Subjective Reality

What is reality? The Webster dictionary defines it as “the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.” But what does that even mean? 

“It’s the truth even if it did not happen.” -Ken Kesey, One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest

The funny thing about reality when it comes to humans, is that we don’t live in it. Consider a simple being, like a leaf. The leaf simply exists. Its reality is the tree that it grows on, the sunlight that shines on it, the bugs that land on it. The leaf can not think, it does not have a brain that can imagine a different situation for the leaf. It just is.

What about humans? We build up stories in our minds, that are just stories and are not based on the physical, material reality in front of us. These stories are accepted by everyone. If one were to dispute them; if one were to adhere to the reality of the situation, they would not get far in life.

An example? Money. What is it really? It’s just a piece of paper with marks on it. That’s all. But we as humans have built stories around these little slips of paper, that they have grown larger than reality. They determine one’s wealth, and in turn, one’s worth. It is fought for and fought over. The United States is anchored down by the invisible chains of debt. But all that money really is a belief, just like every other invisible line that guides us down the “right” path. Laws, religion, manners, social interaction; they are all guided by a perceived consensus taken at the start of civilization and refined over the centuries. These beliefs act as barriers. They inhibit us, but they also help us survive. They take away from our free will, yet create a world where we are capable of making choices. 

So Reality isn’t even our reality.

We are born with a blank slate. As we grow older, our direct observation of the world begins the muddle as the subjective reality of human existence, the “knowledge” and “logic” that we advanced creatures possess,  gets impounded into our brains. Our minds are now clouded. What gets transmitted from our eyeballs and processed by our brains is different from objective reality. The scary thing is, we really don’t know what is out there is the real word, because we have never seen it clearly.

Our Reality? Photo taken off of Google Images

What do you mean, we haven’t seen it? If you think about what humans really are, we’re just a brain, blood, organs, and a nervous system, which is awfully constricting. Everything we experience is (arguably, the existence of a soul is complicated to say the least)  a finite amount of chemical reactions within our bodies, we cannot process it all. So, based on the set beliefs that we come with, we make assumptions and extrapolations on the subconscious level.  So it’s not just beliefs that play a role, the entire configuration of our brains put biased restrictions on our reality: information we allow ourselves to expose to, what we mentally attune to, what we see, and the memories that we choose to retrieve. And we don’t even notice.

What would happen to us if these blinders came off?

21 thoughts on “Subjective Reality

  1. A very enjoyable and thought provoking read. Anyone who has dabbled deep enough into psychedelics or meditation (ideally both!) will soon realise that apparent reality is an illusion. We have limited senses, unable to observe the fact that there is no solidity in the entire universe, and our subjective perception is tainted, as you so rightly point out, by our experiences and belief structures. I was looking for inspiration for my short stories, and glad I came across you

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for reading! I have read a lot about psychedelic drugs (writers such as Ram Dass and Albert Hoffman) and that just convinced me how constricted our existences really are. There are just so many limits placed on us, that we just live in a daze. I’ve read that psychedelics show you the real reality, which is why so many people go crazy, they just cannot escape it. Because the truth is, reality is always fluctuating and changing, some people just cannot accept that. (I can go on and on about this) I’m very flattered that you found my post an inspiration. Cheers!

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      1. You’re really on the right path, and I think you have more to say about it! Perhaps a part 2 soon? Realising the changing nature of reality lead to enlightenment for the Buddha. I guess not accepting the changing nature of reality is a result of deep attachment to the illusion, unwilling to relinquish what you never actually possessed. Sadness doesn’t last, niether does happiness. Chasing after materialism, never learning that whatever you obtain becomes stale eventually or subject to loss. Even our bodies, changing at the cellular level in every moment, heading inexorably towards death. Inability to accept that makes one bound for misery. I guess that’s why someone can go crazy, to realise you were living an illusion can be hard to take.

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      2. I was thinking of doing another part to this, focusing of the scientific explanation of reality, such as the wave- particle duality theory and relativity. I just think it’s fascinating how nothing is actually real. Even on the molecular, atomic and subatomic level, there is a possibility that even that does not exists. Yet we all cling to our illusions and our realities as if they are our possessions.

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  2. What amazing insight you are sharing here, so well written. I totally resonate with the concept that reality is just illusion. I love meditating to take myself out of the head space and into the heart space 💜

    Thank you so much for taking the time to like my post, I really appreciate that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading! I’ve heard that meditation was a great way to disconnect your soul from the material world. I’ve tried it before but I just didn’t have the patience to continue after about half an hour. I guess just claiming that reality is an illusion is not enough, I should be able to express it in practice.

      I also found your post very interesting. I have a similar view on nature: I find it to be very inspiring!

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  3. You made me travel back in time to my days as an Anthropology student and a favorite read: The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (The Teachings of Don Juan #1)
    by Carlos Castaneda

    As a photographer I frequently depict reality that is not one normally seen by a casual observer whether it is the micro climate plants in a hot spring or the frozen poetry of a bird in flight.

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    1. Thank you so much! I never thought my writing could have such an effect. I’ve heard of that book before, especially concerning the difference in opinion as to whether it a work of anthropology or a work of fiction. I take it you see this book as one about anthropology? I’ve always wanted to read it and see for myself.
      I’ve been getting into photography recently (nothing fancy, just taking photos on my phone) and I’ve also noticed a photograph’s ability to reorganize reality into a prettier and simpler one, which I find to be very interesting.


      1. Your correct it was always an open debate ethnography or ethnographic novel. Ethnography itself is always open to interpretation … no matter how much we try and be impartial, unbiased observers who put our paradigms aside and get in the box of those we are observing it is impossible to do …. we breathe we live we exist and there is always baggage good and bad that goes along with that.

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      2. I agree that everyone has such a different interpretation about the world, which makes it very difficult to study humanity objectively. But is there really such a thing as an unbiased view? Like you said, everyone has baggage, both good and bad, and that’s bound to effect even the most linear of thinking, in my opinion.

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  4. You might enjoy listening to the lectures of Alan Watts. I don’t agree with a lot of things he says, but he’s thought provoking to say the least.

    Liked by 1 person

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