We only see what we are. We think we see the world around us, but such a thing is impossible to do with merely a pair of eyes and a brain. If we want to see the world as it really is, we have to develop other aspects of our mind, which we’ll get to in a bit. For now, take a look at how your brain works in conjunction with your eyes to give you an impressive illusion of seeing anything at all but yourself.
First, a bit of semi-technical data. Your brain is nothing more than a chemical/electrical machine and your eyes are merely an extension of that machine whose purpose is the gathering of energetic data to feed to your brain in the form of nerve (chemical/electrical) impulses. These impulses are generated by light (electromagnetic radiation, or EMR) stimulating nerve endings in your eyes. That light is energy that has either been radiated from or reflected off of objects around you.
Already, we see a gapping chasm between what you see and what really is. You don’t see the object itself; you only see the visible light, which represents a very narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum, reflected/emitted from the object in question. If this object is reflecting/emitting other frequencies of EMR you have no idea, as long as you only have your eyes to feed data to your brain. The gap between what is and what you see widens.
Now, think about what happens to that data, sent along the optic nerve, when it reaches your brain. The only thing that your brain has to work with is a bunch of neurons firing, from which it must build a picture of what is in the “outside” world. The most fascinating part of this whole process is not the building of the picture, per se, but what the mind appears to add to the picture that does not seem to exist in the actual data. The most obvious to consider is color
“Who is the wizard who makes the grass green?” the Zen master asks his student. The neophyte student might interpret this as a question about God, but it is not. It is a question about the mind. Why does the mind interpret varying nerve impulses as color, and how? Remember, this is not something the mind necessarily needs
to do. Anyone who has looked at a black and white photograph knows that our minds have no problem interpreting the world around us without color. Still, color does help. For instance, brightly colored objects might either attract us or warn us of danger, depending on the context in which they are perceived. So, maybe we can live with that much of an explanation of why the mind would bother with color, but how about the “how” of the matter?
Try a thought experiment for a moment. Think of attempting to describe a color, any color, to a person who has never had the benefit of sight. You want this person to know the glories of your favorite color, but how could you possibly get that across to them?
Now, take the experiment a step further. Imagine for a moment that you are in an argument with a friend about color. The point you are trying to make is that color must be a property of light because so many people not only see it, but when they look at something that is, say, red they see the same thing. Try to prove it. There is no way to know that what another person perceives as the color red is not what you perceive as the color blue. You might argue that the fact that you can both look at the same apple and declare its color to be red proves the point, but it proves nothing of the sort. The only thing that shows is that you have both learned the same three-letter label for a specific band of frequencies of EMR, but you still have no idea for sure what it looks like to them! Nor will you ever.
Here is where we realize that the chasm between what is and what we see is wide, deep and seemingly impossible to cross. Everything we see is, quite literally, a figment of our imaginations. And, here at the edge of the chasm, we meet some familiar characters of a political and philosophical type. Since, as the old saying goes, you are known by the company you keep, I’d like to distance myself from them as quickly as possible.
First, there is the “philosopher” who takes the above argument as evidence that reality is only what you make it. That’s not a difficult position to take, once you realize that your brain is only making up the pictures of the world you see. But, this “philosophy” leaves out a critical point. Your perception of reality does not form reality itself. There is evidence that reality is altered in some way by observation, but as much as we might like to think so, we do not make up the universe out of whole cloth by gazing upon it.
Next, there are the scientists who take the above as evidence that we are nothing but meat machines with highly evolved mechanisms for perceiving the world around us. These men and women would have us accept the notion that since the brain is provably nothing more than an electrochemical machine, all of our notions of spirituality and self are nothing bur by-products of this fabulously evolved mechanization. This is a long and very unscientific leap to take from the data at hand.<
Lastly, there are the psychologists who would claim that in order to find peace of mind, one must learn to perceive the world in accordance with the status quo. Somewhere in the morass of human perception, statistically likely to be found in the fattest part of the bell curve, is a reality to which all should conform. As we’ll see, that one is probably the furthest from the truth.
The main problem with the “create your own reality” philosophy is, in my opinion, this. Just like the religion that presents a belief in a God somewhere else (perhaps in heaven) apart from us and all we see, this reality creation philosophy presents a picture of creation as something other than ourselves. In a sense, we do create our own reality, because that reality is not separate from us. We are, in other words, a part of that creation.
We are not merely a part of creation—we are the creation itself…and the creator. How does this view differ from that of the “create your own reality” crowd? It is, as you might have guessed, one of seeing or perception. If you see yourself as something other than creation, a separate entity attempting to mold the creation to your desires, this “separate” entity will not have the effect on creation it desires. When the battle comes down to one between your ego and the rest of the universe, I think we all know where to put our money.
Learning to “see” beyond what our eyes and brain can manage requires aligning with reality. It requires realizing our true nature as creators. This is not as easy as it sounds, though. The most common mistake made (the one that overtook the New Age movement, as a matter of fact) is thinking that by merely claiming that identity we have claimed our birthright. The problem is that the very “I” that makes the claim does not actually have claim to this birthright as creator of the universe. That “I” that sees itself as something separate and extraordinary is not at all what it seems. It is, as a matter of fact, really nothing at all. That is a tough one to take, I know, because it seems to so forcefully assert its “being” and identity. Yet, what it really is, is closer to what the scientist might claim as being the totality of our existence. It is an ephemeral patterning of energy that arises from the mechanics of our brains. Even worse, there isn’t merely one of those “I’s” inside each of us. There are many.
The real “I” is something we aren’t even aware exists, unless we’ve done quite a lot of work to develop it. The real “I” is not a part of what our eyes and brain sees. And, the real “I” is the last thing the “meat machine” part of you wants to become acquainted with.
The problem with the meat machine “I’s” is that they have a limited life span. This is something they do not want to accept. They are also extremely subject to manipulation and programming. They are, after all, merely machines. Without proper training, the programming of these machines always becomes hopelessly muddled, both through the many contradictory influences that serve to program them and through intentional manipulation. This leads to a situation in which the physical part of us cannot gain access to the higher, eternal parts of us. We become cut off from our own selves, accepting a cheap imitation in the form of poorly programmed neural machines.