Subjective Reality Q&A

May 15th, 2006 by Steve Pavlina

I’ve received abundant questions about the notion of subjective reality since the last blog post, so I’ll cover some of the basics in Q&A form.  Most people asked questions from a perspective that tries to shoehorn subjective reality into an objective framework… hence confusion is the usual result.  Subjective reality requires a very different framework.

The first two questions are the most crucial for understanding subjective reality.  Everything else stems from those.

What is subjective reality?

Here’s the way I’m using this term:  Subjective reality is an integrated belief system where consciousness and awareness are primary.  They are the container in which everything else exists.  And I do mean EVERYTHING.

One way of thinking about subjective reality is like a holodeck from Star Trek.  But that’s a model I’d like to move away from because I’m finding most people are thinking about it too objectively, as if the holodeck still exists in an objective universe somewhere “out there.”  This would be the world of The Matrix movies, but that is not subjective reality.  In that case you’re just having a simulated subjective experience within a larger objective framework.  In those movies you still have an outside objective universe that is real.  So this isn’t the model we want to use.

In a truly subjective universe, there is nothing outside your own consciousness — no world, no bodies, no brain.  Suppose I ask you the question, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”  With an objective belief structure, you might say yes, but you might also say no, depending on your views on quantum physics.  However, if you believed in subjective reality, you have to reject the question entirely.  You’d say that there’s no such thing as a tree outside your awareness.  That tree doesn’t even exist.  Nor does the forest for that matter.  If you are not there to observe it, it doesn’t exist at all.  Without consciousness there is no existence.

So in this paradigm, you are not a body with a mind walking around in a physical universe.  You are pure conscious awareness, and the physical universe is “walking around” within you.  And that includes what you think of as your body and your mind too… as well as every other body you perceive.

A secondary element is that within a subjective universe, thought is the primary creative element.  All thoughts manifest in some form, whether conscious or unconscious.  So the physical universe is like a giant computer, crunching your thoughts into reality.  Thoughts are waves, and the physical universe is the summation of all those waves.  Hence where there is no thought, there is no physical existence.  If a thought does not exist, its physical manifestation does not exist either.

What is the “you” in subjective reality?

This point is crucial to really grasping subjective reality.  In subjective reality, “you” have a completely different identity.  “You” are the consciousness within which everything exists — time, space, people, places, events… EVERYTHING.  You are NOT a human being with a body and a mind.  You are consciousness, and there happens to be a human being with a body and a mind within you.  So everything you perceive must be interpreted relative to the perspective of consciousness, not from the perspective of any particular body-mind, including the one you identify as your own.

Imagine a first-person video game with an on-screen avatar that you control.  You can move it around and interact with other characters in the game world.  In an objective reality, you perceive that character to be you.  You identify with it.  Everything else within the game world is therefore “not you.”  And of course in most video games of this nature, the interactions between your character and the rest of the game world are usually based on conflict.  You vs. not you.

But in a subjective reality, you would not identify with that on-screen character.  You’d identify with the container in which the whole simulation occurs, and there would truly be nothing outside that container — no outer world at all.  So there’s this character running around inside you, along with many other characters.  Because you don’t identify with the character, its fate is of little concern to you.  What matters is the state of the game universe as a whole.  The role of your avatar is only as a means of influencing the game world and helping to make changes within it.  But such interactions would not be centered around conflict because there is no sense of you vs. not you.  The whole thing is you.  Additionally, nothing outside of this simulation exists, not even time or space.  That’s the entire universe.  So the simulation isn’t running within a larger objective framework — it is the framework.

Are you saying that in subjective reality, everything I experience is just occurring inside my own head?

No.  Everything you experience is occurring inside your consciousness, and that includes your head too.  So your head is inside your consciousness, not the other way around.

So is everyone else just a projection of myself — my spouse, children, etc?

Yes.  Within a subjective belief system, EVERYTHING is a projection of consciousness.

Are other people just shadows of the real me then?

They aren’t shadows.  They are just as much YOU as your own body-mind, equal components of your own conscious awareness.

So within a subjective belief system, are other people conscious like me too?

People are not conscious.  Only consciousness is conscious.  So in a sense, there are no other conscious people.  There is only one consciousness, and all the people you perceive exist within it.  And that consciousness is who and what you are.  There’s only one consciousness, so there’s only one you.

In the physical universe, you can go around counting the human bodies you perceive.  And you’ll find lots of them.  But how many consciousnesses can you detect?  Count them, and you will find you can perceive only one.

So I’m the only one who’s conscious?

Yes, you are. 

If you identify with your physical body-mind, you will likely assume that your conscious awareness is something going on within your mind or your head.  Hence you assume that all the other bodies you perceive also “have” a consciousness like yours, one that is separate from yours.  You assume you cannot perceive other people’s conscious minds because it’s something going on inside their heads too.

But all of that is just a delusion.  It’s an erroneous assumption.

The reality is that you are indeed the only one who’s conscious.  But that YOU who’s conscious isn’t your body-mind.  Your body-mind as well as all the other bodies you perceive exist within your consciousness.  There’s only one consciousness, and that is your real identity.  Everything else exists within you.  That’s why you perceive only one consciousness.  That’s the only consciousness that exists.

How many subjective realities are there?

There can be only one.  :)

Subjective reality centers around consciousness, and that consciousness is the real you.  There are no other people “out there” having their own subjective experiences.  There is only you.  And your subjective reality is the only one there is.

Why do I identify with this particular body then and not someone else’s?

So you can experience physical reality from a first-person perspective.  This allows you to interact with the physical universe on a whole new level, one that isn’t possible if you remain in “god mode.”  A physical avatar gives you a richer experience with more possibilties.  But you are not restricted to only working through that avatar except to the degree you believe you are.  True “god mode” is still accessible to you.

But what if I don’t believe that I am consciousness?  What if I believe I am a physical body with a mind?

Then that will become your reality.  If you believe you are a body with a mind, then such is your existence.

You are like a god who uses his powers to make himself powerless.  Hence you are powerless, and trying to use your thought to manifest simply won’t work as long as you continue to believe you are powerless.

But I see plenty of evidence that the universe exists outside myself, so that’s why I believe in an objective universe.  Am I missing something?

It’s actually the opposite.  You see such evidence BECAUSE you believe in an objective universe.  Your beliefs about reality will manifest the physical evidence that is congruent with them.  So if you look to the physical universe, you will simply see a reflection of your existing beliefs about the physical universe.

So how can I know that subjective reality is real?

Change your beliefs, and then watch the physical universe itself change to become congruent with them.

So if I were to believe in something that didn’t exist or that wasn’t possible yet, it would actually begin to manifest in the physical universe?

Yes, it would.  The physical universe is a summation of thought.  So first of all, in order to change this universe, you must adopt the belief that creation by thought is possible.  You must not only believe it.  You must know it.

If you try to create by thought, yet deep down you still believe it’s impossible or highly improbable, then it will not manifest for you.  The physical universe, including time and space, can only manifest in a manner that is congruent with your beliefs.

But according to science, history, etc. this can’t be true.

Science and history, past and future, and all your memories exist within your consciousness.  You manifested them.  If you believe it can’t be true, then it can’t.

Science is based on the presupposition that objective reality exists.  The whole notion of an objective observer stems from that assumption.  But this assumption is unprovable and may therefore be erroneous.  From a subjective standpoint, the belief in objectivity is what manifests all the laws and discoveries of science.  To drop that belief is to make it possible to violate the seemingly untouchable laws of science.

So even the past and future don’t really exist?

They exist to the degree you believe they exist.  All that is real is the present moment, since consciousness is not time bound.  Within consciousness you create the experience of time.

Hence, you cannot look to past or future for evidence of subjective reality.  Your perceptions of past and future and all the supposed evidence contained therein are themselves creations of subjective reality.  You will only find within them what you expect to find.

The only valid place to look for truth is within consciousness itself.

Why create time?

To experience a time-bound perspective, which allows you to experience growth.  Growth is an experience you cannot experience without physical manifestation because pure consciousness is already perfect; therefore it does not grow and change.  In order to experience growth, your only option was to assume a perspective that distanced you from the awareness that you are pure consciousness, so you could enjoy the process of finding your way back to perfection.

What about the physical laws of science?  Can I break them?

Not if you believe they are real.  Whatever you believe to be universal law, the physical universe (including your body) must obey.  You cannot break any law which you “know” to be true.  But you can change what you know to be true once you begin to recognize that you are consciousness itself, not merely a body-mind in a physical universe.

What is a belief?

A belief is a thought.  All thoughts are creative.  A belief is therefore a statement about the nature of reality, one which is sure to manifest.  Ultimately then, a belief is a choice.

You have complete freedom to believe whatever you want.  This includes the ability to decide that you don’t have a choice.  If you believe reality is something that happens to you, something not of your own creation, then that is your decision.

Why does the physical universe seem so stable then?

It seems stable because you believe it to be stable.  You allow your perceptions to feed your thoughts instead of taking more direct control over your thoughts.

There is no perception without creation.  When you perceive something in your reality and form an opinion about it, you reinforce the continuation of that reality.  If you want to create a discontinuity in the physical universe, you must create a discontinuity in your thoughts.  That means you must begin to believe something which you cannot yet perceive.  You do this through your imagination, and it will eventually come to manifest.

So if I believe in a subjective universe, how would that affect my behavior in dealing with others?

The interactions between your physical body and those of others will play out in accordance with your beliefs about the nature of reality, just as you see now.  If you believe the universe is hostile, you will treat others with suspicion.  If you believe the universe is loving, then you will treat others with compassion.

When you identify with consciousness itself, you perceive all of reality as occurring within you.  Everything that exists is a manifestation of you.  This perspective takes growth to a whole new level, since now you are able to decide what kind of universe you wish to create.

Wouldn’t I become totally self-centered with a subjective belief system?

You are naturally self-centered.  The problem is when you choose the wrong “self” to center around.  If you choose your body as the self and center around that, then you manifest all sort of problems as you compete with other bodies.  It’s you vs. them.  You vs. not you.  And your interactions with others will be invariably fear-based, just like you’d see in a competitive or violent video game.  You may try to suppress the fear and feeling of being in competition with others, but you will never be free of it.  Fear and competition are natural byproducts of ego identification.

But when you select pure consciousness as the SELF you center around, you have made a wonderful choice because there is nothing outside of consciousness.  Now you are centering around the real you which encompasses all that exists.  So there is no you vs. them.  In this case your interactions will become more loving and joyful.  You are centering yourself around the real you.  Another name for this is God-consciousness.

So a subjective belief system will make you SELF-centered but not self-centered, which is a very enjoyable state to reach.

How can I behave compassionately towards others if I don’t believe they exist?

You do not exhibit compassionate behavior towards others per se.  You can only behave compassionately towards yourself — the YOU that is consciousness.  You will cease to perceive a you plus a them as the format for a human interaction.  Instead it is all you.  Your body and someone else’s body are like the heart and lungs of a larger whole.  You would not want to see your heart arguing with your lungs.  So upon embracing this perspective, you would take responsibility for the totality of all existence because it is in fact your own creation.  Hence you would want to see compassion spread everywhere your perception reaches.

This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  He did not mean that you are a physical body-mind and that you should love other human beings just as you love your own body.  He meant that you ARE consciousness, and so your neighbor IS you.  To love your neighbor AS yourself means to love your neighbor BECAUSE s/he is YOU.  There is no separation between you; separation is merely an illusion.

Jesus also said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  There are two kinds of forgiveness though.  One is to forgive your neighbor for apparent wrongdoings as if s/he is a separate being from you.  Forgive and forget and move on.  But Jesus is talking about a higher level of forgiveness.  When you identify yourself with pure consciousness, you forgive others because they ARE you.  So all forgiveness at this level is really SELF-forgiveness.  It means you accept everything in your reality with compassion because YOU created it.

From the perspective of subjective reality, the best way to interact with the world is to center every relationship around peace, love, and joy.  To do otherwise would simply create pain, and no fully conscious being would willingly choose to do that.  If love, peace, and joy is who you are, then that is what you will manifest.

So if I continually focus my consciousness on thoughts that are loving, peaceful, and joyful, then what effect will that have on the life of this body I think of as mine?

First, your body-mind will interact with the world in a loving, peaceful, and joyful manner.  You will experience great pleasure in serving others.  You will forgive easily.  Your body will become a vehicle for manifesting love, peace, and joy in the physical universe.  That is in fact your body’s primary role in the physical universe, but it’s not the only vehicle you have available.

Secondly, your body-mind would cease to experience fear because you would stop creating fear in your consciousness.  You would not even be afraid of death.  Consciousness is primary and invulnerable.  So you would take care of your body in a loving manner, but you would not be afraid of its demise.  It is not really you anyway.  This lack of fear is what makes it possible to see through the illusion of the physical universe.  When you fear nothing, you are free, regardless of circumstances.

Thirdly, you will find your life becoming easier and easier.  You will become increasingly enthusiastic and excited about life.  Every day will bring wonderful new experiences.  Your experience of time will change, and the notions of past and future will become less important.  More and more of your awareness will pour into the present moment and stay there.

And finally, your emotions will align with joy.  You will experience joy all the time.  It will never shut off.

Aligning your thoughts with peace, love, and joy is empowering.  They are key components of the very best experience you can manifest in the physical universe.

Within a subjective belief system, how can world peace be achieved?

First, consider the objective reality approach.  This approach assumes that a lack of world peace exists “out there” somewhere in the world, somewhere separate and distinct from yourself.  Hence you must use your body to tackle these separate entities and get them to cooperate.  Unfortunately, all the billions of people in the world are not under your control, so no matter how hard you work at it, there will always be people who don’t cooperate.  Consequently, that approach has never worked and will never work.  In fact, it will actually just perpetuate a lack of world peace even more.  You cannot eliminate conflict through conflict.

Now consider the subjective approach.  Within this framework there is a lack of world peace because there is a lack of peace within your consciousness.  So instead of fighting the world, you would focus intensely to bring your own consciousness into alignment with peace.  You would center your life around peace.  You would live and breathe peace.  Your mantra would be peace, peace, peace.  You would direct your energies towards eliminating all thoughts from your SELF that are incongruent with peace.  A role model for the type of being you would strive to become would be Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

As you worked to raise your consciousness into perfect resonance with the state of peace, you would see your physical human body begin to behave more and more congruently with that state.  At first this would happen on a small level.  You would stop picking fights with people around you.  You would begin to forgive more easily.  But the more your consciousness grew in peace, the more your actions would reflect peace in the physical universe.  You would gradually begin to center your work, your relationships, your environment, and your entire life around peace.

You would in effect become very much like Jesus both in thought and in deed.  Your physical being would become devoted to a life of service to the highest good of all, and you would teach unconditional love, compassion, and forgiveness.  And both through the vehicle of your physical being and through the creative power of your consciousness as a whole, you would gradually see the entire physical universe transform to resonate with your inner state of peace.  As within, so without.

If you wish to create world peace, you must first become inner peace.


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