The Realness In Reality

Have you ever asked yourself the question, why it is that you think about reality as real? In this article, I would like to take you on a journey towards realizing some insights into that matter for yourself.

To start our investigation we might begin with the one state that we would consider to be not real. Besides our waking awareness, the only other state that we all share and visit on a daily basis are our dreams. This you might call an experience that is not real. 

Real or unreal? In relation to what?

1. What dreams teach us about reality

Why is it that we say dreams are not real and is that even true?

In order to answer this question, we have to analyze it from two points of view. And by making that distinction we can learn what we mean by “real”.

In our direct momentary experience, dreams appear to us as very real. Inside the dream, we are usually not aware that we are dreaming while the story of the dream is unfolding. If we become aware of the fact that we are dreaming, an ordinary dream turns into a lucid dream. But in regular dreams, we only are able to label it as unreal after we have woken up and the content of the dream is put into a larger context. The context, in this case, is that the experience took place inside of our heads, while the body was asleep.

If you had your first insight by now, you might have noticed the first pattern here. What we call real always needs another context. Keep this in mind, as we will build on top of this understanding going forward.

From the point of view from inside the dream, on the other hand, the dream appears as real as everything else in life. This is important to notice. Because we have no “outside”-reference to our actual life. In other words, we might say, that we have never woken up from the dream called life. If that would be possible, it would put life into proper perspective. Just as waking up from a dream does with the content of the dream. Try to imagine right now, how radical of a shift that would be. How different would waking up from life feel? What could you wake up to? And is it possible to wake up while remaining “in life”, just as you do in a dream when you become lucid?

Think about these possibilities and you might arrive at some deep insights for yourself.

If dreams are not important to you, you might even think that you aren’t dreaming that often. But in fact, everyone has several dreams each night. How much attention we give them determines if we remember them or forget about them the moment we wake up. This might also give us a clue about how our current life might feel or matter in a larger context. If waking up from life is more radical of a shift than waking up from a dream than also the shift in context is something to think about. How different would you live if the context of life becomes much vaster than what it seems to form your current point of view? What would change? Would you gain some clarity and truly be living your dream life?

Did you have an insight into the state that you are in? You may have noticed that you never asked yourself these questions and that you have no reference outside of life. That is a very important first insight to have. It’s better to know that you don’t know than living in the illusion of never asking those questions in the first place.

If you deeply grasped the fact that you lack a larger perspective on life, then it can be a great motivation for spiritual work. And to invest time into answering these questions for yourself and gain direct knowledge of what your life is about.

2. Shared human experience

The second more important aspect of reality that makes it appear real is found in our human relationships. Since you remember, all of your experiences took place in a social context, whether you were with other people or alone. But mentally, you always put your experience into the frame of experiencing what it is like to be a human in a social environment.

I would like to ask you to try and grasp the fact, that you project onto other humans the idea that they share basically the same internal life as you do. You can only experience yourself as a human being through this very idea. This apparently self-evident fact is in truth a projection that is created by your mind.

From personal experience, I can tell you that it is possible to experience reality with a total lack of this idea. To see another person without the projection that they have their separate internal lives. This is only possible when our direct experience is seen for what it is. Normally we don’t experience reality like this. Just like you cannot stop your brain from understanding your native language. It just happens. And every time you see a human being, you automatically assume they possess internal experience. Even if you think that you don’t want to do it. Just like thinking the thought “I will try not to understand these words” won’t stop you from making sense of the words which you are reading right now… Do you begin to grasp how tricky this is?

We might, therefore, conclude that reality becomes real because we share a part of reality (external reality) between all humans. Even though we see it from slightly different angles, we have some overlap between what we consider objective reality. The discovery that shared experience with other humans is just a belief rather than a feature of external reality, will reveal a deeper truth to us. This information is something that needs to be contemplated until a genuine insight arises. It has to feel similar to the experience of looking at these words without also interpreting them at the same instant.

These are two important aspects that make reality real. But it’s important to notice that there are probably countless more details to reality that create the overall packages of realness. Contemplate the difference between dreams and waking life. And, secondly, the importance of other humans to your sense of reality. This will take you very far in your discovery of the true nature of reality.