Reality: absolute vs. virtual
The main goal of Zen Buddhism’s practice is to experience mindfully and in the moment our surrounding reality or truth using our senses because it is the only absolute one. The other so-called “reality” is mind-made opinion or judgment and therefore called relative truth.
Example: 2 guys are separated by a wide and powerful river.
On shouts to the other: “Hello. How can I get on the other side”.
The other guy replies” You are on the other side already”. Where is the truth?
True reality also called Absolute truth.
Experiencing absolute reality of our surrounding world can only be achieved: 1) Only in the present moment 2) Only thru our 5 senses; seeing, listening, touching, smelling and tasting, 3) And only by using a mindfulness approach that is w/o mind-set, analysis, opinion, judgment and decision.
Concrete scientific facts are part of actual reality since been proven by direct observation.
Absolute reality/Truth is neither good nor bad, right or wrong because it perceived w/o thinking, opinion, concept, judgment and w/o decision.
Meditation is a perfect example of practicing absolute reality that is being in the moment using our senses and focusing on our breathing. No thinking, no concept, no opinion, no judgment.
Virtual reality also called Conceptual /Relative truth.
Beside this absolute Reality there is, what Zen Buddhism calls ,”Conceptual/Conventional Truth which can be called “ virtual reality” or mind-made reality.
This relative reality is created by our opinions, beliefs and judgements. It is the product of our mind-set formatted over the years by our genes, education, experience, media, etc. We call it “reality” because our mind is creating it and, therefore, we strongly believe in it.
Our mind-made virtual realities do exist but purely in form of zillion of thoughts w/o substantial evidence-based concrete reality. They are illusions and also delusions.
1) Jo says that meditation is boring and Mary says meditation is exciting.
There are mind-made conceptual realities or illusions since meditation is neither boring nor
exciting. Meditation is what it is. Applying thinking, opinion and judgment defines conceptual
2) It is 10C outside. For some it is cold, for others it is warm. 10C is 10C, neither cold or warm or hot or whatever. Again this is pure conceptual or relative reality based on mind-made opinion.
3) Past and future are “real”:
Past & future do exist but only from memory/pictures for the past and expectation/calendar for the future but they are not real per-se since only the present moment is the only time that exists concretely.
One cannot exist in the past, in the future and now at the same time. This is pure illusion since you and me cannot be in 3 different space-times at the same time. It is impossible and yet we strongly believe in it!
How to avoid being trapped in our mind-made virtual realities or illusions?
We do need our mind to think and make decisions however opinions and judgments are not necessary
genuine truth or absolute reality.
How to experience absolute reality?
1) Being in the current moment as much as possible and, mindfully, using our senses rather than our thinking mind. Meditation is a great example since while meditating we are moving back and forth from the absolute reality –breathing in the moment– to the virtual ones thru our wandering mind.
2) Keeping a “Don’t know mind” or open mind which was the key teaching message of great Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn. By doing so one can avoid being trapped in a powerful mind-set with too many opinions and judgments which, rarely are expressing absolute reality. They are great for the ego but remain poisons.