Location: Northern California
Hi Francis, Last night I invited the king in and looked for the “I”. What became apparent was that the “I” is not local to this body. The body became unreal, and all that was there was “me”. Thought was happening. What was “me” hides within the body or seems to, appearing to be a person thinking. As the “me” outside of the body, things appeared to happen in front of me, and within me, as if a stage play was going on and “I” am both the theater and the director. Everything else, actors, scenes, dialog seemed to be conjured out of my imagination. When the physical body opened its eyes again, the awareness seemed to be back in the body, as it was before. Now I feel like an absolute beginner, with so many new questions raised. Are other people real? I mean, it must be me talking to myself, right? That’s what the teachers say, but it just makes my head want to explode, which is also what the teachers say, that this can’t be understood with the mind. Lots of confusion here. Thank you for your help.
Sorry for answering so late.
You asked two questions:
The adjective “real” has various meanings.
In our materialistic culture, it often means “made out of matter”. Your question then becomes “are other people made out of matter?”. If by “other people” you mean physical bodies, the answer to your question is yes; if you mean “other minds” or “other consciousnesses”, the answer is no, as far as we know.
However, if “real” means “made out of matter”, there is a problem: we don’t know what matter is, we simply believe we do. Here is how it happens: (almost) everybody who is not a physicist believes that he/she knows more or less what matter is, that there is a branch of Science, Physics, which deals with this question, and that there are there physicists who know a lot better, in great details, what matter is. Unfortunately, when we go to the Physics department and ask the people there, or when we become one of them, we realize that we don’t know at all what matter is. We learn a lot on how it seems to behave in some precise circumstances at a certain scale, subatomic, human, extragalactic, and on the laws that govern this behavior, but we never learn what it really is. Physicists don’t know what matter is. Or if they know, they have to refer to a reality, a “stuff” which is prior to the matter-energy they conduct measurements on. After taking the detour through the Physics department, and a lesson in humility, we have to acknowledge the sad truth: the word “real”, when taken with the aforementioned meaning, is…meaningless. This detour is not the failure it seemed to be at first sight, for it has cleansed our view of reality from its dependency on matter.
Having returned from the dead end of materialism, we have to take a new beginning in our quest for reality. This time, let us take the detour of the illusion, for if we understand what illusion is, we will get closer to reality as being that which is not an illusion. How do we recognize an illusion? How do I know that the hundred Dollar bill someone gave me during my night dream was an illusion? By looking now in my pockets and not finding it there, where I thought I had put it. It has absolutely disappeared, “absolutely” meaning there is no place in this world where it could possibly be found. Therefore “illusory” refers to that which can absolutely disappear, and, as a corollary, “real” refers to that which never disappears. The element of reality of something is that part of something which is always present. And we have this deep intuition that there is this ever present reality behind the ever changing phenomena. The problem is that we see ourselves and others as separate and distinct from this reality, as “less real” than this reality, as phenomena.
If we seek the real “I”, the only one that matters, the one which which we truly are, we will discover that we are precisely this ever present reality, and that, as this one reality, other people are real, just as real as we are.