May 8 : Our Own Reality Isn’t Everyone’s Reality

We all have our version of reality, which we also think is everybody else’s version of reality. We believe that our thoughts, interpretations and emotional reactions to different situations go across the board and that everybody thinks and feels like we do. And if they do not, then something is wrong with them, because our way of thinking and feeling is obviously the only one that is correct and appropriate to the situation. This kind of view gets us into a lot of trouble because we are, “knocking our heads against the wall”, as my mother puts it. Since the wall is not going to budge, it is only our heads that are going to get hurt.

We have all sorts of unrealistic expectations that are symptomatic of our rigid minds and fixed ways of thinking, particularly grasping at true existence. Just because an object appears truly existent, we project something onto it and believe it is objectively out there by itself. There are so many layers of this process. For example, when I look at a recorder and think, “Ah, this is a good recorder,” I assume everybody else thinks it is a good recorder too. But everybody has different preferences, so forget it! That is one level of grasping at true existence — a truly existent good recorder. Even getting rid of this idea, we are still not aware that we are thinking of it as a recorder. An even deeper layer is that we are not seeing the recorder as a dependent arising event, but rather something that has “recorder-ness” from its side. And a final layer of grasping at true existence is the thought, “I love it, and it means I’m important because I possess it.” It is just amazing how we get stuck in all this stuff.

When we hear teachings and try to put them into practice, we realise that how we think is not reality and that how we experience the world is not some kind of objective reality. Rather, it is an event conditioned by our karma, our habitual patterns, the physical body that we have taken, and so on. With all these conditioning, nothing we perceive really exists out there objectively.

“365 Gems of Wisdom” e-book is out now!