Why do you think real things are real?
It’s because you’re not conscious of them as they really are. Or as you really are.
So here’s an intro to reality in plain language.
Science tells us that all the ‘real’ stuff around us is atoms, and those are by far mostly empty space. With a sufficiently sophisticated microscope you’d see that atoms are made from smaller nucleons and electrons, then smaller quarks and gluons, and even smaller still, particles at the quantum level.
If your microscope could reduce things still further, you’d see that ‘real’ things are simply patterns that form in the energy. Our body, nerves and brain are some of those ‘real’ things, made of energy vibrations, that our consciousness perceives.
How do those patterns become our conscious view of reality?
The patterns of vibration interact to make everything in our real universe, so you can’t imagine how complex they are.
Right now, some of them are making the light waves that bounce off the vibrational patterns that form these words. The light waves enter your eyes (which are more energy patterns) and interact with yet more energy patterns (shaped into nerves) leading to the most complex collection of energy patterns of all – your brain. That’s where your conscious mind ‘sees’ the words. (It’s a similar story for hearing, touch, smell, whatever.)
It’s not magic, just incredibly complicated. Except, that is, for the way our consciousness ‘translates’ countless numbers of atoms, their smaller particles, and the energy patterns they create, into the world of real things that make sense to us.
Actually that’s not magic either. We just don’t understand how it happens, but there seem to be two very different kinds of realness involved: One is made from physical things themselves (the vibrating energy particles), and another reality that’s ‘created’ when our consciousness interprets those vibrations as real things.
We don’t know what consciousness is, but there must be a pretty fundamental difference between it and the vibrating particles. (It’s where the ‘objective’ realness of physical things, meets the ‘subjective’ realness of our conscious perceptions of physical realness.)
Why can’t consciousness be ‘the same as’ energy vibrations in the shape of a brain? (After all, human brains are the most complicated objects we know of.)
Well, for that to happen, some of those vibrations would have to be sufficiently different from the vibrations that make our ‘real’, physical brain, that they became conscious and recognized themselves as ‘me’.
The problem there is, all of the energy vibrations in your brain – all of the particles inside particles, all the way up to atoms and molecules – are exactly the same kind. There are no ‘different’ energy vibrations, particles, quarks, nucleons, electrons, atoms or molecules in a physically real brain to make consciousness.
So…for consciousness to be ‘the same as’ your brain, then your whole brain would need to be both physically real and consciously real at the same time…because that’s the only way your physically real brain could simultaneously be ‘in here’ (in your head) and ‘out there’ in the physically real world, the way your consciousness is.
We know our physically real brains can’t be both ‘in here’ (in our head) and ‘out there’ in the physically real world.
So the stuff of consciousness must be fundamentally different from the stuff of brains.
And then there’s time.
In the world of physically real things, (which is where our physical body and brain are), there is no ‘time’ as our consciousness understands it. There are simply changes in the way atoms behave. (Caused by changes in the way the energy they’re made from vibrates, which is ultimately governed by the laws of physics.)
On the other hand, as consciousness, we’re able to ‘stand back’ from all of that physically real activity, so we can differentiate between past, present and future, in any sequence we choose.
While our physical brain is stuck on the same single track of time as the rest of the physically real universe, our consciousness isn’t.
The world you perceive is nothing like the world that’s out there
Everything your senses tell you is real, is part of an unbelievably elaborate illusion that you’ve lived with all your life.
All that ‘we’ are – our personality, our awareness, knowledge, ideas, memories and anything else that you can possibly ‘think of’ – literally – exists ONLY in our consciousness.
‘We’ can only ever know about, or come into contact with, anything outside of our own consciousness (the things we call ‘physically real’, or other consciousnesses) as purely non-physical conscious experiences.
Your perceptions of yourself and the world around you – everything from the most vivid physical sensation to the subtlest mental notion – exist in your consciousness only as non-physical ideas.
Experiencing pain, anguish, joy, frustration and other emotions exclusively as non-physical ideas – yet thinking they’re physical feelings – is just one of the remarkable – and inexplicable – things about consciousness.
Consciousness alone brings the vibrant colors and nuances of our physical experience of the world and everything in it – our physical selves included – into existence for us.
We make the physical world real for ourselves.
Our bodies, nerves and brains evolved over many millions of years to interpret the physically real world for our consciousness.
At the same time, our consciousness evolved to experience the physical world not as energy but as physically real things.
The universe began as countless vibrations of minuscule quantities of energy. Although all that we see today evolved over 13.7 billion years, at bottom, all of the ‘real’ things are still just countless vibrations of minuscule quantities of energy.
At no time in the universe’s 13.7 billion year evolution has a permanent, fixed ‘reality’ existed. It’s always been a work in progress where everything changes constantly. Our present human identity is just a temporary step along that road.
Here’s something even more interesting.
Down at impossibly tiny quantum scales where those fundamental energy vibrations happen, particles don’t behave the way our consciousness has evolved to think ‘real’ things should behave.
A single quantum particle can be in many different places at once. This is called being in a superposition of states; it gives the impression that quantum particles exist as part of a moving wave of particles.
But when you look at a single particle, you cause the wave to ‘collapse’, and see only one particle.
One interpretation of this is that nothing is actually ‘real’ until someone conscious becomes aware of it. (And remember, quantum particles are the underlying structure of the entire ‘real’ universe. Although the ‘real’ things you’re conscious of right now seem solid enough, the molecules and atoms they’re made from are held together by quantum particles.)
The implication of all this is that, as consciousness, we create the reality we want for ourselves.
In other words, we turn near-infinitely countless numbers of quantum particles into what we think of as ‘real’ things, just by being consciously aware of those particles.
Of course you have to realize those particles are so numerous they fill the entire universe. (It’s like looking at the ocean and not seeing the atoms it’s actually made from.)
That said, things aren’t actually quite so straight forward. (!)
The ‘reality’ you’re seeing now is only one of many possible ‘realities’. You see quantum vibrations as your particular ‘reality’ because of the level your consciousness has evolved to. Your conscious level in turn depends on how you interact with your physical brain.
Your consciousness has to ‘work through’ a physical brain, and you can only be as conscious as your physical brain allows you to be. You can only see the reality your brain allows you to see.
That creates another problem. The reality we think we want, isn’t really what ‘we’ want.
Our consciousness can’t be free to see reality for what it really is – whatever that might be – while we’re influenced by physically real things.
In fact the reality we see is the one that our body and brain want us to see.
Physical bodies and brains have their own powerful agenda, driven by the self-interest of physical evolution.
In spite of its complexity, our brain is still just a biomechanical engine, designed by millions of years of evolution to keep its body out of trouble.
At this stage in our own conscious evolution, we assume our body’s and brain’s demands are ‘the same as’ what we want consciously. But bodies and brains have no more conscious awareness than your electric toothbrush does. They don’t even know the conscious ‘you’ exists.
What does it all mean?
On one level, it means that our consciousness evolved the ability to interpret quantum particles as a physically real universe.
It also means that without this conscious ability to interpret quantum particles as physically real things, there’d be no physically real things as we (the consciousness) understand them; there’d simply be ‘uninterpreted’ quantum particles, aka fluctuations in an ocean of energy.
What else it could mean, and where we fit in, is for us to figure out.