I’d like to shoutout my friend Mark Krassner who I have discussed the concept of a responsive reality with at length. I’m not sure who said the term first, but it beautifully encompasses something I have been wanting to write about for a long time.
“You create your reality”
Like many common sayings there is a much deeper meaning here than most realize.
Over the past few years my perception of this adage and the nature of reality has evolved in a big way. For most of my life, I had a self deterministic view of reality. We humans, as autonomous agents, were completely responsible for all of life’s events based on our personal will which is expressed through our decisions and actions.
It kind of always felt like life was a big game of chess and your quality of life was all about the moves you made from whatever starting hand you were dealt. This was my original perception of “you create your reality” and how most of our culture seems to think about it.
Through the astute observation of life unfolding around me from a different vantage point over the past few years, I’ve come to believe that there is more going on here.
When Everything Changed, But I Didn’t Know
For new readers, I think it’s helpful context to recap my story.
Things all kind of shifted for me in a non-linear way after I did ayahuasca. This sounds like the most cliché thing ever these days. My first experience allowed me to touch the divine for the first time in my life despite having sat in church pews most Sundays for over 30 years.
The experience of magnificent love and revelation inspired a deep desire to stabilize this experience and these feelings more permanently. And on my second retreat, I more or less opened the door to begin the path towards my wish in the form of a kundalini awakening. At the time, I just perceived it as some weird energy thing vs. unknowingly accepting the call that it was time to begin my walk down the path of consciousness evolution.
I had no idea what I was signing up for and frankly, if I had known the turmoil that I would experience over the next couple of years I probably would have said no thanks! Fortunately, I didn’t really have an explicit choice in the matter and my ignorance allowed me to usher in this new life force which I now see mostly as a gift.
Why did this happen to me?
I can’t say for certain, but it seems that most of the wisdom teachings I’ve encountered indicate that having the genuine intent to evolve and transform yourself can bring about some sort of spiritual awakening. I’ve always been very into personal growth ever since I was a kid. Other teenagers would be watching the real world and I’d be reading self help books. I’d keep these activities mostly to myself because to everyone around me my age it came off as “weird.” This has been a theme my entire life and even still feels like it! In this instance, this desire to grow took on an entirely new dimension that I had only briefly window glanced during a psychedelic experience. Now I was walking through the door.
Once this was all set in motion it seems as though a choice had been made that could not be undone. Many times over the past few years I longed to return to my old ways of living. God knows I certainly tried to keep many of the habits, attitudes, behaviors, and relationships that once served me. Yet despite my best efforts it seemed like life always had a way of surfacing some sort of resistance that would force me to change. One way this has shown up has been in the form of lots of physical health challenges and extreme sensitivities. For a long time, I perceived these as inconveniences vs. guides that were providing clues to the ways I needed to change.
Many people talk about “life conspiring for your favor”.
I think once the intent of expanded consciousness is put forth, a more accurate statement is that life conspires for your evolution. This is the ultimate favor, though it’s often hard to see in the moment and along the way. There have been many days over the past few years where it felt like life was conspiring to kick my ass after a 30 year run of successfully achieving at a high level.
I see the bigger picture now.
The Interconnected System of Responsive Reality Revealing Itself
At first all of this resistance that life presented me seemed like a series of coincidental pains in the ass. Why can’t shit just be easy again? I was used to “killing it” and for the first time, it felt like life was crushing me.
I started working with a spiritual teacher and engrossed myself in many practices and teachings that pushed me to shift the focus inward. Eventually, I was able to see that life’s events weren’t my problem, but it was my reaction to life’s events that were actually causing suffering. Come to think of it, I didn’t even know I was suffering before! I just thought it was very normal to be a controlling, stressed, & impatient type-A person that could never just sit with himself and still feel good without achieving.
Once all focus became on my reactions to life, every moment and situation took on new meaning. Any time I faced resistance was an opportunity for examination of what was bothering me. I would sit with these feelings or thought forms, and replace them with more open hearted ones towards myself and others as described here.
And then a funny thing started to happen.
I began to notice that there seemed to be an unmistakable choreography between the events of the outside world and what was happening on the inside. At first, I only saw glimpses of this that were easy to shrug off. But over time this began to happen with increasing frequency. One way this has revealed itself is unexplainable synchronicity. Another way is favorable circumstances appearing when I’d choose to act ethically and in alignment with my deepest inner desires vs. things unfolding unfavorably when I was unethical or out of alignment.
It became very clear that instead of a bunch of random separate actors and happenings that I had a small locus of control over, that I was actually part of some sort of connected system, operating in perfect harmony that I had far less control over.
It was as if life’s events unfolding were a feedback and guidance system for my awareness. But what was it trying to show me?
Over time what became increasingly obvious is that most of life’s events were being presented to me in order to facilitate the progression of the evolution of my consciousness. Life was actually my teacher who was trying to restore the divine, loving nature that had always been there but had been unconsciously covered up by the imprints of earlier experiences.
The clear understanding of the presence of a responsive reality is the most profound discovery of my life. It has helped me to see every moment of life as my teacher and guide.
Whether this aligns universally for the expansion of consciousness or universally to one’s intent I do not know. If I was a betting man, I’d say the former over the horizon of many lifetimes.
Greater Depths of Understanding Responsive Reality
The awareness of a responsive reality started to work in harmony with the depth of my spiritual practice. I started to understand that we have beliefs, thought forms, emotions, and experiences that we are both conscious and unconscious of. The unconscious ones are mostly generated from our past and then obfuscated for the purpose of survival. Both are an integral part of us and the outside world is a reflection of BOTH.
This means that many things that are occurring outside of you are based on parts of yourself that you might not be able to immediately see.
I think this is often the point that most “you create your reality” advocates fail to understand or communicate.
Thankfully, once the intention is set we have a partner in helping us to understand these things called life.
It’s my experience that the higher intelligence of life (the totality of consciousness itself), intentionally thrusts you into situations and scenarios so that these parts of yourself which do not support your highest expression can once again become acknowledged and transformed. This is why bad shit happens to you. It’s why good shit happens to you. It’s why any shit happens, period.
I am not sure whether this can be said for someone that has not set the strong intention to move towards permanent realization, but from the vantage point of someone who has, this is how the dance with life seems to unfold.
All of this understanding makes working with the unconscious a primary activity. It feels like a purification process because the focus becomes on removing imprints to restore what already is vs. adding to anything.
There are many ways to access these subconscious parts of ourselves that dictate our world. Most techniques point towards quieting your mind so that the unconscious parts of ourselves can emerge from the stillness. Learning to concentrate and eventually quiet the mind so that this can happen is one of the highest goals of meditation in my opinion. This means that meditation eventually evolves to a more purposeful practice of facing the unconscious content in your mind. For the past few years, my morning meditations or quiet time are much more characteristic of facing things and transmuting the energy and patterns, than just sitting there peacefully. This may sound scary or unpleasant, but it actually becomes a lot of fun. Over time, the inner reward of spiritual growth, revelation, and corresponding bliss far outweigh any perception of pain you go through when facing something.
Learnings From Working With A Responsive Reality
Once you understand all of this, there are many implications. I obviously have a lot of growth ahead of me so I am certain there are many parts of the picture that I am completely oblivious too, but here are some observations so far that might be helpful:
Responsive Reality Will Bring You What You Need For Your Growth
I was incredibly driven early in my spiritual walk,. I’d do spiritual practices for hours a day and incessantly consume spiritual material. At the onset, this was very helpful, but like Michael Singer, I eventually realized meditating all day or “doing” more was not the path to enlightenment. Instead, it was using life itself and my reactions to it as my spiritual teacher.
Understanding this and recognizing a responsive reality means that you don’t need to go out and seek things to expand yourself. They will come to you in perfect timing. I’m not saying be lazy and do nothing in your life. More so that you can trust life will present the opportunities that you need for your expansion of consciousness. This knowledge takes the pressure off trying to get somewhere and makes life a much more wondrous, magical experience. If you are an ambitious person used to controlling everything, getting to a point where you can rest comfortably here may take some time, but it will happen.
If You Miss The sign, It Will Get Bigger
Again, props to Mark Krassner for sharing this saying ^.
Once you realize that responsive reality is trying to give you clues, there is a tendency as a driven spiritual seeker to not want to miss any opportunity that life presents you. I’d sometimes get frustrated when I’d get triggered as if I “messed up” my spirituality or stressed if I didn’t handle the pattern quickly. Kind of like an investor has FOMO for not getting in a deal, I’d have FOMO for missing out on a growth opportunity.
Eventually I came to see that life has a way of putting things in your face over and over again until that which needs to be examined is recognized. The signs tend to get bigger until one day life may hit you in the face in a way that’s impossible not to pay attention!
This shouldn’t scare you. As individuals and a society, we must transform the programmed narrative of a wrathful god that “wants to teach us a lesson” to one that is always loving and compassionate. I had to unwind lots of christian programming around this that made me fearful that my spiritual growth was going to blow me into smithereens if I didn’t do it right the first time.
With greater levels of consciousness you will start to develop an acuity to recognize triggers, patterns, and suppressed emotions more rapidly. This helps you catch them earlier on before some big event or sign happens. All you have to do is pay attention and put the do-er who wants so hard to become enlightened at ease.
The Subconscious Manifests
It can be hard to buy into the fact that things you can’t see are creating your reality in addition to all your conscious decisions and actions. In most instances, all your actions and decisions are driven by unconscious patterns anyways until you start to do this work. This is what people are referring to when they say society is “asleep” or “living in the matrix.” They’re referring to people existing as programmed selves unconscious that they are programmed, that think this programming is actually who they are.
It’s only after a good bit of work on developing greater levels of awareness and reprogramming yourself, that you start to recognize the depth at which the unconscious has been a master of your life. Only then can you really start to see how life was really just a mirror to your entire consciousness, inclusive of that which you were aware of and the unconsciousness. You will read about this in many ancient wisdom teachings such as Buddhism, but to have an experiential understanding of it takes things to a whole new level.
One exercise that was incredibly helpful for me was to write an autobiography of all the formative events of my life I could remember. I spent a long time doing this. I think mine was 60 pages long in google docs. What became clear is that there were many patterns in life events that often occurred 5-10 years apart over and over again. We rarely examine our lives with such a zoomed out view which made these recurring events hard to see until I did this exercise. With the recognition of the common events and some deep self inquiry, it was easier to uncover the beliefs that were driving these events in my reality.
To give you an example, one thing I noticed is that I was dumped for another guy about every 7-8 years. It happened 3x at this interval. Was this mere coincidence? I don’t think so. Going inward I could see and pinpoint a clear male inferiority complex related to my unconscious sense of worthlessness that had been manifesting in my dating life. The inferiority complex could be seen in other behaviors where I often unconsciously tried so desperately to be the alpha in all things. The truth is if you unconditionally love and are content with yourself, the compulsion to try to validate it to the world is not really there.
Though I didn’t know it at the time, this was reality’s way of revealing this subconscious belief over and over again. Despite your expert alpha performances, if you think you’re less than at the deepest level, even when it’s unconscious life will mirror that back to you.
This dynamic became clear across many different unknown beliefs and reality reflections when I started to examine the bigger picture. It also became clear in the people’s lives around me that weren’t even into spirituality. I’d see things fly into their life and the pattens behind them were so obvious from the outside looking in. Sometimes it felt like I was wearing special glasses or something.
I am excited to write more about the concept of “manifesting” that many people in the spiritual community get excited about because most of what is being taught is very much a partial truth. Specifically, these “gurus” slinging seminars don’t tell you that there is probably more of your unconsciousness manifesting in the world than in your conscious mind. They also leave out the fact that this special ability to intentionally manifest only emerges with greater levels of Self-realization.
When one sees that everything is created by consciousness and they are identified as consciousness, then the ability to manifest as consciousness more easily emerges. I know what I just said is a mouthful and can be tricky to grasp. If you look at any advanced unified model of consciousness and see at the highest levels of consciousness how one views life and God, this can provide some context and clues as to why one would be able to manifest at these stages of evolution.
The challenge here to get buy in on this which any great being from history will tell you is that it is an experiential knowing that cannot be understood from the intellect.
Therefore, I think everyone who spends puts lots of energy towards manifesting would be better suited to unwinding the ambient subconscious forces that are driving their lives and working on realization vs. imagining things outside themselves that the ego wants. Though, this stage of using spirituality to get something is a natural part of the consistent evolution of consciousness and should not be judged.
With Expansion, The Feedback Loop Speeds Up
I alluded to this earlier, but it seems as though this entire process speeds up with greater levels of consciousness evolution. As you grow, things from the unconscious emerge and resolve more rapidly. The same is true for the responsiveness of reality either showing you what needs to be faced or rewarding alignment & right choice quickly. The mechanism for faster feedback could also just be that you just recognize the existence of a responsive reality more. I don’t know.
A simple example of this was last summer I was given guidance to stop meditating and all morning spiritual practice while I was in a deep state. Hmmm that’s interesting? Isn’t this what a good little spiritual seeker is supposed to be doing!?!
At the time, I was working on developing the quality of unconditional trust of both life and any guidance that emerged from stillness. There was some attachment to becoming enlightened and doing a spiritual practice to feel good so this guidance was met with some initial resistance. Begrudgingly, I decided to follow the advice.
To my surprise the most amazing thing happened. My entire body was completely blissed out for weeks. I’m talking way more bliss than I would feel during and after any deep meditation. I laughed and smiled with such joy because I knew this was the divine’s way of rewarding me for heeding it’s advice.
Actions, Decisions and Behaviors Still Matter
All this emphasis on the importance of working with the unconscious is not meant to underscore the conscious mind. Once you are aware of these deeper truths about responsive reality, it doesn’t mean you can shirk the responsibility of taking action in the world. I think there are a lot of spiritual people who think they can reprogram a belief and just sit there and do nothing while life delivers everything to them on a silver platter. Maybe they can, but that is not my own experience.
Instead, I think you still must be responsible for moving through the world by taking actions that work harmoniously with responsive reality to bring the things which you truly desire into your life. For me, the texture of the experience feels different from this vantage point. Less like a struggle and more like a wonderful dance. You zig, reality zags and before you know it you start to get in a beautiful rhythm. You’re okay when things don’t go your way because you find more meaning in viewing life’s events for your growth vs. having your preferences met.
Many of you will read this and think I sound like a lunatic. A couple of years ago, I would have said the same thing.
However, as I have discussed at probably nauseam in my writing, the awareness of all that I described is contingent upon your level of consciousness. If this doesn’t make sense, I would not feel bad about yourself. You are perfectly positioned whereever you are your own journey!
If there is a desire to experience the world in the way that I describe it all starts with intent and then immersing yourself in the process of working on your consciousness. There are many ways to do this and the one that is best for you will become clear when you start to explore this work earnestly. As life shows up in seemingly good ways and bad ways, see it all as an opportunity to go inward. Maybe even pose the question, what is this trying to teach or show me?
Having tried many ways to find more joy, meaning, and love in my life, no pursuit has been more rewarding and awe inspiring than the experience which I have described above.
It is my earnest desire for all those who truly seek the deeper truths of life to experience the wonder of it all!
If there’s something out that there is more beautiful, I am yet to discover it.