A Late Night Thought on Our Perception of Reality

Normal awareness — which I will simply called “consciousness” here — involves the perception of a division or distinction between the subject and the object of our awareness.  That distinction is among the most fundamental characteristics of consciousness.

Most of us — whether we have ever thought about it or not — are so accustomed to that distinction that if given the opportunity we would probably swear it was intrinsic to the structure of reality itself.  It seems, however, that cannot be demonstrated to be the case.  In other words, our epistemologies are not powerful enough to allow us to say with certainty whether the subject/object distinction we consciously perceive is a property of reality, or rather a mere effect of consciousness.

If the distinction is intrinsic to reality, then the universe is comprised of a nearly infinite number of discrete things.  But if the distinction is merely an effect of consciousness, then the universe is — in some way we have yet to understand — ultimately one thing.


See also The Study of Mystical Awareness

7 thoughts on “A Late Night Thought on Our Perception of Reality

  1. I don’t have any idea what “mystical” means, but accept the definition you have for yourself.

    Is the universe “ultimately one thing,” as you phrase it? The answer seems to be almost certainly “yes” (with the caveat that scientist’s are still seeking the “god” particle–the Higgs boson, I think–). My understanding of cutting-edge physics is not the best, so I don’t know whether “dark energy” and “dark matter” are expected to turn out to be “made of” the same fundamental something as “regular” stuff.

    I put “made of” in quotes because (and I love the idea of this!) it may turn out that everything in the universe is made of nothing at all.

    I was idly watching “Cosmos” a couple of days ago (while playing guitar, reading, or playing idiot games on my iPhone), and Mr. Sagan mentioned something I’ve heard many times: that atoms are mostly composed of nothing at all (the space between the “shell” of electrons and the nucleus). If I understand anything of what I read, that “space” is certainly just as much a part of “spacetime” as the space between our galaxy and the next galaxy over. So, it is not, in theory, “nothing at all,” I guess.

    So, if everything is composed of nothing, or almost nothing, then perhaps everything we perceive is “mystical.” Perhaps we ourselves are “mystical.” I have this thought just now that if all the “empty space” in the atoms of my body were taken away, and the remaining “stuff” were all together in a lump, that it would be so infinitesimally small that no human eye would be able to see it.


  2. Pingback: The Study of Mystical Experience and Mystical Awareness « Café Philos: an internet café

  3. An idea I picked up somewhere is that symbols, like us, are the point of intersection between the unknown and the known.

    I sometimes wonder, what do the ‘ascended masters’ do when they are not being channeled by us, sit around playing solitaire?

    I am very interested in the effects of mysticism on consciousness. I would like to know how a person’s consciouness is changed by this experience and what effect this has on their everyday lives.


  4. Symbols amuse us. They are pretty things to draw, we inscribe them with meaning as we scribble away.

    As to the “ascended masters,” a pox upon them!

    One may, in light of this, well ponder the fate of the swastika. There is a ridiculous debate as to whether or not the swastika symbolizes “good,” or “evil.” I am rather of the notion that the swastika originally stood for the many-legged progression of the sun across the skies, good sometimes when one desired warmth and light, bad when crops shriveled in the fields and one longed for rain and delivery.

    Whatever it meant to the ancients, the swastika was rather idle as a symbol until Hitler, desperate to justify his existence, poked above in Norse legend and myth, as well as into the symbolism and the darker beliefs of the Tibetan Buddhists to ferret out the swastika. The swastika then became, to the civilized people of the time, a symbol of sweeping up various sorts of peoples into a monstrous killing machine because they were “unsuitable.”

    Perhaps those cursed “ascended masters” had been whispering nonsense into little Dolfie’s ear to bring about this great evil. He was a fool to listen.

    A later charlatan, L. Ron Hubbard, occasionally liked to characterize himself as the “red-haired Buddha of the West” sometimes mentioned in obscure texts.


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