Reality? What reality?

Our personal mentality, our vision of the world and of life is a matrix, a mould into which the malleable material of existence is cast, which then constitutes, once unmoulded, what we call "our environment".

Reality? What reality?


You don’t change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that will make the old one obsolete.

Buckminster Fuller


Everyone thinks that the fruit is the achievement of the tree; in reality, it’s the seed.

Friedrich Nietzsche


Reality? What reality? My reality? Yours? If we could compare our respective life paths, we would be amazed, astonished by the vast differences that this observation would bring to light. Age, gender, social class, level of education, geographical and family origin, religion or lack of it, physiological or astrological type, experiences, tastes, inclinations, neuroses, friendships, etc., all this makes each of us a unique individual with a totally original vision of the world and relationship to reality. Communicating is like exchanging messages and coded signals from one planet to another. The planets may be close together or far apart, but they each form a world of their own, a closed world separate from the rest of the universe.

If this closed world were a house, the senses would be its doors and windows. Through them, the lights, sounds and scents of the outside world enter the house. The consciousness, our consciousness, is the inhabitant of the house. The impressions that reach it through the senses mix and form various changing moods in it: sadness, joy, irritation, tranquillity, anxiety, optimism, etc. But do the senses make sense?

Our relationship with reality conditions our reality itself, that set of perceptions, impressions and memories. What we call ‘reality’ is in fact only a representation constructed, assembled by the brain from the information transmitted to it by the senses. The result of this ‘computer processing’ of sensory data depends largely on the memory and emotion centres, which manage the permanent flow of information in real time, in a fraction of a second, entirely without our knowledge, grouping, censoring, prioritising, magnifying or minimising it, distorting it at will into ‘truths/certitudes’ or ‘fake news’. A dizzying “memotional” merry-go-round, blind to itself.

Our so-called “reality” is nothing more than a “theatrical representation”, a staging of beliefs and cognitive biases that interfere with each other. Our system of converting sensory data into a coherent whole attracts and selects the information that reinforces our view of life, its relevance. These are the ‘sympathetic certainties’. Conversely, it rejects and retracts all information that would disturb or endanger the coherence of our image of the world and of life. Just as a social network algorithm instantly suggests to us what we like to read, see and hear, based on our past searches and visits. Our present is thus only the repetition of the past, any ‘novelty’ having to be registered, in order to be validated, in an ‘authorised’, reliable and secure register. It is this uninterrupted, totally unconscious brain work that ultimately delivers acceptable reports to our consciousness. Thanks to it, our image of reality ‘holds up’; it remains credible; the customer is again and again satisfied with its supplier, and does not question his deliveries.

Our personal mentality, our vision of the world and of life, is a matrix, a mould into which the malleable material of existence is cast, which then constitutes, once ‘unmoulded’, embodied, what we call ‘our environment’. It takes its shape perfectly. Thus thought conditions experiences. And the experiences confirm the thought. A vision of life that remains unchanged will perpetually generate the same experiences. Conversely, a thought that is open to the New will discover a completely new form of life. For example, if you think that life is hard and that you must constantly fight to keep what you have, your naturally defensive attitude will inevitably provoke defiance and aggression from those around you. And these manifestations of defiance and aggression will corroborate your feeling and your vision of things: “I was right to be defensive! Here is the proof! “. We can only live and experience what we expect.

At this moment, our only common point, our meeting point, is this magazine page. I wrote it, you read it; each in his or her own reality, unknown to the other. Fragile crossing of glances; uncertain meeting of two worlds in motion, so foreign. A page is so light, so quickly turned, burnt, forgotten! What is a magazine page in a human life? A filament of dust in the eternity of worlds! Do you perceive this immense solitude that the attempt to communicate reveals and exacerbates? This inescapable misunderstanding, inherent to our state of organic and spiritual separation? And yet an agreement resounds between us, unexpected, a deep, inaudible, elusive and yet almost palpable “yes”, prior to words. A “yes” to what, to what mysterious question, unformulated but persistent in each of us?

What is reality? It is what remains when the many veils that surround us on all sides (opinions, beliefs, affects, manias and phobias…) are torn away by the events and circumstances of life. Reality is the peaceful light that awaits us behind the veils. We are then alone and naked, without artifice, without mask, without any goal to reach, without anyone to please or displease. Reality is observing ourselves as we are, without fear or expectation, without over or underestimating ourselves, without condemning or justifying ourselves. It is indescribable and yet very simple: it is as it is; an indisputable evidence to which we finally surrender. There is nothing to say about it, nothing to think about it; one can neither love it nor hate it, because it fills everything; that would be to distance oneself from it, to wrap it in chimeras, to hide it again. Reality is what remains when there is nothing left.

As long as you refuse to accept it as it is, without trying to disguise it, to drape it in your colours, reality will give you a hard time: it will upset you, ridicule you, irritate you, disappoint you, unmask you, discourage you… It needs your attention, your recognition, your unconditional acceptance so much! But if you agree to accept it as it presents itself to you, without prevarication, then it immediately becomes your best friend, honest, sincere, reliable and helpful, faithful unto death; your only friend, in fact, and also your teacher, for you have so much to learn from reality!

Reality is not harmless; it is subversive. It can scratch or hurt our preconceptions, prejudices, preferences and taboos. It can even smash them in the blink of an eye. It bursts into us at the worst possible moment, with its big, dirty hooves, into our neat, cosy, carefully maintained comfort zone; like a rhinoceros happily snorting in the middle of a luxurious crystal glass shop, it ingenuously shatters our dreams, our fantasies, our forecasts, tramples on our projects, our arguments, our self-importance, our pride in appearing to be what we are not ‘in reality’. Reality destroys, little by little or suddenly, everything in us that is not real, solid, authentic. It is a vital force, untamable, wild, invincible, unpredictable by nature. It is allergic, intolerant of anything that is not like it. In fact, it is never it that hurts us: it is we ourselves who come up against it in our blindness, in our ignorance of the immutable laws of Life, in our drunkenness, in our overflow of ourselves.

Whatever you do, you cannot erase reality, nor defeat it; even less can you master it, dominate it, channel it, model it in your image, according to your representations. For you are only a tiny part of it, not its centre. Nor can you help it to emerge, to blossom, since it was here long before you, and will still be here long after your disappearance. Reality never disappears: it only changes its form, its colour, its clothing. You can only try to ignore it, to disguise it, to stifle its voice, its call in you, and thus aggravate your suffering and that of the world; or you can fade away in front of it, leave to it all the space in you, melt into it like a piece at its right place in the puzzle, and thus free yourself as a burden for the world.

You will soon turn this page, and find behind it another page where other words await your gaze.

For my part, I will free my fingers from the keyboard, and let them run to other tasks.

Very happy to have “met” you… for the time of a page!

Take care!

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Date: November 23, 2021
Author: Jean Bousquet (Switzerland)
Photo: StockSnap via Pixabay CCO

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