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    Thread: Consensus Reality

    1. #1
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      Consensus Reality

      Consensus reality is an approach to answering the question "What is real?", a philosophical question, with answers dating back millennia; it is almost invariably used to refer to human consensus reality, though there have been mentions of feline and canine consensus reality.[1] It gives a practical answer - reality is either what exists, or what we can agree by consensus seems to exist; the process has been (perhaps loosely and a bit imprecisely) characterised as "[w]hen enough people think something is true, it... takes on a life of its own." The term is usually used disparagingly as by implication it may mean little more than "what a group or culture chooses to believe," and may bear little or no relationship to any "true reality", and, indeed, challenges the notion of "true reality". For example, Steven Yates has characterised the idea that the United States Federal Reserve Notes (not "backed" by anything) are "really worth a dollar" as "part of what we might call our consensus-reality, [not] real reality."[2]
      The difficulty with the question stems from the concern that human beings do not in fact fully understand or agree upon the nature of knowledge or knowing, and therefore (it is often argued) it is not possible to be certain beyond doubt what is real.[3][4] Accordingly, this line of logic concludes, we cannot in fact be sure beyond doubt about the nature of reality. We can, however, seek to obtain some form of consensus, with others, of what is real. We can use this to practically guide us, either on the assumption it seems to approximate some kind of valid reality, or simply because it is more "practical" than perceived alternatives. Consensus reality therefore refers to the agreed-upon concepts of reality which people in the world, or a culture or group, believe are real (or treat as real), usually based upon their common experiences as they believe them to be; anyone who does not agree with these is sometimes stated to be "in effect... living in a different world."[5]
      Throughout history this has also raised a social question:
      What shall we make of those who do not agree with consensus realities of others, or of the society they live in?
      Children have sometimes been described or viewed as "inexperience[d] with consensus reality,"[6] although with the expectation that they will come into line with it as they mature. However, the answer is more diverse as regards such people as have been characterised as eccentrics, mentally ill, enlightened or divinely inspired [disambiguation needed], or evil or demonic in nature. Alternatively, differing viewpoints may simply be put to some kind of "objective" (though the nature of "objectivity" goes to the heart of the relevant questions) test. Cognitive liberty is the freedom to be the individual's own director of the individual’s own consciousness and is fundamentally opposed to enforcement of the culturally accepted reality upon non-conforming individuals. Effects of low cognitive liberty vary from indifference to forced-medication and from social-alienation to incarceration to death.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consensus_reality
      So, it's not necessarily a new concept, but yesterday was the first time I've heard the term "Consensus Reality." It know it's something that has been argued (or at least vaguely referenced) in a number of threads, but reading about it has allowed me to understand some of my own thoughts on the issue, a bit better. I'd just like to get other people's opinions on the notion, as it pertains to how much or little we - as humans - do (or can) know about any "actual reality."

      Do you believe the universe actually is the way you've been convinced that it is? Do you think science allows us to fully understand the true nature of a thing, or simply obtain a sort of limited perspective of it? How do people analyze the same subjects/topics/events, and come away with so many different conclusions - such a different handle on "reality?" What do you think of those 'crazy/eccentric/insane' people that don't agree with your consensus reality? Are they at fault, or are you just misguided?

      I don't know, just random questions. Answer them if you can (assuming they make any sense), or ask your own. I've just always found discussions on the topic interesting.
      Last edited by Oneironaut Zero; 03-31-2010 at 01:20 AM.
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    2. #2
      Xei
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      Nobody thought that were moons around Jupiter until Galileo first looked up in his telescope. Now everybody does. How could they have been there for him to observe if, according to 'consensus reality' is I understand it, they didn't even exist?

      This isn't worth giving much thought to.

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      Drivel's Advocate Xaqaria's Avatar
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      Have you ever played a game like world of warcraft or whatever, and the build distance was set pretty low, so that you could see trees and landscapes coming into existence as you approach them? Those things were 'there' as a piece of information but not actually rendered as real until you arrived to observe them. The moons could have manifested in a similar way.

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      Consciousness in the Void Universal Mind's Avatar
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      This stuff is interesting, but that will just make it fun to argue against.

      Quote Originally Posted by Xaqaria View Post
      Have you ever played a game like world of warcraft or whatever, and the build distance was set pretty low, so that you could see trees and landscapes coming into existence as you approach them? Those things were 'there' as a piece of information but not actually rendered as real until you arrived to observe them. The moons could have manifested in a similar way.
      How could you have left that post at 8:34 a.m. PT? I didn't read it until 9:03 PT.
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      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


    5. #5
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      Why are you going off topic?
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      Consciousness in the Void Universal Mind's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Lucidness View Post
      Why are you going off topic?
      If you understood my point, you would not have asked that.

      Stop stalking me with stupid shit. Obviously you are pissed at me about something you are not mentioning. How many threads have you done this in?
      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


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      Quote Originally Posted by Universal Mind View Post
      If you understood my point, you would not have asked that.

      Stop stalking me with stupid shit. Obviously you are pissed at me about something you are not mentioning. How many threads have you done this in?
      Your point : Asking someone about the time on there post. How is that relevant to any of this, sir?
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      Xei
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      Because UM didn't know about it until he read it but it had existed since Xaq posted it.

      Although it isn't the best example because at least one person, namely Xaq himself, knew it existed.
      Have you ever played a game like world of warcraft or whatever, and the build distance was set pretty low, so that you could see trees and landscapes coming into existence as you approach them? Those things were 'there' as a piece of information but not actually rendered as real until you arrived to observe them. The moons could have manifested in a similar way.
      As far as I'm concerned this is just a spin on my example and is still contradictory to 'consensus reality'. Nobody knew that the 'moon information' existed either, if you want to put it that way.

      I don't think I'm really going to bother to go into a long discussion about this if one arises.

    9. #9
      Consciousness in the Void Universal Mind's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Although it isn't the best example because at least one person, namely Xaq himself, knew it existed.
      Was that the case in my reality? (according to the consensus reality concept)
      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


    10. #10
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      The idea of consensus reality doesn't really mean much.

      If I see a chair and ask someone else if they see it, it's not reality because of the consensus, it appears to be reality because there's evidence for it. The other person claiming to see the chair as well is simply additional evidence of the chair's existence. This doesn't also follow necessarily in crowds due to crowd psychology.

      This evidence isn't always good enough, and indeed can be highly flawed.

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      Xei
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      Was that the case in my reality? (according to the consensus reality concept)
      Well, the consensus reality concept seems more along the lines of 'if most people think it's true', not 'if you think it's true', so the purest counterexample would be something which nobody at all knew but which was later found to be true; and of course such counterexamples are easy to think of.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Well, the consensus reality concept seems more along the lines of 'if most people think it's true', not 'if you think it's true', so the purest counterexample would be something which nobody at all knew but which was later found to be true; and of course such counterexamples are easy to think of.
      It takes at least two people to have a consensus.
      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


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      Xei
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      Unless there are two people in the group, not that I see how that's relevant anyway, and not that I'm much bothered about it.

    14. #14
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      (Fixed a whoooole bunch of grammatical errors in that first post. Probably reads a lot better than before. )

      And just to be clear, the whole 'consensus reality' thing goes beyond just the metaphysical "the universe is shaped by the observer" idea. It also covers the more psychological elements, like bias, and ignorance. The mental model of the world (socially, or otherwise) that people hold onto - regardless of whether or not things play out exactly as one perceives them to...

      We are all blinded by many of our biases. Our models of reality are fundamentally different from others - if for nothing more than the fact that we interpret things differently than other people. How deep does that bias go? Really? I don't think it's any secret that we all should concede to the fact that we're significantly influenced by things like indoctrination and ego. But how significantly?

      And if we don't know that much about ourselves (because, really, who wants to acknowledge how little they know about the universe and themselves?), how much do you think humans, as a species, know about 'reality', itself?

      Of course it does also extend into the consciousness-creating-reality area (pretty broad term, now that I think about it. Haha), so that conversation is definitely still valid here.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Unless there are two people in the group, not that I see how that's relevant anyway, and not that I'm much bothered about it.
      I don't know what you mean.

      My point is relevant because, assuming Xaqaria was by himself when he left his post and nobody else saw it, there was one fewer person than what is necessary to form a consensus reality, according to the principle. So, when I saw his post, it was too late for us to have a consensus reality of the leaving of his post.

      Also, as far as single observations creating reality, my lack of observation of the leaving of Xaqaria's post would mean that the event was not in my reality. So the reality of Xaqaria's post and his observation of it could not come about before I observed it. Before then, nobody observed his observing, so his observing did not exist. Then, nobody observed my oberving of the evidence of his observation, so my observation did not exist and therefore none of the rest did. This is of course a reductio ad absurdum of the concept of reality being observation dependent.

      Quote Originally Posted by Oneironaut View Post
      We are all blinded by many of our biases. Our models of reality are fundamentally different from others - if for nothing more than the fact that we interpret things differently than other people. How deep does that bias go? Really? I don't think it's any secret that we all should concede to the fact that we're significantly influenced by things like indoctrination and ego. But how significantly?

      And if we don't know that much about ourselves (because, really, who wants to acknowledge how little they know about the universe and themselves?), how much do you think humans, as a species, know about 'reality', itself?
      I agree with that much. Our pictures of reality are inevitably warped by biases, teachings, experiences, etc. I just don't agree with the idea that reality itself is shaped by our perceptions of it in any way other than affecting our beviors that affect reality.
      Last edited by Universal Mind; 03-31-2010 at 02:28 AM.
      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


    16. #16
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      I interpret this a little differently than most people here are. I find myself influenced by the writings of Kant to a pretty strong degree, and he argues that when we examine the world around us, we aren't really seeing things as they are, but only examining our perceptions of reality. Similar to what Plato argued, there is an "ideal" world of reality and then there is a different world of our perception of reality. This view is supported by quantum mechanics in that one cannot observe (as Kant puts it) "the thing in itself", we can only witness the interactions between things.

      Under this interpretation, there is a personal perception of reality which would be an individuals own experience, but then there is the greater consensus reality as agreed upon by groups of individuals. I won't say that this groupthink type of perception has the ability to manifest things that do not coincide with the "ideal reality" but it definitely has the power to limit our possibilities. For the most part, we accept things as true and real because everyone around us accepts them as true and real. There are things that we can do now that just 100 years ago would have been impossible for most people to conceive of just because they weren't widely known.

      A good example of this phenomenon is the ability to represent 3 dimensions on a 2 dimensional surface. Before the italian rennaissance, things like linear perspective and shading to suggest depth were basically unheard of. Pictures were extremely flat, but people thought their paintings were accurate representations of reality. Then along comes Giotto, an italian shepard boy who is found drawing an incredibly life like picture of his sheep. He is accreditted to being the first person to discover ideas that we take for granted now because they are so well known.

      We can't know what 'ideal reality' actually is. All we know is how we perceive reality, so those perceptions act as the actual reality that we operate in. It is defined by our collective acceptances and biases.

      Also, UM; with your example of my post, a consensus reality wouldn't require that you witness my post as it happens it would only require that you accept that my post was made, which you have since you are the one that quoted the time it was posted. It may not have been part of your reality at the time of my posting but now it is a part of your reality that I posted it at that time since you accepted the evidence of the time stamp.
      Last edited by Xaqaria; 04-02-2010 at 12:45 AM.

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      Some Athenian philosophies questioned the same thing. One answer they found was that since individuals are the means of measurement, that individuals are the means of perception and in turn reality in subjective. Just food for thought I guess.

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      Drawing somewhat on both Oneironaut's and Xaqaria's last posts, and also on the teachings of the Buddha and enlightened beings who have followed him, I would say only that we often overestimate the degree to which our consensus--not only on the facts of our existence, but what constitutes valid grounds for establishing the facts of our existence,--constitutes a genuine reality. In other words, the objective is still subjective on a larger scale, regardless of our certainty that we have determined how large a scale could possibly exist, and we are virtually doomed to take what is only true on a higher order of subjectivity for objective reality.
      If you have a sense of caring for others, you will manifest a kind of inner strength in spite of your own difficulties and problems. With this strength, your own problems will seem less significant and bothersome to you. By going beyond your own problems and taking care of others, you gain inner strength, self-confidence, courage, and a greater sense of calm.Dalai Lama



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      Quote Originally Posted by Xaqaria View Post
      I interpret this a little differently than most people here are. I find myself influenced by the writings of Kant to a pretty strong degree, and he argues that when we examine the world around us, we aren't really seeing things as they are, but only examining our perceptions of reality. Similar to what Plato argued, there is an "ideal" world of reality and then there is a different world of our perception of reality. This view is supported by quantum mechanics in that one cannot observe (as Kant puts it) "the thing in itself", we can only witness the interactions between things.

      Under this interpretation, there is a personal perception of reality which would be an individuals own experience, but then there is the greater consensus reality as agreed upon by groups of individuals. I won't say that this groupthink type of perception has the ability to manifest things that do not coincide with the "ideal reality" but it definitely has the power to limit our possibilities. For the most part, we accept things as true and real because everyone around us accepts them as true and real. There are things that we can do now that just 100 years ago would have been impossible for most people to conceive of just because they weren't widely known.

      A good example of this phenomenon is the ability to represent 3 dimensions on a 2 dimensional surface. Before the italian rennaissance, things like linear perspective and shading to suggest depth were basically unheard of. Pictures were extremely flat, but people thought their paintings were accurate representations of reality. Then along comes Giotto, an italian shepard boy who is found drawing an incredibly life like picture of his sheep. He is accreditted to being the first person to discover ideas that we take for granted now because they are so well known.

      We can't know what 'ideal reality' actually is. All we know is how we perceive reality, so those perceptions act as the actual reality that we operate in. It is defined by our collective acceptances and biases.

      Also, UM; with your example of my post, a consensus reality wouldn't require that you witness my post as it happens it would only require that you accept that my post was made, which you have since you are the one that quoted the time it was posted. It may not have been part of your reality at the time of my posting but now it is a part of your reality that I posted it at that time since you accepted the evidence of the time stamp.
      Wouldn't that mean we are in a vicious cycle of altering each other's perspective in a chain-like reaction to cultivate each other's own perspective? Taking this into account, what is the origin of perspective? It could be said each individual, but everyone has a mother, even mothers too.

      Makes it sound like the universe wants to perceive itself instead of us trying to perceive it.

      Such a mix of Philosophy/Psychology.
      Last edited by ArcanumNoctis; 04-02-2010 at 07:19 AM.

    20. #20
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      Quote Originally Posted by Xaqaria View Post
      I find myself influenced by the writings of Kant to a pretty strong degree, and he argues that when we examine the world around us, we aren't really seeing things as they are, but only examining our perceptions of reality.
      One can think of colors as an example. Color does not actually exist in the way we perceive it. It is no more than an assortment of different electromagnetic wavelengths that our eyes receive and send to the brain for interpretation. When looking at the sky, for instance, some organisms may be seeing what we call the color red. The intuitive concept of matter, of stuff, is an odd one as well. There is not so much stuff in matter as there is empty space. This illusion of there being something there is created again by a combination of the light that interacts with it that then comes into our eyes, and by the matter's further interaction with the physical world around it (gravitational forces and so on). These already subatomic pieces of stuff can further be broken down into smaller things that interact with each other in such a ways as to make it seem as if this whole subatomic particle is really full of stuff, when, again again, there is mostly empty space. The world we think is there is not really the world that is actually there, physically speaking.

      So what is real? Does the individual define it for themselves, or is reality something that "should" be agreed upon by the masses?
      Last edited by Invader; 04-02-2010 at 10:33 AM.

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      Consensus Reality, there so much you could say about it. While science can liberate us from consensus reality, like telling me my body right now is actually glowing and particles are constantly zipping right through me - it also creates a consensus reality with how it presents its information!

      Information at the end of the day is 'false'. It's an abstract construct of the true reality, but it never is the reality it is describing. A picture of a cell in your biology textbook does a real cell no justice. Our age old textbooks created a disenchanting view of reality that made people lose faith that life is beautiful.

      Thanks to modern digital animation, science has a new way to present this information while retaining the beauty of the reality.

      Heres one of my favorite TED videos showing the power of how we present information directly influencing how we view reality

      http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/da...es_a_cell.html

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      Quote Originally Posted by Oneironaut View Post
      I've just always found discussions on the topic interesting.
      Me too!
      I think that we can all agree that there is an absolute reality, but we cannot all agree on what that is, probably for the fundamental reason that it is veritably inconceivable.
      So we all kind of create a 'consensus' reality in order to function as individuals in a society and as a society made up of individuals.
      It would, however, be a big mistake to confuse consensus reality with absolute reality. But it happens all the time with every single one of us constantly, because we don't know what absolute reality is.
      So consensus 'reality' is a misnomer in a way, because it is NOT reality. But we mistake it for reality, hence the name: consensus REALITY.
      Consensus reality is all the time being influenced and changed by dominant ideologies, and cultural paradigms. The consensus reality is actually made up of a loose affiliation of smaller consensus realities kind of in a gelatinous cohesion. For example: you have the Christians and the Jews and the atheists and they can basically function in the greater consensus reality. they may think that each other are crazy but for the most part the greater consensus reality goes on and includes them all. But then you get to some real anti-social behavior when different consensus realities aren't getting along. This happens with individuals as well and we call them "crazy". This also happens in relationships when we blame the other person for not living in 'reality' because there isn't a consensus between the two partners as to what reality is.
      What should we do with the crazy people? We should try to understand their reality as much as possible. Because we need to remember that consensus reality is NOT absolute reality. The crazy people and the mystics and the poets and the artists and the lovers all kind of live on the fringe of consensus reality. And they remind us that there is other experiences outside of consensus reality.

      But some people who have their own 'reality' might be WAY beyond the fringe, real FAR out so that the only way for these two realities cannot exist in the same place at the same time, then there is a violent reaction. Jesus, whether or not you believe in him or not or if he existed, is a good example. His reality and society's reality could not exist at the same place in the same time so he had to die. The individual reality will always have to yield to the consensus reality. But in the process, it may change the consensus reality, for better or for worse. It might expand consensus reality, which I think is good. Consensus reality will never encompass all of ultimate reality, but it should evolve towards that ideal.

      But even if the individual is not 'crazy' but sees a more accurate version of reality, he has to not go beyond the fringe of consensus too far or for too long but must gently work to open others' minds and hearts to a more expansive vision of reality. This is good.

      But what if he is just utterly absolutely bonkers and cannot be treated? What can we do but restrain him/her in the most humane way possible so that he/she doesn't hurt himself or others. What if he is absolutely sane but has a vision that sees a different part of absolute reality that does not include this consensus reality and refuses to be in tune with it or work gently to expand this? Well, as long as he doesn't disrupt the foundation of our consensus reality such as nonharming, nonstealing, etc. he should be allowed to be free, but if not, he should either go be a hermit or be locked away.

      But we should all try to understand the crazy people. I work as a caregiver for people with mental handicaps like autism and down syndrome, and believe me, they have a different reality going on. It is my job to harmonize their reality with consensus reality and visa versa. But most people are unwilling to do this. These people are put into institutions, or grouphomes and basically kept out of sight and out of mind by consensus reality. But it is my job to make their lives the most meaningful as I can while not harming consensus reality. These people are the shadow of society. Society doesn't want to deal with them or acknowledge them, but somebody has to. If we can understand the crazy people we can as a society become more sane by including and integrating more pieces of our collective psyche.

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      Dannon, you preface your post with a contradictory premise. How can we all agree that there is an absolute reality if such a thing is necessarily inconceivable? To decide that there is an absolute reality is in itself a conception of such a reality.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Dannon Oneironaut View Post
      I think that we can all agree that there is an absolute reality
      Whoa! Speak for yourself.

      There is no such thing as absolute truth. That said, every I do think every different belief, viewpoint, conceptualization, are all perfectly valid. Valid, but not exclusive. Add up the sum total of every different reality and you end up with what I can only assume is the duality wave function, which I find easier to think of as an archetype.

      Every single person creates their own separate reality, exactly like in a dream. The only difference between a dream and so called reality is the number of people you share it with. My signature is especially relevant here.


      Here's a recent Coast to Coast episode that is somewhat relevant to this discussion. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTZzq...eature=related (12 parts)

      I was just relistening to it and noticed he mentioned this about dreaming.

      "I think the whole field of artificial intelligence is how to create thinking machines. In order to do that, we really need to figure out those algorithms that allow us to have what we call consciousness, and that again is understanding those rules that we use in our mind to construct space and time. Once we know how the mind works and how it's constructed, and that's the same way we construct it in our dreams, then we can modify that and create realities that exist outside the known physical universe."
      Last edited by The Cusp; 04-03-2010 at 11:40 PM.

    25. #25
      Hungry Dannon Oneironaut's Avatar
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      OK, this is one of those things I guess I take for granted. I thought that we all thought that there is reality. If there is not reality, then why do we do reality checks?
      I think that there is reality, but I think that it is bigger than our comprehension.
      So, some of you don't believe in reality?
      I find that hard to understand, but I am willing to try.
      I can find it easier to understand that you don't
      believe in consensus reality.
      But even what you explained, CUSP, can't that be considered ultimate Reality? The archetypal duality wave function? I don't know what that is, I will watch the video and educate myself.
      I agree that individual realities are dreams. We are all dreaming our own reality. Every mind is a world. And I agree that there is a collective dream that we call consensus reality. I was just saying that Absolute Reality is how things really are regardless of what we dream or not. And you explained what you thought that is. I was just saying that we all might not agree on what that is, but that doesn't change what it is.
      Last edited by Dannon Oneironaut; 04-04-2010 at 01:26 AM.

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