What is Reality?

The human experience is mostly based upon an individual’s perception, whether stand alone or intricately embroiled in a collection of perceptions. And these perceptions almost invariably exist as realities, for it is through the seven billion, give or take, monochromatic, rose lenses that humanity understands, and therefore boldly interacts, with this chaotic system in which we are a key player. It is, however, the convergence of these very unique and, frankly, beautiful realities wherein conflict is actualized.

Intellectually, perception and reality are antithetical to one another. The former implicates human error, whereas the latter takes on the very nature of fact. Practically, common sensically, however, we must proceed with life as though the mechanism by which we filter and process its constant stream of information is accurate and, therefore, reliable. If we do not, we risk living in a nebulous cloud of uncertainty and insecurity. The issue lies in the discrepancies between each individual’s idiosyncratic understanding of the world, of life, as being real and wholly complete. It comes down to the complex interplay between the subconscious and conscious, the careful curation of information that effectively contributes to a skewed perception, one that is ultimately rendered inaccurate.

And if everyone walks around thinking, and staunchly believing, that their reality is more real than that of their neighbor’s, it’s no wonder we so easily fall into massive interpersonal, cultural and political rifts. What are the implications of this phenomenon when faced with upholding justice, resolving religious conflict or striking a healthy compromise? If the perception, of say an Israeli, is to her, a visceral reality, and the perception of, say a Palestinian, is to her, just as equally a visceral reality, then it comes as no surprise that conflict persists and compromise is seemingly impossible to obtain.

The question then becomes: “what is the best way of navigating within and between these disparate realities?” If the capacity for perception and reality to manifest a 1:1 relationship falls on a spectrum, then it follows that some are able to perceive with greater accuracy than others, whether this capacity is inherent or learned. It may logically follow, then, that those whose perceptions are most closely aligned with “reality” would and should be the leaders of our world; the closer one is to understanding a predicament with clarity, the more likely they are to find a solution. Is it possible, however, to measure the accuracy of an individual’s perception? Perhaps if one were able to determine or measure their own perceived accuracy, they could use such as a reference point. I imagine it being possible to design a rating system and corresponding standardized exam, however, should one exist, how accurate would said rating system be?

Meditation could quite possibly bridge the gap between perception and reality. Without having experienced enlightenment myself, it is my understanding that one sees with an unmatched clarity. I suppose the feeling is close to that of omniscience, a deep sentience that just is, with no intelligible point of inception. Upon starting this post, I held the steadfast opinion that it is nearly impossible to access a pure, unadulterated rendering of any given experience, although I believe it exists. Now, however, I would accept that few have seen glimpses of life as it really is.

Perhaps true reality is the very fact that life, as we know it, persists and is made beautiful by the inter-weaving of these very disparate realities. The key to navigating such a seemingly disjointed existence, then, would be to recognize and respect the differences that govern seven billion un-identical lives. If we took the time to listen and to understand, then we could at least attempt to live in harmony. I am not prescribing that we agree and accept, blindly, these varying realities. Instead, we should appreciate the fact that the very thing that is seemingly responsible for the glaring rifts in our society is what makes us one: humanity. This common thread, no matter how tenuous, is the foundation of human reality.


This was written by a great friend I met in Rishikesh India, Grace Son. Thank you for the time and effort put into this Grace, you are truly a beautiful soul.

Written By