Reality and our relationship to reality
What is real? What is our relationship to reality? Here is what Werner Erhard had to say on this matter:
“You don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground. Anybody who knew their ass from a hole in the ground could stand up and tell me how they know when something’s real.”
Let’s take a look, a closer look. Is the Sun real? Is the Moon real? Is that road real? Is that car real? Is that tree real? Are your hands real? Are your eyes real? Are your feet real? Have you noticed that those questions are easy to answer. Are you aware that you don’t ask yourself these questions? Do you notice that we don’t get into heated discussions about whether the sun exists or whether you have two feet? So why does Werner make the statement that he makes? Because you confuse beliefs (what we say is true, what we say is real) with truth/reality!
Beliefs and our relationship to our beliefs
Why do you and I need beliefs? Think about this deeply and you will see that we do not need to believe in the Sun, the Moon that car in front of you or your arms. Notice that what is real does not require a belief! Go further and you inevitably come to the conclusion: beliefs are simply statements about us, about people, about the world, that cannot be proven. Put differently when we enter the land of beliefs we are dreaming whilst being awake yet not present to the fact that we are dreaming. Belief land is fantasy land – it is the fantasy land that we have been granted by our culture, your parents, our schoolteachers, our media, our friends and it is also a land that we shaped by constructing our own beliefs.
We give up our freedom by constructing the bars of our prison through beliefs
Look we have established that reality does not need beliefs. We have also established that beliefs only arise when they are not supported by reality. That is to say beliefs arise and can exist only if there there is no evidence, in the real world, that confirms that beliefs. Lets go to the point: beliefs are superstitions!
What happens when we construct beliefs? We give up our zone of freedom. Allow me to illustrate:
I believe that I my religion is the only true religion. Consequence: I cannot be with, explore, learn from the other religions.
I believe that I am superior to you, know more, am better than you. Consequence: I will not enter into a real relationship with you, I will not listen to you, I will not learn from you, I will take on behaviours that are opposite of yours.
I believe that musical instruments, singing and dancing are the ‘devils work’. Consequence: I will not own/play a musical instrument nor sign nor dance. And I will segregate myself from people who do engage in the ‘devils work.
You get the idea. Every belief narrows down the zone of Possibility and of our relatedness and of our freedom to be, to participate in life, to live fully!
Now here is the really bizarre thing. When our fellow human beings show up and ‘challenge’ our beliefs we get upset, we sulk, we withdraw, we condemn, we get angry, we shout, we maim and we kill. That is how determined we are to keep ourselves enslaved. If we were sane, if we had a sound relationship to reality, we would welcome people who exposed our beliefs, our prison bars, and thus allowed us to set ourselves free.
Let go of your beliefs and set yourself free
We did not come into this world with beliefs, Once upon a time, you and I were in intimate contact with reality and simply flowed with it. And as such everything was permissible to us. Then little by lit we assimilated beliefs, constructed our prison bars and gave up that freedom we were born with .
You and I can reclaim our freedom right now by letting go of our beliefs. Every time we encounter a belief we can let it go – we can point at it and shout “Superstition”. Every time we do that we dismantle another prison bar and thus increase our zone of freedom. To do that we have to be willing to stand in a very different place: a place from which we see beliefs not as truths, nor as useful tools but as a prison bar that constricts our freedom.
Struggling with this? Please get to present to the fact that reality is reality and a belief is a belief. When our beliefs don’t match the reality then we suffer. Allow me to share a quote that I came across recently:
“My heart says people are inherently good, it is my experiences that speak differently.” Angela Sturm
When a wise person notices the mismatch between his beliefs and reality (what is so in terms of our experience) he gives up his belief. If you and I let go of beliefs and be with what is so we increase the ‘workability’ of our lives and thus minimise our ‘suffering’. This benefit is in addition to be reclaiming our freedom. Do you wish to be that wise person or do you wish to continue to be the fool? That is a choice for each one of us to make and live with.
How to live powerfully: replace beliefs with Stand, with Possibility
If I was Angela I would let go of the belief “People are inherently good”. Why? It is false – all beliefs are false! Instead I would recognise reality “Some people exhibit behaviours I say are ‘good’. Some people exhibit behaviours that I say are ‘bad’. The same person can exhibit both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behaviours.” Going further, I can let go of the belief and invent a Stand:
“I am Stand for recognising the good in people and calling that forth in my thinking, in my speaking, in my actions, my behaviour”.
Do you notice the power of the Stand? It is not a belief about me, about you, about our fellow human beings, about the world at large. No, the Stand is me creating / inventing my role in the drama called Life. It is a ‘call to arms’ that I give myself. Notice, that if people were already inherently good (and behaved good) then my Stand makes no contribution. By taking on this Stand I am calling forth / living out of the Possibility that I can impact how people show up in the world – ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Do you want a concrete example of the difference between reality, belief and Stand/Possibility? Then watch this 4 minute YouTube clip of Viktor Frankl – Viktor explains the difference in a way that you will never forget. Why is he worth listening to? He wrote one of the most profound books (Man in Search of Meaning) when it comes to understanding of the human condition. And he survived the WWII concentration camps whilst losing everyone – all his family and friends. Yet, just listen to how he relates to people given his very real understanding of people: