On The Nature Of Reality

I’m going to post some thoughts here because I can’t think of anywhere else to write this. I’m not really interested in getting a response. My blog is perfect for writing things that won’t get any response!

I’ve been reading a lot of books on psychology and spirituality lately, mostly Jungian psychology of course, and the tendency for magical thinking is beginning to annoy me. Many thinkers get really confused by the difference between reality and the perception of reality. There are three kinds of reality that we have to deal with; physical reality, social reality, and experienced reality.

A mystical experience is said to lift the veil of illusion and reveals a higher reality or a transcendent reality. However, this should be understood as lifting the veil of illusion in the form of a narrow consciousness. What is revealed is the fuller experience of the world that includes the apprehension of the unconscious mind. This does not imply a reality beyond physical reality. You are merely experiencing reality more completely, with fewer filters.

Magical thinking is a common trap you fall into when your definition of reality is too narrow and you reduce the concept to a single word. The classic error of magical thinking is to confuse the perception of reality with reality itself or physical reality. A lot of people are even suggesting that quantum mechanics shows the materialistic common sense notion of reality is an illusion, i.e., that the objective existence of the world is an illusion. I don’t fully grasp the theory of quantum mechanics, but it seems to suggest that subatomic particles do not exist in a state that can be determined since the act of detecting their state determines that state. Many thinkers take this to mean that at its most fundamental level, reality depends on how you look at it! I would argue that this is merely your problem. A subatomic particle probably does exist in a fixed location according to determinism, which depicts the physical matter of the universe as operating according to a set of fixed, knowable laws. The fact that you are unable to determine the state or location of a subatomic particle is a problem of your measurements, experimental methods, or whatever. Just because you cannot determine something does not mean that it is indeterminate in reality. It just means it is indeterminate for you, indeterminate from your perspective. The uncertainty only applies to to the accuracy of human knowledge about causes and effects.

Now, experienced reality is definitely malleable. Your perception of reality can be distorted but this does not translate into a distortion of reality itself. Bringing the apprehension of the unconscious mind into consciousness can have the effect of seemingly enhancing your perception of reality but it will not change physical realities. Any idea that you can alter reality by altering your perception, say through an altered state of consciousness, is magical thinking.

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