Reality: What is it and how might we experience it?
In the last couple of weeks, there has been an invitation to "encounter what is there, reality."
Of course, this is a big question…what is reality? Someone asked about the difference between REAL and REALITY. What is real? Well, we might say that we we experience in this world is as real as Harvey's model of circulation was in the 1700s. That was very "real" to them at the time. Is it then reality? It seems not.
Is the genocide and suffering in the world "real?" Roger's disposition is that it is "produced," rather than something that exists on its own, independent of human investment of energy in some kind of activity.
Let's say, for the sake of this blog entry, that reality is. That is, it is what IS. (Perhaps this is a reference to the "now". Do we actually exist in any other moment than the "now?").
This is different than "our" realities, the stories we tell ourselves about what is. In this way, "our" realities are not a whole lot different than fantasies--they are stories imbued with personal meaning that are more or less correlated with factual information. Roger provided a technical distinction from Heidegger, that fantasy is a turning away from what is; imagination is a turning into what is.
One of the things that was reported about an attempt to encounter what is, was that thinking about how to do it resulted in a brain overload, where one's brain "turned off." Roger commented that that would be an excellent way ("brain turned off") to encounter reality.
The dilemma that we seem to be in is that our minds are active, like a gerbil on a wheel. Their incessant work is producing something, but this something is not generally helpful to our experience of what is. Roger asserts that all this activity is the thing that gets in the way of encountering reality in general and our solidarity in particular.
What we are exploring, this encounter with reality, doesn't involve "doing" anything. We imagine that we need to manipulate ourselves to encounter reality. Instead, it is the case (says Roger) that we are constantly manipulating ourselves to encounter a "produced" reality that we often conflate with what is.
What is "produced" reality? Does it require an investment of your energy to keep it in existence? If so, it is produced. What is there when one stops adding energy to this produced reality ("my" reality)?
I digress. I have been unsuccessfully attempting to encounter reality without the interference of my mind. Allegedly, attempting to do so will reveal the places where we are actively producing something. I have noticed a couple of things. One is that when I can, for a moment, encounter people from a different place of being (with the gerbil resting), there is so much more "there." One can feel people and there is a richer exchange, a connection. This works best for me with strangers, like at the grocery store.
Secondly, what I have noticed is that the activity of my inner gerbil is most obvious to me when I first wake up in the morning. My first thought is something that "needs my attention"--some problem that needs fixing. What I can see in this mind activity is that I am feeding an egoic identification with "self" as "reformer." I think I see now what Roger means when he says our minds are busy in the "active production of self. " I am in a constant state of reifying my egoic identity of reformer, agent of change, 'fixing' things. What if I gave the gerbil a rest? What then would I experience?
Why is it hard to experience reality?
At some point, Roger presented an image of himself, siting at the edge of a beautifully-inviting, clear and deep pool of water. His sitting at the edge also involves him clinging to a fetid sack of crap which he acquired through a lifetime of "Getting his shit together." (Mission accomplished!).
We are holding onto this sack "as if" our life depended on it; our life, little "l," does. Our Life, big "L", requires that we relinquish the sack and dive in.
We see a gap between the liberty and health that we might experience in letting go of the crap and diving into the pool. But of course, our clinging to the sack is a park of the sack itself.
It is this fear of impermanence that keeps us clinging to the sack. We think that letting go means the end of us, means losing. When we let go, a different landscape of being becomes available.
We want assurances before we let go of the sack, but that desire is of course, part of the sack itself.
In the end, it is very hard to encounter reality or even another human being in the process of clinging to that sack.
Our next meeting is the "Monday-Tuesday, May 27" at the usual time and place. (This is, of course, not to be confused with "Maunday-Tuesday."