As I’ve so often said we each project so much of ourselves onto the world that we see that reality becomes rather complicated. Because reality has no meaning other than what we as individuals assign to it or what we collectively assign to it we have an empty journal or a blank script or canvas if you will with which to work.
Essentially we get to stand before every moment of our lives and paint our world using whatever colors we like. We also have the ability to just be curators or patrons of the art that others create, or to paint pictures for others to enjoy, or to paint just for ourselves. Like an artist we can become so immersed in the process that we forget to step back from the canvas now and then to admire the work or to evaluate it in the context of an even greater picture.
The picture that we each create is the story of us, what’s inside of us, all our dreams, hopes and fears. Sometimes the pallet has many colors, sometimes only grays, blacks and muddy browns, but it is us who wield the brush through the pigmented oils given to each by virtue of our being here.
I have found that for me the ego-self flashes and flares, fumes and stews sometimes mixing so many colors that the balance skews or the mix becomes muddied. But when I can get this part of myself out of the way amazing creativity and clarity can show up. When the soul is hidden, oppressed, or damaged there is no art, just a confusing mud.
Now I’m not talking about chaos because even in what seems chaotic there’s a rhyme, an underlying beauty. I’m talking about the dull, soggy, sloppy mess we accept as life and that once in a while we escape from through some form of distraction. This isn’t the life of the creative soul but the confused state of the limited, and limiting, persona– the sleeping consciousness. And this part of us represents so little of what we are that it scarcely qualifies to be called an “I”, “me”, “you” or an “us”.
There is so much hidden behind the walls erected by the fearful and arrogant ego that we’ve begun to think that this wasteland is all there is.
We, that is you and I, are going on an expedition to find who we really are. But this expedition’s purpose is not to arrive at a predetermined destination, for where we are going nothing is predetermined and doesn’t exist in any one place. We are going to uncover that part of us that doesn’t exist in time or place. It is that part of us that will never die for it’s never been born– that which came before the physical us and will continue long after the physical ceases. It’s the still, quiet place in all of us, that knows the real us.
Many years ago as a graduate assistant and in charge of the rat lab at the university I noted that rats could learn pretty easily where the cheese was in a maze and would quickly go right to it regardless of how complex the maze. But when the cheese was removed the behavior was readily extinguished within 2-3 attempts with no success. The rats wouldn’t go down that tunnel anymore looking for the cheese.
However, human beings don’t behave in this manner because once the cheese is removed the human being will go back down the tunnel to where the cheese used to be again and again, nearly forever. Are human beings basically dumber than the rat I wondered?
That possibility may or may not have merit but I think human beings keep doing what they know doesn’t work again and again because ”It’s supposed to work!” or that they want it to work therefore it should if they hang in there long enough. It’s why we keep voting for the same dunderheads who promise us things, aka cheese, that we know they can’t deliver on, again and again. It’s why the political faithful keep voting against their best interests by saying yes to a totally discredited economic plan because the ‘cheese’ is “supposed” to be there. Be aware that their leadership knows this and manipulates this fact to their advantage.
This cognitive default keeps us from seeing the facts i.e. the cheese ain’t there no more– but with humans facts be damned, its supposed to be there, so that’s where they’ll go. The “dumber” animals don’t have this encumbrance because they operate within reality as it is, not as they wish it to be.
We self-create the way we think reality is supposed to be and it’s a very personal reality. This is usually very inaccurate mainly because we’ve buggered all the data with our want-it-to-be’s and our self-serving projections. Most of this was done when we were children when of course we had little experience and knowledge from which to draw any conclusions and from there on out we only picked the experiences, emotions and events that agreed with our flawed view of reality.
As children our decisions that we made were mostly based on fear– fear of doing the wrong thing or being the wrong way and thus losing approval, or knowing the wrong stuff or knowing only part of the issue but we didn’t know what was the best way anyway so we relied on the adults around us to tell us what to do. But of course they don’t know either, but had learned to pretend that they did.
And we keep thinking that if we keep choosing appropriately from our rather limited reality that eventually we’ll get the cheese. Sometimes it looks as though we do get the cheese, but it only lasts for a short while, doesn’t it? This is called intermittent reinforcement in the behavioral sciences and it’s the kind of learning that’s the hardest to break away from. It’s what often creates the ‘supposed’ in the “its supposed to be there” way of thinking. It’s what keeps people gambling their money away because at one time they “won” something.
So we keep shooting for what feels good and hoping that maybe this time, this person, this way of being, will be it.
This is the way it is when you’re attached to something outside yourself for your well-being. There’s a lot of suffering in that and any “happiness” is often just the absence of pain. You know, we’ve bought into a lot of rubbish about what happiness is. We’ve been led to believe that if we just have the right things e.g. a wife/husband, children or no children, breath freshener, toothpaste, smile, schooling, more schooling, better schooling, job, the right job, a better job, the right sex, better sex, a good vacation, a better vacation, or if we’re the right weight or have enough money (is there such a thing?), then we will be happy. But none of it lasts for very long does it? Then it’s off to the next thing, the next fashion, the next relationship, the next wise guru. But when we live in an illusion of reality, there’s always disillusionment.
How do you break such an insidious and all-consuming cycle? One can transcend the cycle and one can transform their relationship with reality. But first you have to acknowledge that you really don’t know what it is and that what you’ve made up is a mess basically a pack of lies and half-truths.
It’s a whole new retraining that requires that we let go of our dependence on something outside ourselves. Now I don’t mean that we all need to become emotional islands, we need each other. We need to be open to the support and the love of others, we just don’t need them to be responsible for our lives, to tell us how to be and what to think and feel and happiness doesn’t come from them, it comes from within. It’s the ‘cheese’ in you that you need to search for, not outside in someone else’s maze, it’s not there, it is gone! Get over it!
“An apparition of indeterminate gender floated high above us, then drifted gently down into the circle of light, barely touching the floor as it landed. It was a ghostly apparition in a form that never seemed really present in the here and now. It was as though I was seeing it in the past, present, and future simultaneously, but not quite solidly in any of those frames… A cold breeze worked its way up my back, and I consciously forced it back to wherever it had crawled out from…”
“I see discontinuity (it said). I see a place where both aspects of being and spirit are not sharing. I see a rift forming where this Being lost the vision given by the Is. I see this Being made up for its loss by creating its own reality in the name of the Is, but not of the Is. I see “ a vision of oneness, the light and the dark in harmony, aspects seemingly in conflict operating as a whole. The vision of the Is includes everything with nothing left out. The yin struggles in your world to be heard, the yang having actively suppressed it out of fear, greed, and ignorance and then codified it as though it were the word of the Is. But the Is becomes aware through the Being. It needs the Being to manifest all of itself, and when the Being becomes unbalanced through the expression of only half of itself, the expression of the Is also becomes unbalanced.”
This was part of an otherworldly conversation between myself and an apparition met one summer evening some thirty-three years ago on the other side of reality. It was an experience of painful awareness that threatened the very fabric of my life as I knew it. But this was not exclusively a story about me but of all of us and the rabbit hole we’re all falling down.
The conversation was an excerpt from the story of a journey I took one dark and rainy night that dragged me beyond the reality I knew and into a world of chaos that was vaguely familiar. This was a story of a desperate need for healing for myself and for the very fabric into which we all are woven. It’s a story that continues into this day and has now pulled all of us into its torn and fragmented web.
Take a peek beyond the veil and into a world beyond this world and come with me on my journey to visit the Dream Healer on the Archipelago of Dreams.
Sometimes I wonder if the world is an asylum for broken souls. This kind of thinking has led me to see craziness all around. Thinking of it as a place where the soul comes to heal itself creates yet another reality while thinking of it as a place where the soul comes to play creates yet another. Each schema can explain what it is we are seeing. While one perceives crazy the next accepts everything as healing process while the third assumes that it’s all a playground, a digital game so to speak where the soul gets to express itself in all its aspects both creative and destructive.
Through the positions we take with our mind you and I literally determine the form and meaning that the energy that we and everything else is made of. What we actually see with our eyes, or hear, or feel, taste, or smell is subject to a whole host of mental interpretations most of which are out of our control for it is our unseen unconscious mind that’s running the show for the most part.
We create our world through the process of intentionality what the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines as, “the power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs”.
Fundamentally cause and effect are related because in order for one to exist so must the other i.e. they are inextricably linked. For example, there is the object called a chair and there is my experience of chair and each intends the other i.e. the experience in the mind of a chair creates the reality of chair as the objective reality creates the subjective. We are continuously creating what we experience while in turn the object creates our experience.
In short, if you see it, you’ve intended it– shift what you see and the object shifts with it. Magic!
Try it, shift your perspective of an object i.e. what you imagine it to be, what you ‘think’ it is and see what happens to your experience of it. Then look closely at what happens to the object with the new experience.
We live in a Euclidean world where there are straight lines that sometimes meet and parallel lines that never meet and where up is contrasted by down, but what if you were to change that perspective to a hyperbolic vision where straight is not necessarily straight, and parallel lines sometimes meet, and up doesn’t always contrast with down?
As I stare at the doorknob to this room (see above) I notice that it has a polished surface and in the scene reflected by that surface I notice an image that alters the perceived reality of the room. Immediately the knob portrays an example of M.C. Escher’s reality perspective shifting from ordinary geometry to hyperbolic geometry. My relationship to the world shifts making all its angles different to what was their norm up to now. Has the room changed or only my perception of it and what difference would it make anyway? The object has altered the experience and the object is altered by the experience.
Now I know that it’s just the door knob that’s changing the experience so I can easily keep my experience separated from the object but what if I didn’t know?
We do the same thing with dreams in that we “think” that we see only a dream when we are asleep but what if that weren’t true? What if we are always dreaming, what does an “always dreaming” perspective say about what we’re experiencing now? The mind changes the experience while the experience shifts the mind.
Our reality has been conditioned since birth through our experience, our parents and siblings, and society. We see what we are conditioned to see.
Simply we are seeing what we want to see or are conditioned to see. This is mind stuff and the object stuff will then reinforce the mind stuff. Cause creates effect that in turn creates cause. See? Or maybe not. My head is hurting again.
A while back my granddaughter and I snuggled up and watched the film Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Depp. In it Alice tries to pinch herself out of what she assumes to be her dream, but is it a dream? She wanders confused and unable to assert that she is even who she claims to be.
“’Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I – I hardly know, sir, just at present – at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’”
–Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Like Alice are we in a dream? And like her is it our own unmet fears that keep us there? Is it our unwillingness to assert our true self that keeps us trapped in our own little madness?
Often the whole world seems a confusing place and trying to figure it out is like trying to answer the Mad Hatters oft repeated riddle, “Why is a Raven like a writing desk?” The point is that sometimes there just isn’t an answer, or meaning–sometimes life is just absurd. As one looks closer at the world we’ve made, it all gets “curioser and curioser”.
Falling down the rabbit hole into the dark underworld of our dreams will lead us to a curious and confusing realm. But if you were to imagine falling up the hole and into the daylight might it be the crazy conscious world we’ve all adapted to that is mad and the dark world of the unconscious holding the actual enlightenment we seek? Ah what then?
Trapped in a hole of our own making, preferring to limit ourselves to a very small landscape rather than to open our selves up to the endless view of our real self i.e. to be willing to live in hell for fear of heaven–what madness is that?
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.”
–Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Ah, but we all think that it was happenstance that we’re here, that we didn’t choose to be here. Are you sure of that? Maybe that thought is your ego’s way of not having to be responsible for how it all turns out?
But what is madness? Deviating too far from a norm or from what is the standard for common sense? Was it madness to believe that sound and image could be broadcast through the air across great distances? Or that women could ever be the equal of any man and deserved the same rights and privileges? And that there would ever be a willing confederation of traditional enemies as is being witnessed in the European Union? Was it crazy to believe that humans could be made to fly or step foot upon the moon? Or that two young college dropouts could change the way the world communicates? At one time the answer to all of these and more was an unquestioned, “yes, it is madness”!
“The Mad Hatter: Have I gone Mad?
Alice: I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”
Real madness seems to be a society that fights desperately for its freedom and then votes for someone to restrict and oppress them. Then there’s a society who believes that the answer to personal safety and security against guns is to buy more guns, bigger guns, with more bullets, and more power. Or how about those who believe that if you punish hard enough the transgressor will learn not to do bad things (look how well that works in our penal system) or that if you hit a child for hitting that it will teach him not to hit? And why the human love affair with retribution and revenge, how’s that working?
I’m sure that the readers of this blog could come up with many more bits of curious madness than I’ve detailed here. The point is that perhaps in our madness we’ve reversed what it means to be sane. Maybe we all ought to be a little more mad? In the best sort of way, of course, I mean, all the best people are.
The gist of this blog came from both John 8:32, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” And a Flannery O’Connor’s quote, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you odd.”
We live in an age where truth is whatever you want it to be– that is whatever makes you right (or at least makes you think you are). We also live in an age with unprecedented access to facts. One click of the “return” key on a computer keyboard can give you billions of facts. Never before has the ability to dispel ignorance been so available to so many. And yet…
For the sake of personal need, or greed, or zealous beliefs the truth as it is reflected in facts is ignored at a profound level. It’s as though the world is embracing ignorance at an ever-increasing rate. If you don’t believe this just listen to those who run for political office (or are currently in it), or those who dominate the radio waves with political ranting–twisting and turning truths into macabre representations of reality. Religions no longer represent the truth of the Spirit from whence they were born, but for many have become a form of sanctioned self-delusion.
We wrap these delusions in something we call “conviction” and once settled these strong beliefs need no evidence, or proof to exist. But it is these convictions that are the enemies of truth. Worse than lies, they keep us bound up and unable to fly free. In short, our beliefs are a prison for they don’t allow for truth.
“Truth will have no gods before it. The belief in truth begins with the doubt of all truths in which one has previously believed.”
But many are lazy, too lazy to think for their selves, so they leave the truth up to others. When those truths align with what is already thought then they are embraced as truth. The folly of this approach is that we then only perceive what we believe. How much we miss with this approach especially because God does not exist within the small confines of our beliefs. Heck, even you and I aren’t really reflected in the narrow confines of what we believe ourselves to be.
“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.”
~ Winston Churchill
Deep inside us is an unconscious part of ourselves it is full of shadows, bright glowing spirit, joys and fears. It is the home of our instincts, our intuitions, and stimuli for creativity. It can also be the home of truth for us. Truth is not something that is preached from the outside because it only comes from within.
How to tell if it’s truth vs. just another idea? If it nurtures, if it encourages growth, if it enlivens and frees the spirit, if it engenders love and acceptance, and fosters forbearance and gentleness it is said that it is then the truth. Anything else is an ego-self prejudice.
In the I Ching it is said that when the heart is free of prejudices, it is open to the truth. The intractable mind cannot hear the truth. Any form of self-righteousness prevents the discovery of truth.
I suggest that Truth is the essence of immortality. It is in the prisons of belief and conviction that we are mortal, that we are doomed to the dust of the earth. Truth is also something that can be chased after, something like happiness, but never caught as a function of the chase. The pursuit only prepares you for when truth enters the door.
Is there “the” truth, or is it as the Lebanese philosopher Kahlil Gibran suggested, “I have found ‘a’ truth?” And is it forever a truth, or just in the moment? Is it as the physicist Niels Bohr said “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth?“
I suggest that truth is a state of enlightenment, a place where the ego that you think you are becomes silent, when thought itself becomes still. It is here that you can hear the truth. It is here that you awaken and begin to seek. You may look as though you are alone, but in truth there is God all around you and you begin to glow.
A follower of truth, listens to the inner voice, not the one in your head that is talking right now, or the one in the radio, or TV, or even the pulpit (yes, I know, and even this blog). The true follower surrenders their ideas, their thoughts and beliefs. The student of truth accepts their shadow selves as well as the “self” that they imagine them selves to be, or wish that they were. Truth does not tie itself to any illusion, any time or place. Truth is not a judgment, belief or thought, or anything else that one may have attached themselves to. It cannot be held, or given to another. It cannot be pursued, or sought after and only comes to you when released. It cannot be found in efforting and can only be found in the moment. Truth may only come in the letting go of it, or of anything for that matter.
“The ultimate Truth is beyond words. Doctrines are words. They’re not the Way. The Way is wordless. Words are Illusions.”
Truth is not something apart from you, it’s not something you discover and take in. It’s always been there. It is not in your words, but is sometimes hidden between them. And it can only be found at the moment of death. The death of what you think you are.
“Forgive them Lord for they do not know what they are doing.” This quote by Jesus prior to his death struck me deeply as a young boy. Here was someone enough outside of their own self-interest outside their own ego that they could understand and forgive the wrong thinking of those who not only tormented him but want to kill him.
This could be construed as intercession but it could also be stating a fact about the human condition where most of humankind is unaware of their true nature and therefore can only act out of misunderstanding. Only someone who was conscious of their real self and the reality of the world around them i.e. someone who could transcend their ego could make such a statement.
When people define and categorize each other they cut off their access to love. When they imagine that who and what they see outside themselves is real without the slightest notion of what they personally added to that reality they affect how love is experienced. Too often they experience the love as something outside themselves and the cause of their experience when in fact they are the cause of what they experience.
Later this week I’ll be posting the Love/Hate conflict in the Dark Knight of the Soul blog. Click on the picture link to the right of these posts.
As one begins to see that they are cause of their reality they begin to be more aware of what’s actually out there beyond their skin, what exists beyond the ego. When this happens the next time they experience love they know that it comes from within them and when they experience hate it is because the love has been buried or projected away.
We long for what we are down deep. It is this longing, this connection that moves us when we see love in any of its many forms.
In today’s news media we hear about all kinds of mayhem i.e. murder, war, oppression, financial meltdown, high unemployment, ethnic strife, and extreme political partisanship. I’ve also noticed that the more I read, the more anxious and fearful I become and I grow more defensive.
What, I wondered, was causing the seemingly escalating chaos? Could it be something as simple as unchecked fear and was this fear then feeding upon itself? As human beings attempt to deal with their fears, they show up as images in their dreams that sometimes morph into dark and frightening chimera–nightmares. In the Archipelago of DreamsRobert is constantly reacting to his fears and doesn’t know how to effectively deal with them as they come fast and furious and threaten to overwhelm him.
Alas, our typical human response for dealing with that which scares us is to shove it down into the hidden realms of our subconscious mind. In the short run this seems to work and allows us to get through yet another day, but over the long haul the fears become too large to hide and too difficult to manage and we begin to function through our fears as though they were real.
When people operate out of fear their ability to see reality becomes compromised–everything becomes a threat. For those who live in fear, defense–self-protection–becomes the overriding theme of their lives. This posture then fuels their response to their medical needs, leadership, virtually every aspect of public safety, and sometimes even dictates what foods are eaten.
Fear comes from thinking that you are vulnerable to your circumstances and to the events of your life. It is spawned from the animal part of us that reacts instinctively and without thought–the little archaic lizard, or reptilian, brain that hides at the base of the skull. In humans it is incorporated into the ego-self, a construct that imagines itself to be small and isolated and thus vulnerable to the world. The reality is anything but–we are immensely bigger than our image of ourselves.
However, in a world where the inhabitants are blind to their reality, they build walls around themselves and “things” become important to their defense. How many things and of what kind becomes a preoccupation. As the inhabitants strive to gather more and more things so as to feel safe and secure they themselves become a thing as well and separate themselves even further from each other. And the separation results in each person exploiting the others for what they think will be their personal gain–what they think will quiet the fear.
When you are separated and alone you begin to feel vulnerable and helpless and the fear grows. It is out of that fear that dictators are born, that institutional and religious dogma is created to control the hoards of unpredictable “others,” and where people create points-of-view designed to protect their selves against what is not them. What was born powerful becomes fragile.
In The Archipelago of DreamsRobert leaves behind the fragile ego of his being world and discovers that he is something much more than he ever dreamed of. As he confronts the real cause of his fears, an awareness grows regarding the cost of self-protection–greed, pride, usury, hate, anger, lust, envy, and the ubiquitous self-righteous points-of-view and all of this resulting in overwhelming disruption in both the personal and collective order. The land is raped of its abundant resources and people become objects toward self-centered ends as the bankers, moneylenders, merchants and political leaders use them for their personal lust for safety.
Eventually the scale that is the world tips too far and everything slides off leaving bankrupt institutions and philosophies, wars, political gridlock, and oppression. And the people rail, and wail, and blame, and build their walls even higher. The walls become so high and fortified that the people lose sight of the soul of the world, what the great American Psychologist, James Hillman called the Anima Mundi, and their own soul as well.
It is from this dysfunctional world that Robert comes to the bigger world of the Spirit that we all come from and will all return to. It is in this world that Robert has been tasked to aid in the reconciliation that must take place within a human being in order for mankind to reunite with his soul and his bigger Self, his Spirit Self.
We were meant to be the light of the world and yet we embraced much too much of the shadow. Robert must find a way to reconnect his lost self, our lost selves. But as he learns all too quickly, this will not be easy and much evil conspires to maintain the status quo and to protect the separation. He had to find something within him that he was sure didn’t exist, and he had to find it fast because time was not a friend there, and it didn’t flow in only one direction.
“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.”
–Henri Bergson French philosopher, 1927 Nobelist
Where the optic nerve enters the retina of the eye there is a blind spot that registers nothing. But the mind, the brain, makes up for this empty space by filling in what it thinks ought to be there, not what’s actually there, but what it creates. When seeing in low light there’s an additional blind spot, the Fovea Centralis, that is unable to see color and the objects that are seen are indistinct. As with the optic nerve the brain also fills in the fovea “blindness”.
Don’t believe the blind spot exists? Close your left eye and cast your right eye on the black “cross” sign of the figure below. Move your head close to the screen until the black dot on the right suddenly disappears. The “missing” information will be “patched in” using the surrounding parts of the picture and you see only a white area.
The brain also estimates the size of things by contrasting with surrounding objects. Ever notice how the moon looks at least twice the size when it first rises above the horizon than it does high in the sky? Actually they’re both the same size 1. Also if you were to stand in front of a mirror looking at your face, all looks normal or what you’re normally used to seeing, right? But have you noticed that regardless of how close you are the reflection is only half the size of your real head (measure the mirror image then your head)?
Notice the illusion below: Two different tables right? No, they are actually the same table if you measure them with a ruler.
The above illusion, moon, and mirrored face visuals are all a part of unconscious processes going on in our minds.
And every time we shift our visual attention, the attention of the mind shifts as well. This is part of the bag of tricks wielded by a magician, or even a con artist e.g. shifting your visual attention so as to do something outside your minds focus.
With only a few exceptions in so-called eye-witness testimony people are drastically affected by their level of stress i.e. efficiency of memory goes down with higher stress and then what was seen is stored into recall in a way that makes the most sense to the witness. This is highly dependent on past experiences and prejudices and/or social values. People often will add meaning to their observations that of course affects the observation. For example, the mind will often edit any puzzling or incongruent observations.
Most importantly, and more to the point of this article, what we see is determined by context. A simple proof of this is how we use visual context clues in order to read e.g. You and I can rad this sntnc vn though w hav lft out th ee’s.
Context is also what makes a movie, well… move. In reality it’s just 24 pictures shown per second that when the mind stitches them into a sequence makes it look as though something is moving. 2
But notice it’s not the context of the external reality that I am referring to. It’s our internal reality that provides the context for what it is we see.
And that brings me back to Bergson’s quote from the beginning of this article. What our minds are ready to comprehend is determined by our beliefs, our past experiences, our prejudices, and expectations. In short, our experience of reality is determined by something other than reality–we see what we believe, not the other way around as the popular quotation goes, “seeing is believing”.
Our mind is conditioned to seeing what it thinks that it should and anything outside that conditioning is just not seen.
In order to open ourselves to new possibilities we must first look at the contexts we have created to see what we are currently looking at. We might also be willing to question what it is we are seeing and what about our own minds may be affecting that vision.
2 There are some theoretical physicists who have asked the question as to whether there is any movement other than several moments of time stitched by the mind into what appears to be a moving sequence.
There seems to be so much unrest in the world and intolerance of each others points-of-interest appears to be at an all time high.
Some of my dreams express my own intolerance, points-of-view, and how resistant I can be sometimes to those points-of-view that don’t agree with mine (of course there is a remote possibility that I’m right).
First a few definitions might be in order before we dive into the factors that may be energizing the world’s current unrest.
examination of one’s own actions and motives, self-contemplation, self-examination, self-questioning, self-reflection, soul-searching.
unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one’s own. “a struggle against religious intolerance” Bigotry, narrow-mindedness, prejudice, bias, partiality, inequality, partisan
adherence to the explicit substance of an idea or expression. Adherence to the exact letter or the literal sense, as in translation or interpretation: as in biblical or religious literalism.
Intolerance leads to contraction (vs. growth), insularity (vs. openness), imbalance (unbalanced point-of-view, unbalanced behavior, psychological disturbance) and death. Basically, the soul embraces diversity and the ego does not.
Literalism can cause intolerance and intolerance can sustain literalism and that cuts off any further development and over time leads to a diversion from reality. When this diversion becomes too severe it becomes a psychosis, defined loosely as an “abnormal condition of the soul” characterized by a loss of contact with reality and exhibiting thought disorder. Some who show psychotic behavior exhibit an extraordinary belief in something that just isn’t true, that the facts will not support e.g. women are weak, men are strong therefor men must control and protect women for their own good.
What usually keeps a false belief (or bias) in place is that the mind that has it has been conditioned to not explore the truth or inner motivations and causations behind the belief. Literalism, again, trumps inner or outer questioning and the false belief remains entrenched. Anyone who begins to question thus becomes a danger to the prevailing dogma and has to be either brought back into the system or expunged from it. Many extremists and militants can be said to exhibit delusional qualities even though they themselves can’t recognize it.
So who’s reality are we talking about? Is the mystic psychotic? Is the fundamentalist psychotic? Is the zealot psychotic? How delusional does one have to be to qualify and when does the imbalance become a danger to themselves and/or others? Usually one needs to exhibit the symptoms over an extended period of time and to a great degree. When the delusions take on paranoid qualities and the person begins to act on or against them they can be injurious to others as well as themselves.
Some people experience momentary breaks with material reality when going through an epiphany or have been under prolonged stress or deprivation while some show only mild forms of delusion due to environmental and cultural influences. These don’t usually trigger the diagnosis of psychosis.
Some of the symptoms of psychoses, especially that of delusions, seem to reflect in those having a mystical experience. However, these are temporary. There’s a shift in awareness that persists over time but the disconnect from reality that the psychotic experiences is only temporary in the mystic. The mystic learns to work with the reality of the everyday through the shifted point-of-view whereas a person with psychosis becomes broadly, if not permanently if no intervention is available, delusional and unable to reliably work with reality in a balanced way.
Also under the right circumstances the psychosis of a few can generate a contagious reaction amongst the many and is usually reinforced and maintained through external psychological and sociocultural influences e.g. religious interpretation, regional cultural beliefs.
As I’ve suggested before reality is an expression of our level of consciousness, what we see is a reflection of our inner development or lack thereof i.e. if you only perceive variations of negative, guess where that’s coming from? And until we come to grips with that realization reality will run us ragged with fears and hatreds and resentments and harden our hearts and minds.
Essentially reality will support our level of development e.g. if we are prejudiced, intolerant, fearful and exclusive, the universe, aka reality, will present us with all kinds of experiences along these lines. In other words, if we say “fuck you” to the world the world will return it in kind– put out negative energy and that’s what you’ll get in return– often the energy is not out there it is within yourself. Without self-examination one is doomed to frequent failure (not total failure because even a broken clock is right twice a day).
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Socrates’ statement here might be a little over the top. But he was suggesting that each of us in order to be fully human need to be self-examining otherwise we don’t rise above the level of the animals. I wouldn’t suggest that those who don’t internally question life shouldn’t continue to live or aren’t worth as much as might be implied by such a statement as Socrates’.
But life becomes so much richer and so much less fearful when one examines life while they’re living it. Being free to question life liberates the soul and keeps people balanced while an unexamined and unquestioned life restricts a person’s soul and creates imbalance. As I said at the beginning of this post, “The soul embraces diversity the ego does not.“ Another way of saying that is what rejects diversity is not of the soul, not of the divine that is boundless, but of the small bound-up “skin encapsulated ego” *.
* A phrase attributed to Alan Watts (theologian and philosopher– 1915 to 1973, though some might say he was an Eastern Mystic in an Englishman’s body). I am suggesting that this socially conditioned “skin encapsulated ego” is the ultimate definition of separateness e.g. what is ‘me’ and what is ‘not me’ and is therefore the foundation for all exclusion, prejudice, intolerance, fear and bigotry.