Reality is an Illusion: The Imagination VS. The Absolute
Reality is an illusion. Don’t believe me? Think about the rich, seamless experience of consciousness you are having right now, full of color, thought, and feeling. It feels so real, so absolute. Could such a meaningful, infinitely layered experience really only be the formulaic product of a mere five senses? There’s obviously something missing here.
Behold the imagination. Just as the imagination takes neurological processes and turns them into dream realities, the imagination takes our five streams of electro-chemical input and transforms them into vivid waking realities. It so follows that the real-est reality we’ve ever known, with its tangibles, abstractions, and feelings is nothing but a convincing illusion rendered by our brains by modulating five senses through the all-mighty imagination.
The Paradox of the Absolute
If subjective reality is an illusion, then how do we account for the space in which such speculation is taking place? Clearly there is some objective reality space in which subjective reality takes place. Where do senses draw their information from? Is it not some kind of absolute reality?
The problem with this notion is that our idea of the senses is equally subject to the distortions of our imagination. Nothing that we directly perceive or understand can be trusted; if our dreams can fool us, then so can waking reality. This is what constitutes the paradox of absolute reality. No discussion can really take place here. Experience is the desired method of exploration if one in search of the absolute.
Verbally pursuing the ultimate reality might lead us into paradoxes, but thankfully it’s never either or. There is another reality, one that we are slowly discovering through science. Sure, it’s not the absolute reality, but at a practical level, it’s as close as many of us will ever get without experimenting with our current framework of perception i.e consciousness exploration.
We can call this reality the pseudo-absolute reality. Where we see the color red, science tells us there is only a collection of photons that our brains interpret as the experience of color vision; there is no such thing as red except in our imaginations. We are able to acknowledge the existence of a more absolute reality than the ones our imaginations produce.
The existence of these so-called photons, the exploration of their characteristics, and the ventures of psychology and neuroscience are all incredible steps in the direction of the pseudo-absolute reality. But when it comes down to it, the knowledge of the pseudo-absolute is still founded upon abstractions and approximations of a deeper fundamental phenomenon.
Beyond the Pseudo-Absolute
Some believe that the pseudo-absolute reality is the only thing that can ever be potentially known, because they feel there is no further exploration that can take place without breaking the existing structure that allows for scientific inquiry. There is a lot of merit in this kind of thinking. Will science ever evolve to account for consciousness itself?
As it stands today, all observation and understanding is always taking place through the lenses of ordinary human consciousness. Because science is founded on this inherently limited form of thinking, it might seem that we will always be stuck exploring the reality of our minds, the pseudo-absolute, where reality is an illusion.
But science is not that naive; I feel that it will continue to evolve and eventually develop a rational place for insights gained from altered states of awareness. Just as infinity, an unfathomable concept, has worked its way into the solutions of mathematics, spiritually abstract thinking will work its way into science to help us explore brand new solutions to age-old scientific problems.
It’s interesting to think that science used to be spirituality back in the day. Then, science took its place, seeking to be more objective. Perhaps in the future, science and spirituality will intelligently come together in a synergistic blossoming of paradigm-shattering ideas that will change the way we live and go about our day to day lives. Even further into the future, perhaps we will be become omnipotent and omnipresent; perhaps our consciousness will begin to relate to everything at once rather than simply to our ego-constrained selves.
Reality Is An Illusion, But …
Going back to the paradox of the absolute, here is another way of looking at it. In a sense, the reality that we refer to as the absolute reality is actually only the pseudo-absolute that we discussed here. So it’s still part of the illusion. Any reality that is conceptualized is always only a pseudo-absolute reality, because that conceptualization is based on our existing perceptual framework. The true reality cannot be spoken of, yet it is mysteriously present everywhere.
Tao Te Ching
I just realized something, so I’m going to write it here. As I mentioned, the absolute reality that is spoken of is really still the pseudo-absolute reality, because not even the notion of absolute reality can be butchered into the form of words without turning into the pseudo-absolute. And guess which famous book says exactly the same thing in a more concise form.
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name. The unnamable is the eternally real. Naming is the origin of all particular things.
I love it! My favorite translation of the Tao Te Ching takes a modern approach that helps all readers better understand the meaning of what’s written in the age-old text without having to decrypt any overly poetic passages. In my opinion, this is a definite must-read. If you prefer the more poetic version, I don’t have any particular recommendations, but I’d say do some searches online. There are several free ones that you might enjoy.
All in all, there are so many questions we can ask about this fundamental reality that we all seem to be a part of. What do you think about these ideas? What are your thoughts on the imagination and its role in projecting our relative realities? What are your thoughts on the evolution of science? Share all of your thoughts in the comments below!