Most of the things that run our lives are not reality itself, but rather imagined constructs that overlay existence. Think money, law, and culture. These things are not “real” in the sense that they do not exist outside the human mind, yet at the same time, so real within us that they dictate the fate of humanity and possibly the planet.
Want to know what else is imaginary? I am.
Don’t get me wrong, I exist as a pattern of chemical-electric information flow. but my personal narrative and everything I use to identify myself is actually mind-made and arbitrary: things like my name, date of birth, social security number, and the stories I tell myself simply do not exist outside the realm of human thought and culture.
This is where our narratives have power. We can over-complicate things by overthinking them, or we can make fundamental life-altering changes by shifting our perspective.
One of the most problematic of our imaginary constructs is that of the ego: a belief of being this, or being entitled to that. Whenever ideas conflict with our self-narrative the imagined ego steps in to rebel. It can cause violence if it is offended, or our false confidence can blind us from Truth. The source of ego is the self-narrative. What do you believe you are?
The Buddhists knew that their self-narratives were imagined. They teach us to reduce attachment to narratives, beliefs, and as a result, ego itself. In their culture, one can not reach any level of spiritual attainment until these fundamental truths have been realized.
Modern neuroscience lends further credence to this imagined me, as there is no centralized locust of self within the brain, but rather the feeling of “I” emerges as a consequence of countless deeper and unlocalized neural thought-patterns.
To some this may sound scary at first, but I find it liberating. The more we disappear to ourselves, the more we feel a part of something greater. We can learn to see our own reflection in other forms; the same spark of consciousness resides within all of us.
Overarching themes of ego, attachment, and self-importance only serve to hold us back. Sometimes, we must lose ourselves in order to truly live.