Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Define "real"

Reality is a totally human notion. Outside of our minds there is nothing that is either "real" or "not real". Something becomes real or not only because we care to make such a distinction using some rules that change with every generation. If you remove a person who makes the judgment, the characteristic of reality disappears and all forms become perfectly equal to nothingness.

In a way, "realness" and "importance" are very similar notions. "Important" things are what is important to us on emotional and moral levels. "Real" things are important in the similar way, but on a conceptual and less conscious level because they form a basis on which our model of the world is built. Without "real" things the model falls apart and our self-identity dies with it.

But if you admit a possibility that your self-identity might be just an artificial creation of your own mind, you can see that without that identity it does not really matter whether anything is real or not. And if it does not matter, the whole notion of reality falls apart.

Is soul real or not? For Christians it is, just as our sins. For scientists it is not because it cannot be detected in a physical experiment. For me, it is outside of the real/unreal scale. "Reality", "soul" and "scientific experiment" - all these things fall into exactly the same bucket.

In the end, everything that we know about comes to us as a set of perceptions. Whatever happens next, whatever you think of next, is just a new set of perceptions. It's like a dream or a movie - if you knew that what you see is a dream and lacks "reality", would you care so much about what scene you see next? Now what if there is no such thing as "reality"? Just stop worrying about the next scene and enjoy the movie as it unfolds!

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