What Is Reality ?

Are We Stuck?

New York Street Photography by Deborah Julian. Used with permission.
New York Street Photography by Deborah Julian. Used with permission. | Source

What Is Reality? No, Really - What Is It?

Instinctively, we all think we know the answer, don't we?

What is reality?

Our conscious minds pull together a real world from information given us by our senses and shooting along neural pathways. We smell, we see, we touch, we hear.

Consciousness then puts it all together as our mind's eye rendition of the world.

But true conscious awareness presents a reality we can't know. After all, since being awake means accepting a manageable reduction made up of less than 10% of what we sense, what is the reality we end up with all about?

Reality Is As Much As We Think It Is

Touching, Feeling Reality

Our brains are dazzlingly complex collections of cells that interact, weaving in multiple directions between cell clusters, to present us with original visions of what is true and real.

But how true are our visions? Are we simply accepting the results of an evolved system designed to help us negotiate an otherwise invisible and perhaps permanently inaccessible something out there ?

It surprises most to learn that no experiment has ever been devised that can verify any objective reality outside ourselves. In other words, it's all in your head, according to the information your brain gets and how it puts it together. It could just as easily be imaginary as tangible and real.

The reach of our senses, ends on the boarder of that physical thing you call "me," the outer extremity of your physical body, no further.

Stated simply, reality as we see it is contained within ourselves, and the big question nobody can answer is whether anything external reaches our senses or our minds or just tells us it does.

We take it on faith that reality is a lot like what we patch together in our minds. Our eyes relay quantum particles known as photons to our brains. Smells are taken up by receptors in our noses. Taste buds collect information from what we put in our mouths. Our skin accepts a variety of messages, including heat, cold, touch, pain, etc.

As our senses collect this information, it is instantly relayed to our brains, which in a process that can only be described as magical puts it all together as an impression of what just happened.

The creation of reality benefits from many evolved tools. We are born with templates that allow us to identify common objects and their qualities quickly. A template suggests "cat" from the slightest, but unique evidence. Another helps with color, using comparison and contrast.

Science has firmly established that we are not born a blank slate and that we inherit plenty of information that we develop in navigating a complex reality. Another influence is our system of beliefs.

Research shows us that we may be blind to things we don't already believe exist and that we may miss entirely things not consistent with what we are prepared to see. This is a shortcut evolution prepared for us.

Since our brains receive far more sensory information than can possibly be recognized and assembled in the microseconds available, we automatically edit out the inconceivable and, maybe, the inconvenient.

Our view is always partial and minimal. History, even the parts not remembered, also conditions the reality we see. We implement what experience has taught us to expedite perception. We learn to anticipate repeats and incidents consistent with what went before.

In spite of libraries full of research, the fact remains that we don't know what reality is, except what our minds are conditioned to show us from the flood of impressions relentlessly received through out senses.

We are an invention unto ourselves, and we may never know what else is there, if anything. One thing is certain, a hundred years from now or a hundred after that, we will see differently. Our brains may learn to detect the other dimensions String Theory requires or to communicate in a manner more elegant than an antiquity of words.

For now, it's invigorating to contemplate all we don't know and the hills and valleys of discovery out in front of us.

David Stone, Writer

Find all my books on my Amazon Author Page

So, what in your opinion is reality?

Which statement best describes your thoughts about what reality really is?

  • Duck Soup, the Marx Brothers Recipe
  • Fun
  • A tragic waste of energy
  • A summer breeze
  • Sun in the mornin' and the moon at night
  • Too weird for words
  • More simple than we think
  • An interlude between birth and death
  • An illusion in which the joke is finally exposed at the end
  • Life in the fast lane
See results without voting

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What do you think? 5 comments

tabocob profile image

tabocob 4 years ago from Costa Rica

Nice and simple way of summarizing the concept of reality.

Real reality is something that escapes our understanding capacity or scope. Instead we use a concept of reality, by using a concept of course we are using an adaptation of a very broad spectrum of physical facts to our possibilities of understanding, registering, remembering, interpreting, etc. all of which are relative to many variables and in many times very personal as well.

David Stone profile image

David Stone 5 years ago from New York City Author

Right, Leafy Den. It usually takes some sort of personal epiphany to "see" it, but once seen, it's clear as a bell.


Leafy Den profile image

Leafy Den 5 years ago from the heart

DS, Great definition of reality. I think also, perception of reality is an adaptive requirement in order to survive - on every level, physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc. It doesn't mean that the reality is "true" per se except that it offers a context in which to know how to respond to the environment you are in.

David Stone profile image

David Stone 6 years ago from New York City Author

Interesting, Shahid, but everything must have dimension or dimensions, even if not the physical ones we are accustomed to.

Shahid Bukhari profile image

Shahid Bukhari 6 years ago from My Awareness in Being.

Knowledge is not a cargo, it does not have dimensions ... Except our Awareness ... in Being.

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