We live in reality tunnels. We appear to be a reality tunnel.
A reality tunnel is created by the conscious and unconscious selection of perceptions, experiences, concepts and beliefs that create our experience of ourselves, others and reality. Out of billions of possibilities flooding us at every moment, our neurophysiology notices those things that support our beliefs and filters out those that don’t. In psychology, this is known as “confirmation bias.”
A reality tunnel is experienced as true and real by us and therefore is usually mistaken for reality itself. Our life is defined by reality tunnels.
There are countless reality tunnels floating around in the absolute vastness of what is. Thought and language are their major building blocks. We are always participating in a reality tunnel each and every time we communicate with each other. We are putting each other into a trance. Reality tunnels are enfolded by and unfold within each other and are interconnected, multidimensional and constantly creating new and other reality tunnels.
For instance, this paragraph you have just read is a reality tunnel (RT).
I’ll just point out a few Reality Tunnels here (RT) and there (RT) so you get a better (RT) idea (RT) of what they are.
There are functional and dysfunctional reality tunnels, depending on the circumstances, which are also RTs. For instance, if you choose to actually land a human being on the surface of the moon, the RT of the sciences of mathematics and physics may serve you better than the RTs of the Bible stories you learned in a Sunday school class. On the other hand, if you wished to instill certain moral and ethical values (which are RTs) within yourself or others, Sunday school class may seem to do a better job than the RT of mathematics. Maybe.
Let’s look at a way reality tunnels work and are experienced . Let’s say it is mid-November (RT) and you say to a bunch of your friends, “Wow! Christmas (RT) will soon be here!” Your reality tunnel about Christmas is a positive (RT) one. It consists of the beautiful (RT) story (RT) of the birth (RT) of Jesus (RT), snow, Christmas lights, Christmas music, warm fires in the fireplace, Christmas presents, time off from work (RT) and spending time with loved ones (RT). You are glad Christmas is almost here. You love the Christmas season.
But for a friend of yours, your words trigger a totally different reality tunnel or trance. S/he has the same awareness that Christmas (RT) is coming, but a very different reality tunnel. For your friend, Christmas (RT) means noisy music being piped out from every store into the streets (RT), chaotic crowds (RT), traffic jams (RT), greedy consumerism (RT), hypocrisy (RT), people entranced by a mythical story (RT) and children being selfish and spoiled (RT). Your friend also has to spend the holidays with a highly critical (RT), mean (RT), drunk (RT) and dysfunctional (RT) family (RT). Your friend cannot wait until the holidays (RT) are over and everything is back to normal (RT). S/he hates the Christmas season.
The point is that everyone lives in very different reality tunnels, even when the RTs appear to be the same.
“You” – the “you” you conceive, perceive and experience yourself to be – are a complex, multidimensional reality tunnel. You are a product of your genetic heritage, social conditioning and the innate capacity of your multidimensional being to change, transform, evolve and mutate.
As we become conscious, grow and evolve, the infinite possibilities of infinite reality tunnels unfold within us and all around us. Most of us tend to select just a few of the RTs offered by our culture and society and stay secure within them. It is much less confusing and frightening that way. We tend to get born, be male or female (not so much any more,) go to school, grow up, get a job, get married, have children, pay taxes, go to church, retire, play golf, grow old and die (all RTs).
Some of us, for whatever reasons – perhaps because of meditation, psychedelics (it was Dr. Timothy Leary who coined the term “reality tunnel”) or, gee, just by being intelligent and observant – we become aware that there are infinite reality tunnels available to us at any given moment. This is both very exciting and very frightening! As in the film The Matrix, we have Neo’s choice. Do we take the red pill or the blue pill? The blue pill puts us back into the prescribed and limited trance of societal conditioning, with very familiar and secure Reality Tunnels. The red pill opens the doors of perception into the infinite possibilities of infinite reality tunnels. We discover we are always creating new RTs! Instead of being a limited, mortal human being, we begin to feel very God-like . Wow! We can be and create whatever we want! (Actually, a true WOW! is Kensho, a moment outside of RTs.)
Some of us spend much of our life exploring the infinite possibilities of the infinite RTs. As Alice pointed out, it just gets curiouser and curiouser. Eventually the awareness arises that there are endless relative truths in endless realms of being. Every reality tunnel is a truth enfolded within itself.
Is there an ultimate truth or reality?
This is a very tricky and dangerous question because as soon as we consider it, we are creating more reality tunnels.
And as soon as we ask this question, we begin to discover there many reality tunnels that claim to have the answer. To name a just few, there are science, philosophy, religion, spirituality, linguistics, new age beliefs, etc. There are many teachers available who know these reality tunnels inside and out and are therefore considered enlightened masters within the context of these RTs.
Truth is not a reality tunnel.
It is not perceivable or conceivable. It is the Ultimate Subject, not an object in Consciousness.
“Free, we are not the number One, the first of all our objects, but Zero – their universal and absolute subject.” – Wei Wu Wei
What we are is not defined by any reality tunnel, no matter how sophisticated, interesting or profound it may be. And the moment this is pointed out, it immediately creates a new RT and thus a relative truth.
A truly enlightened teacher knows that the moment they open their mouth they are creating and sustaining reality tunnels and are moving away from truth.
A truly enlightened teacher does not teach a reality tunnel but wakes us up out of all reality tunnels. This seems impossible, as anything a teacher says or does necessarily creates more reality tunnels. And yet the true teacher points certain things out to the students, awakening true inquiry and natural meditation.
True inquiry is the free intelligence that expresses as an investigation of what we have always assumed to be true. This investigation exposes our reality tunnels for what they are, yet does not judge them. When honestly investigated, reality tunnels are seen just to be reality tunnels.
The natural intelligence of true inquiry ultimately allows true awareness to stand free of all identification with all reality tunnels. This freedom is natural meditation. No abiding anywhere. Nothing to grasp. And if there is identification with what is realized – Boom! – another reality tunnel is created and we are now students of Reality Tunnel 27-ZEN. Please bow!
Natural meditation is simply allowing everything to be as it is. It is what is. When natural meditation happens, it is the effortless and natural non-identification with reality tunnels. It is the gateless gate of truth and freedom.
Effortless, choiceless, silent awareness.
Be clear. There is nothing wrong with reality tunnels. We need reality tunnels to function in our day to day lives. We are not trying to get rid of them. That would just be another RT. Enlightenment is not the rejection of RTs. It is simply recognizing them for what they are. This recognition is freedom from identification with them. This freedom allows full participation in reality tunnels without the entrapment of believing that any of them – including the reality tunnel we may think we are – is real and true.
If you want to wake up and discover what is actually true, be wary of all teachers teaching systems. It is not that difficult to learn, practice, internalize, actualize and then teach a system and be “enlightened” within the context of that system. I know. I have done it. But this enlightenment is not true enlightenment. It is reality tunnel enlightenment. You simply meet the reality tunnel’s criteria of enlightenment and bingo! You are the guru.
A true teacher is a completely paradoxical event. They have no agenda. They simply are. They say what they say and do what they do and somehow people awaken around them. They may use RTs as pointers and yet they stand completely free of them. It is this freedom that is so contagious to their students. It is easy to catch. There is no cure for it!
When we discuss enlightenment we are discussing a reality tunnel, not enlightenment. True enlightenment is not knowable and is not an experience. It is prior to all experience, all knowledge, all perception and conception. It is what is before anything is. It is not definable. If you do not understand what I am saying, that is good! The mind can’t grasp this.
If “you” do anything to realize enlightenment, you are just creating another reality tunnel. You create a “you” that wants to be enlightened, and this “you” is just creating more reality tunnels. Trying to get out of RTs is just another RT. There is nothing “you” can do. And yet…
And yet awareness has a natural capacity to wake up out of reality tunnels simply because it is always already awake. This, that is prior to the entire matrix of being, is always awake. This is what you are. You have already arrived.
Enlightenment only has meaning to the unenlightened because for the enlightened, there are no unenlightened. There is just This. Nothing to grasp.
Silence is the language of truth. Emptiness is the land where it is spoken.