What we take to be real out there, is almost entirely created in here, in our minds, using a very small amount of live sense data. We’re not seeing infrared, magnetic fields, or gamma radiation, we’re picking up a fraction of a dog’s olfactory mapping of the world, and our hearing is limited in range. Our cone of high focus vision is tiny, and we do not see colour in peripheral vision – the brain fills in the gaps. Most of what we experience through the senses is processed, added to memory, and crudely classified as x, y or z.
So when I feel that I am right, and you are wrong, I’m making a judgement with very little evidence.
Another way to question what’s real is looking into a mirror, at an angle. We take what we see in the mirror to be real, but of course, it’s just a reflection. This is exactly how we perceive the world. Our mind is the mirror (and not nearly as clear).
More fundamentally, what we take to be solid, is mostly space at an atomic level. What we take to be relatively permanent, like a tree, is temporary or at least in a constant state of making millions of small changes.
We like to try to fix what we see as a static picture, because that gives us certainty and security, but it’s far from the truth of what’s actually going on.
In fact, the leaves moving express a fundamental truth – they illustrate the real building block of existence, which is the energy of change and the infinite possibilities this offers for matter to take on different forms. This energy has no form, no colour, no time, and no predisposition. It is empty of any fixed quality. Yet it expresses itself in always-changing form.
We create, from moment to moment, the reality we perceive. But we can’t be so sure about its accuracy, if we pause to reflect.
So in practical terms, what do we do with this uncertainty? I think it helps us get perspective; if we realise that the way we see the world is of our own making, and that others may see things differently, it helps us be less judgemental and more respectful of other views. A bit more tolerance has got to be a good thing.