“Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, / Stains the white radiance of eternity...” Like the other Romantic poets, P B Shelley was unhappy with the inevitable stains of life. One of the many stains or imperfections is our inability to perceive reality clearly. Reality comes into our consciousness through a lot of filters that have become a part of our very being. Our past experiences, our prejudices, beliefs, convictions, desires, culture, religion, political affiliation... a whole range of things acts as the filters.
For example, take ourselves, human beings. “What a piece of work is a man,” exclaimed Hamlet in spite of himself. Shakespeare’s Prince of Denmark saw human being as a paradoxical creature that is noble in reason, infinite in faculties, admirable in form, angelic in action and godlike in apprehension. Yet the Prince ended up hating many human beings and killing quite a few. Hamlet’s whole perception and understanding of reality was tainted thoroughly by one awareness: about his mother’s marital infidelity and his uncle’s role in it. The awareness turned Hamlet’s world upside down. The mental filters were transmuted and the sensitive poet became an impulsive killer.
Reality is not something fixed once and for all. Reality is what you and I perceive and comprehend. Science tells me that my modest body (modest in physical size) is the equivalent of 30 very large hydrogen bombs. Yeah, an ordinary human body contains no less than 7x1018 joules of potential energy which is what 30 big hydrogen bombs release on explosion. So am I just a bundle of atoms?
It depends on which filter you are looking through. For the nuclear scientist I am a huge reservoir of protons, electrons and neutrons. For my religious friends, I am a soul in dire need of redemption. Are souls made up of protons and electrons? The scientist may laugh at the question. Souls are too ethereal to be caught in the scientific filter.
Reality is what the filters of your mind catch. The cow may be potential steak or kinetic gaumata depending on your mental filters. Jallikettu is a cultural fest or brutality to oxen depending on your mental filters.
So what is reality? Reality is what you see and understand. Blessed are those who can see from many angles and comprehend different perspectives; a whole world of entertainment, if not Shelley’s white radiance of eternity, is theirs.
PS. Written for Indispire Edition 153: #RealityMyPerspective