Q: It’s apparent that we cannot actually know what anything is, we can only know our concepts. Mind cannot capture it. Science seems to ‘progress’ by breaking things up and naming every fragment as though it were separate. Is there actually such a thing as ‘reality’ or is there no such thing as I have heard both neuroscientists and nondualists say?
A: Good question G. The attempted ‘answer’ here is subtle as you suggest and not mentally understandable. It’s like dissecting a frog: does one really know then, what a frog is? If we study and illustrate a cell, do we know what a cell is? Can we – knowing the reality and beauty of nonpersonal awareness – describe or measure it?
Contrary to popular belief, pictures, images and words, thoughts and feelings are recycled renderings about reality.
“Ideas are never new. Beliefs are never new. All action, whatever it is, any activity, is based on a memory, a concept, an ideal, a tradition, a thought which has remembrance.”
~ J Krishnamurti
Words and images are merely pointers, yet indeed, one can be deeply touched and moved by them to perhaps enter into deep quietude beyond them and commune directly with the nonpersonal reality they represent. In that recognition of not knowing lies the peace and joy of being as it is, here and now.
So, to continue this plunge into the wordless with words here, perhaps we can note that apparent ‘reality’ is limited to, and apprehended by, the conditioned five senses and the mind. The body/mind really seems to be our entire operational and functional ‘reality’. All we seem to ‘know’ is tainted with the personal; there’s personalized seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching.. and perhaps there’s a ‘thinking’ that’s seen as such, in and by awareness, so to speak. That which ultimately ‘sees’ all this is awareness…whether or not one is aware of that awareness.
Human experience sure seems real: an old Zen sage was asked by a student: “Is there such a thing as reality?” The sage replied by striking the mans shoulder with his heavy walking stick – “real enough, yes?” 🙂
Beyond that sentient recognition, perhaps one can venture to speak a little about this cap ‘R’, Reality – which does not change. It is only recognized from awareness which does not change. One can ‘know’ it in knowing the false – what one is not – without knowing what one is. Like the eyeball ‘sees’, but cannot turn and see itself. Awareness is aware only of itself. All else comes and goes, apparently. What one is – loving, free and alert awareness – remains. One knows that one is, and doesn’t know what one is.. That’s discovered every day; every movement is unknown; there’s a fresh learning, a watching and a leaning into the knowing ie awareness, of experience.
Here’s an earlier note I’ll fold into our reality theme:
“Ah, awareness and words about it – here we enter mind’s contradictions and reality’s paradox. Awareness is nothing one thinks and believes it is. The dual mind cannot directly know what it can only verbally describe, symbolize, represent. Awareness is reality; reality is awareness.
Reality has no subject with its object; it’s not personal, not egoic, not a concept; it never appears as anything ‘other’ than the constant ‘awareingness’ which it is, here/now. All that comes and goes is not real; that which we essentially, infinitely are – pure aware spirit – is all that is. There’s no ‘unreal’, only imagination that’s believed to be ‘real’. Like love, there’s no opposite to ‘reality’. It is. To know reality is to be it AND to not have any idea what it is…
~ In the delight of awareness – beauty and wonder arises.
Below, a ‘Facebook flagged’ but wonder-invoking digital illustration of a cell, by Russell Kightley. Even without knowing what it is supposed to be, one can recognize the intelligence and beauty of it all, yes 🙂