestibular and proprioception senses. These are “inputs” into our mind. Our mind is our second filter. In our minds, we all “observe” the sensory inputs and decide how to react to them. It is in this reaction part that we can exert influence over how reality is perceived. Simply put, the full reality of a broken ankle starts with the broken ankle but also includes the plethora of reactions to it that we form in our minds. Maybe we get angry at ourselves or at others? Maybe we feel sorry for ourselves? Maybe we worry about the future? Maybe we feel guilty for being a burden on others? Etc. Each of these reactions are items that we can exert control over.
In order to that, we must first become conscious of the fact that we are an “observer” of the broken ankle. We can do this by consciously focusing our attention on our reactions as they arise in our minds. For example, instead of feeling angry that we may not be able to drive our cars for a while, we can instead observe that anger is arising. The more observing we can do of these reactions the easier it becomes to see that the reactions are not “you”. The real you is the observer and simply put, the observer can choose what to observe, what to focus on and what to not focus on.
You control the observer, which controls perception, which puts you – at least in part – in control of your own reality.

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