Seeing Through the Unreal, Reveals Purely What is Real

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Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. is a seasoned clinician with experience working with adults, couples, families, adolescents and older children since 1976. His aim ...Read More

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing it, doesn’t go away.”
—Philip K. Dick

It is all the mind can do-discover the unreal as unreal. The problem is only mental.
Abandon false ideas, that is all. There is no need of true ideas. There aren’t any.
—Nisargadatta Maharaj


The root of the word “reality” is “real”. How could anyone actually be “in reality” without being clear what is “real”? And just how would this ever occur unless you were equally clear about what does not count or is “unreal”? Is there any awareness or distinction that is more critical in honestly living a life? Is the unreal mixed up with the real all the time, imposing an illusion of separate objects upon the Oneness of Life?

In spiritual circles, the world is sometimes referred to as “a dream”. This view often points to a misperception and misunderstanding. In the relative, phenomenal world, “things” and “forms” are obviously real enough on the level of the world. Bodies and houses, cars and computers all show up. Smash into any worldly “thing” or “form” and you pay a painful price. This is worth acknowledging from the beginning, even with everything in the world being processed through our senses, body and mind. Life being a dream refers to the ego’s false dream of separation-some “I” or “subject” perceiving some “other” or “object”-and here is where a “doer” is trying, seeking, aiming, and achieving, all of which only overwhelms Being here-and-now. In Truth, there is nothing separate from you, from who you truly are-the True Self or Original Nature.

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Seeing through the unreal reveals purely what is real. In a fashion, this is the culmination of our journey. So, are thoughts and beliefs real? Are your preferences and opinions, philosophy and point-of-view, real? How about assumptions, judgments and comparisons? What about stories, illusions and delusions? What about one’s body, name, automobile, house, wardrobe, home entertainment center and computer arrangement? Are your education and degrees, career and location real? Let’s include all “false identities,” these being just a few examples. The mind mistakes unreal identities for the real Self.

Are memories and remembered experiences of the past any more real than expectations and anticipations of the future? Given that the past, the future and the mind do not exist, can these wanderings of the mind be real? Is the content of a thought, feeling and experience real, or is the awareness and fact of thinking, feeling and experiencing real? Is one’s experience in the mind real? Look for yourself, inside your own Being, now.

The three realms of life—the illusory, the relative empirical world, and the eternal Absolute—are an essential structure and context to recognize, see and know what is real and true. Human beings operate on all three levels, often confusing levels. The thinking mind or ego as an imaginary false self is purely illusory, thus in the illusory realm. So are all mental events, including thoughts, beliefs, opinions and ideologies, as well as feelings, moods, emotions, and experiences, along with all false identifications, memories of the past and expectations of the future. All of these also appear in the tangible, phenomenal world and surely are what they are. Of course, this does not make them real or true in the Absolute realm since each comes and goes, and is not everlasting and infinite. Just because everyone is doing something, this doesn’t mean it isn’t insane. Anatole France wryly noted, “If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.” The illusory never existed, while the relative world is wholly nested within the Absolute.

Fully emptying your cup of all mental concepts and beliefs, past conditioning and future expectations, and false identities (i.e., the fictive ego-mind), leaves purely what is REAL—timeless Energy, changeless Presence, alive Awareness, Consciousness, Divinity and Love itself here-and-now! Sage Ramana Maharshi said, “I AM alone is true.” The “real” exists across all time—past, present and future—transcending time itself. All that arises in Awareness itself, including the fact of seeing, hearing, sensing, feeling, voicing, experiencing and thinking (and not their contents or forms), is real and known. This shining moment is alive awareness. The authentic liberated Self that lives in this moment is real. This! innate present expression of Love, Truth and Oneness is all that is real and true, and you are That!

Love declares, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no. . . ” For sanity’s and Truth’s sake, “Let the real be real and the unreal be unreal.” Bear the unbearable, love the unlovable, find the lost, and free the unfree, all within the divine grace every moment is pregnant with. You gotcha what you gotcha and you don’t gotcha what you don’t gotcha. It is what it is and it ain’t what it ain’t-’tis ’tis and taint taint. And that’s enough.

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