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Context whose reality

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The reality that we create is unique to our own experiences. What is real? What is reality? The notion of reality is inextricably linked to the subjectivity of individual human existence. Reality is defined as the state of being real; what we can perceive through our senses. In essence, reality is viewed differently by each individual, through the intensity of his/her past experiences, values, emotions and perspective. Consider this, three blind men all touch a different part of the elephant but are unable to recognize that it is indeed an elephant. Based on their own subjective impressions, thoughts and feelings, each arrive at different conclusions. The man who touched the trunk, said it was a snake; the man who touched its belly, said it was a wall. And the man who felt the elephant’s tusk, and said it was a spear and another felt its ear and said it was like a hand fan. All of the men were in heated disagreement.

The story of the elephant and the blind man is a popular proverb in Buddhist mythology. The blind men all made inferences about the object based on their assumptions, their biases and prior experiences. The blind men were dependent upon different spheres of perception. Our perception is determined and skewed by environmental variables that refract events according to what kind of person we are and the events that have led us to believe what is real. The three blind men in this anecdote held pieces of the truth, determined by their lack of experience which had caused them failure to perceive the whole picture. The process of perception shows that many individuals can be mistaken. The simple fact is that the way people process “reality” is subject to interpretation. It depends upon the individual’s mindset and past experiences at point in time.

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