Once we accept the fact that reality is nothing more than our programmed perception of the world around us, dependent for the most part upon culturally implanted paradigms, we then begin to wake up and see that anything is possible.
Through studying science we learn that our senses can only perceive a tiny fraction of the world right in front of us.
Further, since we can’t consciously process even a fraction of what we do perceive, we filter and arrange information based on what we’ve been taught is possible. Studies show that people can literally miss a giant gorilla in the room if they don’t expect one to appear.
Biology and psychology teach us that chemical and mental processes influence how we think and feel to such an extent that when these systems go awry, a human being can break down utterly. Psychology also teaches us that as individuals we construct identity based on a complex web of beliefs, both subliminal and overt.
Cultural anthropology teaches us the same with regard to societies. What a “primitive” culture calls magic, ours calls science; our technologically “advanced” culture has lost skills, such as the ability to memorize inconceivably long passages, as oral historians and story tellers did in the past.
Another example: many ancient cultures apparently had greater telepathic abilities. Have these been lost today, or just widely discredited? How many times have you known who was calling before you answered the phone? Have you ever had a friend or relative in danger and known it even though you were miles away? I have, and so have most people I know, but we tend to dismiss these occurrences as anomalies, due to our cultural programing… the invisible gorilla in action.
One person’s religion is another’s myth, folklore, or fairy tale. Even the belief in science’s ability to do all and explain all, and the utter disdain for anything not yet conclusively endorsed by science, amounts to a secular form of religion.
My point is that to root oneself in the certainty that our own truth is the penultimate truth, (this time for sure!) shows ignorance of history, psychology and physiology – or else just a woeful lack of imagination and courage.
On the other hand, when we accept the fact that the reality of each and every human is a tenuous and flimsy construction, we begin to understand what shamans and mystics and artists throughout history meant when they said that this world is an illusion, a waking dream.
To relinquish the illusion of certainty can be frightening at first, but there is also a giddy freedom in letting go. Those certainties constrict as much as they protect. There is joy and beauty and mystery; there are wondrous things, more than we ever dreamed possible, around every corner. To be sure, there are also dark forces, but these are to be encountered whether we cling to our illusions or not. Better to see them for what they are.
This open state of mind, attempting to encounter each experience, each moment, afresh, is represented by the fool in the tarot card, the one who puts his bundle on his back and steps joyously off the edge of the cliff.
That first step is our ticket to the Metaphysical Circus.