Can you sense it? Reality that is. Is the everyday world around us as real as it seems?
My searching for truth has given me a seed of ancient wisdom which says that we are all divine spirit having a human experience, that the part of us that’s eternal exists temporarily in a dream-like state that we call reality. I’d really like to play with the human experience bit – I hope you’ll join me.
Spiritual wisdom has given strong hints that the universe, or the world of form is ‘maya’ or illusion – a projection of consciousness. But how can that be, when we know that if a car is driven into a wall, there won’t be much of it left. It’s really solid, right?
Or is it? We know from scientific discoveries that if we were to look at our bodies with very strong magnification so that we could see the smallest particles, there is relatively much more space than substance. Everything else around us is the same.
So what is it that makes things seem solid or real? Could it be anything to do with our five senses and our brains? All that we can see, hear, touch, smell or taste is relayed through our sense organs to our brain which is encased in our skulls. It’s quite likely that it’s dark in there, but we see light and colours. It’s probably quiet in there, but we hear sounds; we smell strong perfumes which do not originate inside our heads. But can our senses and our brains fool us?
I recently had a posterior vitreous detachment in my eye, where the back of the eye comes away a little from the retina. When this happens you see an arc of flashing light, which over time goes away. At the eye hospital I asked the doctor why I saw flashing light, and she said that in actual fact it is movement, and the brain translates the movement as light. Wow! So the brain really can make us see light.
I watched a scientific eating experiment on television recently where a woman taking part was asked to put on a visor which showed her hand as a ‘virtual’ hand displayed on a screen holding a ‘virtual’ chocolate cookie, while her real hand held a real cookie. She had been asked not to eat for several hours beforehand and then told to eat as many cookies as she could. She managed eight.
The next day she was asked to do the same thing, but the virtual hand showed the virtual cookie as being much bigger, when the cookie she was really eating was the same size as the day before. This time she could only manage five. The image her brain saw made her body react to what it thought it had seen. We’re already familiar with this effect when we’ve had a bad dream and wake up thinking it’s real, and when we get goose-bumps, or our hearts thump in our chests while watching a scary film.
A few years ago I saw a programme that was investigating healing abilities presented by Professor Kathy Sykes. A hospital in the USA was doing a study on fake operations to cure pain. Some people had the real thing, and other people had a fake operation – with operating theatre, gowns, instruments, nurses, sound effects, the lot – even down to opening up the leg, then closing it again without doing anything.
Amazingly, a man who had had chronic pain in his knee for many years was completely cured with the fake operation. This man believed he had under-gone an operation and was cured. His brain and his senses made him believe that, and his mind did the rest.
Having been a healer for many years I’ve observed in myself and others, that our belief system plays a huge role in our health and well-being. Perhaps this extends to the world around us as well? For instance, if we believe ourselves to be unworthy or unlucky, does our mind then help to create the circumstances to confirm this, in the same way that the mind of the man who had the fake operation convinced him that he was healed because he believed he had received a real operation?
So how do we know what is real? Can our mind tell us that, because it seems as though our brains can be fooled. My own experience in meditation shows me that when my mind has calmed and cleared, the part of me that is the witness or the watcher, senses a sea of peace, and I merge with that. It has been called ‘the peace that passeth all understanding’. It’s always there once I’ve let everything else clear away.
I realise that I’m not my mind, because when I meditate I can watch the thoughts swimming around in my mind and let them pass. I can watch as my mind tries to hang on to a thought and ‘work’ it. I can decide to let that pass too. We have a saying that we can change our minds – right? So who’s doing the changing? Perhaps it’s that divine spirit who is having the human experience. My experience is that this is the truth. This is what I find is real.
Thank you for coming on this little journey with me. In case it all got a bit too serious, let me tell you about a little ‘Ladybird’ book that I was given for Christmas on Mindfulness meditation. It poked fun at people who practise meditation and was truly hilarious. I recommend it. (I recommend meditation too though!)