Most people have the idea that the world, the universe, is an objective reality. It exists independently of us, independently of perceivers. For example, a tree is a tree. Regardless of whether I perceive the tree or an ant perceives the tree, the tree is the same thing. It has its own objective reality which is perceived in different ways by different beings. My experience of the tree is subjective, as is the ant’s, but the tree has a true essence that exists objectively.
I don’t believe there is such a thing as an objective reality. Reality is subjective. Of course, among humans, our perceptual experiences are similar enough in most cases that we can agree on most things and label trees as trees, for example. They have roots, trunks, branches, leaves. They’re trees. But to an ant, a tree is a vastly different thing. It can be an ant’s entire world, something enormous, something that provides endless work and sustenance and shelter. But of course we know what the tree is in reality because ants are stupid, right?
What if a much more advanced race of beings understands more about trees than we do, so we are similarly “stupid” compared to them as ants are to us? This race knows that trees are actually a particular kind of energy source with a particular vibration that they can perceive and we can’t, and they are able to communicate on a vibratory level, telepathically, with the trees? They would think that we’re stupid and don’t know what a tree really is.
So what is a tree, really? Is it an entire world, an unconscious living thing, an intelligent, vibrating being, or something completely beyond our comprehension? It’s all of those things, depending on the perceiver. No one of those realities is any more valid than the other. To us, of course, our perception of the tree is the most valid. But not to the ants, and not to the advanced race.
The point is that the tree is all of those things, and all of those things are equally valid. If there is no perceiver, the tree literally doesn’t exist. I know that sounds crazy…
Everything I’m writing is being perceived through your own lens, which is similar to mine since we’re human. So when we think of the world after we die, we are still thinking of it through our lens. Anything we think of is through our lens – there’s no way to escape it. Even if we imagine that we are an ant, it’s through our lens. The world around us, our reality, is always perceived through our lens. All of our thoughts are had through our own unique lens. Again, our lenses as humans are similar enough that we can agree on most things and coexist coherently. But our lenses as humans are irreconcilable with the lenses of ants, for example. The tree to an ant is vastly different from the tree to us, and there’s no way we can truly understand what it’s like to be an ant, and vice versa because we can’t escape our own personal lens.
This means when we die, our unique lens – and it IS unique – dies with us. Our reality, exactly how we perceive things – and it is a unique perception – dies with us. Our world – our personally unique world – dies with us. It ceases to exist. Of course the world of others and the realities of others persist. But each of us has a completely unique lens, and when we’re gone, that lens is gone. Sometimes our lenses are similar to those of others, but no lens in history has been the same as mine or yours because no one’s life experiences have been exactly the same. Therefore, no reality throughout history has been the same as mine or yours. When we die, that tree ceases to exist because exactly how we perceive that tree is unique, and our perception of that tree ceases to exist. The reality of that tree is unique to us and no one else perceives it in exactly the same way.
Another example is a person. Imagine A’s mother. To A, she is a loving, caring, protective mother. To B, A’s father, she is a passionate lover, a faithful, supportive wife. She is two very different things to A and B. Which one is she, objectively? Well “objectively” she’s neither because nothing exists objectively. Subjectively she’s both. In reality she’s both.
What does this all mean then? Since there is no objective reality, and reality is truly subjective, that means all there is is our own individual realities. Nothing else. And this is fine and great. It’s great because it means we are in complete control of our realities. The stimuli (trees, people, etc) are the same, but what they truly are depends on how we perceive them – how we choose to perceive them. As humans we have the choice to perceive trees as something we cut down to make paper and build houses, something we use to profit financially. We also have the choice to view them as beautiful, ancient, amazing, living beings that convert the sunlight into consumable energy for the entire planet. What exactly the tree is to us is what it is in reality. And we decide what it is to us. We control how we view the world; therefore, we control our reality.
As a last example, consider your own life situation. As humans, it’s natural to want more. It’s one of the few (if not the only) traits that separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom. That makes us naturally prone to unhappiness because we feel that we lack what we want, or even deserve. If someone asks you, “How are things?” You might say, “Well, they’re ok. Money’s tight, my boss is being an asshole, and I don’t have enough time or money to play golf as much as I want to.” If you view your situation as that, that is truly the reality of your situation. If, on the other hand, you say, “Things are great. I’m really glad to have a job in this economy and I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with my kids and even fit in a few rounds of golf,” then that’s your reality, even though all of the stimuli and circumstances are exactly the same. How you view the you situation, how you view the world, that is reality. You can make your life infinitely better just by changing how you view things.
I personally came to this realization last fall around the beginning of my own spiritual awakening (or whatever you want to call it). The stimuli in my life, my situation, the world, are not all that different than they were last fall, but because I view everything in a different light, because I’m grateful for absolutely everything in my life, I’m infinitely happier in general. I sometimes catch myself just smiling at the beauty of the world and at some of the things in my life that I now realize are awesome. Of course I still have goals and I still want to accomplish a lot in this short lifetime, but I’m enjoying the ride and loving my situation, no matter how dire it seems or how much I long for more. It’s not an instantaneous thing. It takes practice and persistence, but once you get a taste of a better, happier, healthier mindset about life and this world, you won’t want to stop. I’ll never stop.