As a young boy growing up in my Hindu upbringing sprinkled with a healthy dose of secularism and liberalism in Nepal and India, I remember being repeatedly hammered to my brain that the world we see and feel is ALL illusion, nothing else but an illusion. There s no such thing as reality. Is it or is it not has been one of my dilemmas all my life living in various countries and cultures I I have struggled with the words such as reality, perception, truth, objectivity and subjectivity, my own experiences, beliefs and even on what we call “truth”? Is there even such a thing as “truth”? The answers I grappled with are both “yes” and “no” all my life. The moon I see, the flower I touch and feel the color I see as a symbol of beauty and the bodily sensations of pleasure and pain are they not true or real? How could it all be illusion: the fragrance I smell, the sensations I enjoy, the songs I love to hear, the majestic fall colors, the colored rainbow and the sky, the bright multi-colored sun in the morning, the jagged contours of rocks in the Grand Canyon we immensely enjoy, are they all illusions of the brain? I have pondered these questions all my life. Lo and behold the realities; its very notion is complex, abstract and daunting, in short. But then how about “gravity”, interatomic forces, the attraction among bodies? Aren’t scientific conclusions manifestation and definition of “truth”? Then of course there are objects I can touch, feel, sense. Why are they not real?

“This rabbit hole of the subconscious is vast… so vast in fact, that even gods dwell in its depths. And as they control us from these depths, we dance like puppets on a string… believing ourselves awakened to the dream we’re still dreaming. What is truth within the smoke and mirrors of illusion?” John McNeely asks.

Nietzsche holds that no interpretation, no perspective, is privileged over any other, but he also holds that there is no truth in any perspective. “All interpretations of the world are false.”

“Perception is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the presented information or environment. All perception involves signals that go through the nervous system, which in turn result from physical or chemical stimulation of the sensory system. (Wikipedia)

“The neurons that make up our brain are sitting in dark, isolated from the world outside. The only way your brain knowns anything about reality is through the sensory filters that enters the skull. The nerve fibers coming from the eyes, skin and ears looks the same and the spikes that travel along them are identical. There is no light and sound entering the skull, only electrical spikes. The brain also sends nerve fibers to the muscles which move the body and its sensors thereby changes what part.

Notice that there is no light, touch or sound entering the brain. None of the perceptions that make up our mental experiences-from the fuzziness of a pet, to the sigh of a friend, to the colors of the fall leaves-come through the sensory nerves. The nerves only send spikes. And since we do not perceive spikes, everything we do receive must be fabricated in the brain. Even the most basic feelings of light, sound and touch are creation of brain: that only exist on its model of the world.” (Jeff Hawkins in A Thousand Brains)

Note: Model of the world not the “real” world itself. Essentially we just perceive a model.

All our sensations, perceptions that we see or feel such as electromagnetic waves, light, sound waves, the air molecules, compressed or flowing waves are converted by our sensory organs to nerve spikes and are converted into nerve spikes in the form of electrical waves and then reconverted into sound, light, visual image or skin, touch sensations that we perceive as a reality, where in fact the sound we hear, the colors we see, what we visualize may in fact be a small tiny fraction of wave lengths we are exposed to, frequencies our ears can hear, molecular waves that brush through our skin felt as sensations are very tiny fraction of what we can feel, see or visualize. Numerous waves and particles of electromagnetic radiation pass through our bodies we cannot sense or feel hence we are observing a very small fraction of reality factually happening in the universe. What we see, feel, observe is a tiny fraction of what is real and also subjective perception that we end up calling a “reality.” The force of gravity (Newton), bodies attraction as a force, the planets, stars, galaxies, the interchangeable energy and mass (Einstein), the elements, the Universe are true, real but then rapidly expanding Universe with no end (is there one?), the massive black hole swallowing, absorbing everything in its way and yet radiating particles slowly but surely also emitting and eventually collapsing, is there such a thing as Absolute in this Universe I leave as a Question to ponder further. And, philosophically speaking: “If the laws of nature which govern the universe also govern the life of human kind on earth, how “free” are humans, the other question to ponder for those who yearn to be “free” in this Universe.

Photo © David Whyte
Mist in Buckholt Wood. September 2013

So, in the moving to unknown destination this Universe the notion of “reality” or “freedom” both simply not mere illusions?

As we know: science concludes: Matter and Energy have Wave-Particle duality, as they may behave as waves and or particles. In the same way I believe “perception” and “reality” are interchangeable terms can very well be indistinguishable at times.

( Arun Sharma is a writer and an engineer with seven published books)