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Chapter 9. A Reality of Wholeness and Infinity. Perception of Reality

Where one thinks, there one is.

The Baal Shem Tov


One who begins to realize everything described thus far, who contemplates being a part of a single system that incorporates all people, who transfers this knowledge to others and builds a supportive environment, gradually develops a powerful, genuine desire to acquire Nature’s quality of altruism. The road to acquiring a complete desire for altruism is an adventurous one, and fills the lives of those who choose this path with deep meaning and unparalleled satisfaction. When the complete desire for altruism is built in a person, one discovers a whole new reality. Before we describe this reality and what a person who experiences it feels, we must understand what “reality” is, and how we perceive it.

These questions might sound redundant because it seems everyone knows what reality is. Reality is what I see, the walls around me, houses, people, the universe; reality is what we can touch and feel, what we hear, taste, and smell. This is reality—or is it?

Actually, there is more to reality than meets the eye, ears, and nose. Throughout history, the greatest human minds dedicated all their energy to this topic. Over time, science’s approach to how we perceive reality has gone through several transformations.

The classic approach, whose chief proponent was Sir Isaac Newton, stated that the world exists independently, regardless of man. It makes no difference whether one perceives the world or not, or if there is a person living in the world or not. The world exists and its shape is fixed.

In time, the evolution of life sciences permitted the examination of the world-picture through the senses of other creatures besides man. Scientists learned that other creatures perceive the world in different ways. For example, a bee’s world-picture is a sum of all the sights perceived in each of the myriad units that comprise its eyes. A dog perceives the world primarily as “odor patches.”

Additionally, Albert Einstein discovered that changing the velocity of the observer (or the observed object), yielded a completely different vision of reality on the time/space axes. For instance, let’s assume there is a pole moving in space. According to Newton, regardless of the speed, the pole will appear to have the same length in the eyes of an observer. According to Einstein, however, the pole will seem to be shrinking as its speed increases.

As a result of these two discoveries, a more progressive approach was formed, arguing that the world picture depends on the observer. Observers with different properties and senses perceived a different world. Similarly, observers in different states of motion perceived a different picture.

In the 1930s, quantum physics revolutionized the world of science. It determined that the observer affects the event being observed. Accordingly, the only question the researcher can ask is, “What do the meters actually show?” It is pointless to try to research the objective process that occurred, or to try to find what the objective reality is like.

Discoveries in quantum physics, together with discoveries in other fields of research, combined to form the contemporary scientific approach to how we perceive reality: the observer affects the world, and thus affects the picture he or she perceives. Put differently, the picture of the world is a combination of the attributes of the observer and the attributes of the observed object.

Life is Within

The current emergence of the wisdom of Kabbalah takes us one step forward. Thousands of years ago, Kabbalists discovered that, in truth, there is no such thing as a world-picture. The “world” is a phenomenon experienced within a person, and reflects the similarity between the individual’s qualities and the qualities of the abstract force on the outside, i.e. Nature’s force.

As we have said, Nature’s force is totally altruistic. The measure of similarity or dissimilarity between one’s attributes and the attribute of Nature’s force on the outside, manifests itself as “the world-picture.” It follows that the picture of our surrounding reality depends entirely on our internal qualities, which we can change completely.

To better understand how we perceive reality, we can compare a person to a closed box with five sensors: eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and hands, representing the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. The picture of our surrounding reality is formed within this box.

Let us look at the hearing mechanism as an example of how our senses work. Sound waves that reach the eardrum create vibrations on its surface, which then move the hearing bones. As a result, electric signals are sent to the brain, which “translates” them into sounds and voices. All of our measurements take place from the eardrum inward, and all of our senses operate similarly.

Thus, we are not really measuring what is outside of us, but the response created within us. The range of sounds that we will receive, the sights we will see, the smells, all those depend on the sensitivity of our senses. We are “closed” within our box, and thus never know what really happens outside of us.

The signals from all our senses are summarized and transferred to the control center in the brain, where the received information is compared with the existing data in our memory, where previous impressions were collect

ed. The information is then “projected” onto a “screen” within the brain, displaying the picture of the world we appear to occupy. This is how we feel where we are and what we need to do (see below drawing).

In this process, the unknown that surrounds us becomes something ostensibly known, creating an internal picture of what seems to be the outside reality. In truth, however, this is not the picture of the outside reality. It is only an internal picture.

All this has been known to science for a long time, and in his “Preface to The Book of Zohar,” Baal HaSulam describes them in these words: “Take our sense of sight for example: we see a great world before us, and all its wondrous filling. But in fact, we do not see all that except in our own interior. In other words, there is a sort of a photographic machine in our hindbrain that portrays everything that appears to us, and nothing outside of us!”

He says that there is a kind of mirror in our brain, which inverts everything we see there to appear as if it is happening outside of us. Thus, the picture of reality is the upshot of the structure of our senses and the previously existing information in our brains. If we had other senses, they would create an entirely different picture. It is quite possible that what now seems like light would appear as dark, or even as something we cannot presently imagine.

In that regard, we should note that science has long known that it is possible to stimulate the human brain with electric impulses. These, combined with information collected in the memory, induce a sensation of being in a certain place and in a certain situation. Moreover, today we can replace our senses with artificial devices such as electronic instruments. There are numerous hearing aids, for example, ranging from amplifiers that assist those who are hard of hearing, to electrode transplants in completely deaf people.

An artificial eye is also being developed, using electrodes planted in the patient’s brain. This “eye” inverts auditory data into visual data, meaning it changes sounds into pictures. Another development in vision healing involves planting a tiny camera in the eye that replaces the light waves that penetrate the pupil with electric signals. These signals are then transmitted to the brain, where they are “translated” into a picture.

It is clearly only a matter of time before we have full control over these health challenges, and can extend the range of our senses, create artificial organs, and even build an entire body. However, even then the picture of the world will remain an internal image.

As it turns out, all that we feel is only within us. It has no connection with the reality outside of us. Moreover, we cannot even say whether there is a reality outside of us, or not, since our picture of the “outside” world is within us.

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