In the 1999 dystopian sci-fi film “The Matrix,” the character played by Keanu Reeves (Neo) is presented with two pills.
The blue pill will keep things the way they are. The red pill will usher in an entirely different universe. Crips vs. Bloods, Dems vs. Reps, water vs. fire...or there's purple, the blend of the two.
The idea that “reality” is actually nothing like what we perceive it to be is not new, particularly in the realm of film, literature, or conspiracy theory. As science shows, it turns out that trippy notion might really be true.
Instead of some larger evil force trying to pull the wool over our eyes, however, a neuroscientist at UC Irvine (Orange County) who’s studied perception and artificial intelligence says (like the Buddha said long before him) that it is our senses -- touch, smell, taste, and so on -- that are doing the cheating.
AirTalk guest host Patt Morrison speaks with him about his research. Professor of Cognitive Science at University of California, Irvine Donald Hoffman has some startling things to say. AUDIO
(The Richest) 10 mind blowing optical illusions prove that the camera lies, we can't trust our own eyes, and the label (interpretation) we place on incoming information (sense data) changes what we perceive to what we cognize. "Reality" is not real because it is being distorted and brought into being at the point of entry. As the Buddha said, "I declare within this body, with its perception and intellect, is the world" (AN 4.45). We aren't seeing what's out there but the distortions we cling to and take to be real.
As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions -- sights, sounds, smells, textures, tastes, thoughts -- are an accurate portrayal of the real world.
When we stop and think about it -- or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion -- we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality.
Still, we bank on the fact that our simulation is a reasonably decent one. If it weren’t, wouldn’t evolution [or the nearest predator] have weeded us out by now?
The True Reality
|Light dawns, and all is clear (Damon Billian).|
[That is, if we fail to meditate, undistort the distortions, and find reality using systematic insight-exercises with mind-purifying-serenity, fourfold mindfulness, vipassana, and the analysis of the dependent origination of all things (with the sole exception of nirvana) which the Buddha made known. Buddhist practice leads out of ignorance and therefore frees us of all suffering].
But surely our senses give us at least an inkling of what true reality is really like? Not so, says Donald D. Hoffman... More
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