On Creating Our Own Reality

There’s a New Age-y saying that we create our own reality. This is sometimes interpreted to mean that if we try hard enough, we can create a reality in which we have superpowers and look like Jessica Alba or Brad Pitt, or whoever is considered hot these days. I lose track.

What it really means is much more mundane. In Buddhism, and probably some schools of Hinduism, it’s understood that the way we interpret and experience our lives and the stuff around us is mostly a creation of our own psychological projections. Most reasonably mature people notice this sooner or later, I suspect, or they at least notice when someone else’s projections are entirely different from theirs.

Modern neurological science is taking this further, I understand. Sensations, or the way things look, feel, sound, smell, etc., are largely experiences being created in our own heads. For example, our senses take in a particular combination of light and pigment, and our brains interpret this as “red.” So we “see” red. But red is not a quality intrinsic to what we are looking at; it’s something being created in our brains. Really.

So if a tree falls in a forest and there is no one there to hear it, it really doesn’t make a sound. There may be sound waves, but to manifest as “sound” requires that the waves be interpreted by a particular combination of sense organs and neurological wiring.

Back to psychological projections — Buddhism has a cosmology of different worlds called the “Six Realms.” A lot of people believe literally in the Six Realms, and I don’t, but I find them fascinating anyway. If you understand the “realms” as projected realities, you can classify most people as living in a particular realm, or sometimes flitting between two or more of them.

So, Paris Hilton is a deva. Mitt Romney is a classic asura. Ann Romney seems to flit between the deva and asura realms. Drug addicts are pretas, or hungry ghosts. The hell realm contains many kinds of hells; people who are always angry are projecting a fire hell, while psychopaths project an ice hell. Teabaggers and bigots mostly project an animal realm, where they live in fear of being preyed upon. Also, the late Chogyam Trungpa said that animal realm beings (as opposed to biological animals) have no sense of humor, which explains a lot.

Finally, there is the human realm. Humans are the only ones capable of perceiving the unreality of their psychological projections. That doesn’t mean they don’t have psychological projections, but that they have the capacity to understand such projections for what they are. There’s a much better explanation of the Six Realms at a site called Nyoho Zen that I recommend highly — “Staying Human.”

As I said, it’s common for people to travel between realms, even in the course of a day. But it seems to me most of us have a “home” realm, and it isn’t necessarily a human one.

I bring this up because this morning I’ve been finding one article after another on the general theme of Republicans avoiding reality. Of course, a lot of us noticed this phenomenon years ago, but now it’s being noticed in mainstream media, which is a positive development.

Although we all live within a complex of projections, the capacity to be open to change, the ability to expand one’s consciousness beyond the projections, to learn and appreciate how other beings live, is the mark of a human. And most of the reason for our ongoing political dysfunction is that an entire political party has been taken over by non-humans.

This is not to say that all Democrats are wise and insightful, because a lot of them just plain aren’t, and I bump into plenty of self-identified progressives who appear to be projecting something very different from the human realm also. But at least some of the Dems in Washington appear to be human, and I can’t think of a single human Republican any more, or at least none currently holding office. They can’t be reasoned with; they can’t learn. They just react blindly to their own projections.

For example, let’s look at the Republicans and the Benghazi attacks. This is in WaPo (and when WaPo notices teh crazy, you know it’s blatant):

Though the Benghazi attack involved clear failures of U.S. security, Republicans have concentrated on a dubious subsidiary issue: the alleged failure of the administration to publicly recognize quickly enough that the incident was “a terrorist attack.”

And this begs the question — why is labeling Benghazi as “terrorism” more important to righties than actually understanding what happened there? Why are they so all-fired determined to find a connection to al Qaeda or some other jihadist movement to establish a global caliphate? (As the WaPo editorial says, evidence so far suggests that the attackers were a local group who may have had no connection to a larger organization.)

This makes absolutely no sense to someone living in the human realm. To a human, whether the President did or did not label the Benghazi attack “terrorism” as soon as it happened is simply not significant. In fact, most of us would prefer that he hold his tongue until facts are clarified, which can often take a few days.

WaPo continues,

The oddity of the Republican response to what happened in Benghazi is partly this focus on half-baked conspiracy theories rather than on the real evidence of failures by the State Department, Pentagon and CIA in protecting the Benghazi mission.

That’s because in the projected world the Republicans live in — I see most of them as living on the border of the animal and hell realms — it is enormously significant to be able to sort predators from prey. It’s the primary thing, in fact. They see wolves, and they expect everyone else to see the wolves, too. People who say, well, maybe they aren’t wolves; maybe they’re wolverines, must be trying to trick them. So, they get obsessed about it.

Really, if you look at politics in the context of the Six Realms, it all makes a lot more sense.

I’m not entirely sure why Susan Rice so infuriates them when she played only a peripheral role in the Benghazi attacks. The obvious reason is racism, which even WaPo (again, I am astonished) acknowledges:

Could it be, as members of the Congressional Black Caucus are charging, that the signatories of the letter are targeting Ms. Rice because she is an African American woman? The signatories deny that, and we can’t know their hearts. What we do know is that more than 80 of the signatories are white males, and nearly half are from states of the former Confederacy.

So you can’t rule out racism, but I also think part of the hysteria comes from her being a messenger. She was trying to trick them. She was trying to lure them out of their safe places so that the wolves can tear them apart. They hate her for that.