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A growing number of people within the matrix believe that we create our own reality. But is this true? In some ways it can be a tempting idea, but what are the implications?
It is not a belief held by everyone, and not even by the majority within the Matrix. Supporters are most often ‘new age’ modern mystics as opposed to adherents of the conventional religions. And significantly, many of these advocates consider themselves more conscious or awake than the average person. But it is important to remind ourselves that to be a mystic means to accept ideas without evidence, proof or demonstration, and even in contradiction to evidence or rational proof!
I propose that we do not create our own reality in a literal sense, it is an objective absolute that exists independently of any consciousness – individual or divine. However, we do have some control over our experience of reality. This may seem like splitting hairs but this distinction is a very important one because it lies at the very foundation of our mental map of reality, and the implications of our beliefs on this issue need to be brought into our conscious awareness.
We all make assumptions every day. They are built in to our accumulated knowledge and help us avoid the need to rethink everything from the ground up again and again every day. The danger is that these assumptions can be wrong. Any thinking or reasoning based on incorrect assumptions or premises cannot deliver a useful conclusion that correlates with reality – i.e. that is true!
There are scores of common assumptions in what I refer to as the Matrix that are untrue. This website is dedicated to identifying them. There are also many popular beliefs that are just plain wrong. Anyone can identify them, simply by relentlessly asking the questions ‘Why?’ and ‘How?’ and seeking answers to them. If we keep doing this until until we get satisfactory rational causal explanations, the truth reveals itself to us in proportion to our desire to know and understand.
So, do we create our own reality?
We must observe up front that any idea, belief or conviction can be held implicitly or explicitly. This means we can base our choices and behaviour on its acceptance even if we do not consciously claim to believe it. The belief that we create our own reality is no exception.
This is one of the major reasons why it pays huge dividends to think consciously about issues and determine what we believe and what we do not. It helps enormously to decide ‘out loud’ as it were, exactly what we believe. In fact, this speaks to another of the great myths within the Matrix – that talking to one’s self is a sign of madness. On the contrary it is a significant path to sanity, to knowing what we think and believe in, and to knowing what we are talking about!
Firstly there is only one other possible alternative. Either we do create our own reality or we do not. Either things ‘are what they are’ independent of our consciousness, or, we have the power to affect reality, to change it, to shape it, to create it using our consciousness. Philosophically these two opposing ideas are known as the primacy of existence and the primacy of consciousness, and together they exhaust the possibilities.
The primacy of existence holds that reality is an objective absolute independent of any consciousness – individual or divine. The primacy of consciousness holds that consciousness creates reality and that therefore reality is subjective, and is whatever one thinks or believes it to be. Thus, the basic philosophical fork in the road is: Objectivism or Subjectivism
So why do we need to address this belief?
Reason 1 – Efficiency of thinking
Although these two ideas are fundamentally contradictory, meaning you cannot consciously hold them both at the same time. It is one or the other. MOST PEOPLE in the absence of holding either one of them consciously, in the absence of thinking the about the issue at all, tend to behave based upon one of them part of the time and the other the rest of the time. This means that we unconsciously hold contradictory premises about the nature of reality.
In the absence of consciously choosing our convictions, most peoples understanding of reality (if it can be called that) consists of a jumbled mixed bag of contradictory beliefs, slogans, catchphrases and ideas right at the base of their thinking. Thinking cannot be efficient or creative and readily or easily arrive at truth with such a muddle at the base of the mental operating system. Because, contradictions do not exist in reality.
So the first main reason to get to the truth of do we or do we not create our own reality is to begin to get our mental files into non-contradictory order and improve the efficiency of our thinking.
Let’s remind ourselves that thinking is deliberate mental activity with the acquisition of knowledge at its goal. And that knowledge is the correct identification of some aspect of reality.
Reason 2 – Practical necessity
Recognition of the objective nature of reality is fundamentally at the base of all knowledge. The very concept of truth – that which corresponds with reality – rests upon reality being an objective absolute. Things are what they are, independent of any consciousness, independent of anyone’s wishes, hopes, fears, dreams or whims. Contradictions do not exist in reality.
If we could create our own reality and reality was subjective then there could be no such things as truth and no such thing as knowledge. Contradictions would have to exist. Two men with opposing beliefs would create contradictory realities. But as we know, contradictions don’t exist, because reality is an objective absolute.
The objective nature of reality is expressed in the law of identity – A is A. Things are what they are. It is also essential to appreciate that any attempt to deny that reality is an objective absolute necessarily uses the acceptance of the idea in the very act of communicating the counter argument. One has to use the objective form of communication that is language and one has to utter a statement intending it to be what it is and mean what it means and not the opposite. One has to use the law of identity in any statement denying it. It is thus irrefutable in logic.
Reason 3 – A peaceful civilised society requires it
The premise of an objective reality is the only basis for communication, negotiation, cooperation, debate, and persuasion. It is the only starting point for rational interaction of any kind and therefore a civilised and peaceful society. On the contrary Subjectivism is the philosophical basis for conflict, coercion and war.
As soon as men consider that reality can be whatever they desire based upon feelings or subjective whim, the battle for the supremacy of desires and whims then begins and violence and coercion are the order of the day. Might becomes right, and any objective arbiter of truth has been lost.
Reason 4 – It undermines the perceived need to think
Subjectivism undermines the necessity to think and is a call for inaction! If reality is not an objective absolute there can be no such thing as knowledge, you could think and believe what ever you like and it will be true. So if we hold this conviction there is little incentive to think. Thinking effectively becomes superfluous.
But thinking is mans main means of survival and we must think. Therefore subjectivism and the idea that reality can be what ever we believe it to be potentially undermines the well-being of anyone holding this belief.
We have mentioned that the idea that we create our own reality is a mystical idea. Any form of mysticism is necessarily subjectivism and renders the Universe fundamentally unknowable, further undermining the need to think. What motive can ther be to seek knowledge and understanding in an unknowable reality?
Reason 5 – Knowing what we can change and what we can’t
To know the difference between the Metaphysically given and the man-made requires the conviction that there is a metaphysically given, objective reality. Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
This is a a profound statement even though it comes from a mystic. As an atheist I disagree that the qualities of wisdom, courage and serenity are god-given, but I love that this quote acknowledges the importance of identifying the metaphysically given and the man-made.
We can change many things about ourselves; our mindset; our attitude; our level of knowledge; our choice to think or not; our behaviours and our choice of actions. But this must not be confused with that which we cannot change – the way things are, the nature of reality, the given, everything not self.
Reason 6 – consistent rational behaviour
The notion that we create our own reality is often implicitly accepted in our behaviour even if we don’t hold it as a conscious conviction. When we avoid that which we know must be faced, when we evade dealing with matters of importance, we are acting upon the implicit assumption that if we do not give it attention it will go away or not exist.
Usually this simply delays and increases our suffering. It kicks the can down the road and problems often compound with increasing negative consequences. If we consciously accept that things are what they are and that reality is an objective absolute, we are less likely to practice this sort of evasion and more likely to practice consistent rational behaviour.
Reason 7 – Being out of touch with reality
It is often said that to be sane we must remain in touch with reality. It is also noted by psychologists that Schizophrenics routinely consider their own imaginings and invented beliefs as superior to the facts of reality. In short, it is essential that we connect accurately with reality, the same one that everyone else exists within, in order that we avoid being considered delusional and insane. We can affect how we experience reality, but not reality itself.
Positive thinking does not create our own reality
Positive thinking is great but it doesn’t change objective reality, it changes us, and our approach or attitude. It is a stretch of the imagination to think that positive thinking actually effects outcomes directly. It can’t. But it can effect everything about the way we proceed in any endeavour. It changes our whole approach. In short it changes many things about ourselves that we have the power to change, and for this reason it is well worht practising.
But to lay any claim to conscious living or practising increased awareness we have to acknowledge that when we think positively we are changing that which we have the power to change within ourselves.
Nothing about accepting the objective nature of reality and its independence from any consciousness whether individual or divine denies the existence of currently unexplained phenomena. Such as thinking about someone and then the phone rings and its them!
There are many things that we do not understand that need to be kept in a mental box clearly marked as “unexplained”. And we must resist the temptation to substitute invention for inquiry. We must be “OK” with the unknown and acknowledge that for which we have no rational explanation.
The absence of a rational explanation does not mean that a fanciful or mystical invention needs to be entertained. Believing that we create our own reality is just one of a whole list of mystical interpretations of introspective and subjective experiences. We must resist the temptation to invent ‘other reaities’ to explain essentially subjective experiences particularly with regards to consciousness and psychedelic experimentation.
I hope this has stimulated some thought and some questioning. Please feel free to join the conversation and leave a comment.
Love and laughter to you
Treehouse Farm, August 2018
Interesting post. I’ve come to understand the power of our perspective and how it does indeed shape our reality. I wouldn’t consider this “positive thinking”, thought I think there is power in recognizing how our subjective thoughts impact our beliefs in what is objective. In a day and age where human beings struggle with their inherent power, I think it is critical to show people the power in their view of their experiences. Did it cause discomfort? Yes. Is it the end of you? No. Do I have the ability to turn this into a lesson? Heck yea. This is where I think subjectivity is powerful. I think it is harms in other ways. So…maybe it’s not as much of a myth but not helpful as an overarching way of belief?
I’d love to see your thoughts. Thanks
Nigel Howitt says
Thanks for your comment Josey.
I agree that our thinking has immense power at shaping our perspective and our beliefs. Thinking is a volitional act. You have to choose to do it, and this is what distinguishes switched on functional people from those who seem unable to manage their lives successfully. But neither perspectives nor beliefs have any power to create reality as such, only our experience of it. Thinking is immensely powerful. It can enable us to master reality but only by obeying it. This means recognising it as objective and conforming to it. ONly then can we reshape it and use it for our benefit. There is validity is what you say. But it is essential to grasp that the role of consciousness is to identify reality, it does not create it. The culturally dominant belief today is the opposite. As a result western culture has departed the rails of reality and the inevitable result is unfolding all around us.
If you are further interested in this idea check out the work of Ayn Rand. She was a beacon of light in the darkness of the 20th century. I am convinced that her philosophy is the only way out of the mess for humanity.