Chapter Five – the fifth letter
How often do people say to you, “Oh come on, get real…face reality…actually the truth is…
If you are like me you may have retorted, “Well, actually, my reality is much more real than your reality… the truth is you are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land… you are away with the fairies…”
You might have notices there are three ways this argument often stops:
One person stomps off in a huff saying, “Its useless trying to argue with an idiot!”
One person finally throws up their hands in despair and says, “This argument is just silly and could go on forever!”
Both people shake hands and say, “OK, so we have different points of view. Lets agree to disagree what reality actually is.”
Its seems every English speaker has a different notion of what “reality”,“real”, and “actual” actually mean. So maybe it could be fun to go with https://www.etymonline.com/ and explore what these words have meant to people over the past two or three thousand years…
The meanings people give to words can tell us heaps about their behaviour. Why? How? Well remember we had some fun with paradox in our second letter? You, me, communication, the universe(s)… Everything seems to be paradox.
If you want to understand some of the “weird” behaviour of adults, then its helpful to be aware of this great paradox:
Our use of a symbol – including any word – simultaneously reflects and generates our state of being i.e. how we feel, think and act in any moment.
The ego in us adults seems very hostile to any suggestion that there is a direct link or connection between what we say and what we do. Wonder why? Maybe, just maybe, a reason is that if we understand there is a essential connection between our words and actions, then the ego is less able to get up to its tricks and deceits. Have you noticed how we adults are very skilled at saying one thing and doing the very opposite?
I have witnessed the above scenes. What do you reckon are the true (real) messages of the people in the cartoons above?
Watch me too for a while and you are soon sure to see I also act very differently to what I say. For instance, I say, “Yes. Yes. I am listening to you carefully.” when my mind is actually miles away thinking about something completely different and I am not really hearing a word you say. You may even observe that I seem oblivious to the contradiction between my words and my deeds. I probably am blind to it.
So, am I speaking a big, fat lie or a skinny, little fib or a harmless, mindless deceit when I say I am listening to you?
Maybe you are also like this at times?
Wow. The above cartoon raises so many questions – it is difficult to know which one to start with. Let us imagine you are the student seated at the desk in the stuffy classroom.
Are you telling the teacher a lie or a fib or harmless deceit?
Does every person fail to speak the truth sometimes and if so, how often?
Which is the greater reality – the classroom or the dreamworld?
Why do we imagine ourselves floating on clouds, riding on butterflies and having a picnic on Saturn’s rings? Can this actually happen?
Why does the teacher imagine our planet exists in a super-sized greenhouse. Is this true and, if not, how dangerous is this deceit about the nature of the world?
Actually, what is “reality”? It seems to mean something different to each of us and this is reflected in our lifestyle. Perhaps we can learn from observing what reality means in our modern culture and comparing it with the reality of our ancestors 2-3000 years ago.
Its no secret: I am now 70 years old.
I was born into a world far, far richer in healthy forests, soils, oceans and valuable minerals than you were born into. As you can see in the above cartoon, our planet was a much more bounteous place in 1947. The evidence indicates that, in my lifetime, some people have actually destroyed the sustaining soils, minerals, oceans and atmospheric balances of Earth on a scale that has not occurred in 70,000 years, nor even in 7 million years and maybe not even in 70 million years.
What on Earth happened? Humans have long had the ability to burn the major forests of our planet and destroy its soils. However it seems their view of reality meant our distant ancestors conserved most of these vital resources for my generation. Maybe we can peer through the mists of time-space and learn from the wisdom of their reality?
The above quotations are translations of the languages spoken by these legendary people in different regions of Earth thousands of years ago. These people of legend may or may not have actually existed. What’s important for me is the fact that thousands of millions of people over millennia have treasured these ideas of reality. These world views informed their lifestyles and culture.
Have you worked out the big idea the quotations have in common? Hint. Its about the universal reality and it involves paradox. Yes. It is the paradox of change: all the universe is continuously changing; change is constant. In other words, one unchanging aspect of reality is it never ceases changing.
The quotations also involves another profound idea about reality: the forces making all movement and change come from within rather than from outside the universe(s?).
Many of our ancestors speak of sensing an amazing force that forms and transforms our stars, planets, clouds, mountains, rivers, trees, you, me and all the other possible forms of the universe(s?). Every culture has a different name for it e.g. prana, qi, chi, mana, Great Spirit, Life-force, energy… Sometimes part of me senses it too. Perhaps you too experience it?
Whether or not they give a name to it, most people say that words cannot describe their sensations of vitality, awe and wonder.
Many find that music dancing, drawing or painting can more truthfully reflect this vibrant reality. Since ancient times people have said this universal force is such that “every thing changes; nothing perishes” and ”all things change and we change with them”.
Even if I was the greatest illustrator in human history, my skills would still be insufficient to communicate the grandeur of all existence. Words easily make fools of us. Perhaps the words that least make fools of us are those of the Conservation of Reality Principle?
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First draft – page completed 17 May 2018