Rethinking Our Imagined Reality: The Way Ahead

In Featured, Reasoned Thinking by Dave Gaddis

At the beginning of this article series, I made a single assumption. There is only one Absolute Reality (AR) or Truth. We each experience and conceptualize AR differently, but the underline components of our existence are universal.

In Illusory Separation from Nature, we looked at the underlying constituents of existence and how they are interconnected and whole. We discussed Neil deGrasse Tyson’s wonderful quote about the molecules in our bodies being forged in the crucibles of long dead stars. We came to understand that we are not separate from Nature. We do not come into this world. We are born of it. We are, instead, an inseparable and unique expression of Nature. As Allan Watts often said, Nature “peoples,” just like it “trees” and “stars.” By extension, Nature “cities” and “cars,” as well.

“We are a way for the universe to know itself. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff.” – Carl Sagan

In A Limited Experience of Absolute Reality, we discussed the differences and limitations of sense perception across species and gained an important Reasoned Insight. Sense experience affords human beings with a limited and flawed perception of AR.

In Evolution of “Truth”, we examined how are the twin trappings of our imagined separation from AR and the severe limitations of our sense experience joined to underpin the creation of innumerable religions across human history, each purporting to be Truth. Greeks and Romans saw lighting and thunder as expressions of an angry god while others viewed ourselves as creatures brought into this world by a creator god. We gained a couple of valuable Reasoned Insights.

  • There are four primary indicators of a false religion: (1) exclusive membership; (2) sacred dogma which cannot be questioned or adapted over time; (3) culturally based God concept and laws; and, (4) extraordinary claims that contradict science.
  • Despite their shortfalls, the World’s religions do offer valuable insights into how we might consider the divine as well as how we should conduct ourselves. We will consider these more closely in the Recalibrating our Moral Compass article series.

In Our Imaginary Constructs, we saw how countless constructs that govern our lives are really based on figments of our collective imaginings. National borders are a prime example. They do not exist in physical reality but are deeply ingrained in our collective consciousness as real. We divide ourselves into Americans, Britons, Australians, and Chinese because our ancestors because we lived within contrived national borders. How many lives have been lost asserting the power of the collective belief in expanding the size or power of the “homeland” or “motherland”? Money is an imaginary construct as are corporations, natural rights, law, and democracy. Each has power in the world because we choose to empower them. Our final Reasoned Insight made clear that we live in a world dominated by two realities: physical and imagined.

Let’s take stock of where we are at this point. Our limited senses afford us a skewed perception of AR. Our imaginations have given us religions and mistakenly touted them as Truth. All around us, we have set up governments, political systems, laws, economic systems, and moral codes based on our collective imaginations. What are we supposed to do with these insights?

First and foremost, realize that experience is ubiquitous, meaning it is universal. We are all striving to consciously or subconsciously make the most of the experience. Thus, the greatest good in the world is that which enhances and extends the individual and collective quality of the experience.

Second, realize what exists in material reality and what we have empowered in our imaginations. Deeply understood, this realization can free you from all dogma and drive you to challenge everything you believe or hold sacred. This realization hardens your mind against the fantastic promises of religious leaders or the fiery rhetoric of nationalist politicians.

There is no shame in not knowing. The problem arises when irrational thought and attendant behavior fill the vacuum left by ignorance. – Neil deGrasse Tyson

With our fresh understanding of existence, we are ready to recalibrate our moral compass. After all, if morality was absolute then it would be a law like gravity.