Get Real?

The Vedas are similar to many other pre-historic stories with their mythological stories explaining humanity’s common experience and conveying essential wisdoms. They are all idealistic in their descriptions and prescriptions. The historical fulfillment (ontology) of the Vedas is called Vedanta, which originally referred the first critical or realistic scripture, the Upanishads. “Upanishads” literally refers to the teaching received “at the feet of” an enlightened guru. Instead of having people believe in a host of mythological characters and prescriptions, the gurus demanded that their students undertake a thorough self-examination. The refrain “from the unreal to the Real” peals penetratingly throughout the principal Upanishads.

The word “real” holds great meaning; indeed, it could be said that meaning itself is purposed to or grounded in what is real. Most meaningful is most real.

The contemplation of the etymology of “real” sheds significant light. “Real” is founded in the Latin res, thing, root of our “reification”, making a thing, thingness. In common linguistic parlance, “real” basically means you can touch it.

Via this etymological examination, we find evidence of a fundamental linguistic slant: all languages are rooted in the physical: doesn’t this make sense? Can you see how the myopia of language refracts thought through the somatic lens? And since we think via thoughts, shouldn’t this objectifying, physical, sensual slant of language be appreciated in our understanding to what is most “real”?

For “real” connotes far more than the somatic, “real” is more than earth, and indeed more than sky, more than emotional, prior to the abstract, subtler than the subtle, more than anything that changes; “real” really indicates what is most fundamental, the ground of being itself.

Those who see the truth of things acknowledge that whatever exists eternally never changes, and whatever does not exist eternally only changes. Such seers of truth also realize that the entire realm of change, even the body-mind and even the soul itself, is pervaded, each and all, by That which exists eternally. – Bhagavad Gita

More than what is the case, more than the concrete or somatic slant that language prefers, really “real” points to the Ground of Being itself: that which is always and already the case. Reflected in the fundamental laws of physics, this fundamental truth of existence includes both object and subject, beyond and including the body-mind complex and the world. For real.


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