So, what is reality anyway?
You might of course say, ‘well, that is a relative affair – what’s real for you, isn’t necessarily real for me’, and so on… And you would be right – relatively speaking. The appearance of reality varies greatly. Yet this is not really what we are talking about here…
We are talking about REALITY as such, that which is REAL in the absolute sense. For something to be absolutely REAL, it has to hold truth for anybody and at any time, all of the time, now and forever, always; irrespective of circumstances, ideas, perceptions, experiences – it is unconditional, absolute; REALTY as such. So this would by definition exclude the whole realm of all that which comes and goes – appearances; phenomena – which in the spiritual traditions have been categorized as ‘Maya’ – illusion; that which is not real in an absolute sense.
The sages of the ages and teachers of the esoteric traditions have always been very clear about where to look for this absolute REALITY: namely ‘within ourselves’ (although of course bringing in concepts such as ‘within’ and ‘self’ can cause considerable confusion by themselves) – meaning something along the lines of: ‘not within the realm of appearances’, ‘not out there’, not in learned ideas or concepts, etc., but in our own direct experience. So, in other words, the question ‘what is reality?’, and the question ‘what is my (true) Self, nature or reality?’, are actually not separate issues – it is one and the same thing.
Another jigsaw in the puzzle is that whatever REALITY or ‘my true nature’ is, it must already be fully present here and now – Reality already IS, and I already AM what I am. So the question itself – the actual ‘search’ for REALITY or ‘My SELF’ – becomes problematic here. It might dawn on us, that the whole issue is not actually someTHING that is to be worked out or understood in the conventional way. This has in fact very little to do with mental abstraction and conceptualizing.
So if we put it all together: real all of the time, everywhere and for everyone; unconditional, non-circumstancial, non-conceptual, not in the realm of appearances, already and forever present for all, totally available here and now, and in fact absolutely necessary for anyThing (else) to exist: doesn´t that really make it very clear and obvious?
Could this possibly be anything other than the simple fact of our PRESENCE – that lucid and wide-open Space-like Intelligence that is undoubtedly here, reading these words (irrespective of what secondary ideas might arise – to that very same lucid intelligence – with respect to the content of this text)?
We cannot really know this Presence, because it os not a thing / object to be known. Yet it is intimately familiar to us – it is Reality itself after all – and we cannot help but BE it. Test this for yourself: Have you ever noticed that your innermost sense of being has never changed? This is why we feel – deep inside – still the same way we felt as a little child. It was always ‘I’. The attributes and ideas about ourselves constantly change, but the felt sense of Being never has, has it? Can you recall a moment or any time in your lived experience, when this core sense of Being-ness, this Presence wasn’t with you? It is impossible, because ‘something’ still would have been present to notice it’s own absence! Presence-Awareness simply cannot be denied – it is the base of EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING is contained within THIS, and everything arises, to, from and as this Space-like Awareness. This is the only REALITY that is, and the only REALITY that I AM.
THIS has always been here, but simply got left unnoticed. Once it is recognized as REALITY and as MY Real Nature, our attitude towards ephemeral phenomena – all that is merely coming and going within this Awareness – changes in a profound way: we are getting real with what is real, and with who we are. Old habits and identifications may temporarily arise, but we can’t ever again ignore REALITY for too long.