The Meta-Reality Problem
We're all familiar with the reality problem:
What is reality? How can I know for sure? How do I reconcile my personal view of reality with what's actually happening? How do I reconcile my view with the views of others? Why is there suffering? Why must I die?
And – why can't I answer these questions?
Surprisingly, we actually can – but not until we ourselves stop mentally interfering with the answers. Knowing reality isn't a problem at all – if we can first solve the meta-reality problem:
Our persuasion that meta-reality – consciousness about reality – is, or should be, the basis of actual reality.
But how sincere are we about understanding reality – or rather how devoted to our personal meta-reality view? Each precludes the other, and we shouldn’t be surprised when reality reveals just how problematic favoring meta-reality can be.
First, meta-reality can’t in any way establish, let alone supplant, reality, regardless of our reliance on a subjective frame of reference, because reality is the objective context that allows the phenomenon of meta-reality consciousness – like the context of water allows the phenomenon of waves. But more important, conflating meta- and actual reality impairs our ability to establish a reliable sense of reality, and hence sabotages our capacity to understand, anticipate, and effect the conditions needed for a favorable existence. Which is to say, attempting to exist in a meta-context is maladaptive.
In simple terms, we can’t actually know reality by just knowing about it – and we can't solve the reality problem in spite of reality.
And just as simply, reality is its own and only proof – and the only context able to validate a healthy meta-reality. After all it's the actual circumstances of our existence that ultimately determine the trustworthiness and utility of our personal view – which meanwhile informs our choices and behavior – which shape the quality and trajectory of our existence. Ongoing reality is the only and best solution to the human reality problem. Which is to say, letting reality guide our meta-reality involvement is existentially optimal.
Resolving the meta-reality problem permits some interesting answers to our seemingly unanswerable questions:
What is reality? Reality is the context of existence.
How can I know for sure? By discerning and accepting my context.
How do I reconcile my personal view of reality with what's actually happening? By recognizing that reality is precedent to my personal view.
How do I reconcile my view with the views of others? By recognizing that reality is the shared context of everything and everyone that exists.
Why is there suffering? Suffering is intrinsic to existence in a shared context and serves a vital purpose: pressure to evolve. Human suffering arises latently from a failure to understand, accept, and nurture the extraordinary context of human existence – as pressure to evolve from our reliance on meta-realistic consciousness.
Why must I die? Because eternal life is inconsistent with the wondrous context of life.
And finally, why can't I answer these questions? Because I won't let reality answer them for me.
Oh – one more question. Why should I care? Because failure to solve the meta-reality problem is the basis of all latent human conflict and mental suffering.
Self-diagnosis of the meta-reality problem and its solution:
When I read or hear someone use the word 'reality', or think about it, can I catch my mind conceiving of it as a thing? If yes, the thing I'm thinking of, and believe I exist within, is meta-reality – the problem. But I've also glimpsed the solution – to "catch" the behavior is to consciously experience the context that allows me to recognize my meta-reality delusion – and momentarily cure it.
More intriguing questions and answers:
How does meta-reality cause conflict? All human conflict is based on the absurdity “My reality (read “meta-reality”) is better than yours” – when actually the astounding context that allows individual existence is precisely the same for us all.
How does it cause mental suffering? Mental suffering is based on the absurdity “Reality should be what I think it should be (meta-reality)” – when my actual context could only be precisely what it is, including the painful idea that it could be different.
Am I sane? All psychological dysfunction is based on the absurdity “My sense of reality is beyond reproach.” Conversely, sanity is based on the admission “My sense of reality could use a little improvement.”
Who am I? I am my context – an aspect of everything. But my identity is an aspect of meta-reality – and once established, will do all it can to ensure it continues its meta-existence – often in spite of the reality of who I am.
What is consciousness? To be conscious is to discern the context of existence (reality). Thus even an Amoeba, sensing food, experiences consciousness. The more we discern, the more conscious we are. Our challenge, experiencing an evolved self-reflective human consciousness, is to discern not just the alluring content of consciousness, but the context of all that human consciousness would allow us to discern.
What is love? Love is the affirmation of existence. We experience love under any condition whereby reality affirms our existence. We feel love when we become conscious of it happening. And we express love when we affirm the existence of anything we encounter. Love for humanity is our affirmation of all that allows our existence. Personal love is an endeavor two people share whereby each uses their own existence to affirm the miracle of the other’s. And love for our children is reality’s hopeful endeavor to teach us how to love, whereby we may affirm a more auspicious human existence.