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What is reality?

sravna

Well-known member
There has never been a consensus on what "reality" means. Lots of clarity will happen in our understanding of various utterances of the past if we have clarity on the terms and the concepts used.

Let me give my understanding of reality. To me the following should be considered the golden standard for reality:

i. Perception of it is eventually unanimously same.
ii. It does not change and cannot be changed

Reality is the ultimate concept. It is upon which every other concept is built. So we need to have a big picture concept.

Based on the above our universe is not real because it fails both the above tests. Similarly physical self is not real.

Let me give the rationale for the two tests of reality

Rationale for i: It is premised upon the notion that order and consistency is the ultimate feature of reality. Without order and consistency there can be no laws. If there are no laws, existence will be chaos which is not the case.

Rationale for ii: The first is about perception and this is about the inherent nature of reality. This is saying the same as i.. but from a different perspective.

I think every other feature of reality follows from the above two.

Comments and arguments welcome
 

prasad1

Well-known member
Hindu scriptures describe ultimate reality as Brahman. Brahman is non-dual pure consciousness, indivisible, incorporeal, infinite, and all-pervading like the sky. Brahman is of the nature of existence-knowledge-bliss-absolute-the ground of all existence, basis of all awareness, and source of all bliss. It is the reality of all realities, the soul of all souls, one without a second, the constant witness of the changing phenomena of the universe. From an absolute point of view, Brahman alone exists.

Your explanation obviously means totally different.
That reality is perceived and conditional. There is nothing absolute about that "reality".
It is conditioned by so many variables that it can be defined conclusively, and be universal.
 
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sravna

Well-known member
Hindu scriptures describe ultimate reality as Brahman. Brahman is non-dual pure consciousness, indivisible, incorporeal, infinite, and all-pervading like the sky. Brahman is of the nature of existence-knowledge-bliss-absolute-the ground of all existence, basis of all awareness, and source of all bliss. It is the reality of all realities, the soul of all souls, one without a second, the constant witness of the changing phenomena of the universe. From an absolute point of view, Brahman alone exists.

Your explanation obviously means totally different.
That reality is perceived and conditional. There is nothing absolute about that "reality".
It is conditioned by so many variables that it can be defined conclusively, and be universal.
Dear Prasad,

Jesus, brahman, narayana, allah etc are all ultimate reality. The definition of reality should be able to accommodate each of these in spirit because I believe each of them has merit. though they may differ in external ways.
 

Janaki Jambunathan

Well-known member
What If Reality Isn’t Real?

We’re not the only ones questioning the nature of reality. A strange and fascinating argument is playing out, one that has set quantum physicists against philosophers and eccentric tech billionaire Elon Musk. They are arguing about the surprisingly plausible idea that our reality isn’t really real at all, but a computer simulation.

The key paper for simulation theory, the idea to which Musk was referring, is a now extremely famous 2003 paper by an Oxford philosophy professor named Nick Bostrom, the founding chair of Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute.

 

sravna

Well-known member
What If Reality Isn’t Real?

We’re not the only ones questioning the nature of reality. A strange and fascinating argument is playing out, one that has set quantum physicists against philosophers and eccentric tech billionaire Elon Musk. They are arguing about the surprisingly plausible idea that our reality isn’t really real at all, but a computer simulation.

The key paper for simulation theory, the idea to which Musk was referring, is a now extremely famous 2003 paper by an Oxford philosophy professor named Nick Bostrom, the founding chair of Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute.

thanks for the link. I will go through it
 

Brahmanyan

Well-known member
There has never been a consensus on what "reality" means. Lots of clarity will happen in our understanding of various utterances of the past if we have clarity on the terms and the concepts used.

Let me give my understanding of reality. To me the following should be considered the golden standard for reality:

i. Perception of it is eventually unanimously same.
ii. It does not change and cannot be changed

Reality is the ultimate concept. It is upon which every other concept is built. So we need to have a big picture concept.

Based on the above our universe is not real because it fails both the above tests. Similarly physical self is not real.

Let me give the rationale for the two tests of reality

Rationale for i: It is premised upon the notion that order and consistency is the ultimate feature of reality. Without order and consistency there can be no laws. If there are no laws, existence will be chaos which is not the case.

Rationale for ii: The first is about perception and this is about the inherent nature of reality. This is saying the same as i.. but from a different perspective.

I think every other feature of reality follows from the above two.

Comments and arguments welcome
Dear Sri "Sravna",

This topic has been discussed in detail in the book "Lights of Advaitha - selected teachings of V.Subrahmanya Iyer", collection of lectures by Rajasevasakta V.Subrahmanya Iyer, (1869-1949) a Guru to the monks of Ramakrishna mutt and Maharajah Krishnaraja Wadiar IV of Mysore.
In the Chapter under the head "
ILLUSIONS OF SPACE, TIME AND ETERNALITY" he discusses the subject in detail and concludes
"There is no such thing as "outside" teaches Mandukya. In your dream you see a mountain outside, but it is not really so. Sankara has said that you see the mirage or the snake outside, but they are really in your own mind. You can never have anything as outside without the mind showing it to you, without thinking it, without using the mind to tell you. This is the reply to the realists.
What is it that prevents us seeing world in self? The error of thinking mind is in the body instead of reverse; mind cannot be confined to the body: we do not know its extent: nobody has seen it inside the body.
"Inside" and "outside" are terms having reference to the body. But the body is
mental, idea, hence as dimensionless as Mind. What is the use of such meaningless spatial terms?
We cannot say where the limits of' the mind are. The mind is like a mirror and
our body is like a reflection in this mirror, just as all other objects are. When you know
Mind is unlimited and that your body is limited, then it follows that the latter must be within the mind.
Time and space being only ideas, nothing can exist either inside you or outside you; it is really the same as you i.e. non-different. "

A wonderful exposition of this intricate subject by an erudite scholar. (Since the chapter is lengthy I could not forward the entire lecture.)
Regards,

Brahmanyan
Bangalore.
 

sravna

Well-known member
Thanks for the references Smt.JJ and Shri Brahmanyan. The only sure way we can know something is real is whether it transcends space and time. Otherwise there is always scope for argument like what the computer simulation theorists have done. I think by design we are supposed to live in doubt more than surety which will get resolved in favor of surety as we evolve. As we completely evolve I think the truth strikes you completely and there will be no room for doubt.
 

sravna

Well-known member
In an interesting way the simulation theorists seem to be right. If you consider only the physical reality it would seem it can be classified as a simulation. The more I think about reality the more I believe that the westerners are progressing in a different way with regard to finding truths other than the spiritual way . I am now almost convinced that there are two clear cut ways to knowledge one exemplified by the ancient indian approach and the other by the western approach.
 

renuka

Well-known member
Dear Prasad,

Jesus, brahman, narayana, allah etc are all ultimate reality. The definition of reality should be able to accommodate each of these in spirit because I believe each of them has merit. though they may differ in external ways.
Yes, what ever Supreme state all religions talk about is the "Ultimate Reality" till this "Ultimate Reality" itself wont be a "Reality" anymore not as in absent but it ceases to be defined hence the description of calling it a "Reality" itself has to cease to exists.
 
Dear Sri "Sravna",

This topic has been discussed in detail in the book "Lights of Advaitha - selected teachings of V.Subrahmanya Iyer", collection of lectures by Rajasevasakta V.Subrahmanya Iyer, (1869-1949) a Guru to the monks of Ramakrishna mutt and Maharajah Krishnaraja Wadiar IV of Mysore.
In the Chapter under the head "
ILLUSIONS OF SPACE, TIME AND ETERNALITY" he discusses the subject in detail and concludes
"There is no such thing as "outside" teaches Mandukya. In your dream you see a mountain outside, but it is not really so. Sankara has said that you see the mirage or the snake outside, but they are really in your own mind. You can never have anything as outside without the mind showing it to you, without thinking it, without using the mind to tell you. This is the reply to the realists.
What is it that prevents us seeing world in self? The error of thinking mind is in the body instead of reverse; mind cannot be confined to the body: we do not know its extent: nobody has seen it inside the body.
"Inside" and "outside" are terms having reference to the body. But the body is
mental, idea, hence as dimensionless as Mind. What is the use of such meaningless spatial terms?
We cannot say where the limits of' the mind are. The mind is like a mirror and
our body is like a reflection in this mirror, just as all other objects are. When you know
Mind is unlimited and that your body is limited, then it follows that the latter must be within the mind.
Time and space being only ideas, nothing can exist either inside you or outside you; it is really the same as you i.e. non-different. "

A wonderful exposition of this intricate subject by an erudite scholar. (Since the chapter is lengthy I could not forward the entire lecture.)
Regards,

Brahmanyan
Bangalore.
We are both body and mind -- an integrated whole. We can conceive of a 'mind' as 'cognition, volition and emotion', that is, the thinking, feeling and willing intangible part of ourselves. The 'body', on the other hand, is the breathing, digesting, walking, running or other physically active part of ourselves. Our 'reality' is that we do not know of the one without the other, And this dual aspects of one integrated whole recognizes its own 'transiency' and the 'existence' of 'other' such integrated whole with whom it tries to communicate -- all in an external 'terra firma' with varied forms of 'existence', levels of 'conscousness' and degrees of 'bliss' as well as their opposites, ''cessation of existence', 'lack of consciousness', and the 'pain and suffering' associated with it all in an 'imperfect' setting which is full of inherent 'contradictions'!
 
We are both body and mind -- an integrated whole. We can conceive of a 'mind' as 'cognition, volition and emotion', that is, the thinking, feeling and willing intangible part of ourselves. The 'body', on the other hand, is the breathing, digesting, walking, running or other physically active part of ourselves. Our 'reality' is that we do not know of the one without the other, And this dual aspects of one integrated whole recognizes its own 'transiency' and the 'existence' of 'other' such integrated whole with whom it tries to communicate -- all in an external 'terra firma' with varied forms of 'existence', levels of 'conscousness' and degrees of 'bliss' as well as their opposites, ''cessation of existence', 'lack of consciousness', and the 'pain and suffering' associated with it all in an 'imperfect' setting which is full of inherent 'contradictions'!
Further, when we (the integrated 'self' of 'body' and 'mind') 'know' only of the 'reality' that is 'finite' (in spatial terms), 'limited' ( in duration) and 'imperfect' in nature (or chacteristics), we still 'imagine' (an unique aspect of this integrated whole called 'self') that there 'exists' something which is the opposite, that is, 'unmanifested', 'infinite', 'eternal', 'immutable', 'perfection' itself, which is the 'ultimate reality' from which whatever we witness -- the 'finite', 'limited', 'changing', 'imperfect', etc., -- has emerged. This imagination of ours may be true, accurate and represent the 'reality' or may not be so and faulty. In other words, 'reality' for us is what we are capable of 'perceiving', 'conceiving' and 'executing' with the 'intent' to 'perpetuate' our 'individual' and 'collective' 'existence, consciousness and bliss' with the 'awareness' that 'we' continue as a 'species' of 'life form' on this planet called 'earth' by us with varied forms of life on the land, in the seas and in the air (so to speak) by virtue of those powers.
 
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