As the lying, corruption, and craziness continue unabated in Washington, it’s a reminder of just how important it is to one’s sanity to embrace reality. Reality is synonymous with truth, but, as Baltasar Gracian, the insightful and pragmatic 17thcentury Jesuit priest, cautioned, “Truth is abhorred by the masses.”
Instead of loving truth, most people try to make true that which they love, which is a self-delusive practice that virtually guarantees frustration and failure. Thus, most people live in an unreal world, a world they create in their own minds based on the way they would like it to be rather than the way it actually is. They seem to have adopted the philosophy of Ashleigh Brilliant, who once remarked, “I have abandoned my search for truth and am now looking for a good fantasy.”
It is absolutely essential that a person intellectually and emotionally recognizes that reality isn’t the way he wishes things to be or the way they appear to be, but the way they actually are. The individual who is not able to make this distinction finds it virtually impossible to make decisions that lead to positive results.
Which brings me to principles. A principle is synonymous with a law of nature, as opposed to a law of man. Most manmade laws are nothing more than legalized aggression against the sovereignty of peaceful individuals and rarely bear any relationship to Natural Law, reality, or morality.
A true principle of nature cannot be created or altered in any way. Consider the principle of gravity. Isaac Newton didn’t wake up one morning and decide to create a principle whereby if he dropped an apple from a tree twenty times, it would fall to the ground nineteen times and rise upward the twentieth time.
Instead, through experimentation, he found that if you drop an apple from a tree twenty times, it will fall to the ground twenty times. What he did was discover the principle, or law, of gravity. A principle, then, is the essence of reality.
To try to create our own reality is both futile and destructive. You certainly have the right to go on believing whatever you want to believe, but reality doesn’t care about your wants or beliefs. Reality will deliver negative consequences to the well-meaning, ignorant individual as surely as it will to the most malevolent, stubborn person. Not once has reality excused anyone for good motives, so consistency is essential when it comes to an accurate perception of reality.
In physics, we learn that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The longer I live, however, the more convinced I am that in the daily process of living (as opposed to the science of physics), reactions tend to be far greater than the actions that provoke them.
In other words, whenever we make a decision or take an action that we know, in our heart of hearts, is wrong, the punishment seems to be way out of proportion to the “crime.” My experience has been that I almost always end up paying for an irresponsible action multiple times, with each payment seeming to take the form of a balloon note carrying onerous, compounded interest.
The consequence may take a long time, and it may be indirect or subtle in nature, but there is always a consequence. Symbolically speaking, everything you do goes into your book of life. This doesn’t necessarily hold a religious connotation, but I do firmly believe that universal forces are at work that pull us inexorably toward the deserving results of our actions. Kindness begets kindness; cruelty begets cruelty.
Where many people allow themselves to be misled is that the payback for their actions is not always immediate, which results in their failing to make the connection when it finally arrives. And even when the consequence is immediate, they may miss the subtlety of the connection between the result and the action that caused it.
Though most people know, deep down inside, that all actions have consequences, I am convinced that very few of them give it more than a passing thought as they go about their daily affairs. The question is, why would people ignore such an all-powerful, immutable principle?
I believe it’s because man inhabits a world of delusions, which obscures reality and creates dangers for himself and others. He rarely understands what he is doing or why he is doing it. His actions and beliefs indicate that he lives in a state of waking dreams.
I further believe that one of the most important steps in a person’s personal growth is to become adept at transcending his world of delusions. This is not an easy task, due in no small part to the fact that we are surrounded by delusions each and every day.
The nice thing about it, however, is that you can overcome these delusions, provided you are committed to truth. This means being willing to subordinate your desires and wishes — your dreams, as it were — to reality.
This is not to say that you should not have dreams. On the contrary, dreams can be healthy for the psyche. What it does mean, however, is that you should not allow your dreams and desires to override reality. Put simply, your love of truth must be greater than your desire to make your dreams come true.
The more often, and more quickly, you are able to recognize truth in your daily life, the more likely it is that you will become part of that small minority of the human race that lives in the real world rather than inhabiting a state of waking dreams.
The challenge is to learn to correctly perceive reality, because when you accurately and consistently perceive reality, delusions begin to disappear. And as delusions vanish from your life, you are able to deal with problems on a more rational basis, which in turn leads to success in all areas of your life.