Reality and unreality

Thursday, November 7, 2019

5:35 a.m. Onward? [Pause] Are you out of ideas, this morning? Need me to jump-start the process? Talk to us of the vast impersonal forces and what they have to do with our lives.

In a way, everything in your lives may be seen as localized phenomena. Everything is actually far bigger than 3D-only, in that “3D-only” is not possible.

You are referring to the fact that in a 6- or 12- or whatever-number reality, a 3-dimensional reality can only be a subset. Everything we know is actually greater than our sensory apparatus can report, as are we ourselves.

Don’t think that is true but meaningless.

Well, for one thing it means we never see anything clearly, or – well, you do it.

You may see clearly within 3D parameters and still be quite mistaken when viewed from beyond them. It is the binocular vision that will bring wisdom; monocular vision may easily bring clarity.

Life in 3D can get tiresome.

Yes, when one plods along, doing one’s best, but cannot feel meaning.

I suppose that’s one way to put it.

You will find that it is a safe generalization. All forms of mental suffering – including boredom, including a sense of meaninglessness, including especially that sense of plodding an endless treadmill – will be found to stem from a disconnection from a sense of meaning, not from any “external” circumstances.

Viktor Frankl again, for example.

Or, better, in this case, Arthur Koestler.

Yes, I remember that incident, from one of his two volumes of autobiography. [Looked them up: One is Arrow in the Blue, the other The Invisible Writing.] He was a red, in Spain, in jail waiting to be shot. (This was during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39.) I can’t remember why it was that he didn’t get shot, but this night was an important event – the important event, maybe – in his life.

He had been a convinced and dedicated Communist, stifling his growing doubts because faced with the menace of fascism. His life involved endless lying, as he was overly a journalist and only covertly a Communist. Besides, the death-in-life that was a life staking its meaning on an ideology was killing him.

(I think it was Koestler who told of a young woman meeting a comrade clandestinely in the woods, enjoying the day until the comrade showed up and immediately began talking in ideological terms, at which something went dead within her, and she cried out, or maybe only thought, “Oh, why do the birds stop their singing when we approach?”)

Anyway, Koestler, waiting to be shot, found himself pondering some point of mathematics, and wound up engaging in quite a long flight of abstract thought. (I’m not expressing this very well.) Then he realized there was something he ought to be remembering, a flaw in the beautiful pattern, so to speak, and came back to earth remembering that he was waiting to be shot. “Oh, that,” he said in effect, shrugging at its unimportance. And that experience changed him entirely, instantly, so that when his jailer asked him, “Aren’t you a red?” he responded, “I was, but not anymore.” That wasn’t a calculated response – it wouldn’t have saved him from anything. It recognized that he had come to his true self.

You may as well finish his story.

With the act of kindness, you mean? He was literally starving to death in Palestine – I forget how that came to be – and a stranger gave him 20 pounds, I think, or maybe only 10, but an immense amount of money when compared to zero. If not for this anonymous Englishman, Koestler might have died in the 1930s, and without Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, it is said that France might have gone communist in the 1947 elections. A lot of consequences from one man’s charitable impulse.

And from one other man’s willingness to rip up his past life when an insight showed him it was the wrong path. That night in Spanish prison was as responsible for Darkness at Noon as was the stranger’s kind charity.

Now, we had you bring up Koestler not as a form of taking sides between ideologies, obviously. Good people find themselves taking sides in larger struggles for all sorts of reasons, few of them as rational as they assume them to be. But his experience is one that illustrates our point. It wasn’t mathematics that recalled Koestler to himself, it was the opening to his greater self that was facilitated by his love of mathematics. You see?

I do, now that you point it out. For me, it would probably be the contemplation of history and biography in some form. Certainly if it had to be mathematics I would be asking if I could be shot sooner rather than later.

Yes, very funny. But, that’s it: There was an access to the feeling of the non-3D, and when he found himself there (all practical or even possible channels of effective action having been closed off), he recognized the feel of reality. It is difficult to express, and can only be hinted at, to those who have not had the experience. But those who have had it, may not have recognized it, or thought of it in this context. That’s a reason to spell it out.

Pirsig said quality cannot be defined, but you know it when you see it.

Exactly so. When you touch a live wire, you tend to notice.

Very funny your own selves.

Well, it is no less a shock, and it may kill or transform.


Suppose your life is defined by ideology, or the worship of some idol that postulates that nothing beyond the sensory world exists. Then you have an undeniable life-changing experience. You know of those who come back from an NDE transformed; what you don’t know of is those who are unable to make so great a readjustment.

Who turn what might have been an NDE into an escape.

Yes. And by the way it is no tragedy either way. Life is choice. We merely point out that sometimes the shock is too much for some, and they choose not to try to retrace what looks like a long wandering in the wilderness.

Now to finish with this aspect of things:

  • Your 3D life has its own validity.
  • Feelings don’t necessarily tickle, but they are
  • A life lived in touch with reality will have its own self-regenerating property regardless of “circumstances.”
  • But individual choice may lead or perhaps mis-lead you. You may get lost in one or more of the seven sins, and the real world will be replaced by a 3D-only subset.
  • No one mistakes reality for unreality when confronted with the two side by side.

Does anyone ever choose unreality in such cases?

Of course they do. Haven’t you made the connection? That is what sin is, you might say, the choosing of unreality over reality. And the distinction you were taught (or rather mis-taught) between venial sin and mortal sin is precisely the difference between “wandering off the path” and “choosing to take the wrong path.

And as soon as you say “wrong path” my old instinctive response rises up and says, “wrong according to whom?”

To which we respond, not according to whom, but wrong for whom. The roadside sign that warns of a steep drop off one shoulder doesn’t particularly care what you do, it merely hints at consequences. But whether your choose to steer one way or another is always up to you.

And perhaps one man’s pitfall is another’s legitimate path?

Nobody can judge anybody else’s path. We merely remind you, we were talking about reality and unreality. Follow your feelings and they will keep you connected. Koestler experienced that, waiting to be shot.

More another time.

All very interesting. Our thanks as always.


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