Reality Quotes

There is no unique picture of reality.

Stephen Hawking

Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.

Friedrich Nietzsche

A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.

Yoko Ono

Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.

Edgar Allan Poe

Good luck is when opportunity meets preparation, while bad luck is when lack of preparation meets reality.

Eliyahu Goldratt

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.

Soren Kierkegaard

I have spent my life judging the distance between American reality and the American dream.

Bruce Springsteen

Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.

Jack Welch

Reality is just a crutch for people who can’t cope with drugs.

Robin Williams

Humankind cannot bear very much reality.

T.S. Eliot

Our intention creates our reality.

Wayne Dyer

What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.


We have lost contact with reality, the simplicity of life.

Paulo Coelho

Sometimes legends make reality and become more useful than the facts.

Salman Rushdie

Reality is only a Rorschach ink-blot, you know.

Alan Watts

It’s not denial. I’m just selective about the reality I accept.

Bill Watterson

It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality.

Virginia Woolf

How We Frame Things

If you think about it, we all frame things in slightly different ways. To give a simple example; watch the news on the BBC and then on Al Jazeera. There is some commonality, but the emphasis varies.

How we frame things influences the entire interpretative structure of the world, it creates different versions of “reality”. If I frame things from a Buddhist or Toltec perspective, the world looks very different from that held by the majority. Status is a conditioned thing to which people are attached and therefore an impediment to liberation or status is to be desired, one might seek a paragraph of post nominals and a groovy title to put on the chequebook, status confers temporal power of sorts. If you have status you might expect me to respect your status. So, should we meet, and you are a high status being we would be approaching that meeting from diametrically opposite angles. Similarly, if you have a thing about status and had heard a little of my history, you might expect different things from me, when I don’t really give that much of a toss.

We could say that over the last decade or so, I have failed to generate the ~ £750K of taxable income, which I might otherwise have, and that there is a small chance that during that time I would have added to the science base. Or I am a burn out and it is best that I am here, luckily during that time I helped maybe 50 people with their science A levels. At least some people benefitted. We could say that I failed to manifest some potential or that there was none left. You could say a whole bunch of things, it depends upon how we frame things.

I could say that I have done shit loads of meditation and that is for the benefit of all sentient beings, you could say that I am a delusional idiot making up excuses. I could say that karma has me here and that I have always been fated to end up like this. You could say that I made poor choices. I am might deem myself at least partially sane, you might think that I have lost what remains of my marbles. It is a matter of which interpretative framework we wish to apply.

Having cued this up:

How many interpretative frameworks can I apply to a given situation?

Does my selection from this set alter the whole notion of reality?

Is reality therefore subjective and not as concrete and objective as I might imagine it to be?

Escapism and Avoidance

I will be using my own life as an example in this, not because I am self-obsessed but rather it might be useful.

There are many things in life which we try to run from, and reality is one of them. Perhaps yet another is our fate. But there are things which we cannot outpace forever. Sooner or later we have to face them and figure out what the fuck it is all about. We can try to shoe-horn our lives into some template or other, but sometimes it just doesn’t fit.

At school when I was about seventeen I did two general studies courses, one on Buddhism and the other on Rastafarianism. I also had a bit of thing about witchcraft and soon exhausted the local libraries. So back then I was interested in “alternative” things. There was parental pressure to do the sensible thing which would lead to a proper job and because I was pretty good at science that looked to be the way forward. I was also quite good at rugby and ended up as captain of the school second team. The captain of the first team, who played in the same position as me, was an above county standard player. He was a close friend of mine, but not as smart as me. He was also head boy. Behind his head boy was my strategic input.

I was a bit of a party animal, traditionally the captain of the seconds led all the drinking games. So, I fulfilled this role. The school wanted me to take Oxbridge entrance exams, but that interfered with my rugby training, so I dropped the preparation for these. And so, it happened that I started a chemistry degree. Because of my interest in all things Rasta I started using herb. I put aside all things spiritual and focussed on some hedonistic approach to life. It was only when the rigid structure of education fell away and I was doing a Ph.D. that I started to excel. I was getting papers and results, whilst getting pissed and stoned. I was running but I did not know what from. I used to joke that I would be dead by the age of thirty. It never occurred to me that this was an escapism and an avoidance.

By the time 1995 came around I had a lot of papers published (>30) and was in a semi-lectureship position at top university. I then sunk into depression and developed a suicidal ideation. I twigged that I had better do something otherwise my prediction about death would have become a reality. That which I had tried to outpace had caught up with me. So, I started therapy and looking into things alternative and “new age”.  I was pretty ill for 2-3 years but at the end of it I started getting in research monies and in 2000 I wrote a business plan which helped raise £5 million start-up funds from venture capital.

In a sense my prediction had been right. A part of me died and a newer version, Alan 2.0, was born. By now I was looking very deeply into alternative philosophies and I haven’t had a spliff since 2000. I tried one then, after a few months off, when there was a TV programme about Bob Marley on the TV. I puked my guts and that was the last.

Slowly, inexorably, a sense of reality started to take hold. I began to face my fears, my anxieties, which had been self-medicated away. Step by step, day by day, I stopped running from myself. What I could not work out was that I was in some way weird when compared to most; why and how come this was the case? I over-developed the chameleon aspect and in doing this, fitting in, I lost me. There have been quite a number of chrysalis stages since, as I shed one cloak after another.

The more I delved, the more at home I felt. It is one thing to have a theoretical understanding and quite another to apply.  I had some kind of a latent understanding of things which was awoken. It seemed to me that I was fated to go down this path of exploration and go a long, long way. It hasn’t helped me fit in, but it has helped me frame things. As a result, I have learned and assimilated much. I have always been a blotting paper of sorts.

What I am getting at is this shoe-horn thing. Many of us shoe horn ourselves or are shoe horned by others. It seems easy to go along with it. But we might be doing this to escape and avoid that which we are and that which we are meant to be doing. We may self-medicate to take the edge off. I’ll hazard a guess that there are many who self-medicate as a means of escapism and avoidance. The degree may vary, but the phenomenon is widespread. Rather than face what it is or what we may become, we self-medicate so as to lubricate the application of the shoe horn. We escape and avoid our potential because we may be fearful of it and the lack of social acceptance which may accompany it.

It takes a lot of guts to say no to the shoe horn. After that one still has to figure out what to do and where to go. We cannot run forever. And it is my experience that it can take going down the tubes, down the shitter, for us to wake up. Only when we stop running do we have a chance to take stock and face reality.

Having cued this up:

Am I running from something?

Am I trying to escape my fate?

Do I recognise this application of shoe-horn theme?

It Can’t Be Happening

Have you ever experienced this sensation, it can’t be happening {to me}?

To give a relatively recent geo-political example, the vast swathes of migration into Europe. The international community was very slow to respond, and it took a very long while for the scale of it to sink in. Whilst migration from famine to wealth is a historical fact, and fleeing from war established, people can be surprised when it happens again. Quite why they are surprised is a little surprising, it is probably because most thinking is self-centred. Complacency is not uncommon, and neither is taking things for granted. There is a kind of a fog of denial, which can take a while to dissipate and before realization strikes home. People can be very slow on the uptake, especially if it is something they are not keen on up taking.

Nobody likes bad news. Three years ago, after they found 11 polyps in my lower colon and before they found the tumour, the GP was trying to reassure me. I had read that 1 in 10 polyps becomes cancerous, and I said to him that therefore there was a good chance that given they had only looked so far, they would find something nasty. He, being a nice kind man, did not want me to be alarmed. But I was confident on this basis, that there would be something nasty. One of us was quicker on the uptake than the other. It could very well be happening to me. In circumstances like this, I want more data. I want clarity not reassurance.

This denial of unpleasant realities happens widely. We may not want to think our partner is having an affair, has gambled away all our money or is otherwise up to no good. It can be a very long time before the penny drops. On the flip side it is not wise to live life immersed in paranoia and suspicion, which some do. If you watch Jeremy Kyle, those prone to paranoia have often been up to no good themselves. We may think we have hidden our behaviours from a partner and they start to see through our guise, that too can happen. Consequences can quickly start to unfold.

This idealized view, this complacency in regard of it never happening, can be readily seen. And even when the “data” mounts there is a time dependent denial. The threshold for acceptance can be very high. People can be very slow on the uptake.

Having cued this up:

Have I ever experienced this sensation, it can’t be happening {to me}?

Did I not want to face reality?

Am I perhaps a little slow on the uptake?

Has my idealism ever been dealt a blow by harsh reality?

Do I resist bad news, is it hard to accept?

If so, why?

The Slow Percolation of Reality

Reality can be slow to percolate. We may have a complacent and idealized view but slowly, drip by drip, reality can seep in. When the UK had the Brexit vote, there were many who cheered and celebrated, there were almost as many who thought “oh fuck”, but now the consequences of that “decision” are filtering through. It is painful, messy and drawn out. It hangs like a cloud over Europe and it will not shift.

Consequence is one aspect of reality.

If we are complacent and arrogant it can be a very long time before we acknowledge the causal relationship between our actions and the consequences. I have a very rough theory, no rather a trend. It says; the more intelligent you are the slower it is that reality percolates. It is not a perfect trend, maybe a guideline. This is partly because intellect can invent a whole bunch of alternate scenarios in regard of what is transpiring, it may even do this deliberately so as to stop the actual reality getting through. There must be any other explanation than the reality.

To give other examples. Two people could be involved in a somewhat co-dependent relationship where arguments and manipulation are common. One day the argument goes to another level and one of the “partners” walks out. The other thinks; “he (or she) will come back begging before long”. There is precedent. However, time goes by and this doesn’t happen. The waiting party tries to inject some manipulations as a hurry-up. There is no response. Soon it begins to dawn that no matter how many more manipulations are attempted, it is done, finito, caput. It can be a very long time before the reality of the situation percolates and the consequences of behaviour are acknowledged. People can take their unreal justifications to the grave.

The wider the significance of consequence, the longer the reality takes to percolate through.

A couple could be relatively happily married with children. One of them is away on a business trip and one night the opportunity of a drunken shag presents. It seems harmless enough. But the person shagged decides to intervene in the lives of the “happily” married couple and starts texting body-part pictures to the ‘phone of the shagger. The wife (or husband) of the shagger gets suspicious and sees these. All hell breaks loose. The reality of the situation shatters the imagined bliss. The shagger might imagine that a repair is possible, but it isn’t, things will never be the same. The children grow up in a broken home in which there is animosity between the parents. One of the children gets mentally ill and is in and out of psychiatric hospitals for their rest of their lives. I could expand this scenario, but won’t, you can if you like.

The time taken for reality to percolate is proportional to the initial levels of complacency.  

The more one believes that something could not possibly happen, it is so off the radar, when it does it remains utterly inconceivable for a very long time. The fortress of denial is so sturdy that not a single iota of the reality can percolate through its mighty walls. That could not possibly happen, ergo it didn’t, even if it did.

Until you can acknowledge reality it is impossible for you to respond to it.

You are over due on the rent on your cottage. The landlord has taken you to the county court and you have a letter from the bailiffs saying that they will be around to evict you next week. You have a week to find some alternate accommodation. “That is not really happening, everything will be OK”. When the bailiffs turn up and chuck you out on the street with all your belongings it is more than a little too late to deal with the reality of the situation. The moment has passed.

The only way to offset this tendency to not be real, is to try to be a bit more real. That way reality may percolate a little quicker. But first you have to be prepared to face reality. The consequences of not facing reality are often more wide-ranging than facing it.

Is the Model Reality?

I suspect that most people misinterpret how they model the world as reality. They forget that what they assimilate is just that, an assimilation. How one person models the events of life will of necessity differ from others, yet we are often adamant that we are absolute and accurate and we alone. In this we are kidding ourselves. What we make of the world is down to our cognitive apparatus, its training and conceptual ability, our cultural influences and the efficacy of our sense organs. Our awareness can vary, and most are severely limited in ability by their internal dialogue. It is a tremendous source of instrumental noise in our corporeal observational apparatus. It is a wonder any signal gets through, sometimes. Most of the dynamic range is swamped and until you cool your detector, so to speak, you are unable to observe the weaker fainter signals. A lot of capability lies undiscovered.

This is more than simply a philosophical point, we all suppose and that downgrades our ability. The model of life, we suppose, isn’t actual reality. It may approach reality, but never attains it totally.

There is a bad habit in science in which people get all excited by the models they use and talk as if that is the sum total; that the model is reality itself. One sees it in papers all the time. It should be prefaced by, “if I use this model then” or something like that. This keeps one honest and reminds that one is testing hypothesis against observation. The hypothesis may be good and useable, but it cannot as yet be all encompassing. I am not splitting hairs here. This is the basis of scientific method, as I understand it. Making reality prematurely is not keeping an open mind. It may be heavily subject to confirmation bias. Language is a tricky old thing and it can lead us astray, quickly.

To say to some that how they assimilate the world is not real, is to mess with their minds. Many of which like a certainty which is not there. Humans like to think that what they are seeing, and interpreting, is real and that the socially conditioned world comprises a real-life experience. How do you know if your detector is only partially functioning? There may well be a whole bunch of artefacts and spurious signals.

Having cued this up:

How confident am I that what I deem real, is real?

How well do my world models, which I live by, fit true nature?

Could I benefit from not being quite so adamant in my interactions with life?

Glamour Illusion and Underbelly

Many perceive that Hollywood is glamorous, or that the life of a rock star is great, even that the world of politics is attractive it being about helping people and not power. This glamour, this hype, does not accurately portray the underbelly of reality. Of late we have heard a lot more about this underbelly, certainly in the entertainment industry. It demonstrates that it is not about compassion to all sentient beings. Being all starry-eyed by the glamour enables one to be dragged into the dark underbelly. Power does weird shit to people and it does not always bring out the best in them, simple as. Common “sense” is often put to one side when something “shiny” is on offer. If you are lusting after fame, then strategically you have a weak point, which can be easily manipulated, but oh that shiny, how it shines. People are very attracted to and mesmerised by glamour. Now we have a royal wedding to distract us from the Brexit tedium. People will pay more money for glamour than for reality.

Please note I am not using glamour in a positive sense here.

The glamour as it is presented to us only shows one side though we occasionally get salacious bits of gossip, to add a little spice. The ideals presented to us of say celebrity, are not accurate but skewed.  Why do so many celebrities have personal “car crashes” so to speak, if that lifestyle is a nirvanic bliss? But that shiny, oh how it shines. Humanity plays a confidence trick upon itself. Like never before we have illusion after illusion and it can be found on all sides. Maybe I am simply a kill-joy? Or perhaps that joy is not really there in the first place. We can turn and pout on the catwalk, pay our plastic surgery bills and enter into devil’s bargains to get power. It is absolutely fabulous darling…

The draw of the “shiny” applies in varying extents to us all. It may be, success is ….. ; fill in the word or phrase of choice. It may be fame, kudos, money, sex, you name it. I’ll make a hypothesis and it goes something like this:

Associated with every glamour there is an underbelly, which is not seen whilst the glamour lures.

To the extent that people make choices, it is up to each individual to want to see how glamour and thereby illusion works in their lives. The glamour and the shiny for one person, does not transfer to another. Sometimes the scales have to fall from the eyes so that one can see the underbelly. Only then does one get a balanced view. When one has a balanced view one makes better choices, blinded by the “shiny” choices are not so good. Objectivity is better than wishful bias.

Here are some questions which point at glamour:

What for me is the shiny?

What am I glamoured by?

Am I missing sight of the underbelly because of the shine of my glamours?