The Nature of Reality

By: Fa Hui


            Upon the gaining of the insight into the nature of Ultimate Reality, I decided to venture into and investigate that which has been given a considerable amount of thought to.  Throughout my investigation, I stuck with the concept of Interdependent Co-Arising.  Now to truly understand and realize the True Nature of Reality, one must rid themselves, in the end, of all concepts.

            Interdependent Co-Arising refers to an object which is in existence because of another object or an object is not in existence because of another object.  To explain this, we better should refer to the phrase: ‘this is because that is and this is not because that is not.’  An object I used was a flower.  The flower became a flower because of a seed, the seed was in the ground which received water, which came from the clouds.  The clouds reside in our atmosphere which we breath and it nurtures the brain, which nurtures the cells and nurtures the other organs.

            I soon found that mind arises from the interaction of the brain cells using the sense-organs which brings rise to our environment.  However, this does not mean nothing exists outside ourselves, rather it is not what we perceive it to be, thus the world is an illusion.  This is similar, yet somewhat different to what Descartes, the famous French philosopher and mathematician had to say:

“Even though there may be a deceiver of some sort, very powerful and very tricky, who bends all his efforts to keep me perpetually deceived, there can be no slightest doubt that I exist, since he deceives me; and let him deceive me as much as he will, he can never make me be nothing as long as I think that I am something.  Thus, after having thought well on this matter, and after examining all things with care, I must finally conclude and maintain that this proposition: I am, I exist, is necessarily true every time I pronounce it or conceive it in my mind.” [1]


            With this Descartes produced the mind-body problem, which is prevalent in Western Society.  Descartes fathomed, or at least tried to, that the mind is separate from the body and that the only thing that we can be certain of is that we are thinking.  Later, Descartes said that there must be a good God, in which, placed in us the idea of a supreme being.

            However, other cultures were not taken into effect.  These cultures either hold no thought of a supreme being or hold thought to many supreme beings.  Thus, I have come to the conclusion, just as those before me, that many ideas can, in fact, produce one larger idea.  One philosopher by the name of David Hume had this to say:

“...though our thought seems to possess this unbounded liberty, we shall find, upon a nearer examination, that it is really confined within very narrow limits, and that all this creative power of the mind amounts to no more than the faculty of compounding, transposing, augmenting, or diminishing the materials afforded us by the senses and experience.  When we think of a gold mountain, we only join two consistent ideas, gold, and mountain, with which we were formally acquainted.  A virtuous horse we can conceive; because, from our own feeling, we can conceive virtue; and this we may unite to the figure and shape of a horse, which is an animal familiar to us.  In short, all the materials of thinking are derived either from our outward or inward sentiment: The mixture and composition of these belongs alone to the mind and will.” [2]


            Upon this, we are brought back to the illusiveness of “our reality.”  Which, in turn, brings to me the illusion of language.  Many of us hold to language and believe that the words which describe the world around us are in fact the world around us.  However, this cannot be true and with further explanation and investigation we find that words or language are the mere description of the objects, be it physical or emotional (i.e. mental states of mind).  Carl Gustav Jung, the infamous psychoanalytical psychologist, had this to say about language and words:

“The material with which we think is language and verbal concepts - something which from time immemorial has been directed outwards and used as a bridge, and which has but a single purpose, namely that of communication.  So long as we think directedly, we think for others and speak to others.  Language was originally a system of emotive and imitative sounds - sounds which express terror, fear, anger, love, etc., and sounds which imitate the noises of the elements: the rushing and gurgling of water, the rolling thunder, the roaring of the wind, the cries of the animal world, and so on; and lastly, those which represent a combination of the sound perceived and the emotional reaction to it....Thus, language, in its origin and essence, is simply a system of signs or symbols that denote real occurrences or their echo in the human soul.” [3]


            We can see for ourselves, if we choose to investigate further, that words are merely the organization of several (twenty-seven in the English language) sounds which are “organized” to bring description of various elements in our daily life.  We can find evidence of language being only mere sounds through the observation of a baby.  The baby acts merely on instinct and knows nothing of language, values, ethics, concepts or any other such notions.  Whilst the baby begins to grow, it brings order to the chaos which surrounds it.  If infact, language was as concrete as we would like to think it is then the baby would be born with the knowledge it needs.  However, as we already know, the baby must learn.

            Now, at this time, we are brought to religion.  I would like to bring in an analogy in which to describe the true purpose of religion.  Imagine a flight of stairs.  Now Imagine yourself at the bottom of these stairs.  At the bottom of the stairs is a swamp, full of various traps, and poisonous as well as deadly animals.  Now at first you are immersed in it, you do not understand what it is and you feel lost.  Such is our life; although it is not without its joy and happiness, however when these end we feel the pain of their loss.

            Then we see these stairs and we say that they appear magnificent, and beyond anything that we have ever seen before.  We take our first step, and although we feel better, the first step is still contained within the swamp.  After this we take another and begin to see all those still immersed within the swamp.  Seeing this we try to help those to come to the first step, and if we help at least one person to the first step then we too can progress to the next step.  However, the next step puts the swamp water at our shin level.  This is where many stand today preaching, demanding that people take the step and talk about its miraculous beauty.  They get so stuck in this step, they feel that this step is as far as it goes.  And the people they help to the first step become stuck there for they feel that someone else must help them up the steps, this can account for the need for a savior/hero figure.  However, those that do not turn and preach and demand others, they can proceed to the next step.  This step, they see that a great deal of things may not be exactly as they appear to be and many burn out at this stage, they become depressed or insane for they are going through disillusionment.  However, those that reach the next step become, as they feel, almost like gods.  For they feel as if they have reached the top step and it appears to them as if that which is beyond the steps would be returning to the swamp.  Although they appear better and more dignified then those at the third step, the preaching stage; they still have not taken the final step, a leap of faith if you will.

            For if one is to truly understand the Nature of Reality, they have to let go of all ideas, concepts, self, emotions, friends, family, everything that we think we have, we must become free of.  Now many people may think this is shutting one’s self away from the world but such is not the case.  Infact, it is the Oneness so often talked about in Eastern Philosophies.  You no longer discriminate or give thought to the differences of everything.  It’s not physically seeing or hearing or any of your senses mish-mashing everything, but there is no thought of it.  It is very difficult to explain this to those who may have not intuitively understood what I am saying.  With this, one cannot understand the Nature of Reality without jumping off the stair case into the infinite of all things.

            Religion is much like that stair case, religion is not the end or the beginning, it is the way from the beginning to the end.  However, when one has reached the “end” they will have realized that there is neither beginning nor end, for all things are as they should be, and the “swamp” and the “final leap of faith” are infact the same place and they never climbed the stairs because the stairs were only a figment of his or her own delusive mind.

            In this, I have tried to touch on various aspects that I feel would be helpful for those to reach the Insight of the Nature of Reality.  However, those of you who do make the strenuous effort to realize the True Nature of Reality, will infact, with the guidance of a noble learned teacher, see through ones own veils of delusion and ignorance into that which truly is.  Unfortunately, I cannot tell you what this is like, for it is inexpressible, and can only be known personally.  So investigate on your own to see for yourself, for I cannot tell you how hot or cold your drink is, only you can do that.  And if you do investigate thoroughly using everything you can and not taking things literally but figuratively.  Take care of yourselves and do take it easy!

Cited Works:

1.      Page 203-204; Roots of Wisdom; Second Edition; Helen Buss Mitchell; Wadsworth Publishing Company.

2.      Hume Archives; University of Tennessee, Martin; An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Section II: Of the Origin of Ideas;

3.        Page 18-19; The Basic Writings of C.G. Jung: Edited by Violet Staub de Laszlo; The Modern Library.