Is What You Know Real?

I did not want to get off the bus. It was awful; the ground was infested with bugs that looked like big black cockroaches. We had decided to take a two day trip to San Agustin to visit ‘Valle de la luna’ (Moon Valley). A guide from the hostel would be meeting us at the bus station and take us to our room.

We arrived at around 11:00pm and as soon as we got off the bus we were surrounded by a river of cockroaches. Those things can move pretty fast, they had me dancing around trying to avoid them.

OMG! The guide was going to lead us to the hostel by foot. I ran straight back into the bus station, I was going to turn back. The next bus back to San Juan was at 1:00pm the following day. There were no taxis, nothing! The only way out was to walk through the plaza of cockroaches to get to the hostel.

I danced my whole way there. I created a new yabba dabba doo Fred Flintstone dance.  Who knew I could do the tango! There were people sitting in the plaza, talking, eating ice cream, going for a walk. Could they not see the bugs? They were all over!

When we finally got to the hostel, I couldn’t sleep, what if one was caught inside my suitcase? What if they were crawling in the bed sheets? I heard voices coming from the rest area. The other visitors were hanging out together. I got up to join them, there was no way I would fall asleep.

I met a few Europeans and two other North Americans. Someone commented on how disgusting it was to live with all these bugs.”How did the people of San Agustin do it!” A girl from Germany answered in a polite tone, “this is what they know, it is not unusual for them, it is part of their society, therefore, are accustomed to the nature of their village.”  It made me think. She was absolutely right! I was taught to believe that what I know is real and normal from the surroundings of my society. It does not mean that what I know is better.

I am reminded of the parable of Plato’s Cave (Allegory of the Cave). A group of people were raised chained in a cave facing a blank wall. They watched shadows of things passing in front of a fire behind them. This was the only reality they knew. One of the prisoners was freed from the cave; he comes to understand how the shadows do not make up reality. When he comes back to tell the others, they don’t believe him, the shadows on the wall were the only reality they had ever known, to them, that was the only reality that would ever exist…

In Canada, our winters are cold, hard and long. The temperature can get as low as -20 degrees below zero and it can snow up to twenty cm at a time. For the people in the village of San Agustin, those conditions are a lot worse than living with bugs everywhere. They could not even imagine how anyone could live through that kind of weather.

There is so much out there we do not know, when we open ourselves up to discover new things, we may find that we have been cheating ourselves. We limit ourselves to the beliefs that are engraved in our minds through outside influences. What we believe is so much stronger than the truth of what is out there. This has an impact on our life choices.You may have always dreamed of being a painter, an artist, a dancer, a photographer… However, we are raised to believe that these are not real jobs, they don’t pay the bills. Your beliefs have lead you to where you are today. Beliefs however, can be re-learned. Take the time to ask yourself why do you believe in something? Who made you believe it? What impact does it have on your life? You will  probably realize that you are limited by your beliefs. You have the power to decide to change your beliefs and your life.

How do you know that what you know is real? And why? How do you see others whose reality is not like yours? Let me know your response to these questions, looking forward to reading them.

I have included a link to a post by Paulo Coelho. It is brilliant! Let me know how you interpret his message. I would love to hear your insight!

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This entry was posted in Cleansing Your Beliefs, Curiosity For Knowledge, Power to Let Go and tagged , , .

12 Responses to Is What You Know Real?

  1. You really make it appear really easy with your presentation but I in finding this matter to be actually something which I think I would never understand. It sort of feels too complex and very wide for me. I’m taking a look ahead in your next put up, I will attempt to get the grasp of it!

  2. Sebastiàn says:

    He leido el artículo “Is what you know real?” y me pareció fantástico. Creo que las personas perciben las realidades de forma diferente, a veces existen muchas similitudes, pero siempre son diferentes. Esto se ve reflejado entre las diferentes culturas entre los distintos paises, aún siendo paises limítrofes. Yo como Argentino puedo dar un ejemplo claro: existe un juego llamado Fútbol el cuál es practicado con las mismas reglas en todo el mundo. Pero no es jugado de la misma manera entre Argentinos y Brasileros, ni siquiera parecido. Entonces tenemos una misma realidad y dos diferentes interpretaciones, aún entre paises limítrofes. Creo que cada uno tiene su propia versión de la realidad, es por eso que resulta interesante conocer a la gente, ellos pueden darte diferentes puntos de vista de la realidad. Y ahí radica lo divertido de seguir adelante con esta vida, de querer seguir conociendo diferentes realidades. Como alguna vez dijo Philip K. Dick (escritor estadounidense) “La realidad es eso que sigue estando aún cuando yo ya he dejado de creer en ella”, la realidad hasta nos da la oportunidad cambiar nuestro punto de vista, eso es lo fantástidco de ella. Nos da la oportunidad de evolucionar.

  3. jean kukla says:

    When in Rome…not always easy to adapt…another great reading!

  4. Nancy says:

    It’s true that we can’t judge different realities based on our own, especially since our own reality can never be proven as being the “correct” or “proper” one. It’s kind of like when someone says “Well, they said this shouldn’t be done this way…” – who the heck are THEY and why would THEY know better than anyone else? Therefore, even if we can find different realities disturbing and difficult to adapt to, we need to be tolerant of them. Your next door neighbor definitely has a different reality than you (in at least one aspect of his or her life) and we tolerate him or her being our neighbor right?

    This being said, I read the link you posted and I loved it! My interpretation of it is that when we find our own piece of truth (whatever it may be), we believe in it so much and with so much intensity (good or bad :)) that we spread our truth to as many people as we can. However if we take the time to look around and not focus ONLY on the piece we found (tunnel-vision), then we would notice that beside our piece, there are an infinite number of other pieces of truth. Wouldn’t it be great if picked up those also?

  5. O Precious Truth ! Garantie du Bonheur ! How do we know we found the Truth ? How do we know that what we have found is part of the Truth? Which truth? So many things are true! Making a religion out of one piece of the Truth is to stray away from Truth itself. Making a way of thinking\ living from\with all things from the Truth is safe and pleasant at the end. Truth is powerfull, has tangible effects on mind body and spirit, it influences, it timeless, ageless, eternal… Examine the fruits of that truth you may have found, what does it speak to you, hope, joy, vision, love? Careull, Truth impacts deeply, and the proof of this impact translates in the way we relate to everything everyone around us ; if impacted by a life giving truth for an exemple, we found ourself “magically“ changed by its powerfull wonderfull influence moving in us, leaving us gazing of joy in this case…LOVE, the greatest of all truth xx

  6. Daniela Fata says:

    the way i interpreted it is that the world doesnt wanna know the truth…what they know is what they see in the media and on television so when they find out what theyre really meant to do or what the world is actually like when there isnt the media, they freak out and because it isnt what they know like you said in your blog..they freak out. So the devil in the post knew how the man felt when he found the piece of truth, he wanted to show it to the rest of the world and thats when people will become distant and turn to the media…thats why the devil was not worried. The devil knows that the rest of the world will react like him when confronted with the truth, they want to rebel and do what they think is right instead of following the truth.

  7. Sylvain says:


    Your local reality check reminded me of an anecdote while I was in Northern Australia (Cairns), but with another twist. The local guide was complaining that they had a rough winter… she was upset that thermometer went down to 17C! My response was “Well, at home, it goes down to -40C. I’m sorry, but everywhere you grow palm trees you have no idea what winter is.”

    Now back to the theme of your post… it’s true we often limit ourselves to fit into ideas received. I’m working on breaking that wall around my life. In my case, I know I’m talented in many areas but rarely take full advantage of those talents.

    I guess one of reasons for that is that I’ve been happy with the level of ‘living’ quality I had with a minimal effort, since it’s already a huge improvement compared to my childhood (not at all comparable to what you described in your Halloween post). I guess this relative satisfaction originates from school. I was what is referred to as a “gifted child”. So, with minimal effort I was easily achieving results in the high 80s and 90s. But like a flower born into a rocky soil, I was not in an environment where I was encouraged to develop myself. In a mono-parental family led by an almost illiterate mother, moving every 6 months or so (during my pre collegial years, I’ve been to 21 different schools, frequenting up to 3 in the same school year).

    From lack of recognition and encouragement I became lazy intellectually, trying to survive in this harshful unstable environment. In terms of school results, that went well until college. Once there, for the first time of my life I was a bit challenged… and I didn’t know how to work. I didn’t have any major interest either (personal computers were a rare item in those years, way to expensive for us). I thus slided off the sciences program to go into more “easy” programs where I wouldn’t be challenged (but wouldn’t grow either).

    I will always remember a comment said by my mom when I managed to work and get myself a first computer (a powerful XT, with a 8-MHz turbo processor) and I was spending time in FidoNet forums (the Internet of the era, before the birth of the Web).. she enlighten me with her wisdom: “you’re wasting time with that computer, you’ll never do anything good with that.” No further comment required.

    As true as my mom was as wrong as someone can be about the computer stuff (which was way beyond your understanding), sometimes others have a better view of your talents. In my case, I never had a good perception of my abilities… but I’m receiving great reviews about what I do. Currently it’s my photography skills, but in the past it has been my research and writing skills.

    I’m working on taking more advantage of those photo skills and perfect them. But it’s not easy to get out of the mold formed around me, like a caterpillar encased in silk who’s dreaming to be a Monarch butterfly. It’s hard to break out the casing even if you know it’s for the best on the long run.

    Sometimes getting out of a toxic environment is as important to survival as it is to kick out of your life negative influences.

    Change means meeting the unknown and potential instability… which is not something most humans are comfortable with… at least not since we stopped migrating to follow our food.

    • Hi Sylvain, I don`t know you, but can I reaffim you in your writting gift? And, even if “Change means meeting the unknown and potential instability… which is not something most humans are comfortable with… “ the amazing joy and peace resulting from that uncomfortable quest will take the place of any other negative emotion felt during the quest… Have a safe tripe:)

      • Sylvain says:

        Thanks for the confirmation of my writing skills.

        As a greatly logic and feet-on-the-ground person (although with my current project in mind, some would argue), I must contest your “the amazing joy and peace resulting from that uncomfortable quest will take the place of any other negative emotion felt during the quest” comment.

        Not all change can lead to a better position or bring that amazing joy you’re talking about. Of course, you can do another change then, and you must to be able to find inner peace again.

        The temptation then is to return into the previous state (whenever possible) to be able to refocus and regroups our energy… while being in a known (unhappy) situation.

        The challenge is to keep the changing march forwards.

        • Hi Sylvain, you are right also about the other middle steps to do (or the other price to pay) in order to re access serenity again. Seems you `re sailing the `right way` on the `right road` ! All I`m wishing for you is a good memory\experience to share after overvoming all of this 🙂

  8. Nathaniel Flint says:

    If you liked Plato’s allegory of the Cave then I suggest that you get your hands on Baudrillard’s simulacra and simulation.


  9. Nathaniel Flint says:

    There is no spoon.