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.

18 thoughts on “On Creating Our Own Reality

  1. The other aspect of your insightful analysis of the GOP and the 6 realms is that they face ENORMOUS barriers to get to a state where they can find any kind of happiness or satisfaction. Look at Adelstein– with all that money, he could be a Deva. Instead, he seems to live–in his own mind– in an animal dog-eat-dog world. “those dang Democrats want to eat my ill-gotten stash”.

    Sad. But sadder still is how they lay their trips on the rest of us. Let ALL beings be free from suffering…..

  2. Immediately, I want a seventh realm. It does seem a shame to clutter up the others with such a confused and blithering mob.

    Somewhat more seriously — and more obviously — on your final point, speaking to racism. Clearly, everything they do to try and embarrass this President has deep roots in racism. Rice is just an unfortunate diversion to allow McCain and his loser cohort to snipe indirectly at their off-hued nemesis. There was a wave of “impeach” floating through there, which — given Issa’s obsessions — may not be done yet.

    With any luck at all, it will continue for the next year or more, as the repercussions of obliteration continue, and with the excellent effect (not a side effect at all) of maintaining the revulsion moderate voters feel right into the mid-terms.

  3. Tom B,
    The reason they can’t let all beings be free from suffering, is that the only joy they get out of life, is the suffering of others.

    Then, THEY get to feel like they’re one of the predators, and not the prey.

    The average dumb@$$ Conservative, isn’t some rich dude/dudette – he/she is some poorly paid working class white schmuck/ette, who has little in the way of material goods, beyond a car and the things in the house/apartment.
    When he/she sees someone else who has less, they can feel superior. And if they are the agents of suffering, like preventing poor women from getting abortions, or causing poor people to have their food stamps and Medicaid benefits lowered (though they may depend on it themselves), through politicians on “Their Side,” that brings them even greater joy, and a greater sense of superiority.
    They rejoice, even as they hold the nose they cut off from their face, out of spite.

    Modern Conservatism isn’t a political movement, it’s a pathology – as defined by the Mirriam-Webster dictionary:
    1: the study of the essential nature of diseases and especially of the structural and functional changes produced by them.

    2: something abnormal:

    a: the structural and functional deviations from the normal that constitute disease or characterize a particular disease

    b: deviation from propriety or from an assumed normal state of something nonliving or nonmaterial

    c: deviation giving rise to social ills

    These people have higher levels of pshycopathy and sociopathy than do the rest of society. And they project their hatred and fears onto others. All the better for the rich and powerful grifters who are truly fully psychopathic and sociopathic (Note: Not all rich people fit this description).

    THEY can’t possibly be victms.
    Others are the victims.
    Therfore, if they can’t be the victims, THEY, then, must be part of the victimizers. THEY are superior.

    And they wonder why the rest of society isn’t just like them? Because we want to be part of a “society,” not part of the predators who look upon society as something to destroy, and feast on the individuals.

    I’ve said this many, many time before, but I’ll say it again – I wonder if, as well as hardening our teeth, the Flouride in the water didn’t also harden our heads and our hearts?

  4. Thanks for the lesson on Buddhism, Barbara; you may make a convert of me yet.

    What I have noticed about my right wing friends and co-workers, is a sense of following a “leader”. This seems to be important, be he Beck or Limbaugh or a congress critter.
    They also seem to identify with “belonging”, thus they like the inclusive nature of FOX News and Fox ‘N Friends. They are made to feel part of the “Tribe”, or perhaps part of the wolf pack.
    We Liberals seem to be more like cats; independent and prickly at times, less inclind to following a “dear leader”, more likely to embrace chaos and not fear the unkown. I think we view money and wealth differently also.
    Strangely, my righty friends seem preoccupied with preparing for a great meltdown of society where it will be every man for himself; I’m more inclined to think if it all goes to hell (which I don’t think will happen), I’d rather get a bunch of folks together and have a fun filled commune. ( I’m still planning my elder commune for those interested, and it will be close enough to the Villages to annoy the Tea baggers who live there.)

  5. erinyes,
    Count me in!!!
    There’s not much I can do physically anymore – but I’m a pretty good shopper and cook. Just NOT baking, pies, or bread.
    I may be good at them, but I’ve never tried.

  6. 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…

    The counter argument is Condi Rice. She was black but on The Right Team, and that made all the difference. Her completely wrong assessment (if that’s the right word) about Iraq’s infamous WMDs fit the right’s paranoid mindset, and fed their core belief/assertion that it is a matter of survival to clobber these people even if the evidence is slight. What matters is to demonstrate your superiority at all costs. Evidence and logic is really irrelevant.

    When McCain and others complain about the USA’s “lack of leadership in the Middle East”, they’re really complaining about Obama’s hesitancy to reflexively kick butt and take names, which the Bush Team gloried in. Susan Rice is just the potential face of Obama’s more measured, reality-based approach, which they view as utterly wrong and an existential threat. The approach is the real issue for these folks, not the person.

    If John Bolton were black, they’d be overjoyed with enthusiasm for him. A black man who, by his bloodthirsty beliefs – excuse me, “his excellent leadership qualities” – is willing to aggressively seek and destroy all the white power structure’s perceived enemies – “the evildoers”, to quote GW Bush – is a dream come true. They came close with Condoleeza Rice.

    Enjoyed reading about the six realms. Agree with your take on where the players and parties map into it.

  7. Is it really Condi v. Susan?

    That means that the Conservatives also don’t know sh*t about “Rice Relations!”*

    *My apologies for stretching a pun to something beyond ‘the outer limits.’

  8. “Is it really Condi v. Susan?”

    It was astounding to me they actually dragged out Condi at the convention (along with Empty Chair Man). You would think they would have kept her in the same memory hole as W, Rummy, and Cheney. I guess it was a struggle to find a non-WASP in the golf club.

  9. Thank you for the lesson. I found the link instructional, particularly as the author explained how the ‘human’ aspect can be as messed up as any other (I may be saying this wrong) but the ‘human’ entity has the capacity to grow, where the others are completely trapped.

    Since I am messed up on so many levels, I wasn’t comfortable with any Realm until I learned that ‘human’ Realm means you can learn to grok – while the others can only exist.


  10. Interesting stuff, Maha. I see so much of this as being tribalism – conservatives just feel like they have to “win”, whatever that means. Just as long as their ideas prove stronger than those of the liberal “tribe”.

  11. Hey, I have an idea! (Let me know when you’ve stopped laughing…)
    Here goes:
    Let’s change Election Day to Black Friday, and let people vote AND shop at the same time! You can go vote at every big-box store in the nation – and every Mom & Pop shop, too. You vote at the register, and get a reciept.
    Stores don’t do anything to create suppression of shoppers, like Republican politicians do with voters. The only color they see, is green.
    It would be “The Free Market” meets “Representative Democracy.”
    And what could the Republicans say?
    If they objected, The Walton family would melt them down, ship the goo to China, and let the Chinese slave-laborers blend that goo into the HDTV’s to be sold in the After-Christmas sales. A more fitting resting place for Republicans, I can’t think of – eternally blended into the cheap plastic that consumers are willing to fight over, and then thrown-out when something better comes along. And it will take thousands of years for that plastic to break down. A much more “eternal” resting place than some coffin put in a grave. Or, better yet, they can be re-melted and re-used in the next generation of digital gadgets.

    Btw – How did that nice “John-boy” begat a family so full of @$$holes?

  12. http://youtu.be/2pEcaH2GYlU

    I just lost my previous comment. Our Mac seems to capriciously flip to a previous page on its own whim. It’s probably just as well.

    So, I don’t think it’s worth going through again, but in the video linked above, Seth Lloyd says something that relates to the “tree falling in the forest”. If you start at 7:30 you get the section with Lloyd. The money quote is very near 11:30.

    I might add, I differentiate between “noise”, a psychological perception of sound and “sound” as a wave phenomenon. Then, to my mind, there are implications about consciousness and Buddha nature.

    Thanks for a great post, I think I will find a lot of interesting lessons in it. It’s time to sit by the fire with a brandy.

  13. I think the clearest evidence that conservatives are living in their own reality on this one is the complete lack of public outcry over the whole affair.

    Righties convinced themselves that there was a big coverup in the Benghazi attack, to hide the fact that it was a terrorist attack. The idea was that, had the public known it was terrorism, everyone would freak out (for reasons not exactly clear) and Barack Obama would never have been reelected.

    Now that everyone’s in agreement that it was a terrorist attack, the only ones freaking out are conservatives; in other words, knowing what we now know, if the election were held today Obama would still win. So basically, any coverup would be pointless. It’s a conspiracy and a scandal in search of any reason for existence.

    That they can’t see this shows that they’re living in an alternate reality where facts can be in disagreement.

  14. you write: “And this begs the question — why is labeling Benghazi as “terrorism” more important to righties than actually understanding what happened there?”

    I’ve noticed this too in right-wing comments on Gaza, and I agree that “terrorist” is just code for determining who’s the predator and who’s the prey. Once you understand that it’s just about determining who’s the predator and who’s the prey, there’s nothing more to understand.

    On a side note, the right’s determination to make sure people get straight who’s the “terrorist” by repeating the word often enough reminds me of that famous Lee Atwater interview from 1981, the one where he said you used to be able to say “nigger nigger” to get the political results from the white voters that you wanted. Then Atwater lamented that the coding broke down and the abstractions that replaced the visceral code word didn’t work as well.

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