The Ultimate Reality Check

The term ‘reality check’ denotes a critical stepping back from a situation, a plan, a conclusion, or even a state of mind, to ensure that our understanding or judgement is grounded in reality and practicality, and has not strayed into fantasy or deception. We are more apt to prescribe a reality check for other people rather than for ourselves! On a wider front, the term is loosely used to sift slanted or fake news from truth, or to expose fictions promulgated as if they were solid facts.

We can extend the concept of the reality check to the whole of our experience, and not least to the inner world of our thoughts and feelings. This is essential, because our mind is a dream-weaver par excellence, and our own mental activity can entangle us in illusions, or, if we choose, engage us in the greatest activity of all, the unveiling of our true Self as the ultimate reality.

The purpose of the non-dual teaching is to help us to uncover what is eternally real in our own being, in contrast to what is transient. This awakening to our essential reality reveals our perfect identity with the inmost ground of experience that transcends suffering and limitation. It is a realisation that confers perfect peace, freedom and fulfilment.

What do we mean by freedom? It is clear that our bodies can never be completely free, because they cannot avoid the processes of change, decay and decease characteristic of all living things. We must care for the body while it is undergoing this experience, but there is no point in having unrealistic expectations about it or investing all our surplus energy in physical culture. We need this energy for more important things.

What about the mind? There can be more freedom for the mind, if we treat it wisely. Through the power of our imagination, working in partnership with our will, we can lift our mind above the physical restrictions. We can evoke thoughts based on our higher idealism. But in the realm of the mind, even if we think great thoughts or if our typical mood is sunny and cheerful, we are still in a realm of limitations, change and instability. These limitations include the finite range of our knowledge, the distortions in our way of viewing things due to deep-seated mental tendencies, and the generally uncontrolled nature of our habitual mental activity. Therefore, no mental state is essentially secure. If we want security and freedom, we need to discover within ourselves something deeper than the mind. As long as our sense of identity is confined to the body and mind, we are in a kind of imprisonment.

There is another and truly progressive way of life that sees through our mortality to the eternal and non-material core of our being, the true Self. Being non-material, the Self need not be thought of as individualised in the different bodies; it is universal—one in all, and ultimately beyond all limited things. To be identified with the Self in this sense, is to enter the freedom of enlightenment.

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This article is from the Autumn 2022 issue of Self-Knowledge Journal.