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Ontic consciousness perceives reality as coming in gradations along a sort of spectrum, from ephemeral flimsy subjective reality at one end, along the way to reliable external objective reality , to some transcendent and perhaps even extramundane “ultimate” reality balancing the scale.

Could this be an illusion, a flaw in perception arising from defective self-presence, a failure of imagination even?

Here is an alternative to consider: what if all realities were “really real”? What if there were nothing beyond this world, but there were instead lots of stuff that is merely beyond our capacity to perceive directly for whatever reason at any given time? What if the universe were not a hierarchical order with some vague Ultimate Law of Nature, First Cause, or even Almighty God at the top and us mere humans somewhere at the middle or near the bottom, but rather a network, a commonwealth, an interdependent relativity wherein all realities are equally real?

This model still leaves something to transcend, but that something is human, accessible to us, workable, and a source of real hope. What we need to transcend is the limited understanding of our own consciousness that leads us to believe that we occupy an inferior position in the order of the universe. I assert that we are not simultaneously somehow better than the earth on which we stride, and worse than some God that put us here. I assert that our values are our own, but only if we have the courage and the wit to take them up.

There is a transcendent reality of sorts to which we can aspire, but not one that is beyond this world. That reality is within us, the latent potential of our own understanding. Tempered with the humility of knowing that we can’t know everything — that even what we experience consciously is but a sliver of what each of us experiences non-consciously — we can make good use of the ontic yearning for transcendence by turning it back onto ourselves. It is not our world we must transcend; it is our understanding of it.

The beauty of this kind of transcendence, the delightful, seemingly paradoxical, hopeful sweetness of it is this: if I can just find a way to credit my conscious experience with the same level of reality as the objects of my experience, the weight of the universe evaporates from my shoulders and I appear as a citizen of the commonwealth of all of reality. I will have transcended the problem of transcendence. Let’s transcend that.

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