Q.460 Is reality really real?

Q: In your answer to Q. 228 you wrote:

Reality is that which never changes; that which is the only existent, conscious ‘thing’, which lacks nothing and is limitless. Every, seeming ‘thing’ in creation is, on the other hand, transient and limited.

But this view of (pointer to) reality is not the only viable view, right? I mean viable in general, not within the Advaita worldview.

Couldn’t we say, instead, that reality is whatever happens to exist, in this moment, in the consciousness of the beholder? Reality as qualia, as subjective experience. In which case every seeming thing that exists in the moment is real (in the moment).

Or that reality is change, is transformation?

Or that reality is a concept that points to ___________ (the mystery)?

I could go on sharing other views of reality.

Is this right:

In terms of Advaita, your (bolded) answer, like all linguistic/conceptual constructions, is ultimately a means to an end (enlightenment) and not to be taken literally. I.e.: Ultimately there is no reality, no change, no that, no existent, no conscious thing, no lacking, no limits, etc. And even to then say “There is only Brahman” is equally ultimately un-true. It’s more like the only thing left to say/do “at the top level of understanding” is: to be silent.

A: I do not see how you can argue that there is more than one reality or no reality. People may have differing views but there can only be one correct state of affairs – the ‘real’. The rest are just ‘views’ or ‘appearances’ or ‘concepts’.

And this calls up Kant’s analysis of phenomenal versus noumenal. We can never know any thing as it really is – the ding an sich – what we think we know is just our mental interpretation of the brain’s electrical response to the stimuli impinging on our sense organs. Subjective experience can never be real.

You are right that, ‘ultimately’, we can never say anything about the nature of reality but certainly there has to be one. And ‘brahman’ is as good a name as any to call it. To my mind, Advaita’s view is the only one that makes sense: that which is the same in all three periods of time and never changes. If it is one thing one minute, and something else a minute later, then it cannot have been ‘real’. And for something to be ‘the’ reality, there cannot be anything else. And, if you could add something else to it, it would no longer be the same thing.

Have you read ‘A-U-M’? There’s lots more about reality in that book.

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