There are three perspectives that the human mind can view reality: fundamental reality, constructed reality, and subjective reality. Learning to navigate between these is a powerful tool for reducing suffering, optimizing for happiness, and navigating everyday challenges.
Fundamental reality is the physical nature of things. There's no human language overlaid on top of it; things just exist. This is the world that the field of physics describes.
Constructed reality: this is the everyday world we live in, from our default perspective without an emotional layer added. It's what makes a collection of green cells a plant, or a hunk of metal a car.
Subjective reality: this is the layer of meaning we impart onto the physical world. When I see my coworker who I find annoying, I impart "essence of annoying" onto him. He's not just a collection of living tissue (fundamental reality), nor is he a human (constructed reality). He's now "my annoying coworker." Humans are meaning-making machines, and building a subjective reality is how an individual makes sense of constructed reality.
Let's take a basic example:
Fundamental reality: molecules of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and other elements
Constructed reality: a shoe
Subjective reality: a cool shoe
Experience with mindfulness meditation quiets our senses of constructed and subjective reality, allowing you to drop into fundamental reality. When you focus on the sensations of your breath, you're simply noticing what is, without anything added on top of it. You're escaping the story the human mind adds to everything it encounters, and you develop an ability to recognize what is fundamental to the world.
Why is this important?
Because subjective reality is where we suffer. We imagine stories about the way the world should be, then experience emotional pain when the world doesn't live up to our stories. But these standards and stories don't actually exist. We made them all up.
In Buddhist philosophy, moving away from constructed reality and towards fundamental reality is moving closer to profound truth. And the truth shall set you free from suffering.
The trick is to operate in constructed reality with fundamental reality in the backdrop. Maintaining an awareness of fundamental reality (or as is often said in mindfulness: "seeing things as they are") informs an effective constructed reality.
One reality from 3 different points of view, reliant on each other for happiness and practical utility.
Your prompt for today:
This isn't a complicated concept; in fact it's one of the most basic ideas about how we view the world (read the shoe example again if it isn't clear yet). Everyone has had a personal experience of shifting their perspective between these realities, so pick a time when this shift happened for you and write about what it was like.