Being aligned with reality starts with a clear and accurate understanding of the world. It means perceiving and understanding the world as it truly is, without distortion or delusion.
Shane Parrish of Farnam Street describes alignment as:
"The key to success nobody ever taught you.
The person who aligns themselves with the general principles of the world goes further and faster than the person who doesn’t."
This sounds simple but is hard to put into practice.
We tend to see that which aligns with what we believe, and to act upon those beliefs rather than act in alignment with reality.
Blinded by experience
In my 'day job' I work in the fuel industry representing a major supplier of crude oil and putting together high value supply contracts with oil refineries. This supplier is extremely knowledgeable and very experienced.
experience is often very helpful, but it does mean that on occasions he
is blinded, and thus bound, by that experience to not see the present
realities of a complex and constantly changing market.
I sometimes find myself in situations where I bring forward a new
potential buyer and present their requirement and my supplier just
doesn't listen, prefering to assess the situation on the basis of his
I had an experience with him recently when he spent about 10 minutes telling me how it ought to be rather than how it was. In the end I just said to him:
"Bob, this is the current discount that is being offered on this crude oil, it doesn't matter what you think or I think, it doesnt matter what you think it ought to be, this is how it is right now, do you want the business or not?" [He did.]
The issue isn't past experience and the beliefs that we hold, the issue is our attachment to that experience and those beliefs.
Many of us would rather die [and often do] before we are willing and able to change our beliefs.
The zen approach to this challenge is to frame it in terms of Beginners Mind. Zen master
captured this very succinctly:
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."
The implication is that to have knowledge and experience of a subject - to have the mind of an expert - is limiting and we should always assume the mindset of a novice with no prior knowledge or expertise and maintain an open mind.
This is not what Suzuki is saying, he continues:
“In the beginner's mind there is no thought that: 'I have attained something.'
When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners.”
The key to this is "no thought of self".
So what we are talking about here is someone with great experience, an expert, performing with no ego involved. An expert with humility and openness.
The beginner's mind is not a mind devoid of knowledge, expertise and experience but a state of mind that is devoid of ego.
This is what being aligned with reality looks like:
These are the qualities that a beginners mind brings to being aligned with reality:
Being aligned with reality requires:
Shane Parrish shares several common reasons why we struggle to be aligned with reality:
 Changing your mind is harder with subjective situations
'If you want to be right, you have to change your mind. When the evidence indicates the approach isn’t working, change the approach.
This is easy with something like math, where the answers are black and white, but harder with more subjective things.'
 Changing your mind is hardest where outcomes are deferred
'Often the hardest things to change our minds about are the things that require us to understand that just because we can’t see the results immediately doesn’t mean they are not moving us closer or further from the outcome we want.
For instance, eating a full pizza once won’t make you unhealthy, but repeating that choice daily for years certainly will.'
 Preferring to feel right rather than being right
'Feeling right, on the other hand, often requires you to believe you are an exception.
You know the path to financial independence, but that takes too long. It’s boring. Instead, you’d rather try the latest incarnation of a get-rich-quicker scheme that promises the outcome sooner.
When it inevitably fails to produce the desired results, rather than tell yourself you made a mistake you chalk it up to the world not working as it should.
It’s as if that little voice in your head says, You’re not wrong; the world is.'
 Trying to bargain with reality
'Most of us would rather bargain with how the world works than accept how it does work, cooperate with it, and move forward.
This happens in a lot of areas of life. Consider the general concept of health.
A lot of people think they don’t have to take care of their health. They get too little sleep. They drink too much. They eat incredible amounts of processed food. They get little to no exercise.
While they know health is important, at some level they think they are the exception. Acceptance is knowing you must care for your health because it is the foundation for everything else. Without health, everything else multiplies by zero.'
 Believing we are the exception
'We are tempted to believe we’re the exception because it’s the easy path.
Aligning with the world often requires you to pre-pay now for a result later. A little bit of pain today for gain tomorrow. And we don’t like the sounds of that.
However, if you can align yourself with the world despite what those around you do, you’ll quickly discover that it tends to do most of the work for you. It just won’t take the first step for you. You have to take that one for yourself.'
One of the core themes of this site is what I call the law of response and outcome which suggests that the outcomes that you experience are determined by your responses to the events in your life.
The strength and quality of your response is determined by the skills and the experience you bring to it, and the stronger your response - the better the outcome. The cumulative effect of these responses has a compounding effect on your life - for better of for worse.
Responding to situations in a way that is fully aligned with reality is fundamental to this approach.
In my experience there are two important areas to look at, understand and apply if you are serious about taking some practical step to becoming aligned with reality:
How your brain gets hi-jacked
Your thoughtful and rational brain gets hijacked in so many ways, for example it:
...and so much more.
The mental models of how things work that underlie reality
As the late Charlie Munger put it:
“You don’t have to know everything. A few really big ideas carry most of the freight.”
"It’s kind of fun to sit there and out-think people who are way smarter than you are because you’ve trained yourself to be more objective and more multidisciplinary."
This site has very many practical articles with resources that cover this broad area of mental models and many associated articles about how to think clearly.
There are far to many articles to list here and I suggest you refer to the index tabs of the left column of this page, and the site map and search tool.
A good place to start is with these 2 links:
So far so good. But it doesn't necessarily end there. What we have discussed so far is about how to be aligned with reality, but it goes further. I am aware of least two more levels beyond the conventional understanding of reality.
Don't worry, I am not going down New Age rabbit holes such as the so called law of attraction and other forms of magical thinking.
for any reader who is not interested in consciousness and the [non
religious] spiritual dimension you may want to stop reading now.
What I want to briefly discuss is:
This really is about a transitional stage where we can find ourselves in one of two situations. Both of these situations are aspirational but the circumstance and conditions are quite different.
 Standing in the gap
The first situation is where we stand between a present reality - the way things are - and a future where we know what they could be.
This is about living in, and being a part of, a transformation. It is not external to us it is within us.
We are the process.
This gap can never be fully closed because the envisioned reality is always an aspiration.
The gap is where the action is.
Standing in the gap means:
 The Stockdale Paradox
This second situation is a variation of standing in the gap and is where you are stuck in a difficult or seemingly impossible set of circumstances and it just goes on and on and there is no end in sight... This is about how to deal with the attrition factor.
The Stockdale Paradox is named after the late James Stockdale, former vice presidential candidate, naval commander and prisoner of war during the American-Vietnam war.
It became well known having been featured in author and business guru Jim Collins’ book “Good To Great” following extensive interviews between Collins and Stockdale exploring how Stockdale survived 8 years of imprisonment and torture.
What the Stockdale Paradox means is that in times of prolonged and seemingly never-ending hardship, set-backs, suffering and distress we need to maintain optimism that we will survive and pull through, and yet at the same time balance that with a total realism and practicality about the harsh present realities.
I have written elsewhere about my experiences of what happens when you take the red pill - where taking the red pill is a symbolic action and a metaphor for an experience of some form of transcendent awakening.
Put very simply, I describe this as a shift from head to heart and what happens when you reach the point at which you start to seriously engage with consciousness via your higher self and start to live a life that is less ego driven and more grounded in the spiritual dimension.
What you fairly quickly discover is that:
This is a major inner realignment and a greater consciousness emerges and expresses itself through you.
Most of the world's major religions point to this transformation.
is described in the Tao te Ching as being lived by the Tao. So rather
than living by a set of eternal rules and guidelines this becomes
internalised and reversed:
"Only in being lived by the Tao
can you truly be yourself." 
"Let the Tao be present in your life
and you will become genuine." 
Here is a personal experience that I shared about something that happened to me about 15 years ago.
This is difficult for the natural egoic mind to comprehend as it requires a renewal of your mind.
The consciousness driven life
Renewing your mind is based on practices, not beliefs, that will have a profound and positive effect on your life.
This all takes work and effort as the human mind runs on deeply ingrained and habitual patterns of thought.
This is an internal integration and alignment of the inner reality and what manifests in the outer reality.
This is a complete reversal of the usual ego-driven idea of manifestation.
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