Weirdo “chaos magic” wizard warps reality with words

By Matt Perryman

Once-famed counterculture guru and self-proclaimed “psychonaut” Robert Anton Wilson used to say that everyone lives inside their own “reality tunnel”.


What is a reality tunnel? Glad you asked.


RAW describes it as a set of unconscious mental filters, made up from your beliefs, past experiences, emotions, and your five (or six or seven) senses, that shape your perception and understanding of the world.


Everybody interprets what happens and what happens to them. Since this happens unconsciously, most of the time we don’t realize that our interpretations are interpretations.


Everything that happens and happens to you is a story.


That’s a powerful idea. It’s also dangerous because it walks right down a path to absolute subjectivism: There is no truth but my own truth.


It might not be your truth as an individual, either. Belief systems come in group packages. Major religions and minor cults, nerdish sub-cultures and the culture down at the office, they’re all kinds of reality tunnel.


Some folks get hung up with all the skepticism and the relativism. They have a psychological need for security and living without absolute certainty terrifies them.


Understandable, but they miss the real point in RAW’s observation.


Once you understand the hold that a “reality tunnel” has on yourself, you don’t have to keep holding on to it.


You realize that everyone around you lives in their own reality tunnel. Suddenly, all those angry and resentful disagreements make a lot more sense — and become totally pointless.


You can’t reason and debate your way to changing a person’s total vision of reality.


You won’t reason your way into keeping your own, either.


Neither one of you got there by thinking about it. You got there by growing up in a culture with its own history, rules, and words.


Understanding this is the first step to letting go. Letting go of that self-absorbed ego that buys into its own stories. Letting go of anger at “those people” who don’t believe like you believe.


The second step involves using your own will and imagination to make different, hopefully better, choices about your own reality tunnel.



Matt Perryman 


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