As Sandy Nelson put it in in the 1961 hit “Let There Be Drums,” there’s reality and there’s the reality of reality.
Reality is the beat. It’s the world as you see it. It’s not real in the dictionary sense of “occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed” because we each see the world a bit differently based on how we think about it.
For example: A couple stops to look at cows. One person is a sweet city woman (like the song). She says, “Cows! Aren’t they cute?” The second person has cow experience and says, “Yeah, they’re cute until one steps on your foot.” Same cows, different reality.
One person sees potato salad and salivates, another sees it and cringes. Same potato salad, different reality.
It’s because we each see through a mental window of our own making. From this self-window the world is negotiated. We look for advantages. We envy. We see faults. We worry. Our world is decorated with self-created irritations and we feel different and alone within our self-made, self-identity.
But it’s easy to break that self-window. Just slip off that self-made identity with a shrug of your shoulders. Let self-concern and opinion go quiet and you’ll look around like a baby and feel that subtle feeling. It’s a feeling of awe. You notice colours and textures more. Silence sounds more silent. You feel ecologically aware when you enter a reality that’s all too beautiful.
Shift from thinking about the world as self-interest sees it to experiencing it with your five senses plus one more: Amazement. The games Mel Tormé sang about can continue, but you don’t care (see related post: Horizons, Games, Connections & Enjoyment) because you see through the games and enjoy them for what they are.
Most of the time we take what we see for granted, but then, in an emergency or during a profound moment of awareness, when reality isn’t resisted or judged and it’s taken “as is,” the reality of reality hits you like a beautiful dream.
With this gentle shift in looking, you enjoy beauty, pathos and humour. You love almost everything and you enjoy humility because “you,” as you normally think of yourself in a competitive world, are gone.
But wait! There’s more!
This can be tested. Prove it to yourself with direct experience. Every now and then stop what you’re doing and look up. Look around. Listen. That’s it. Don’t do anything. Go perfectly still like a show room dummy. Take a deep breath and observe. See yourself seeing. Notice thoughts thoughting. Watch what happens. Look at where you are and say to yourself, “I am aware.”
And you are.
Because it isn’t what you see, it’s how you see. That’s what unshaven mystics, romantics and drummers have been sayings for years. Perceiving the reality of reality is like being in a mixed quantum state of moving and not moving at the same time.
In quantum theory there’s a phenomenon known as “superposition” from which it’s possible for the same particle to be doing two contradictory things simultaneously (Scientists supersize quantum mechanics).
You’re like that particle. A particle can be moving and stationary at the same time until an outside force acts on it and then in an instant the particle chooses one of two contradictory positions. Similarly, reality is perceived by you as it affects you AND you are a reality perceiving. The trick is to go into “superposition.”
Think of a time when you felt a feeling of love, of beauty, of understanding, of oneness with everything and everyone.
Sublime feelings like this come out of the blue like the sky above when you enjoy the reality of reality.
Maybe you’ve felt it while sitting alone beside a lake or while walking in a forest or while eating ice cream that you found. It’s when your senses are heightened and worries vanish.
It’s like we’ve been hypnotized by a magician (our self). He snaps his fingers and says, “Wake up. Look around.” And you do. No longer is reality filtered by fear and desire. It’s direct. What you see blows your mind.
In a state of intense consciousness everything is poignantly lovely. There’s a beautiful ordinariness to everything.
Separations dissolve. There are no faults and no thoughts of self. You understand. You are free and unafraid. You do your best without thought for result and let what happens, happen.
It’s like going into a trance while walking in a forest or driving in a car at night. It’s a total presence in a moment of heightened awareness without expectation or want.
In a self-perceived reality one must be smart, tough or lucky. In this self-created reality there are sharks and dragons glorified on TV by their dollars, possessions and arrogance and there are self-righteous people looking down on others from a vantage point of belief.
The sky may be blue, but it’s not impressive to you if you’re like the old man who sees fireworks on the fourth of July in Fort Collins Colorado and says, “If you’ve seen fireworks once, you’ve seen them all.”
We let our senses go dull and interpret the world like a movie rated from one to five based on convenience and comfort, but if you want to feel something beautiful, watch opinions come and go without clinging to them like a creeper to a gate.
Enjoy the reality of reality by getting out of your way. Breathe into what is and go swimming away into the reality of reality because you already know how it ends.