Inside the illumined space sits two things: you and a machine that looks like a projector. You sit here for a while wondering.
Suddenly, a little person wearing a white and orange jump suit, painted in clown make-up, walks into the circle. He hands you a disc and says, “Please put this into the truth machine.” You do.
From the truth machine a beautiful, insane, chaotic, complex, horrible, simple, yet entirely pleasing 3D image appears. The image is complex. The image includes with it feelings and sensations in your body. “Neat,” you think.
“What’s this?” you ask to your little Umpaloompa friend.
“This is what’s happening outside of the room,” replies the little messenger.
“How do I know it’s real?” you ask.
“What else do you have? Would you prefer the blackness again?”
“No. Thank you. I’ll stay with this.” And you do. You stay with it. Soon there is a huge host of Umpaloompas. They bring you more and more discs. The more discs they bring you, the more complex the 3D image, your sensations, and your feelings become.
One day, after you’ve enjoyed the hologram for quiet awhile, you simply begin to assume that what you’re being shown is true. What they’re giving you is actually what’s happening outside the room. What else do you have to go on? Because you accept what you’re experiencing as true, you begin to think about it. You make theories about it. You create all sorts of ideas about what it means, why you’re experiencing it, your place in it, and the relationship you have with the others that appear in it. You assume that, like the reality you’re experiencing, these thoughts, theories, and beliefs are true too. What else do you have?
You rely on this reality and these thoughts, as it’s more entertaining and interesting than the empty space that was present before. You fool yourself into forgetting about the empty space that is right there, all along, behind the holographic image around you. As you deepen your relationship with what you think is real, you even begin forget about the Umpaloompas. The exchange of the discs is now so automatic, you become completely unconscious of it.
You believe that the hologram is real. You believe that your thoughts about the hologram are real too. You like this reality and your truths about it and become angry and frustrated whenever these beliefs are challenged. And your beliefs are constantly challenged, so you now suffer. What was once entertaining is now insanely painful, even though you pretend it is not. But you can’t go back. You’re stuck. You’ve forgot about the emptiness, and the Umpaloompas, and the projector, and you choice to participate in the process in the first place. You’re stuck.
* * *Reality is not the truth. Your perceptions are not the truth. Your beliefs are not the truth. Nothing you think or experience is true.
* * *I am not denying that there is an objective reality in the so-called outer world. I am simply saying you’ll never have a direct experience of it. By the time you’ve experienced it, it’s already an illusion.
What, then, is real?