Reality tunneling is an obscure idea from an obscure author few people have heard of. I don’t hope to change that with this one blog post, but I hope that I can help you to realize why you need to start doing this ideological exploration as a magickian and a human being.
What Is Reality Tunneling?
Reality tunneling is an idea from Timothy Leery and the author Robert Anton Wilson (RAW). He was an author in the chaos magick tradition, particularly among discordians. He also wrote some novels including The Illuminatus! Trilogy.
He describes reality tunneling in some of his articles as well as one of his most famous books, Prometheus Rising.
The basic idea is that everyone has a specific reality tunnel created by the ideological nexus of positions they ascribe to. In clearer English, everyone perceives the world in a certain way. This is neither good nor bad in itself and is often heavily based on your facticity (the facts of your life like where you were born, to whom, how you were raised, race, etc.); however, it is a limitation because it predetermines how one looks at and lives in the world.
And given this, we often live in a world where people have their own opinions, hence disagreements. Some people believe this, some people believe that. And these beliefs are informed by shared reality tunnels like political beliefs, religion, racial identity, sex, etc.
However, the joke of this “originality” is that each person’s originality is created by a series of interconnected belief structures (ideologies, my word, not Robert Anton Wilson’s). Again, these ideologies are in themselves each a reality tunnel.
Basically anything you can be dogmatic about is a reality tunnel.
Now that we’ve got the theory out of the way, let’s cover the how to.
How To Reality Tunnel
To reality tunnel, you simply need to take on someone else’s tunnel faithfully. This is more complicated than it sounds, but ultimately not that complicated.
An important thing to keep in mind is that RAW loved the idea of “catmas” as a response to “dogmas”. Rather than focusing on dogmatic, objective beliefs, a catma is a belief that is relevant for the task at hand and not necessarily any further.
The most basic definition of a catma is one of the core principles of Discordia: “All affirmations are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true and false and meaningless in some sense.”
So, for reality tunneling, you take on a catma position. In other words, take on the position that for the moment, you’re exploring what it is to believe in xyz. [Xyz being the specific tunnel you’re investigating.]
Obviously, it makes no sense to explore beliefs you agree with. In my case, it doesn’t make much sense to reality tunnel American culture, black magick, or chaotes. It does make sense for me to explore Chinese Culture, Islam, Christianity, and conspiracy theorists who think Luciferians are in charge of world banking.
Example Of Reality Tunneling
If you’re able to clear your mind and just focus on things from magick already, this will be much easier as you could just shut off your mind and pay attention. Then, afterwards, explore the questions above (and more!).
Let’s take the last group. How would I reality tunnel conspiracy theorists?
First, I’d suspend my normal dogmas. This is the hard part, but without it, you’re still caught up in your normal position! The easiest way is to just take on the belief/catma that you’ll see what they have to say without judging it until afterward.
Next, I’d find some conspiracy theory in video or text by searching something like “Luciferian conspiracy theory” or “do luciferians rule the world?” into Google. Then, start checking it out.
Here, I’d pay attention to my emotional responses. If I’m “triggered”, think it’s stupid, “can’t understand why someone would think this”, or am pissed off by this stuff, then I’m failing. Rather, I want to keep my mind on the task at hand. So, I’ll ask questions like, “Why do they believe this?” “What evidence do they have?” “How is the evidence presented?” “In what ways does this make sense?” “In what ways could this be true?” “How is this meaningful?” “How is this meaningless?”
After a thorough exploration, I will understand more about the position. From here, I can then begin to critique it if I want to, but the real point is to take on another believe system completely and faithfully. As much like the people who believe it as possible is the goal (though, that may be impossible to fully accomplish, do your best). And bonus points if you can actually go far enough down the tunnel that you can make sense of this position and believe it yourself, even if just temporarily–and more bonus points if this causes you to question your previous beliefs.
What Benefits Does Reality Tunneling Have For Your Life?
The real value of reality tunneling is that it opens up your mind for other possibilities of belief. We get so locked into our own belief structures that it can be hard to get outside of them.
Why would you want to get out of your own belief structures?
- They limit your possible beliefs, which is problematic for magick, because magick requires that you can imagine and believe in realities that are far out, sometimes nonsensical, and almost always “unrealistic”.
- You don’t know how limited you are until you start to deconstruct yourself.
- Belief structures often stand in the way of personal growth and ascent because they limit who you are and what you can be.
- This allows you to better understand others, which will help you in both being more understanding and in being able to completely destroy positions you disagree with.
And of course, I’m sure that after thinking of this practice, you can find your own reasons to want to explore it, but I find those are the most important.
How Do I Get Started Reality Tunneling?
Really, you just need to follow my example above in the Example Of Reality Tunneling section. And keep in mind that your specific reality tunnel is yours, thus, to find others to explore means knowing yourself and what you believe. It’s not very helpful to find things you agree with or like already as this defeats the purpose.
I recommend you start with discovering the limits of your beliefs and then find things that really push your buttons.
But many people tell me that this is too difficult or they don’t have time, etc. etc. So, I have a few examples of some places you can start this work:
- Music — change up what you normally listen to while working, commuting, etc. If you normally listen to rap or pop music, explore death metal. If you’re a metalhead, listen to T. Swift or some Beyonce. Or go for some country. And you can do this without even leaving your normal genres. For instance, if you love classic rock, checkout punk or emo. Or if you love mainstream rap, listen to some hip-hop or ICP. (Miracles by ICP has 30k more down votes than up votes. Start there!)
- TV — we all have TV shows and genres we like, and those we don’t. Dedicate yourself to watch an entire season of a show you wouldn’t normally watch. [I watched some 90 Day Fiancé to understand why my girlfriend liked it so much, and you can too!]
- YouTube — there are videos you’d normally watch, and those you wouldn’t. Find some topic you wouldn’t normally check out.
- Standup Comedy — standup is really polarizing. This is a perfect place to explore different POVs.
- Books — Read a book you’d never read. Depending on your position, one of the following will likely work well: Marx, Ayn Rand, Ann Coulter, bell hooks, or Billy Graham.
- Random Belief — one of my favorites and an exercise from Liber Null. The idea is simple: wake up every morning and roll a dice to decide your belief structure for the whole day. This is basically like chaos reality tunneling. Peter Carroll recommends you roll a six-sided die and become whichever of these you roll: 1) pagan, 2) monotheist, 3) atheist, 4), nihilist, 5) chaote, or 6) a superstitious person. You can of course substitute your own, but these are tried and true options for bending your mind around.
Where Can I Find More Information?
As I said far above, Robert Anton Wilson’s Prometheus Rising is the quintessential book on this topic. He goes into far more than this, but it’s all interrelated and will help you get very far in your reality tunneling. If you plan to explore this topic, you might want to pick up a copy. Though, I’ve given you more than enough here to get started and to benefit from this practice without reading the book. [But it’s a great read–even if you don’t agree with everything he says. I know I didn’t as RAW is kind of a conspiracy theorist and the last two circuits of the mind seemed like pure gibberish to me when I read it. Perfect place to start an exploration of reality tunneling is reading that book because most readers will be along for the ride until the fifth circuit…]