In life there are four categories of “realities:” 1-fantasy 2-dreaming, 3-physical reality and 4-metaphysical reality.
The main issue is recognizing them for what they are and then watching for which one(s) you spend time in. If you have spiritual intentions, you need to spend the most time in the metaphysical realm. A great taoist sage said the way is realized via non-reification. (FYI; The way is realized via many paths and you need to take a few.) I believe what he meant was that you need to see the metaphysical reality first and foremost. All the myriad “physical” (EW or external world or the world from the body, out) realities, as laotse called them, the “10000 things” are merely reflections or manifestations of a metaphysical reality. These EW realities can be life, object, situation or idea realities so they don’t have to actually be physical in that you can touch them.
Anyway, one with spiritual intentions must relate to the metaphysical via the “physical,” or see through the physical to the metaphysical.
Fantasy is daydreaming, watching tv or movies, or just relating to a “reality” that isn’t actually real in your life.
Dreaming is when you are asleep.
“Physical” is the here and now of life.
Metaphysical is the Truth or truth. (Truth is regarding God and truth is regarding self)
All these “realities” have something in common and that is you relate to them and they affect you. They can affect you positively (creative-nurturing/life affirming) or negatively (destructive). If you spend much time in fantasy and you have spiritual intentions, you are spinning your wheels. If you have vivid dreams often, you may not be progressing spiritually as dreams usually indicate unresolved issues in life, particularly if your dreams are painful or negative in any way. If you spend most of your time realizing metaphysical reality via physical reality then you are progressing. If you most of the time live in the “here and now” and consistently look for the spiritual lesson in the here and now of life and generally see the metaphysical Truth behind the physical, then you have the opportunity to grow spiritually.
One way of using this lesson of the 4 “realities” is to wean yourself off fantasy and be able to sit comfortably with physical reality. Stop watching so much tv, stop drinking and engaging other intoxicants and start embracing the here and now. In the meantime, pay attention to your dreams but realize they are a sign of unresolved issues and lack of centeredness in awake life. Finally, start looking at physical reality as a reflection or manifestation of something more, i.e. metaphysical reality.
Another aspect of this lesson has to do with ones view of physical reality. In the physical-life realm, there are many situation realities one relates to. One of these is one’s job, another is the home, family, weekend, vacation, etc… I am mixing into this monologue another aspect of ‘reality’ so i’ll try not to make it confusing, but within the 4 major categories of realities are specific kinds of realities. Life, situation, object, and idea realities all fit into the physical main category. Self and God (Truth and truth) are also specific realities and fit into the life subcategory and the metaphysical main category because they are alive but not of the physical realm. Remember, a reality is anything you can identify and relate to. To come back from my tangent, the point I’m trying to make about one’s view of physical reality is that as one grows, one tends more and more to stop relating to situation realities in a vacuum. For example, many people go to work and it sort of sucks and then they get home at night or have a weekend and its great. Like they forget about their weekend and nights when at work and vice versa, but either way, they have ups and downs. Same with vacation. They go on vacation and its great and they try and forget about work. Then they come back to work and its “back to reality”.
This is left behind as one grows. As one grows, one does not forget about work on the weekend or forget about the weekend at work. The weekends aren’t great and work doesn’t suck. They relate to all aspects of their lives all the time. They don’t have ups and downs. They don’t tend to need or want to escape or get buzzed because there’s nothing to escape to or from. They don’t “have a good time” although they do enjoy themselves. On a Friday night, they don’t get excited and “go out” to “have a good time.” On Sunday night, they don’t get depressed or dread Monday morning. Can you see what I’m getting at with this? You relate to all aspects of your life all the time. They are all always there. You don’t spend money impulsively or forget you have a budget. You don’t forget you have a diet and eat a bunch of junk food. But conversely, you don’t put yourself on an overly strict diet or budget. You don’t live beyond your means so you’re not always tight. All these things are interrelated.
(FYI- if there’s something you read here that is not explained, please see my other posts, particularly the the discussion of Christmas in the first post called “the tao of skate.”)