The Image of the Mind

Reality is an Illusion and Illusion is Reality

   The faculty of consciousness is one thing we all share, but it is what goes on in our own consciousness that differs and takes on a wide variety of thoughts. This is due to our personal reality that as an individual creates and experience. But invariably we mistake this personal reality for physical reality, believing ourselves to be in direct contact with the world. The colours and sounds we experience are not really out there, they are all images in the mind, pictures of reality that our minds have constructed, and this one fact leads to a radical re-thinking of the relationship between consciousness and reality.

The idea that we never experience the physical world directly has intrigued many philosophers, but the most notable was the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who at the time came to a clear conclusion of the forms that appear in the mind and the perceptions that gleam from them. Kant said all we know is the phenomenon but the thing itself remains beyond our knowing.

As to the ultimate things we can know nothing and only when we admit this do we return to the equilibrium Carl Jung

Kant in his time was not suggesting that this reality is the only reality; Kant held that there is an underlying reality but we never know directly. All we can ever know is how it appears in our minds.

The image in the mind reveals all we see and hear, if you look at a tree light reflected from the tree forms an image of the tree on the retina of the eye, photosensitive cells in the retina discharge electrons triggering electro chemical impulses that travel down the optic nerve to the visual cortex of the brain. There the date undergoes complex processing that reveals shapes, patterns, colours and movements, the brain then integrates this information into coherent whole creating its own construction of the external world. Finally am image of the tree appears in your consciousness, just how the neural  activity gives rise to a consciousness experience is the difficult problem for us to understand, because we have no idea how an image appears in the mind, it does happen that you have the conscious experience of seeing a tree.

Similar activities take place with other senses, a vibrating violin string creates pressure waves in the air, and these waves stimulate hairs in the inner ear which sends electrical impulses onto the brain. As with vision the raw data is then analysed and integrated culminating in the experience of hearing music.

Chemical molecules emanating from the skin of an apple triggers receptors in the nose giving the experience of smelling an apple. Cells in the skin send messages to the brain that lead to experiences of touch, pressure, texture and warmth. So all that you perceive everything you hear, taste, touch and smell has been reconstructed from sensory data that you think you are perceiving the world around you but all that you are directly aware of are the colours, shapes, sounds and smells that appear in the mind.

Every man’s world picture is and always remains a construct of his mind and cannot be proved to have any other existence.  Erwin Schrodinger

Our perception of the world has a very convincing appearance of being out there in the world around us, but it is no more out there than our nightly dreams. The Cracks in our reality are our impressions that we are perceiving the world directly is usually quite convincing.

In Eastern philosophy Maya means illusion therefore there are two realities the physical reality whatever is actually out there stimulating our senses and the personal reality that we each create and experience, the reconstruction of the world that appears in our minds and both are very real.

Some people claim that our subjective reality is an illusion but that can be misleading although it may be the creation of the mind but it is the only reality that the human mind will ever know. Maya can be seen as delusion a false belief about the world. We suffer from this delusion when we believe the images in our mind are the external world, we deceive ourselves when we think that that the tree we see is the tree itself.

Our assumption that we are directly interacting with physical reality closely parallels the way we respond to the image on a computer screen. Moving a computers mouse appears to move the cursor around on the screen the mouse is sending a stream of data to the central processor which calculates a new position for the cursor which then updates the image on the screen. In early computers there was a noticeable delay between issuing a command and seeing the effects on the screen, but because today’s computers are so fast they can re calculate the image on the screen in a fraction of a second and you see no visible delay between the movement and the cursor on the screen so we are experiencing moving the cursor across the screen.

Our experience in daily life is similar if you want to throw a ball then your intention is to lift you arm up physically in connection with throwing the ball but you do not experience the action of throwing the ball  directly because the brain receives the information sent back by the eyes and body which updates the image of reality appropriately.  Just as with a computer there is a small delay between the event in the physical world and your experience of that event. It takes the brain about a fifth of a second to process the sensory information and construct the corresponding picture of reality. Our awareness of reality is about a fifth of a second behind the physical reality, but we never notice the lag because the brain cleverly compensates for the delay leaving us with the impression that we are interacting directly with the physical world.

The Unknowable Reality

If all we ever know are the sensory images that appear in our minds, how can we be sure there is a physical reality behind our perceptions? Is it not just an assumption? Well for one thing we cannot walk through walls we cannot float in the air or walk upon water. This shows us that our experiences generally follow well defined universal laws and principles. When you throw a ball up in the air it follows the laws of gravity, also the Sun rises on time. This predictability is consistent, we all experience similar patterns. So we assume there is a physical reality, we may not know it directly but we believe it is there.

Seeing what is not there

The image of the world that appears in the mind is quite different from the actual physical world and in two complementary ways, on one hand our image of reality is more than just physical it also has a spiritual side to it whether people know it or understand it, it is still there. Then you have the outside world which is within you just as you think you are within the world. The world exists in you and not you in the world.

In the physical world there is light of various frequencies which you can see them as colour, the colour yellow is distinct but the light is not yellow nor are the electrical impulses that are transmitted from the eye to the brain, in fact no colour exists there, the yellow you may see is the quality created in consciousness. It exists only as a subjective experience in the mind.

The same is true of sound in the past many people have debated about whether a falling tree made a sound if there were no one there to hear it, but now there are answers to this question and it is no there is no sound in the physical reality it is simply pressure waves in the air. Sound only exists as an experience in the mind of a perceiver whether that perceiver is a human being, a deer or a bird.

Our image of reality is less than physical reality in that there are many aspects of the external world we never experience, we only experience either through out own creation or events in what has been designed for us to experience in the outer world. For example someone who work is to film species in the Amazon would have far more experience in the physical world, than someone who worked in an office all day.

In reality our eyes are sensitive to light but cannot detect any infrared microwave, radiation, radio waves and the higher frequencies of X rays and gamma rays, so our visual image of reality represents but a tiny fraction of what is there. It is the same with the other senses, what we hear and what we smell is but a limited sample of physical reality. The other electromagnetic frequency waves such as electrical charges and magnetic fields these have little if any impact on our experiences.

Human beings do not have the same senses as animals, we lack the extra sensitivity due too so many thoughts that are created in the mind, this chaos shuts down the extra sensitivity that animals have. Dogs can detect a much higher frequency of sound than we do, also they have an acute sense of smell than we do which is estimated to be a million times more than the human sense of smell, this is why they do so much great work with human handlers. If we could put ourselves in a dogs mind we would find ourselves in a different world but still existing in the same world out there. Imagine what it would be like to be able to smell the scent of a person hours after it had passed by and be able to follow that scent distinguishing it from hundreds of others for many miles. We would have to worry about losing something or someone if this was the case.

We know that there is not one space and one time only, but that there are as many spaces and times as there are subjects.  Jakob Von Uexkull

Let us look at the reality of a Dolphin with their highly developed echolocation abilities, Dolphins experience qualities which most of us know nothing about, when a dolphin perceives a human being with its sonar rays, it does perceive a solid body. Its solar image is mote like an ultrasound scan used to monitor a baby in the mother’s womb. A dolphin can sense the shapes and movements of the internal organs, the beating of the heart, the churning of the stomach and the state of the human body’s muscles all are visible to the dolphin mind. It sees the inner reaction as clearly as people can see the frown on their faces. I bet some surgeons would like to have this ability as it would save having ultra scans, they would be able to see inside the internal body and see where the problem lies.

Other species experiences are unique to certain qualities that they are born with snakes for example have organs sensitive to the infrared frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum and see the heat emitted from their prey. Bees see in the ultra violet range and are sensitive to the polarisation of light. So all species have their own frequency signal, so does humans but have lost touch with their extra sensory frequency due to the duality of chaos that occupies the mind.

There are so many different ways to perceive the world as there are species of life in the universe. What we take to be reality is simply the particular way the human mind see it, but once you can perceive this world from an higher mind that you know that the world around you is really an illusion.

Changing Your Perception to how you see the World

It is very different to change your perception of how to see another aspect of the world. Most people find it very difficult to the fact it is all an image within the mind especially when you can touch solidity smell wondrous smells, taste exotic foods hear beautiful music and touch wonderful objects like silk or velvet. But this does mean it is impossible to see things differently Adepts years ago who went deep into another form of consciousness knew how to achieve this new form of perception which was very real to them just as real as their physical reality of body/mind.

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj quoted You realise beyond all trace of doubt that the world is in you and not you in the world.

Swami Muktananda said You are the entire universe, you are in all and all is in you. Sun Moon and Stars revolve within you.

 The Ashtavakra Gita says The universe produced phenomenally in me, is pervaded by me. From me the world is born and in me it exists and in me it dissolves.

These great Seers and Adepts appear to have awakened from the dream of illusion, the delusion that we directly perceive the physical world around us. They knew as a direct personal experience not just a theoretical idea or concept. They knew and so do some people in this time period that the entire world is a manifestation within the mind, alter the mind and the perceptions of your world changes. These enlightened people past and present have made the shift to a new meta dimension of what the true reality is about and have learned to exist within the paradigm shift.

The distinction between the physical world and our experience of the world out there turns the relationship of consciousness. In the current meta paradigm, consciousness is assumed to emerge from the world of space and time and matter. In the new meta paradigm everything we know manifests from consciousness. Matter is derived from the mind and not the mind from matter. We think the world we see around us is composed of matter, but as far as the actual physical reality is concerned this may be so, although it is uncertain as we may be as to the ultimate nature of this matter. The world we perceive around us is not the physical world the world we actually know is the world that takes form in our minds. This world is not made of matter but of mind stuff. Everything we know, perceive and imagine, every colour, sound, sensation, thought and feeling is a form that consciousness has taken on to experience the reality created by the creator. So everything that happens in this world is structured on consciousness.

The Philosopher Kant argued that this was even true of space and time. To us the reality of space and time seems undeniable; they appear to be the fundamental dimensions of the physical world entirely independent of our consciousness. This said Kant is because we cannot see the world in any other way.

The human mind is so constituted that it is forced to construct its experience within the framework of space and time. Space and time are not, however fundamental dimensions of consciousness.     

Some of this dialogue has been taken from the book “From Science to God” by Peter Russell

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