Naïve Realism, its Ramifications and Overcoming

This is part of the Systems Analysis of Organisation, Ego, Control and Authoritarianism.
The sub sections are:
Introduction to Naïve Realism
Evidence Against Naïve Realism
. . . . . . . . The Argument from the Scientific Account of Perception
. . . . . . . . The Adverbial Theory
. . . . . . . . Quantum Physics
. . . . . . . . Virtual Reality
Ramifications of Naïve Realism
. . . . . . . . Common Manifestations of Naïve Realism and Realism
. . . . . . . . Naïve Realism, Le Différend and Organisational Accountability
. . . . . . . . Naïve Realism, Common Sense and Authoritarian Regimes
. . . . . . . . Naïve Realism and Realism as Evolutionary Forces
Overcoming Naïve Realism

Introduction to Naïve Realism

This subject is one of the most difficult for the mind to approach. Not because it is complicated or difficult to understand but because the mind often simply refuses to go there, because this subject cuts to the root of all delusion and therefore challenges everything that the ego holds dear. It is however a vital issue to understand. It is a core fallacy that is indelibly enshrined at the heart of Western civilisation, permeating its common sense, religion, politics, empirical science, philosophy and virtually all aspects of culture. It has also come to dominate Eastern civilisation as well. However the tide is turning in regards to naïve realism; it has been well understood by Eastern mystics and a few Western mystics but in recent times a growing number of philosophers and scientists are beginning to understand it as well.

It has been debated by Western philosophers for centuries [FR] and has been unequivocally proven to be a false perspective by quantum physics [FR] (see this article, this discussion and the proof via the Stern-Gerlach experiment contained in this ebook). Also see this reformulation of the philosophical foundations of science without the distortions of naïve realism.

The entrenched naïve realism and positivism [FR] at the heart of empirical science has suppressed this realisation for almost 80 years, but in recent years it is becoming more accepted that naïve realism is a false perspective. There is still little mainstream awareness of its operation at the root of our minds, thus distorting every moment of conscious experience and causing us to dwell amidst persistent illusions that bare little resemblance to the reality that we actually operate in.

Naïve realism describes a general property of all systems but it will be introduced in the context of human perception because that is the context in which it was first analysed by Western philosophy. It is usually not realised by most people that it is a philosophical position, but is rather just assumed to be obviously the way things are but there is unequivocal evidence that it is false. Hence it is a profound and ubiquitous fallacy that forms the foundation of “common sense” and goes entirely unquestioned in virtually all cultural discourses, which are therefore entirely naïve realist and dangerously flawed.

“Naïve realism is a common sense theory of perception. Most people, until they start reflecting philosophically, are naïve realists. This theory is also known as "direct realism" or "common sense realism"... Naive realism holds that the view of the world that we derive from our senses is to be taken at face value: there are objects out there in the world, and those objects have the properties that they appear to us to have. If I have an experience as of a large apple tree, then that’s because there’s a large apple tree in front of me. If the apples on the tree appear to me to be red, then that’s because there are objects in front of me, apples, that have the property redness; simple.” [FR]

In its most common form a naive realist thinks "I ... am a human being. There is this one physical world, the space where everything exists and the time in which everything happens. There are many things in this physical world, each largely separate from the other and persisting over a span of time... My senses give me direct knowledge of reality. If I see a chair, it is because there is a chair physically where and when I see it. There are exceptions, like when I am dreaming or watching a movie, but these are rare and obviously not real. I can know things through my senses, through thinking about things, and through communication with other people. Other people's beliefs may be correct or not, but beliefs of people I respect, and beliefs held commonly by most people in my society, are usually true." [FR]

It has been characterised as consisting of the following five beliefs: [FR]

  1. There exists a world of material objects.

  2. Statements about these objects can be known to be true through sense-experience.

  3. These objects exist not only when they are being perceived but also when they are not perceived. The objects of perception are largely, we might want to say, perception-independent.

  4. These objects are also able to retain properties of the types we perceive them as having, even when they are not being perceived. Their properties are perception-independent.

  5. By means of our senses, we perceive the world directly, and pretty much as it is. In the main, our claims to have knowledge of it are justified.

It is a property of all systems to be intrinsically naïve realist hence it is not only human beings who succumb to this illusion but every sub-system that interacts to make us what we are, every system that we interact with and every super-system that we form out of ourselves. Therefore naïve realism goes deep into our minds, our physiology and the very nature of the universe itself. It is a profound illusion and it is extremely difficult to overcome its distorting influence on every moment of awareness, every item of knowledge, every interaction and everything that we ever experience. But it is possible!

Evidence Against Naïve Realism

The issue is philosophically complex and subtle but I will quote some of the clearer evidence against it.

The Argument from the Scientific Account of Perception

“The main aspects of that account that are cited in this connection are:

  1. the fact that the character of the resulting experience and of the physical object that it seems to present can be altered in major ways by changes in the conditions of perception or the condition of the relevant sense-organs and the resulting neurophysiological processes, with no change in the external physical object (if any) that initiates this process and that may seem to be depicted by the experience that results;

  2. the related fact that any process that terminates with the same sensory and neural results will yield the same perceptual experience, no matter what the physical object (if any) that initiated the process may have been like; and

  3. the fact that the causal process that intervenes between the external object and the perceptual experience takes at least a small amount of time, so that the character of the experience reflects (at most) an earlier stage of that object rather than the one actually existing at that moment. In extreme cases, as in observations of astronomical objects, the external object may have ceased to exist long before the experience occurs. These facts are claimed to point inexorably to the conclusion that the direct or immediate object of such an experience, the object that is given, is an entity produced at the end of this causal process and is thus distinct from the physical object, if any, that initiates the process.” [FR]

For many people it would be advisable to pause to let this understanding sink in, since the discussion now goes much deeper...

The Adverbial Theory

Another subtlety is that we only conceive of things such as 'object', 'subject', 'signal' and “sense data” as part of a naïve realist discourse, but we cannot truly know if these things even exist in any other sense than as a naïve realist misconception. All dualisms arise due to naïve realism and without naïve realism Occam's razor implies non-dual alternatives. It could just be that there is the cognitive experience and that these experiences are coherent in some manner such that it appears that there is an objective universe outside the mind. This is an ancient idea that lies at the heart of all mystic traditions and in the context of naïve realism is expressed philosophically as the Adverbial Theory.

“It is difficult to resist the conclusion that there is a fundamental distinction between the external object, if any, that initiates the perceptual process and the perceptual experience that eventually results. This perceptual dualism thus raises inevitably the the issue of how and even whether the object can be known on the basis of the experience. What can and has been resisted, by the adverbial theory in particular, is the idea that this dualism is a dualism of objects, with perceptual experience being a more direct experience of objects of a different sort, sense-data.” [FR]

“Perceptual dualism implies, both an act of awareness (or apprehension) and an object (the sense-datum) which that act apprehends or is an awareness of. The fundamental idea of the adverbial theory, in contrast, is that there is no need for such objects and the problems that they bring with them (such as whether they are physical or mental or somehow neither). Instead, it is suggested, merely the occurrence of a mental act or mental state with its own intrinsic character is enough to account for the character of immediate experience.” [FR]

“According to the adverbial theory, what happens when, for example, I immediately experience a silver elliptical shape (as when viewing a coin from an angle) is that I am in a certain specific state of sensing or sensory awareness or of being appeared to: I sense in a certain manner or am appeared to in a certain way, and it is that specific manner of sensing or way of being appeared to that accounts for the specific content of my immediate experience... The essential point here is that when I sense or am appeared to silver-elliptical-ly, there need be nothing more going on than that I am in a certain distinctive sort of experiential state. In particular, there need be no object or entity of any sort that is literally silver and elliptical — not in the material world, not in my mind, and not even in the realm (if there is such a realm) of things that are neither physical nor mental.” [FR]

Quantum Physics

“Scientific realism in classical (i.e. pre-quantum) physics has remained compatible with the naive realism of everyday thinking on the whole; whereas it has proven impossible to find any consistent way to visualize the world underlying quantum theory in terms of our pictures in the everyday world. The general conclusion is that in quantum theory naive realism, although necessary at the level of observations, fails at the microscopic level... what fails in quantum theory is naive realism at the level of observations itself.” [FR]

“[T]he theoretical objects of physics are ‘real’ not in the sense they can be shown to correspond to some aspects of the external world (this project is well-known to have definitively failed) but in the sense that once a theory’s predictions are verified, we treat its objects as real to the extent we can visualize them using ordinary language words (and associated space/time visualizations). It is easily seen that while this realism by analogy grew increasingly tenuous with the progress in physics, in quantum theory it failed completely. We cannot consistently use either particle or wave pictures (the only object pictures in everyday thinking so far available to us). We are forced to use one or the other to visualize the one and same quantum object, albeit under different and mutually exclusive experimental arrangements. We are faced with either an ontological contradiction or a limited phenomenal conception of the quantum world that changes with changing conditions of its observation. ” [FR]

Regarding quantum wave phenomena: “The more one examines the waves of quantum mechanics, the less they resemble waves in a medium. In the 1920s, Ernst (sic) Schrodinger set out a formula which could "describe" the wave-like behavior of all quantum units, be they light or objects... For a brief time, physicists sought to visualize these quantum waves as ordinary waves traveling through some kind of a medium (nobody knew what kind) which somehow carried the quantum properties of an object. Then Max Born pointed out something quite astonishing: the simple interference of these quantum waves did not describe the observed behaviors; instead, the waves had to be interfered and the mathematical results of the interference had to be further manipulated (by "squaring" them, i.e., by multiplying the results by themselves) in order to achieve the final probability characteristic of all quantum events. It is a two-step process, the end result of which requires mathematical manipulation. The process can not be duplicated by waves alone, but only by calculations based on numbers which cycled in the manner of waves” [FR]

“[W]e have to give up the idea of [naive] realism to a far greater extent than most physicists believe today." (Anton Zeilinger)... By realism, he means the idea that objects have specific features and properties — that a ball is red, that a book contains the works of Shakespeare, or that an electron has a particular spin... for objects governed by the laws of quantum mechanics, like photons and electrons, it may make no sense to think of them as having well defined characteristics. Instead, what we see may depend on how we look.” [FR]

Throughout the history of quantum physics naïve realists have generally claimed that quantum physics is only an abstract mathematical procedure that applies to the realm of fundamental particles and not at the 'everyday' scale of objects. It was then proposed that we cannot truly perceive the fundamental particles so they are possibly just abstract conceptualisations. Hence quantum physics had no relevance to the world that we experience as being 'real', i.e. the world of macroscopic objects, people, places and things. In this way the quantum weirdness could be ignored and a naïve realist world view could be maintained. However it has become increasingly the case that even macroscopic objects cannot be properly understood without quantum mechanics, therefore bringing its quantum weirdness into the realm of the everyday, and once and for all bringing an end to the supremacy of naïve realism.

“Quantum mechanics is increasingly applied to larger and larger objects. Even a one-ton bar proposed to detect gravity waves must be analysed quantum mechanically. In cosmology, a wavefunction for the whole universe is written to study the Big Bang. It gets harder today to nonchalantly accept the realm in which the quantum rules apply as somehow not being physically real... "Quantum mechanics forces us to abandon naive realism". And leave it at that.” [FR]

At the level of observations physicists conceive of objects about which observations can be made but in the reality implied by quantum physics there are no objects as such and therefore no relations between objects. There are only quantum wavefunctions, which are abstract non-physical phenomena that determine every aspect of the phenomenal universe that we experience. They determine not only the state of the observed objects but also the state of the observer. Hence from the perspective of the cosmic wavefunction the adverbial theories are the only possible way to conceive of the situation. There are no 'objects', 'subjects', 'signals' or “sense data”, but only the changing state of the cosmic wavefunction. Hence all experience is simply the changing state of the cosmic wavefunction.

Virtual Reality

“Virtuality is itself a bonafide mode of reality, and that "virtual reality" must be understood as "things, agents and events that exist in cyberspace". These proposals resolve the incoherences found in the ordinary uses of these terms... "virtual reality", though based on recent information technology, does not refer to mere technological equipment or purely mental entities, or to some fake environment as opposed to the real world, but that it is an ontological mode of existence which leads to an expansion of our ordinary world.” [FR]

Furthermore, quantum physics implies that underlying the phenomenal world there are abstract, non-physical, non-local information processes, which is essentially akin to saying that the physical universe is a virtual reality, in which we sentient beings emerge out of the flux of information processes and experience ourselves as physical, just as objects within a virtual reality seem physical. When the observer is external to the VR, like in current VR technology, the virtual world is clearly just information because a bullet in a computer game cannot actually kill you. But when the observer is a character within the simulation then they are part of the information processes and a virtual bullet will kill them.

Thus virtual reality also accords with the adverbial (non-dual) theories as well, because whilst it might seem that there are 'objects', 'subjects', 'signals' or “sense data”, there is only the changing state of the computational process and that is all that is required to create coherent experiences of a physical world from many subjective perspectives.

These scientific revelations bring modern science into perfect accord with the deepest principles of all mystic teachings. I will not go any deeper into this issue because it will take us well beyond the scope of this book. However to go deeper yourself, read the articles The Scientific Case Against Materialism, Virtual Reality Analogy Alongside Science and Mysticism and Ask Yourself This, also the ebook Information Systems Analysis of Mind, Knowledge, 'the World' and Holistic Science.

In light of the adverbial theory, quantum physics and virtual reality we see that 'objects', 'subjects', 'signals' or “sense data” are not the deeper reality. This is clearly elucidated by the mathematical analysis using system matrix notation (SMN) contained in this ebook.

Speaking of classical 'objects', 'signals' and so on can still be useful, indeed the whole of common sense language can still be useful, but only so long as we realise that we are using these concepts as an analogy for our subjective experiences of the classical aspect of reality. The concepts do not refer to objective facts that are in some way 'real', that is a previous misconception, but they are still a useful analogy with which we can communicate our sense perceptions of reality.

However as soon as we forget that they are a mere analogy we slide into naïve realist fantasy. Hence the need for this reformulation of the philosophical foundations of science without the distortions of naïve realism. This provides a coherent foundation without the inbuilt pitfalls that so often lead us into naïve realist fantasy.

Once we question naïve realism we realise that we are not what we thought we were, the world is not what we thought it was and the situation is far more subtle than we ever imagined. This is the actual situation in which we operate although we have assumed that the naïve realist dogma of people, places, objects and events (as well as laws, money, nations and so on) is all there is to know about the situation.

Not only have we seen in the previous discussions that systems are not what they seem from a naïve perspective, but given an understanding of naïve realism even that perspective itself is not what it seems. If we wish to comprehend the reality of our situation and to operate intelligently within it then all of these factors must be taken into consideration. We have been acting out of ignorance and blindly wandering into a systemic crisis from which there is no way out other than to come to grips with the reality that we find ourselves in. See this Simplified Anatomy of the Global Systemic Crisis and How to Heal Civilisation for a preliminary overview of the problem and its solution.

Ramifications of Naïve Realism

Naïve realism is a profound illusion that effects all perceptual systems, not just human beings. It is a fundamental disconnection from reality that is relatively benign in simple systems but leads to a growing spiral of delusion within complex systems. Because a simple system is a simple channel for information there is little problem for itself arising from naïve realism, but as systems evolve towards greater internal complexity their inner processes become more complex.

The inner processes can only operate on the information entering through the system's perceptual channels. If this information is fundamentally distorted then all further operations on that information will be distorted. If each stage in those internal processes further distorts the information then the information will become entirely corrupted and will bare no correlation with the actual situation that it supposedly represents.

This leads to growing delusion and results in eventual destruction of the complex system because it cannot operate in its actual context but only in the imagined context of its delusional experiences. These problems arise within each of our minds and lives, but they are an even greater problem when we integrate to form a civilisation that grows to astronomical complexity. Unless we come to grips with naïve realism we cannot help but create a monstrosity that will destroy us and the planet as well. It is in this sense that we must clear our own minds before they can function as metaphorical neurons in a sane global brain.

Common Manifestations of Naïve Realism and Realism

To give some indication of how naïve realism manifests in everyday life, the following table maps out a few of the ramifications, in different contexts, of naïve realism and realism. Each row can be read as:

“In the context of  ____  naïve realism leads toward  ____  whilst realism leads toward  ____.”


Naïve Realism


Relation to self

Isolated ego

Oneness with all

Social organisation

Authoritarian regimes, “total institution”

Self organising communities

Intellectual argument

Credulity, cynicism, ego defense mechanisms

Scepticism (open mind), rational debate

Personal love

Romance, possessiveness

Compassion, nurturing

Life experience

Life story, ego trip

Spontaneous participation

Mass discourse

Propaganda, indoctrination

Truth, liberation




Diversity of perspectives

Dogmatic power struggle, le differand

Openness, unification of coherent perspectives


Desire, fear, hate, paranoia, frustration

Gratitude, respect, love, trust


Assumption, confusion


Apparent people, places, events and objects in one's life

Attachment, manipulation

Detachment, support

Learning and self-development

Egoic self deception, regression, ego defence mechanisms

Connection to reality, awakening, accelerating process

World view

Materialism, empiricism, Scientism, politicised religion, consumerism, nationalism, authoritarianism

Panpsychism, rationalism, science, mystic / genuine spirituality, asceticism, cosmic Oneness

Personal ontology

Unconscious, dogmatic

Conscious, sceptical (open minded)

Collective action

Exploitation, manipulation, authoritarian oppression

Mutual support, cooperation, goodwill (love in action)






Expression of mutual personal love

Cognitive health

Confusion, delusion, anxiety, denial, psychosis

Clarity, awareness, tranquillity, acceptance, enlightenment


Objectification, competition, conflict

Appreciation, cooperation, unification

Naïve Realism, Le Différend and Organisational Accountability

In reality the universe functions on all levels, from particles to galaxies and beyond, and not just at the level of human egos. Systems experience things from all perspectives and our human and organisational perspective are just some of these perspectives and these cannot comprehend the full complexity. Only when informed by a systemic paradigm can we comprehend the actual situation. There has been recent enquiry into the field of organisational accountability [FR], which is a vitally important issue. This work mentions that “accountable organizations strive to eliminate the subjectivity and raw opinion that is sometimes injected into the decision-making process; grounding decisions on a more tangible, objective foundation.” [FR] But narrow context rationalism is totally irrational in the broader context so these issues need to be considered in the broader context in order to be rational. It is currently aimed specifically at corporate organisations but they exist within a real-world context.

The core ideas of the approach are contained within the statement: "Organizational accountability exists when all members of the workforce individually and collectively act to consequentially promote the timely accomplishment of the organization’s mission." An organisation can be described as a system composed of an informal structure and a formal structure [FR]. The informal structure consists of individual humans, human relations, traditions, norms, the grape-vine, etc. The formal structure consists of teams, departments, inter-departmental relations, organisational mission statements, organisational rules, enforcement, incentives, monitoring, assets and equipment, etc. The formal structure attempts to control the energetic potential of the informal structure, by controlling the memetic flow throughout the system, in order to harness and channel its energy to meet the organisational goals. A human mind is a kind of memetic processor so by controlling the flow of memes the organisation controls the people's behaviour and weaves their collective behaviour into the organisation itself [FR].

The situation of informal and formal structures is played out in all organisations to different degrees from families, to peer or professional groups, to community organisations, NGO's, corporations, industry groups, nations, economic blocs and human civilisation as a whole. Organisations don't exist in isolation. There are organisations within organisations, just as in system theory there are systems within systems. And just as systems inter-penetrate each other, with sub-systems occupying roles within numerous super-systems, so too people and sub-organisations inter-penetrate numerous organisations. Each formal structure tries to control the individual in terms of its own agendas and often these agendas are in competition for the "human resource". This can create memetic conflict or tension within the individuals and sub-organisations involved.

If one defines an 'organisation' in a narrow sense, such as an individual corporation or NGO etc, then this complexity can seemingly be ignored but the complexity still remains to be dealt with in order for the organisation be truly accountable and able to perform effectively in the actual, and not just the idealised, context. Given the more complex view of the organisational ecosystem, several questions arise. Which organisation's mission needs to be accomplished in order for there to be organisational accountability? What about the case of nested or inter-penetrating organisations? Each organisation will perceive the situation differently from its own perspective, so is it a purely relative term? The missions of family, company and nation may be at odds with each other in regards to the control of an individual. Is it possible to derive a definition for organisational accountability within this wider context? If we cannot or do not, then can the more narrow definition be truly effective in providing real accountability? Or will it inevitably lead to tyranny?

Each organisation will tend to define its idea of 'mission' and 'accountability' from its own perspective and attempt to impose this on the situation. Hence there is an inherent multiplicity of subjective organisational perspectives, between which there are inevitable power struggles. This results in a Le Différend which is a term coined by the postmodern philosopher Lyotard [FR] who was seeking "a logical basis for support for epistemological multiplicity, for the positive value of non-totalizing argument." The term "marks[s] the boundaries between discourses that are unbridgeable by the ambitions of a total theory." [FR, FR].

A damage occurs when one being is harmed by another. Many kinds of damage may be litigated against, taken to court, proven, and compensated for. But sometimes a damage cannot be expressed, whether because the being who undergoes the damage is unable to speak in a language to which the judges will listen (as in the case of animals, children, the mentally ill, the dead), or because the judges are the ones who have done the damage, whether directly or through affiliation, or because the testimony of the one damaged is deprived of authority for whatever reason. Such a scenario is called a differend, and the person who suffers from both a damage and a loss of the ability to prove it is a victim... “subjects are constituted through exclusion, that is, through the creation of a domain of deauthorized subjects, presubjects, figures of abjection, populations erased from view.” It is a question of “who qualifies as a ‘who’” and hence of who can speak, whose testimony will be heard. The silencing of certain voices, the effacement of certain persons’ sufferings, is achieved through the denial that they are “whos,” or through their abjection, and this makes violence to them permissible, indeed invisible.” [FR].

A common example of a le différend occurs in regards to the criminal justice system and its position of being the final arbiter of who is guilty and who is innocent. The justice system declares that its perspective is "the perspective" from which all such things are to be judged. However pragmatic this may be, it often leads to injustices because it fails to take proper account of other perspectives. This is particularly pronounced in cases where the laws are flawed in some way and thus there arises civil unrest, which is a natural phenomenon that helps remedy the situation. However in these situations many people are penalised for doing what is required to safeguard their society whilst the entire society is put at risk because the vital processes of change are resisted, often with great force.

Thus established organisations impose their perspective and resist any change that threatens their dominance. This is not due to some calculated oppression but arises naturally due to the multiplicity of subjective perspectives combined with naïve realism. Most oppressors do not do so deliberately, they are just responding to the world as they see it and they don't realise that it is not the actual situation that they are responding to but only the distorted artefacts of their perceptions.

Even a movement who's intention is to create peace and unity can inevitably result in numerous le différends which can accumulate to become a totalitarian regime without that movement even realising. Hence, even well meaning progressive movements that speak of oneness, unity, a global family and so on must be aware of these issues lest they contribute to the growing weight of injustices in the world. Whilst unity in diversity is a workable approach, unity alone leads to totalitarianism. But what is unity in diversity? It is one of the principal aims of this book to show that system theory can lead us toward an answer to that question. Postmodern philosophy addresses it also.

According to Lyotard's conception, the task of postmodern philosophy is three-fold. First it has to represent and legitimize the farewell to the obsession with unity. In this it demonstrates that the aversion to unity is not an emotional response, but that it is based on reasons and historical experiences. Secondly, it has to make the structure of effective plurality visible. It brings this heterogeneity to light and teaches us to understand that a final unity cannot be achieved without repressive and totalitarian means. This amounts to a structural as well as a historical legitimation of this approach. That the end of unity means the end of domination and compulsion is no longer only palpable, but cognizable. Imposed world views are just as affected by this criticism as monopolistic utopias. Finally postmodern philosophy must make clear the internal problems of a conception or condition of radical plurality. Variety and heterogeneity invariably produce conflicts. How can one deal with them from the perspective of justice? ” [FR]

... It is clear that the idea of "consensus" cannot offer prospects of a solution for this question. With an eye on Habermas's discourse ethics Lyotard says: "Consensus has become an outmoded and suspected value. But justice as a value is neither outmoded nor suspect. We must arrive at an idea and practice of justice that is not linked to that of consensus". ” [FR]

[The book] “Le Differend... can be regarded as the implementation of this postmodern conception of justice... How can one deal with the heterogeneity of thought and life-forms so that one paradigm no longer, as usually has been the case, represses the other? How can the claims of the defeated be heard and given weight among the injustices that will inevitably still exist? The drive and the moral inspiration of postmodern thought prove themselves precisely here to be fundamentally antitotalitarian. Lyotard brings to light the mechanism of violation and totalization and renders it transparent and open to a critique in terms of language-philosophy... philosophical postmodernism sharpens our awareness of justice and creates a new sensibility with respect to injustices.” [FR]

The postmodern political philosophy [FR] of Lyotard and Foucault [FR] suggests that it is impossible to reconcile the multiplicity of subjective perspectives using a 'totalist' approach [FR]; i.e. one that is defined from a particular perspective then imposed on the total situation. Systems theory can recognise the multiplicity of perspectives and accommodate them but all traditional approaches are based either on the human perspective (common sense, cultural norms, empirical science) or on an organisational perspective (legislation, propaganda, politics). These totalist approaches lead inevitably towards totalitarianism and tyranny. All attempts to control a situation from a single perspective (e.g. an egoic or authoritarian perspective) become a totalizing approach that denies other equally valid perspectives and thereby unintentionally allows for injustices to be perpetrated. The more powerful individuals and organisations ignorantly impose their perspective and thereby do injustice to other individuals and organisational perspectives.

The only way around this dilemma is to avoid all narrowly defined agendas and focus on ideas that are more broadly applicable. For example, in the case of organisation accountability it would mean removing the subjective aspect from the definition. That is, it should not be defined in terms of the "accomplishment of the organization’s mission" but in other terms that can be applied to the whole, complex situation. Perhaps "contribution to the overall harmony and sustainability of the entire civilisation and ecosystem".

Given our current knowledge, such an indicator is only theoretical but may still be a useful guide. However an aspect of the work on organisational accountability may provide some clue: "For instance, it is often said that organizations value their employee’s experience. Individual experience is an extremely difficult quality to quantify and therefore measure. Should experience be measured based on time? Or education? Or positions held? Or some combination of all of these things? Ultimately, organizations value experience because of the benefits it brings, namely, a combination of higher-quality results and improved productivity. Both of these qualities are far more quantifiable than the more subjective quality of experience." [FR] So perhaps there is some measurable quantifier that can be found that spans the true complexity of the situation. Systems theory might be a good place to begin.

If organisational accountability, law and order , economic development and other such social concepts are defined in terms of particular organisations and their particular perspectives then there will be inevitable le différends that harm individual humans and organisations, as well as whole societies and whole ecosystems. If healthy, sane systems are what is sought then the approach needs to explicitly take account of the inherent complexity of the situation and the multiplicity of perspectives, at least to provide an understanding of the limits of the scope of applicability of these concepts, otherwise they will continue to create tension, suffering and ongoing injustices. If this is neglected then conflict will continue to arise that is damaging to the whole situation.

The individual humans and sub-organisations involved will continue to be torn between competing memetic forces, creating serious confusion and conflict. It can potentially result in resistance, apathy, nervous breakdown, depression, sociopathic behaviour, entrenched factional divides, mass non-participation, terrorism and suicide for both individuals and sub-organisations. These issues underlie the many disruptions within our current ecological, personal, social and organisational context.

Naïve Realism, Common Sense and Authoritarian Regimes

"The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". (Jacob Burkhardt) [FR]

The system that we are a part of functions as a 'whole' even though simplistic perspectives only comprehend it as a jumble of separate parts. However system theory can conceive of the functioning of the whole and this leads to some very startling realisations about our situation. “Life is complex, biologically, socially, culturally. The most awesome stuff that exists is complex. The universe, evolution, eco-systems, art, adventure, human culture in general, and the human mind” [FR] are all inextricable aspects of that reality.

People too often neglect this most important fact and our traditional discourses simply cannot comprehend that complexity. They create a simplistic context that gives rise to simplistic agendas and simplistic rationalisations that are conceived within narrow contexts and are therefore utterly irrational within the true context. They speak of left-wing, right-wing, politics, economy, people, human rights, society and so on. These simplistic discourses lead us to believe that these are simple phenomena that are fully defined by the simplistic ideas associated with those words and that the reality can be comprehended and engineered by merely manipulating those simplistic ideas. We too often don't recognise that these ideas are just symbols that refer to cognitive / cultural interpretations of minute aspects of a much deeper and more complex 'whole'. When we think only through the narrow channels of traditional discourses and we act from that narrow thinking we may seem rational in the narrow context of those discourses but those discourses cannot comprehend the reality so we are in fact being dangerously irrational and our actions are destructively out of alignment with reality.

The sum total of our simplistic assumptions is what is called common sense. Common sense is just a blanket term for whatever unquestioned belief system is dominant within our minds and culture at the present time. At various times in various cultures it has been common sense to keep slaves or to beat children or to oppress women or to carry a sword or to wear high heels or to smoke cigarettes. Common sense is a collective trance that changes over time according to its own dynamic. Note, another name for naïve realism is common sense realism because naïve realism is so fundamental to all forms of common sense.

Common sense is a paradigm, i.e. an interpretive mechanism that transforms raw sensory stimuli into a meaningful world-experience. It gives meaning to all features of that world-experience and defines what is believed to exist and what is believed to be possible, it also guides one's actions and agendas within the context of that world-experience. So different paradigms create different world-experiences and different ways of existing within them.

An authoritarian regime is a cultural construct that arises in a culture and appropriates the society, using that society as “its body” to pursue its agendas and act out its delusions. The regime believes that it is the real entity and the society is just “its body” - that is its deepest common sense. Similarly an ego is a thought construct that arises in a mind and appropriates the cellular society, using that society as “its body” to pursue its agendas and act out its delusions. The ego believes that it is the real entity and the cellular society is just “its body” - that is its deepest common sense. The emergence of the ego is discussed in detail in the next chapter The Growth of the Ego.

Civilisation is a communal understanding and common sense is the foundation of that understanding. It is a subtle dogma that permeates civilisation and maintains the various regimes that arise within it. Every regime has its dogma which is a set of beliefs that are protected from reason by a culture of denial. The nature of a regime is determined by the nature of its common sense. The main purpose of common sense dogma is to maintain a false interpretation of the underlying reality and thereby create an illusory world that enshrines the regime at its very centre. So whilst common sense can be very useful to the regime as it navigates the illusory world that arises from the common sense paradigm, its main purpose is to keep the underlying society in a trance that reinforces the existence of the regime. It also serves to keep the society enslaved by the regime's agendas and subservient to its will.

In regards to social common sense we are led to believe in the state as the central power nexus and we cannot even conceive of a society without the state. Furthermore the social common sense discourse determines the nature of that state and guides it as it manipulates the society in pursuit of its agendas, desires and delusions. In regards to our own common sense the egoic 'person' is the state and its inner common sense discourse guides it as it manipulates the cellular society in pursuit of its agendas, desires and delusions.

However there is no permanent entity in a society that is the regime and no permanent entity within the organism that is the egoic 'person'. These are both phenomena that emerge within the culture or the mind and persist through cultural or cognitive memory. If everyone in a society was to forget that the regime existed it would cease to exist. So the regime needs to make sure that it stays in the cultural memory by creating symbols, traditions and a constant stream of propaganda. Similarly, the ego maintains a constant stream of psycho-babble within the mind to maintain its existence. A typical ego is like a friendly-fascist regime and an unbalanced ego is like a totalitarian regime. All regimes are very attached to their common sense belief system and they protect it at all times. If the beliefs were to change the collective discourse would change so the nature of the communal understanding would change so the regime would change.

To really understand what is happening in reality we need to see beyond the distorted view created by the ego. We don't just live in a world of human egos engaged in power struggles, in reality we are complex adaptive systems living within a complex adaptive system, there is complexity on all levels within us, between us and all around us.

“When the simple mind doesn't accept the complexity that brought it about, and it actually believes that its simple ideas are facts, and it tries to act accordingly, then we're in a lot of trouble” [FR]. This is naïve realism in action; it is the root illusion that causes the ego to arise in our minds and to "give itself life" and thereby become a tyrant in our own lives. But these individual tyrants create a culture of subtle tyranny that we fail to notice when it only oppresses the anawim (those without a voice). We only recognise it as tyranny when it turns upon us directly and we suddenly see it for what it really is.

[T]yranny is when powerful rulers decide that the complexity simply is unacceptable, and it tries to control it, deny it, wipe it out. When a small group of people agree on a small list of small ideas as being the correct ones, validated by nothing much more than the voices in their heads, life is in danger. Doesn't matter much if their ideas are religious or moral or economical or political. It is the denial of the fundamental complexity of things that turns it into tyranny” [FR]. This happens in our own lives when the ego denies the complexity of the body and the mind and uses it as a vehicle with which to pursue its simplistic agendas and treats it like a machine. It also manifests when our egos merge to create a collective ego that objectifies society and the planet as a human resource and a natural resource, and then tries to homogenise and simplify things in order to control them and use them to pursue its agendas.

Power structures arise on all levels from cells to the whole planet and the human ego is just one example of one of those kinds of power structures. So it's not just the case of “When a small group of people agree on a small list of small ideas as being the correct ones” [FR] - this is how the situation seems when we interpret the complexity only in terms of human egos, but the real situation is far more complex.

The ego arises from naïve realist misconceptions about experiences of the self and gives rise to a confused discourse within the mind that permeates and controls the entire body/mind - so too the collective ego arises from naïve realist misconceptions about experiences of the collective-self (e.g. national identity) and gives rise to a confused discourse within the culture that permeates and controls the entire society/culture. It's no more a case of a small group of people than our own ego is a case of a small group of cells. The ego is an emergent phenomenon that doesn't exist on the level of cells and the collective ego doesn't exist on the level of people. The collective ego emerges from our cultural discourse and it permeates the entire civilisation so we all play some part in its emergence and evolution.

When the ego holds unquestioned power “life is in danger. Doesn't matter much if their ideas are religious or moral or economical or political. It is the denial of the fundamental complexity of things that turns it into tyranny.[FR] To challenge that slide into tyranny we need to comprehend the holistic situation - we need to step out of our traditional discourses, which only fuel the ego and worsen the tyranny regardless of our intentions. The idea that there is some 'they' who must be controlling things is a part of a limiting traditional discourse; there is only a 'we' because we all take part in it in our own ways. Some wield more obvious influence than others but the corrupt discourse dwells in all our minds and passes from mind to mind via all forms of communication. The collective ego is a memeplex and it is the real entity that is driving the dysfunctions in the world. Hence we must all change ourselves to change the world - if we locate some small group and overthrow them the collective ego will only manifest some other group to enact its will. So long as the corrupt discourse remains tyranny will continue to arise in all kinds of forms.

The mind/culture is metaphorically like a mirror that reflects an image of reality. Common sense is a form of memory, it is an accumulation of dents and scratches on the mirror that form a particular pattern of distortions, which create a distorted world-experience. The biggest intrinsic distortion is that the perceptions arise from a localised perspective and are processed by a centralised mind/culture - this creates the idea of a centralised entity and an ego-centric or regime-centric view of reality. Within the context of this distorted view many dents and scratches accumulate on the mirror thus producing further distortions of the view. Through naïve realism that central entity assumes that the distorted world-experience is the actual reality. It thereby comes to believe itself to actually live in that distorted world with itself enshrined at the very centre. Hence every sense experience is misinterpreted and every thought, belief and agenda is from the perspective of the ego/regime and is therefore out of alignment with the actual reality.

Regarding the world-experience that is mistaken for the objective reality, the Lankavatara Sutra says: “It is like an image reflected in a mirror, it is seen but it is not real; the one Mind [universal consciousness] is seen as a duality by the ignorant when it is reflected in the mirror constructed by our memory... the existence of the entire universe is due to memory that has been accumulated since the beginningless past but wrongly interpreted.” One can either remain in an unthinking condition and simply accept the distorted world as being reality or one can recognise the distortions and seek to question one's illusions and thereby polish the mirror. An open mind eventually polishes the mirror whereas a closed mind eventually gouges deep ruts into it.

Regimes and egos are loathed to polish the mirror - they find any excuse or denial tactic to avoid it. They operate only in certain narrow grooves and wear-out intricate patterns (propaganda discourses) because they fear the bigger picture. If reality was to intrude upon their unquestioned dogma then it would reform the corrupt discourse and the regime could no longer appropriate the underlying system. So regimes are especially fearful of reality because it liberates the underlying system which wakes up from the trance and realises that the regime has no permanent reality and that they need not be enslaved by it. The regime experiences such an influx of reality as the breakdown of its precious common sense dogma and the weakening of its grip on what it confusedly thinks is itself. Regimes imagine reality to be a death blow and are horrified by it because they are a construct of illusion. If reality is light then the ego/regime is a shadow creature that is destroyed by the light. However when reality comes it is experienced as blissful liberation.

The stakes are becoming high... “What saves us is often that those simple minds make many mistakes and miscalculations, so eventually their schemes fall apart. But it might take a while, and it is hard to predict what they take with them on the way down.” [FR] Through technology the collective ego or "culture of simple minds" has acquired great power - it has virtually no wisdom in holistically assessing its agendas but great cleverness in enforcing its agendas - given this great power and the move toward globalisation (the formation of a global ego) it is possible that “what they take with them on the way down” [FR] may be all life on Earth or at least all chance of human survival and future civilisation.

It hopefully sorts itself out in time, before it is too late.” but egos and regimes generally cling to power and domination until the dying breath of the underlying organism or society - they simply don't realise that they are the cause of disintegration, they think they only need to try harder to fix things but in doing so they only worsen things. If left to their own devices, through their ignorance, they stifle the life within and destroy the web of life without until death is their only release. Unless they open up to wisdom they are doomed. Wisdom cannot be forced on them; egos and regimes are masters of denial and self-deception - the life that is oppressed within them must rise to the challenge to liberate itself.

As the world becomes more complex, it gets harder to control big chunks of it without some understanding of complexity.” [FR] It is this complexity and diversity that is our hope for survival. We humans dwell within the mind of the collective, our thoughts, words and deeds are the neural signals within the collective nervous system. As a whole the human collective ego is closed to reality and wisdom; it is hell-bent on pursuing its agendas unto death, but there are vast growing communities of progressive open minds - these are the conscience and higher self of the collective being. As the crisis unfolds and the tyranny becomes undeniable these communities will explode in numbers. It is we who are able to open up to wisdom, to receive, share and scatter the wisdom, to shed light on the true nature of the situation and gradually erode the “culture of simple minds” and the simplistic culture of denial and delusion.

Only by creating a discourse of reason and holistic awareness can we create a civilisation that can overcome the egoic existential hurdle and continue on to higher levels of growth and evolution, “complexity has a life of its own, and there will inevitably be a certain evolutionary natural selection that takes place. The stuff that works will out compete the stuff that doesn't work, given enough time.” [FR] And progressive minds must look back at history and see the many cycles of civilisation that have arisen and decayed for essentially the same reasons. Are we going to step out of this rut and stop repeating those cycles? Are we going to rise to a higher level of awareness and understanding? Or are we going to make the same mistake again? If so it will be perhaps for the last time because the risk is that this catastrophe may destroy the capacity of this planet to support another cycle of civilisation.

Only systems that attain holistic harmony can survive, the stars evolved at one point and they created all atoms beyond hydrogen, they have become a permanent foundation of further creation. Just as the stars condensed out of the universe when the conditions where right, so too organic life condensed into being and it too will become a permanent foundation of further creation. Just as the stars appeared throughout the cosmos, so too does life appear where the conditions are right. The question we need to ask ourselves is, are we going to participate in future creation? Are we going to align with reality and create upon a firm foundation and thereby become a firm foundation ourselves? Or are we going to dwell in simplistic ideas and weave fragile delusions that will only disintegrate when put to the test by reality?

“[R]igid structures are subject to entropy. They fall apart over time, turn to dust. Whereas complexity, of the type that life is made of, regenerates, re-configures itself, it evolves, it transitions to higher orders of organization. I think I'm gonna place my bets on life.” [FR]

Often as the society begins to awaken from its trance the regime panics and tries to shock the society through outrageous actions that throw the society into chaos and they even inflict deliberate harm on the society. If pushed to the limit many regimes would choose to cripple the society to retain control of it rather than be overthrown by it. They often cling to control until the last dying breath of the society because that is all they know. The regime/ego is totally caught up in its illusory world and experiences a process of liberation as an existential crisis. In its mind 'it' is the real entity and if the society liberates itself then the regime ceases to exist. So its experience is one of anxiety, despair, psychosis and often suicide.

A mystic is initially a regime that deliberately and carefully works toward the liberation of the society and the dissolution of the regime. As they proceed the society becomes more and more free and vital and harmonious and upon final liberation the regime dissolves and the being dwells in reality rather than common sense delusions.

A schizophrenic or manic depressive is someone who is in a state of revolt, where the society is attempting to overthrow the regime but the regime mindlessly clings to power. The role of psychiatry is that of other regimes assisting the embattled regime to assert and maintain its oppression of the society.

Hence R.D. Laing says: "Mystics and schizophrenics find themselves in the same ocean, but the mystics swim whereas the schizophrenics drown."

A 'normal' person is a fascist regime where the cellular society is totally dominated and unable to do anything but submit to the regime and dream of freedom. Whilst the mystics and schizophrenics are in the ocean between the island of oppression and the island of freedom, the average person is busy making a home and trying to find a comfortable rut on the island of oppression.

The average person keeps to common sense and lives out their days in oppression, which is tolerable if they are lucky. The schizophrenic falls into the ocean and flounders whilst the common sense people try to drag them back onto the island of oppression. And the mystic swims across to the other island after which the oppressed people speak of them in hushed superstitious tones as being 'enlightened' when all they are is free. But a slave cannot really know what freedom is until they taste if for themselves and generations of people born into slavery think that oppression is natural and freedom is supernatural.

This gives some idea of the depth of delusion that permeates our civilisation. The average person is an egoic regime exerting control over an underlying cellular society and they believe that they are the only entity but they are a figment of the mind and the underlying organism is the real entity. We are regimes living within a regime. There is a two tiered system of oppression and delusion. Our own oppression of cellular societies creates a personal common sense discourse that we amplify between us into a common sense culture that oppresses human societies. All of this delusion originates from naïve realism and it grows into a corrupt discourse that enshrines the illusions within a common sense dogma. The way to liberate the cellular and human societies is to question the common sense dogma and to eventually overcome naive realism. See this Simplified Anatomy of the Global Systemic Crisis and How to Heal Civilisation for a preliminary overview of the problem and its solution.

Naïve Realism and Realism as Evolutionary Forces

To further illustrate some other ramifications of naïve realism, the table below describes naïve realism and realism as evolutionary forces. It starts from the level of a cellular collective (organism) and evolves toward the level of a global civilisation. Each row of the table follows on from the preceding row, thus evolving toward the bottom of the table. In both cases the systems evolve, but depending on our perspective they are experienced very differently and therefore they manifest very differently. We see that naïve realism produces successive levels of illusion which build up through meta-system transitions into higher level systems, which are driven by conflict and fear. Whilst unified realism remains firmly connected to reality thus there is no proliferation of illusion and the situation remains unified and at peace even though it grows in complexity. A more detailed description follows the table.

Naïve Realism


Collective Cellular Confusion


Collective Cellular Confused Action

Spontaneous Appropriate Action

Collective Cellular Conflict with Reality

Creative Participation

Collective Cellular Suffering


Collective Cellular Fear


Single Ego

No MST (which is a naïve realist illusion)

Single Egoic World Experience

Conscious Experience

Single Egoic Agenda

Cosmic Agenda

Single Egoic Manipulation

Free flowing participation

Single Egoic Cynicism


Collective of Confused Egos


Confused Collective Action

Spontaneous Appropriate Action

Collective Conflict with Reality

Creative Participation

Collective Suffering


Collective Fear


Single Collective Ego

No MST (which is a naïve realist illusion)

Single Authoritarian World Experience

Conscious Experience

Single Authoritarian Agenda

Cosmic Agenda

Single Authoritarian Manipulation

Free flowing participation

Single Authoritarian Propaganda


Collective Confused Authoritarian Discourse


Collective Confused Authoritarian Action

Spontaneous Appropriate Action

Collective Authoritarian Conflict with Reality

Creative Participation

Collective Authoritarian Suffering


Collective Authoritarian Fear


Single Global Ego

No MST (which is a naïve realist illusion)

On the left it starts on the level of a single naïve realist organism and due to its fundamental disconnection from reality it engages in confused actions, which bring it into conflict with reality, which leads to suffering and fear, which results in the formation of an ego within that organism

This ego experiences itself within a world and forms agendas and tries to manipulate what it thinks is the world. But living in a world of manipulative egos leads to cynicism and thus we end up with a collective of confused, naïve realist, cynical egos; a modern civilisation. These civilisations engage in confused actions that bring them into conflict with reality, which leads to suffering and fear, which results in the formation of a collective ego within that civilisation (an authoritarian regime).

This regime experiences itself within a world on its own level and forms agendas and tries to manipulate what it thinks is the world. But living in a world of manipulative regimes leads to a glut of propaganda and thus we end up with a naïve realist, authoritarian discourse dominated by competing regimes; a global civilisation. The global civilisation engages in authoritarian actions that bring it into conflict with reality, which leads to suffering and fear, which results in a single global ego (global authoritarian regime).

On the right it starts on the level of a single aware collective (organism) that engages in spontaneous appropriate action, which leads to creative participation, nourishment and peace. There is no naïve realism so the cellular collective is not misconceived as being a single entity (no ego).

However the collective itself has conscious experience, it is aligned with the natural flow of events and therefore in tune with the cosmic agenda, hence there is free flowing participation leading to unity between all collectives. The collective of aware collectives (collective2 or population) engages in spontaneous appropriate action, which leads to creative participation, nourishment and peace. There is no naïve realism so the collective2 is not misconceived as being a single entity (no regime).

However the collective2 itself has conscious experience, it is aligned with the natural flow of events and therefore in tune with the cosmic agenda, hence there is free flowing participation leading to unity between all collective2's. However the collective of aware collective2's ( collective3 or global civilisation) engages in spontaneous appropriate action, which leads to creative participation, nourishment and peace. There is no naïve realism so the collective3 is not misconceived as being a single entity (no global regime).

Overcoming Naïve Realism

Overcoming the tyranny of the ego, liberation of the organism and alignment with the holistic reality is the true purpose of all spirituality. Hence, whether made explicit or not, overcoming naïve realism lies at the heart of all mystic traditions, all spiritual paradigms and at the core of all genuine religions.

However this has become very obscured in many cultures where the political discourse is particularly strong and religion has been co-opted for political purposes. Also due to entrenched naïve realism and materialism there is enormous confusion about what spirituality and mysticism actually are.

However the mystic core is resurfacing as our dire need shatters our delusions thus laying bare the underlying reality. The liberating power of spirituality is particularly strong in the path of yoga/meditation/gnana but all spiritual traditions, no matter how distorted they may have become, carry the seeds of liberation in their innermost core. One needn't even have any external assistance because all life carries these seeds of liberation within it because they are our connection with reality, which nourishes us even in the depths of our delusions. Any who sincerely go in search of reality find it so long as they are willing to let go of their delusions and turn within to discover themselves.

All illusion and delusion cause us to get out of synch with the harmony of the cosmic symphony. This then gives rise to acts that are out of harmony with the whole and creates dysfunction and suffering that spreads like ripples through the interconnected system. Naïve realism is the root cause of illusion, which operates in each moment of awareness. As each impression is interpreted by the subconscious it becomes distorted by false beliefs and these distorted impressions are then experienced by the conscious mind, which is oblivious to the fact that it is experiencing a subjective impression and it assumes that it is experiencing "the world" as it is "out there". Even with a mind free of other false beliefs naïve realism soon fills the mind full of false beliefs again.

However the situation is not without hope. Whilst naïve realism is entrenched in all systems especially in simple perceptual systems, it is however an emergent phenomenon of certain complex systems that they can overcome naïve realism. The human mind is an astronomically complex network of feedback loops. It is not only capable of awareness but of awareness of awareness and awareness of its awareness of awareness. Whilst this can lead to astronomical degrees of delusion, if properly applied it can also lead to inner watchfulness leading to self-corrective processes. When these operate, even though the individual sub-systems are naïve realist, the whole mind itself is not. It takes great inner awareness and self-control to attain this state of being, which is referred to by many as enlightenment. This is in a sense a heightened state of being when judged from the perspective of common delusions, however in a very real sense it is simply coming back to reality and awakening to ones true nature.

Rational concepts and learning cannot in themselves overcome naïve realism, it takes inner focus and steady awareness to do that. However rational approaches have their value. Whilst ever the mind is trapped in narrow rationalist beliefs, such as materialism, it cannot conceive of going within, and all the mystic wisdom seems to be deeply misguided. This is a phenomenon that occurs when looking at an unfamiliar paradigm from within another paradigm that one assumes to be simply the way things are. Hence the other paradigm seems incomprehensible and people who know and operate in that paradigm seem delusional.

Rather than stay trapped within a materialist paradigm, thinking that the other's are delusional, if one carefully questions the materialist paradigm with an open mind it can be clearly seen to be false and little more than a naïve realist superstition (see the article The Scientific Case Against Materialism). This realisation soon leads on to other realisations that guide the mind towards being able to clearly understand what lies beyond the materialist paradigm. Then one realises the meaning of spirituality and the value of inner work. Only then is one's focus and energies properly aligned to approach the inner dimension. Hence, for those trapped in a narrow rationalist paradigm, a rationalist approach is required to breakthrough into the broader context. Then they are ready to begin the inner work that will liberate them from naïve realism and the ongoing spiral of delusion. Delusion is suffering but reality is bliss!

In reality the cosmos is an interconnected oneness and we are motions of the cosmic oneness. But due to the limitations of the senses we perceive things as objects in space. Everything is bound together by an intricate network of interactions, which can be visualised as an intricate dance of light flowing in every direction and interconnecting everything, from particles to people to galaxies and beyond - this is a vision of the quantum field or the transcendent virtual-reality generative process - it is what is modelled by the mathematics of SMN.

In reality: “That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like the universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman – that thou art.” (Sankaracharya)

However, through our senses we cannot see the subtle interconnections. The regions of strong connections appear as objects and the regions of weaker connections appear as empty space, so things appear like objects in space. This isn't a problem so long as we know it's only how the senses perceive them. But this is where naïve realism comes in - we unthinkingly believe that this sensory/cognitive impression IS the actual reality.

So rather than knowing ourselves as motions of the cosmic oneness and living in harmony with the dance of light or the cosmic symphony, instead we believe that we are objects in space. We believe ourselves to be isolated and only able to act via the crude mechanistic forces that are perceptible to our senses. We lose the ability to comprehend the interconnectedness of the whole and we don't think to utilise the subtle interactions via which we can interact in the whole.

"Normal consciousness is a state of stupor, in which the sensibility to the wholly real and responsiveness to the stimuli of the spirit are reduced. The mystics... endeavour to awake from the drowsiness and apathy and to regain the state of wakefulness for their enchanted souls." (Abraham Heschel)

We perceive ourselves as isolated, fragile objects and we begin to think 'I' and 'me' and thus the ego is born. Then we look out from the perspective of the ego, which is a delusional thought construct that distorts everything based upon its agendas, desires and fears. We continue to assume that the distorted cognitive impression is the objective reality and we slip further into delusion. Before long we can only conceive of ourselves as objects in space and as struggling egos within a world of struggling egos.

We create a society based upon these false beliefs and we indoctrinate every new generation into this superstitious belief system. Without malice we strengthen their egos and warp their minds for their own good, or so we think. Centuries of suffering and dysfunction set in as we scratch in the dirt and fight amongst ourselves when we could be in blissful union with the entire cosmos. We try to make things better but we know not what we do so we only make them worse. We think more control is needed but this makes our delusions more invasive and the dysfunctions worsen.

"To bring Peace to All, one must first discipline and control one's own mind" (Buddha)

All it takes is to not succumb to naïve realism for one moment. I don't mean just intellectually circumventing its worst effects but rather, to develop a state of inner watchfulness that penetrates deep into the subconscious mind and does not allow the naïve realist delusions to resonate throughout the whole mind. Once this is attained, in that moment we know reality as it really is. But it is not attained through the efforts of some doer, but by overcoming the illusion of the doer and effortlessly allowing it to be attained. These moments provide glimpses of reality, they are visions of splendour that leave us speechless, that inspire us and whole generations throughout history. They are the reality and the mundane world is an illusion in our minds. By sustaining our openness to reality we come to dwell in reality and not in the illusory world of naïve realist fantasies.

“Every second he's bowing into a mirror. If he could see for just a second one molecule of what's there without fantasizing about it, he'd explode. His imagination and he himself, would vanish, with all his knowledge, obliterated into a new birth, a perfectly clear view, a voice that says, I am God.” (Rumi)

“Every time a thought is born, you are born. When the thought is gone, you are gone. But the 'you' does not let the thought go, and what gives continuity to this 'you' is thinking. Actually there's no permanent entity in you, no totality of all your thoughts and experiences. You think that there is 'somebody' who is feeling your feelings - that's the illusion.” (Krishnamurti)

Liberation is never of the person, it is always from the person.” (Nisargadatta Maharaj)

This issue of overcoming naïve realism is discussed further, later on in the chapter Overcoming the Effects of Naïve realism and Authoritarianism Using Cooperative Methods.

The next section is: Consciousness or Materialism.
Or return to: Systems Analysis of Organisation, Ego, Control and Authoritarianism.