Some folks in the New Age circles say we create our own reality.
Is that true?
As usual, to me the answer seems to be yes, no, it depends, and don’t know.
Yes, we do create our own reality in the conventional sense and in two distinct although related ways.
Our perception and interpretations determines how the world appears to us – from the most basic to the most elaborate. The mind creates sensory impressions based on input from the senses. And our mind makes sense of these impressions through an overlay of mental images and words. We – quite literally – construct our own reality.
Most of this is shared by most humans and are determined by biology and culture, and some of it is more culturally dependent and individual. We can explore and work with both categories to create other ways to perceive and interpret the world that works better for us. (The second category is more the realm of psychology and the first category involves deeper inquiry and even spirituality.)
Our perceptions and interpretations obviously influence and determine our choices, actions, and responses, and this shape the situations we find ourselves in.
In another way, we do not create our reality. Everything that happens is not a direct expression of our wishes, hangups, hidden desires, or whatever it may be.
What’s happening locally is an expression of the movements within existence as a whole. Everything has innumerable causes stretching back to beginning of time and out to the widest extent of space. It’s dependent on far more than just what’s going on in our own psyche.
At the same time, we can make use of whatever happens. We can use it to notice what’s triggered in us and befriend it and invite in healing for it. We can make use of what’s happening to heal, mature, wake up, and live more authentically and more aligned with our values.
We can even ask ourselves “what if I created this, what would be the reason and what would I like to learn from it?” and use that as a gentle exploration, hold the question very gently, and use the answers as a temporary guide.
As what we are – that which our experience happens within and as – it depends. We can answer the question in a few different ways.
We can say that everything – every experience and the whole world as it appears to us – happens within and as we are.
And from here we could say that “we” – as what our experience happens within and as – creates our experience. That’s true in the most basic sense that we construct our own experience of the world.
I am careful with saying that “we” create our own reality in this context. It makes more sense to say that it’s just happening and it is life or existence itself creating our world and reality and our experience of it.
As what we are, it’s most reasonable to say that everything happens. “We” – as this human self – do not create it.
And really, it’s a mystery. We don’t know anything for certain. We can have ideas about our experiences in the world – whether the ideas are about genetics, culture, psychology or anything else – and some of those ideas can be useful for a while. The only thing we know is that no ideas can capture reality. They are, at most, helpful as a temporary and pragmatic guideline to help us orient and function in the world.
So as who we are – as this human self – we create our reality in a conventional and well-known sense. We do not create our reality in the simplistic and naive sense that whatever happens is a direct reflection of our own desires or hangups. We can also say that our reality is created within and as what we are, although it happens more on its own. And ultimately it’s all – every single bit of it – a mystery that cannot be captured by our understanding and even less by our words.
- we create our own reality?
- yes, in conventional sense – as who we are
- how we relate to ourselves/world
- can create/shape situations from our own wounds, hangups, beliefs, identifications etc.
- as what we are – not yes or no
- all happens within/as what we are
- spiritual/divine interpretation – all from/is the divine
- but not
- not everything that happens in our life is a direct reflection of our wishes, wounds etc.
- but can be used to notice what it triggers in us and explore/work on that – very useful approach
- And really, it’s a mystery
- we don’t know anything for certain
- but we can take a pragmatic and useful approach and hold any interpretations lightly
- yes, in conventional sense – as who we are