Beyond the Fishbowl

Ultimate reality cannot be defined within the terms and boundaries that form our idea of ‘realism.’ Currently, realism is synonymous with naturalism, a school of thought that rejects anything and everything that cannot be (as yet) scientifically explained and empiricised. It is boxed in by its own view of the natural world, reducing everything to a science that is governed by the laws and ideas of this conventional reality.

I have no problem with the word ‘realism.’ But I believe it needs to be broadened in order to include within its scope an acknowledgment of that reality that lies beyond its current definition. If we assert that our view of that which is ultimate is to be shaped by our limited views of this reality, then our conclusions will be as inadequate as those of a goldfish believing it understands the ocean within the terms and conditions of life in the fishbowl.

There is an uneasiness shown by some to embrace those aspects of spiritual practice that we might call preternatural because they are seen to be at odds with a naturalistic view of the universe. However, it should be clear that our interaction with this reality and our view of it is purely perception-based. We know it not as it is, but purely as a reproduction within our brain created via the five sense doors. Anything that is outside of the perception of these senses will remain unknown and invisible to us. And we are foolish to imagine that there is nothing which does not lie outside this range. Indeed, ultimate reality lies totally beyond it — far, far beyond.

Real and unreal, within and without, mental state or physical location — Amida Buddha and His Land of Bliss are all of these at once. Non-duality is our blind spot. Our discriminating minds can accept only one side of the coin at any one time, when the reality, the true reality, is that there is no flip side and no coin. In this great dharmakayic projection that is conventional reality, it is no contradiction to suggest that one traverses the vast distance of a trillion buddhalands to Bliss by journeying within. Because when we can see that all IS the All, then the interpenetration and interdependence of all things makes our definition of what is ‘realistic’ so vast that its edges are lost beyond the horizon of our physical perceptions, as they must be.

So let’s be realistic by all means, but understand that realism also encompasses those mysteries that lie beyond the ability of any of us to conceive them.

Namu Amida Butsu 🙏🙏🙏

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