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Reality and the human minds

I would really like to share my ideas about reality with you, because these ideas are among the most important few things I have learned in my life, and because in order to progress together, we have to gain a better understanding of reality and our perception of it.

Reality and human virtual reality
The difficulty with reality, is that reality is very inaccessible for the human mind. Yes; there is reality! This may be a relieve for some those who fear that reality only exist in our minds. Can we check if reality is really out there? Yes we can, but it will probably be way different from what you expect it to be.

So the first thing to get clear is, that there seem to be 2 kinds of reality. The first kind is the real one, but cannot be grasped by a human brain. The other kind is not really reality, and present in every human brain. The first one is reality, and the second kind I call: human virtual reality. Each person has his/her own version of human virtual reality in the brain, a very useful and limited tool.

Reality does not fit in the brain
In a way you can think of state of reality at one moment, as information. People have a brain that can deal with information, but reality is extremely complex -relative to what it can grasp. For example; the amount of information inside one drop of water, is already way too much for our brains to deal with: the amount of parts, the motions, the interaction with its surrounding... it is simply too much information. Also is there no way to get that information from the droplet in your brains. And even if all that information could somehow be transferred into your brain, then knowing everything about that droplet would still not be equal to that droplet.

We are blind to most of reality
A little summary of the things we can not sense with our senses:
- that what is too far away.
- that what is obstructed by something else.
- motions that go too fast, or too slow.
- things that are too small or too big.
- things that contain too much or too complex information.
- all where our attention is not.
- all that we don't recognize.
- all that is invisible to our senses.
- all that we have forgotten.

Reality is the truth, but we can only sense tiny parts of it. This overwhelming fact may be where many people turn to one of the religions, like how children run to there parents for support after running into some impressive unknown. I don't think that is necessary, nor smart, because the truth can be found all over the place, while groups with holy books... cause a lot of suffering. My religious needs are satisfied by looking at simple yet amazing thinks like: plants, stones, the motions of everything.

It does scare me at times, knowing that I can see so little, having so little control, but that is part of being human. I know that I am experiencing my virtual reality, and that is ok. It supports me, helps me navigate through this thing we call life.

Human virtual reality, an essential tool.
In order to survive in the hugeness of reality, our body has developed a brain capable of creating a virtual reality. This virtual reality is an information space filled with memories of simple patterns found in reflections from reality, waves that have entered our system through our senses.

The reality we experience, is happening in our heads. Everybody has their own and unique experience, her/his own virtual reality. And although based on input from reality, this experience is not equal to reality.

Discovering reality, and working with it.
There are many things we can do to reduce our blindness!

The first thing to do is fundamental research, and thereby discover how parts of reality seem to function. We need to write down the things we learned: what did work, what didn't work, and why. Others need to do the same research, to double check the conclusions.

The second thing to do, is to share our findings.

The third thing to do is to continue the research, based upon the previous research results. This is extremely powerful! "standing on the shoulders of giants". For this to function we need to trust the results of the people before us. Therefore we need to use the same standards.

Final thing to do, is to keep an open mind. We don't own the truth, we try to describe it as well as possible. We makes mistakes, we have a lot to learn. Especially when a mistake in previous fundamental research is discovered, all that was based on that, is now to be looked at again! That is ok though, positively exciting even! That is the road of learning, improving.

Reality Check
How can we be sure that reality is there?
That is a difficult question, as our experience is happening in our mind's virtual reality.

While asleep and dreaming, this dream feels totally real. During sleep, our virtual reality gets its information input almost completely from its memory, as we lay still in a quiet place with our eyes shut. How can we be sure that we are not in a dream while awake? Well; in a way we are always dreaming. Our virtual reality is always active during dreams and when we are awake. The difference is that while awake, we have our inputs and outputs active, to interact with the world outside our bodies. Inputs: our senses. Outputs: our motions.

Although it is difficult to tell a dream from being awake, but there is a difference. I know that I am awake now because my dreams have a different atmosphere. For example; in my dreams I can walk and even fly, I can not do that now, so I am probably awake. I am writing this text now, and I can continue working on this text tomorrow, but I can't continue adding to this text while asleep... though I could be dreaming that!

There are arguments about reality that can not be proven wrong, though that doesn't mean they are right. Two examples. The universe has been created 5 seconds ago, including all memories, books and fossils. Or; if it is possible for an advanced civilization to create a virtual reality that one can not distinguish from reality, and if many of these civilizations have created numerous virtual realities, then the chance of us being in one of these simulations, is larger than us being in the reality. Can't proof them wrong, but that doesn't make them true.

What does your brain know about brains?
Young children, up to the age of about 3, can not yet image that others have a different mind. Basically "I know something, therefore you know it also". There is this experiment, the "Sally–Anne test" the "theory of mind test" that seems to proof this.
So, at about the age of 4, we learn that everyone has a unique mind, and we stop... we reduce the amount of projecting on others. This realization that each of us has a unique mind, is just one of many things we can learn about the innerworkings of the mind. I wonder how many lessons can be learned.

If we could and would test everyone on their knowledge about the brain and its perception of reality, we would probably see huge differences. I think these differences play an important role in the root of many conflicts. And thus, if we can educate everyone on this, the amount of conflicts may be reduced! That is worth a try. We should at least examin the leaders of our counties before giving them such important role.

I get the impression that many people think that the only difference between our minds is the amount of knowledge. To know or not know a fact. But the story of the mind is more complex than that.

What all is there to learn about the brain and its perception of reality?
Let me give it a try:

There are about 86 billion nerve cells in one human brain.
It's all about the structure, the connections, the activity of these nerves.
Each brain is similar and unique, and it changes over time.
A living brain can be: healthy, unhealthy, sick, damaged.

The need to communicate
Others don't really know what goes on in your mind, not what you think nor what you feel. If you want other to kind of understand the state you are in, you can try to communicate about that. And the other way around, if you have an interest in someone else, you can ask that person to communicate about their state. We have the tendency to project on others, what we think they think and feel, which is easy to do, sometimes pretty spot on, but more often painfully wrong.

Taging words to simple patterns
Our brains are specialized in simple pattern recognition. Note: we can not recognize complex patterns. We give patterns a name, like "I recognize that as a tree. This may seem as not that important, but I think giving names is essential, because words are tags that the brain can netwerk, like "tree - forest - squirrel", and we can communicate by exchanging arrangements of words.

Words words words
We use a lot of words. So many that these words can blind us from reality. When you recognize a pattern you call a "tree", you could say "that is a tree". That is the common thing to say, but it is actually wrong. The right thing to say would be "that I call a tree", because "tree" is just a word, and that what you recognized isn't a word. Then, what is a tree? If I would ask you to draw and describe, in as much detail as possible, the tree next to the house you live in, how much could you communicate to me? Would the drawing be a brown stick with some green on it, and the description something like "it is quite large, I think it is an oak tree". One could spend their whole life studying what that one specific tree is all about, and still only scratch the surface of all there is to know about it.
So, in conclusion; we don't really now what the truth is, but it is essential to our lives to tag names to the patterns we recognize.

Opinion - Fact - Truth
If I think that a squirrel is a beautiful kind of insect, and all the people around me agree on that, is it then true that a squirrel is a beautiful kind of insect? What is happening here... There is a pattern that I tagged with the word "squirrel" and linked that with the patterns I call "beautiful" and "insects". My friends did the same, but that doesn't make it the truth now does it? To reality, it makes no difference what we think of it.

If you just think 'this about that', then that thought is just an opinion, not a fact. If all your friends share your opinion, that doesn't make it a fact, but merely a shared opinion. To get to a fact, serious research has to be done, including double checks by other researchers. If all evidence leads to the same conclusion, then that conclusion can be called a fact. But-but, a fact is not equal to the truth! A fact is merely that what is proven to be best description. If new research can proof an other conclusion to be even more correct, then that is the new fact. Just an opinion can not change the facts, not even the opinion of a president or the majority.

Now, if there is a piece of art, which you find beautiful, and someone else finds ugly, can we research that piece of art to get clear if it is in fact beautiful or ugly? No, because both are correct. If your mind has made a link between the pattern of the art and beautiful, then that is a true link, in your virtual reality only.

And how do we get from facts to the truth? Well, the truth is kind of out of our league. We are in the midst of reality, we are part of reality, and reality is the truth, but reality is simply too complex for our minds. To illustrate; compare the information in one drop of water to a complete encyclopedia, and imagine the capacity of one human brain only able to remember 3 letters. It's not going to work. So the best we can do, is to gather the best facts we can, keep an open mind and search for improved facts, and try not to panic over our limits. Instead, have some faith, don't think too much.

Getting closer to the truth
Two ways. One is to gather the best facts possible, and keep researching to improved the facts. This is how to understand parts of the truth.

Big complex things are made of smaller simpler parts. The search for the most complex combination is kind of useless, but the search for the most basis ingredients is very useful. Maybe we'll find the theory of everything one day following this search. Note that the most basic ingredients aren't necessarily the smallest. What ingredients are the most fundamental, that is the question here. I don't known what these ingredients are, but the answer will be quite simple.

The other way, is to let go of all the: words, opinions, knowledge, and just touch the truth. You are real, everything around you is real, and real is the truth. People find it hard to let go of their projections. Even when in silence, the mind keeps talking! Just ignore that for a while. What you'll find left are more-real things like: force, temperature, sound, light, motion, shapes. Similar to how a baby is experiencing everything.

The Human realm
We live on planet Earth, on the surface between air and land. The sun gives us energy. There is 1G of gravity here, an atmosphere, water, and lots living species. By now, most of the people on Earth live in cities. One centimeter is considered to be small, one meter big, 3 meters larg. One second a short time, one hour long. 14°C cold, 22ºC comfy, 30ºC hot.

The spectrum of reality is sooo large, way out of our comfort zone. We are extremely large and complex relative to the smallest and most fundamental ingredients of reality. I think that the deepest truth can be found in the most fundamental ingredients. Though that world is so alien from our human realm, it should freak you out!

Giesbert Nijhuis

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