Sunday, February 15, 2004

Dilemma of a Reality Creator

For some time now, I've been probing the effects of a newly adopted belief: "The world is a conscious, participative, and intelligent universe". Through various sources I've constructed a personal ephemeral picture of a reality that is plasticy and fluid, a reality that constantly creates, deconstructs and recreates itself, a picture of multiple realities existing and interacting in porous co-existing multiple dimensions. I teased myself with questions concerning the laws and forces of such a world. I asked myself, "If all living entities are conscious and possess creative powers where together they create a ground for the physical reality that we feel, sense and experience, what would be the moral laws for co-existence in this reality? (I saw "living entities" being animals, plants, even inanimate objects, such as, the paper we write on, the computer we use, houses we live in, and ideas that we create, such as movies, political thought, and concepts of nation-state...what if they were all "alive" and each created their own realities? How would each of these realities connect, impact upon and interact with each other, and by what laws?)

What has been useful for me has been the application of observation to my own experiences when I feel that I am in such a moment of having created an alternative reality for myself. I have, for example, noticed that with each new level of perspective adopted, I am able to perceive a new reality upon the same kind of situation that I wouldn't have perceived with the old belief.

A example of this play, of experimenting with how 'what I choose to believe in' coloring my perception of reality, can be recounted through my most recent recreation of reality during my visit to Montreal and Quebec City. Always a new environment gives new input. What was unique about this experience was how within the structure of a dominant English-speaking majority of a nation-state,Canada, there exist as well, this strong culture of French-speaking people.

I found myself oscillating between the different realities, the very obvious outside realities of the French versus the English, between my outside and inner realities of being a person who constantly moves from one location to another nearly every two years, being confused several times about where my sense of identity belonged to. During this trip, we visited some old friends who had immigrated to Montreal from Singapore, a place in my past where we had originally met each other. So there was this extra pull of my old self then (working and not yet securely established in a family situation) and my other self of now (not working but quite established within a cross-cultural family). Then there was also the teasing question within my mind about the differences between the environment of a "developed" economy such as Canada, with all its complications of high taxes, employment situations, etc. with the intriguing contradiction of my background coming from a developing country where the economic situation was relatively lower in dollar sense, but much higher in many ways in the quality of life in non-monetary value sense. All through these provoking exploration of realities, I was of course, reconstructing my direct present-moment reality by redefining many values and beliefs I had previously just inherited from what the status quo "told", or you could say, "taught" me through "formal education".

One of the high point of this tour was when we visited the star shaped citadel on the "cliff" hanging over St. Lawrence river in Quebec City. This military structure was started by the French to help them fight against the British in the 17th century then was reconstructed as a fort by the British in the early 19th century to protect Canada against the invasion of the Americans. To me it was more like a symbol of power of the English-speaking nation-state imposed over the more dominant French-speaking people of Quebec, which quite frankly felt like a different country.

So many more questions came out as a result of my playful probing of reality and belief system. Here are some of them: In face of oscillating realities, what is a healthy operational mode? When we switch from one language to another in the process of translations (because I was operating in a four language mode during this trip), what happens when some meaning is lost in the translating? I saw the citadel in a way as a physical translation of culture and environment as well. This experential experience of my trip to Quebec really cannot be communicated through any form of written or spoken language. It can only be experienced, so culture is, in effect, truly a transformer of experience, and possibly a better translator than language itself? How do I resist from being completely converted by the consensus ground, and be more consistent with my own unique interpretation of reality that I accumulate through the actual events that I experience?

When I extrapolate some possible answers to the above line of questioning I found some intriguing answers through more questions such as, what if I am able to give up some sense of individuality, give up accustomed sense of national identity in exchange for a more universal group belongingness not restricted by imaginary borders?

The problem with all this reality reconstruction is, of course, that one could easily go off tangent. So it seems that there is some value in some form of consensus reality, isn't there? When a person can create, and edit his reality, there are so many alternatives possible. This seems to raise temptations to use judgment as selection criteria but isn't there a trap somewhere in judging? Because you have to decide on what is good and what is bad, based upon values and beliefs one is not so sure of anymore? Does that mean that impartiality and the recognition in the impermanent nature of all processes will become the most valuable cognition to have in a world of virtual reality?


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