Dec 30

Reality Has Its Own Purpose In and For Itself
Bhakti Madhava Puri, Ph. D.
Princeton Bhakti Vedanta Institute

In a recent article by Deepak Chopra, MD, “Can We Evolve Beyond Evolution? We Have To” [1] it was mentioned that

“– The reality we accept is a human construct.”
“– We should see ourselves as conscious creators who imbue reality with our own purposes.”

While many people think this way there are also those who believe reality is fixed in stone beyond whatever they may think of it. To some extent both are right. We do have the freedom to interpret what we experience, and mind does play a role in determining what the senses observe. At the same time reality doesn’t just disappear when we do not perceive it. Our house is still there when we go to work for several hours. For instance, it could burn down when we are not there. So it is not all a human construct, and as for purposes they also are not solely created by us.

A more satisfactory conception would be one that includes and harmonizes both the idealism of a mind or consciousness based creation of reality, and the realism of the inherent purposefulness of an already existing reality of which we are part and parcel.

The reality people experience is a human construct insofar as it is limited to sensuous perception of the phenomenal world of appearance, as well as the circumscribed judgments of finite understanding. However, this does not reach to the noumenal Reality in and for itself beyond or behind its apparent or phenomenal surface. In India the mayavad philosophy of Brahman Satyam, Jagat Mithyä claims that Reality is purely a product of human misconception and only Brahman as mere impersonal consciousness (an oxymoron since consciousness is the essence of personality) is the absolute reality or truth. This philosophy, also called kevaladvaita, however, does not provide an alternative to material reductionism but merely an alternative reductionism. Instead of reducing everything to matter it proposes to reduce everything to impersonal consciousness. In fact, what is needed is an alternative way of thinking that is not based solely on the judgments of a finite ego that is found, for instance, in the abstract thinking of Kantian philosophy in the West as well as in the kevaladvaita interpretations of Shankaracharya in the East.

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