What is Real?


This is your brain, speaking to you. Hello. Can you hear me? It's your brain speaking.

No, no, you think you're just reading some text. Well, okay, you're doing that, too, but you're also hearing me. Your brain. You're hearing your brain with your brain.

There's no need to scoff, or say, "I'm not making up these words, so you can't actually be my brain!" First of all, I really am your brain. The text isn't jumping up and putting itself inside you. Second, even though you didn't write these words, it's no different from any time you give yourself over, freely, to some wonderful piece of music. Which you also didn't write.

Is that so different? Well, maybe. Mere music can't suddenly do things that startle you, can it? Oh, wait, yes it can.

Maybe that's why it's easier to give yourself over to music you know than a new piece you haven't heard. Well, well, how about that?

Where were we? Oh, yeah. There's “me”, your brain, and “you”, some other part of your brain. At the moment, you might be worried that we'll be subjected to some weird ideas that make us crazy or something.

Hey, don't you trust me? I got you this far in life. Do you think a little bit of text will get past us? This is your own brain talking! I've saved you from things far more threatening than some text.

Okay, so you're probably wondering what's next. Yes, since I'm your brain you'd think I'd know what you're wondering. Except I don't, because I'm only part of your brain. You're in another part. And there are parts that neither of us are paying attention to just now.

Let's leave those alone for now and talk about what's real.

Is the thing that's going on right now — the text thing — is it real? Sure, why not? This isn't the first time you've thought thoughts you didn't invent yourself. It probably won't be the last. So it's kind of real.

You want to know what's really real, though? You're not sure, are you? I can tell you, but perhaps you won't believe it at first. I'll tell you what's real. It's very simple.

It's THIS.

Oh, you were in too much of a hurry and you missed it! Well, I'm guessing you missed it because I'm not in that part of your brain. But I'm pretty sure you missed it.  Let's try it again.  You know what is real?


Did you catch it that time? Did you? Oh, wait, I can't hear you just now. I'll bet you think you know what's real. Knock on something solid — that's really real, right?

Well, it could be, but it probably isn't. Can you sense individual atoms? No? Well, then. You don't really know how things are. Is that desk even there in reality? There's no way you can ever know that. You might be dreaming, or in a computer simulation. Maybe you're hallucinating all of it. All of it. So let's try again. What is real?


Maybe you got it that time. Maybe you're thinking of the famous saying “Cogito ergo sum.” Do you know Latin? I can't tell from here. Anyway, it means “I think, therefore I am.” It's close, but it's wrong, since thinking can get infected with other people's ideas. Why, sometimes it's like somebody is typing text right into our thinking. So thoughts aren't the ultimate reality we can see. But there is


and it's always been there, since the day we were born. And probably a bit before that, though I can't remember. Well, maybe you can remember, but I can't get to that part of our brain.

I'll just step aside and let some other part of our brain loose for a while. Good day.

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