The phrase, "the real world" is usually heard when a parent or some adult is speaking to a teenager; "You have your way now, but soon you will be moving into the real world, where your irresponsible ways will not be tolerated, and where there will be strict consequences." Of course the teenager only hears "blah, blah, blah," and goes off on his merry way. What is the meaning of, "the real world?"
For the most part, the accepted meaning focuses on the economic responsibility incurred when joining the "work force." This is, paying and reporting your federal, state, and local taxes, paying all contractual agreements, and paying living expenses and all sundry expenses connected. The consequences for not living up to these responsibilities can be great, possibly even an economic disaster. After the person "making a living" in the real world pays his monthly obligations, what is left over from his check is called discretionary income. This money can be used in any manner the citizen in the real world desires. As free as this money may feel to the real world citizen, there are subtle catches. Think about how the "free market" capitalists connive to wrestle, not only discretionary income, but also money the citizen does not have, in the form of credit, from his hands. (for a more detailed explanation of this kind of condition go the archives and read my early blog called, "Donkey Economics") Apart from the economic meaning of "the real world" there is a
deeper, more virtuous meaning, especially when concerned with the family.
When it comes to the leaders of the family, the parents, the economic meaning of "the real world" expands to encompass sacrifice. This sacrifice ranges, from giving the last piece of desert to your children to giving up your life to protect them. Thus the meaning of "the real world" for parents and for any one in a close relationship includes sacrifice. This sacrifice has a moral quality about it, but its action is not motivated by morality, rather by an interior value that it is the right thing to do. Usually too, it is practiced unconsciously or refining that idea, like an involuntary, knee-jerk response.
So the picture coming into focus here is that the phrase "the real world" does not have a strict meaning, but a relative meaning, derive from the intent of the person using the phrase. There is no absolute meaning of the phrase. Words and attached words are essentially metaphors that represent a specific thing, idea, or concept of which their accepted meanings are fluid not concrete. A word is essentially a human voice vibration expressed to name or identify something. The same thing can be identified in a different language only in a different human voice vibration; for instance, the English word "boy," the Italian word, "ragazzo," both identify the same thing. The point here is, that the meaning of the phrase "the real world" has to do with a human beings' intent, experiences, and cultural background. I believe Einstein's Theory of Relativity, postulated a fourth dimension: length, breath, width, and the fourth dimension, the taking into account the action and perception of a human being.
The phrase "the real world" appears to be magnetized to its objective, literal meaning, even though what it is trying to express is conceptual, not an objective thing. The conceptual lives in the human mind and when there is an attempt to express it in objective words, there is some essential part of the concept which is lost in objectification; an analogy of an onion may be helpful. Here is an onion, pick your color, our observation tells us its an onion. To know how this onion came to be called, "onion" we would have to make a etymological search. Let us begin to peal the outer most layer. Does the onion now become less of an onion? Yes, in a literal, quantitative sense, but not in an onioness sense. Lets continue to peal the onion until we reach its core. With each peal, the onion loses its quantity, but maintains its onioness. Now at the onion's core we don't see the quantitative onion, but the onion's quality and potential growth. This is a different dimension of onioness, we might call it the soul of the onion. Potentially, along with the action of the growth elements and time, we will witness a fully grown onion. Now lets cut the onion's core. What would we see? You will probably say "nothing at all." That which you do not see is the hidden essence and from which comes all manifestation. The Bible, Genesis, says that God brooded over the waters and the word was made flesh. Here the "waters" symbolically represents space, God brooding over space means he was protecting space, then "the word was made flesh." The vibrational, eternal word was sounded and that particular vibration evolved the world. In Hindu scripture the divine,vibrational sound is AUM.
What started out to be an explanation of the phrase "the real world" turned out to be an exercise in finding its ultimate meaning. We moved from its accepted cultural meaning, its human intentional meaning, its moral and ethical meaning, and finally its metaphysical meaning. This depth of inquiry brings a fully comprehensive field in which to find truth. For the most part, when a human searches for truth the spiritual part of the inquiry is usually deleted. The result of this deficiency allows the truth of the inquiry to be stuck in the mire of duality and paradox. The reliance of the material or phenomenal as a foundation of truth can bring useful knowledge; the reliance on the spiritual as the foundation of truth brings spiritual principles leading to wisdom.