We live in a complex world, putting aside the social constructs and peculiarities of the human species, just on physical traits alone our world is immensely complicated. We have sensory organs and nervous systems which take physical signals and stimuli and convert them into electrical pulses which then transfer that information to our brains which create a model of the world around us.
Between primary senses like touch, vision, hearing, taste and smell and secondary senses like equilibrium and proprioception (ability to recognize relative positions of our limbs and bodies), we receive a tremendous amount of information every second. Over millions of years of the evolution of all terrestrial life the ability to process ever-growing amounts of information has ensured the survival of increasingly advanced species such as ourselves.
But even with all of these senses we only directly experience a small portion of the world around us. For example I was watching a program the other day about the unseen world and they were talking about the electromagnetic spectrum. They said something along the lines of this, although I may not have the exact cities and distances: If the spectrum electromagnetic energy was a line extending from San Francisco to New York City, the portion our senses can directly detect would be approximately 1 inch long.
The exact details are not important because the point is we live in a world for which we are vastly underequipped to understand. There are animals who can perceive parts of the spectrum we haven't even known about for more than a few hundred years. We have managed to create tools which augment our abilities and the more we look it seems the more questions we find.
It brings me to the question of this thread. What is reality? Is what we see around us the limit of reality or is it just the bare surface of the nature of our existence? Many cultures and traditions say with some variation that we essentially are living in a dream, maybe there is truth to this. How much similarity is there between the way each of us perceive the world? What are the differences?
I'm hoping to provoke an ongoing discussion and to hear a wide variety of perspectives on these questions.
What do you think?