Sunday, April 30, 2006

Reality

Any intellectually conceived object is always in the past and therefore unreal. Reality is always the moment of vision before the intellectualization takes place. There is no other reality. - Robert Pirsig

This pertains to the recent posts on 'delusions of Brad.' I wonder about this quote though - although this seems to be a fundamental tenent of Zen it suggests to me that thoughts are not real. But obviously, the thoughts, even though pointing to an external past, are happening in the internal present (or at least our awareness of them is in the present). And what about all the theory that has been found to match reality so well? e=mc^2 is just an idea, a thought, (and is therefore unreal?) What about all the thoughts that have been turned into real objects external to our minds - all of human products are thoughts made real. The chair you sit in was a thought before it became a chair. The same is true for human actions - all were thoughts first (or feelings, whether subconscious or not). It was thought that got humans to the moon.

I think the word 'unreal' here is misleading. I don't think the case can be made that thoughts, feelings, etc. that happen in our heads are not real. But it is true that they do not necessarily correspond with external reality - sometimes the objects in the mind match external reality very well, but other times, not so well. Perhaps this is what Pirsig was getting at?

So I simply have to disagree with the literal interpretation of Pirsig - to say there is no other reality than that which happens before we think is wrong. Thinking and feeling are part of reality itself.

I'd say the challenge is to get one's internal reality as 'in synch' with external reality as possible.

This requires either acceptance of things one cannot change or frustration at not being able to change things you want to change but can't. The fewer desires and opinions one has, the fewer things that can be out of synch, the easier one's life becomes, no?

2 Comments:

At April 30, 2006, Blogger ryunin said...

Thoughts as something happening in our brains are real, for sure.

When I say Buddhism is delusion or Brad is delusion or satori is delusion, I mean the situation when ideas pretend they are something else. For example the idea "buddhism" is something real in our mind, but it is not Buddhism. The idea Naomi Campbell in my mind is something real, but it is not Naomi Campbell.

And when someone learns that they have cancer, the idea "I have cancer" has just nothing to do with real cancer, so we say thought cancer, a category of cancer, is delusion - real cancer is beyond thoughts.

Ideas are always abstract, but they can lead to real things. The problem is when they don't lead to anything but more ideas. That's called useless intellectual talk. Buddhism should not be useless intellectual talk. Buddhist theory must point to reality.

 
At May 01, 2006, Blogger MikeDoe said...

"I'd say the challenge is to get one's internal reality as 'in synch' with external reality as possible. This requires either acceptance of things one cannot change ... The fewer desires and opinions one has, the fewer things that can be out of synch, the easier one's life becomes, no?"

Yes.

We can never be 100% sure that what we experience as reality as accurate.

Every belief that is given up, every preference that is given up, every thing that you 'dislike' that you learn to tolerate or dislike less; all of this brings you one step closer to reality.

If you want to become really close to reality then you need to (over time) learn to be comfortable with feelings, people and situations that you dislike in the same way that you are comfortable with the things that you like.

By comfortable I mean acknowledging your dislike and accepting that it arises from yourself and not from the thing. Often, over time it may then be possible to let go of it.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home