Another Look at Reality

In my last post I floated the idea that even if we were able to somehow travel back in time and communicate freely with people from a bygone age, there would only – at best – be certain aspects of shared experience.  This, I argued, is because ‘truth’ or what we term ‘reality’ is a subjective interplay between a person’s mind, brain and the objects and events that form to produce each person’s perceived world.

‘Aha,’ you may say, “If that were the case, how would you and I share a common view of a scene before us?  Even a short discussion would prove that our vision of what lay around us was identical.  We could even take photographs to demonstrate it!’

Well certainly we citizens of the 21st century share a common perception of the objects and events around us.  Perceptive reality has strong links to social cohesion and the ‘training’ we were given in infancy. 

Fantasy, Fairy Tale Forest, Girl, ForestOur culture has a slightly strange take on sharing our World View with new arrivals.  A rich mythic tradition is passed on to our children – Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, giants, goblins, elves and trolls appear in huge numbers of their storybooks and the bedtime tales we share with them.  Talking animals and fabulous beasts abound.  Then, as the children mature, these wonders are, one by one, consigned to a scrapheap of untruths.  Those stories, they are told, were ‘just pretend’.  Now they are expected to cast away such childish delights and focus on a world that can be seen, prodded and proved to be ‘real’. 

“So are dinosaurs real?” asks the confused child. “What about dragons?  What about Father Christmas…?  Why did you lie to me?”

Parents and carers struggle to justify their actions.  They are doing as their parents did.  They are rearing their young in the way our society dictates.  Once they reach the age of 7 or 8, even the child who knows she once saw fairies in the garden or glimpsed a fiery dragon from her window has put such things aside and conformed to the accepted and shared idea of how reality looks and feels.  Mostly.

Stonehenge, England, Uk, MonumentOf course there are still different perceptions within our common perceptual framework.  If we imagine a hypothetical twenty people standing and regarding Stonehenge in the 2020s, all would probably be in agreement as to the size and bulk of the stones, the green of the grass, the colour of the sky, strength of the wind and sound of the passing traffic on the A303.

One observer, though, might be hugely excited at the sight of a military aircraft flying over the scene – an aspect of the experience missed totally by others.

Another of the people might be high on a hallucinogenic drug or have what is currently called a ‘mental illness’.  That person might be seeing quite different colours strobing and wheeling around the stones and hearing sounds or voices the rest of the observers would not be aware of.

A third might be a synesthete.  He or she might be tasting or smelling the colours and textures in a manner quite alien to the rest.

Perhaps two or three members of the group might have psychic sensitivities which allowed them to see spots of bright light or hazy halos surrounding certain stones or perhaps glowing crystals buried deep beneath the ground.  They might even perceive shadowy figures from other times.

Winter, Snow, Landscape, Trees, SnowfallAs is the custom in our age, more or less all these visitors would take out their phones and photograph the scene before them.  If they then compared the results, all the images would show the grass, the stones, the path and so forth, yet some would include mysterious orbs or thin coloured arcs of light.  Depending on their personal World Views, these would be variously interpreted as aliens, angelic beings, reflections of light from mundane sources or pieces of dust on the camera lens.  Each, of course, would be entirely correct, according to their World View.

I would further suggest that if the group of 20 people were standing around Stonehenge in c2500BC, their perception of what lay before them would be markedly different to that of the 21st century visitors.  Their common take on ‘reality’ would link to their shared prior experience and social conditioning and their society almost certainly perceived the world around them in markedly different ways, with senses responding to stimuli in a manner that we could not grasp.

Clearly, I have no way of demonstrating this.  Those ancient people standing on a wind-blasted plain in southern England left us no written record or clues as to what was going through their minds and how their world looked to them.  They simply, for their own reasons, created a massive structure that survived into our age.

Fortunately for the curious among us, not all World Views are as poorly recorded.  Next time I’d like to take you to a culture that has been meticulously documented by its people, in a language we can read and understand.  In certain ways it is markedly similar to our own, but in others quite, quite incomprehensible.

Perceptive Reality – A Time-Traveller’s Guide

The restrictions of the past year have made it an ideal time for the armchair traveller – or time-traveller, often, in my own case – to indulge in flights of imagination and contemplation.

Stonehenge, Stone Circle, EnglandI will happily spend many hours watching documentaries or reading about archaeological discoveries and documents from other times and places and wishing I could see the temples and sacred places as they appeared in their zenith.  That alone, though, would be no more than mere sightseeing, which to my mind is a fairly empty and pointless activity.  How often I’ve stood and gazed on some great and ancient construction – Stonehenge, the temples of Malta, the Orcadian landscape around the Ness of Brodgar – and yearned for an understanding of the circumstances, the significance, the reason for their construction.

Yes, I can read the guide books, digest the various expert theories, wonder at the brilliance of the technologies that created them, but I lack the World View of those who built and used these structures.  So, of course, do the experts.  They can make educated guesses but might I be so bold as to suggest that in a time when religion is fragmented, science, business and technology are the closest many have to gods and upheaval is everywhere we look, 21st century people are not best placed to frame any possible mindset that could explain the concepts and ideologies behind the enduring wonders of the past as we gaze upon them?

The Roman Empire is an exception.  We have no problem understanding that.  It is so close in morality and intent to our own recent past that we can comprehend their purposes, intentions and ideals with very little difficulty.  Their buildings, military and societal organisations make perfect sense to us.  I will often flick through film and TV drama choices and note that the majority of people in our culture apparently find pleasure and entertainment in watching the murder, death and the anguish of others as much as Romans did in their amphitheatres.

Just as, according to the infinite monkey theorem, a monkey spending long enough at a typewriter keyboard could theoretically type the text of Hamlet, so an infinite number of World Views are bound to throw up some close matches.  That’s not to say we have any sort of continuum that leads logically and developmentally from Rome to here.  This has nothing to do with evolution.  World Views come and go, for reasons I hope to consider in subsequent posts.

(Let me just suggest in passing that any society which believes itself to be at the pinnacle of human development has enough pride to be heading inexorably towards a fall.)

I believe a World View is something more than Zeitgeist, too, although there are more parallels with this idea than with the evolutionary one.  I’m not denying the spirit of a particular generation as being easy to recognise in retrospect.  The 20th century alone threw up several of these.  For me a World View is something deeper, more pervasive and far longer-lasting than a decade or so’s trend.  Perhaps it is the spirit of a Great Age…

Peru, Sacsayhuaman, Sacred, Scenic, SiteThe societies who constructed the Great Pyramid, the Stonehenge and Avebury landscape, the polygonal-walled buildings of Peru or the structures of Göbeklitepe, for example, would have technologies, ideas and concepts of the world so radically different to our own that endless scrabbling in the dust to unearth pottery fragments or the contents of spoil heaps will give us little or no idea of their beliefs and intentions.

Each generation of antiquarians and archaeologists has a view on the purpose of the structures, that view arguably having more to do with contemporary interests and fixations than that which provoked the original constructions.  Thus an ancient site may have been variously viewed by later visitors as a geoglyph,  a landing site for spacecraft, a centre for human or animal sacrifice, a temple for religious worship, an astronomical calendar, a tomb (big favourite, regardless of whether or not there are human remains), a place of pilgrimage or for rites of passage.

So could I, as a time-traveller with many months or years at my disposal and a Babel Fish stuffed firmly in my ear, ever learn to understand the World View of the culture who created one of these enduring monuments?

Probably not.

I suspect that the only point at which our understanding would meet would be in the physical as I perceive it and that, of course, is not where their World View resides.  I might learn vast amounts about their technologies, their methods of construction and the way in which their societies are organised, but the all-consuming beliefs and reasons for constructing such structures would not, I fear, be apparent to me.  Our views of reality would differ so fundamentally that there would be little common ground.  It is very possible that the structures themselves would not reveal to my senses the experiences those who created them would have.  There could be sounds, sights, emotional and spiritual experiences freely available to them which to me would remain hidden.  I recall being quite convinced of this when standing in the chambers of the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni.  I could see the walls, the carvings and the colours but there was so much almost palpable unavailable experience there just beyond my ken.

Seth, through channel Jane Roberts, explains the reason for this, with his customary clarity and eloquence:

Your many civilisations, historically speaking, each with its own fields of activity, its own sciences, religions, politics and art – these all represent various ways that man has used imagination and reason to form a framework through which a more or less cohesive reality is experienced. 

And that is the nub of it.  Reality is perceptive, not as our scientists fondly believe, objective.  My own Guides put it rather more bluntly:

Reality is barely existent.  There is only thought.  

In future posts I hope to explore aspects of different World Views and their varying perception of ‘reality’, as it is a subject I find fascinating.

A Newly Tiled Roof

Roof, Home, Tile, New, RoofingI remember a time when Time seemed to behave itself almost perfectly.  I went through life, things happened, and once they’d happened they were consigned to a bit of my mind labelled ‘Memories’.  Anything beyond the Now I was in at that moment was labelled ‘Future’, and although I could sometimes have a good guess at some of what was to come, there was never anything fixed or certain about it.

It wasn’t quite perfect, though.  I remember that, too.  There were the glitches.  Most were too brief or indistinct to take much notice of, but a few of them stuck stubbornly in my mind, nagging me to notice them.

You get them too?  Of course you do.  We all do.  Maybe we try to pass them off with a casual, “Oh, what a coincidence…”

You ‘knew’ that friend was going to ring you.  You were just thinking about that person, and there they were, walking round the next corner.  Somehow you knew which song was coming up next on the radio, before it started playing.

Sometimes, though, ‘coincidence’ just won’t do as an explanation.

The day I lay in bed, in that drowsy half-awake-half-asleep state and heard a lady telling me I’d have to move out of my house, would have been easy to pass off as a dream, except that five hours later I was phoned by an estate agent with the same voice, telling me my landlord was selling up and I would have to leave.  I think that was the day I stopped believing Time worked the way it was meant to.

Since that day, I’ve been on the lookout for proof that there’s more to this Time malarkey than might seem apparent.  With the help of a couple of very good friends,  I’ve come as close as I can to a double blind experiment.  See what you make of this:

  • I tell my remote viewing partner that I have no idea where I’ll be at 1 pm six days ahead.  I ask him to view my location at that point.
  • He does a viewing and texts me to say I’ll be somewhere with a row of tall, thin trees, a car park, a statue with something round at its base – maybe containing water, a very strong light source and a rectangular building with a newly tiled roof.
  • In order to avoid consciously hunting out a place that would fit his description, I ask another friend – one who has no connection with him at all – to drive me to a location of her choice on the target day, and at 1 o’clock.  I tell her Will has viewed the place, but nothing of what he has seen.
  • On the day, she has chosen a venue and drives me there, arriving at 12.15, but the place she had chosen has closed down, so she makes the decision to head to a garden centre some miles away.
  • 20161008_125920_resizedWe reach the garden centre at 12.56.
  • I immediately see a row of trees, including two tall poplars.
  • We stop in the car park.
  • We walk into the main building and see a small and peculiarly ugly statue of a cherub/fat child pushing a wheelbarrow, containing a well-watered plant.
  • As we walk out towards the plant area, I notice that the building is lit by huge, industrial halogen lamps.  At exactly 1 pm I am standing directly under one.  I then walk outside and – for the first time in two days – the sun comes out.
  • None of the buildings is tiled – newly or otherwise, but apart from that, the matches seem pretty good.
  • We spend some time in the garden centre, then prepare to leave.  As we come out of the main entrance, a movement beyond the boundary fence of the car park catches my eye.
  • It is a builder climbing a ladder on the roof of a newly built house.  It is covered with black roofing felt, with piles of roof tiles laid out across it.  The man is just beginning to tile the roof.  Next to the house is the one he and his companion had presumably completed during the morning.  It is the only building on this new housing development that has a finished roof.

So where does that leave Time?  William didn’t just see where my location would be six days ahead – a location neither I nor anyone else had decided on; he saw it at the moment in time that I was there.  Six days before, those houses would only have been partially built.  A few hours later, there would have been more than one newly tiled building.  Will only saw one.  Therefore he must have viewed it as it was at 1 pm on that particular day.

I’m not denying the existence of Time.  Obviously, it played a crucial role in our experiment.  What I’m suggesting, though, is that Time is infinitely bendy.  Once we believe that we can move beyond it, dipping in and out where we wish, that can happen.  Certainly I’m incredibly lucky to have William to work with.  He possesses exactly the kind of ‘A-Thought‘ or autistic thinking which allows him to open his mind beyond ‘common sense’ and into realms most of us can only glimpse.  No matter how seemingly crazy the experiments I suggest, he simply responds, “Yes, I’m happy to try that.”

And he succeeds.

 

 

Thoughts on and beyond Time

The Passage of Time

The Passage of Time (Photo credit: ToniVC)

Does anyone else have the feeling that they’re inadvertently following some kind of elaborate treasure trail through life?

It’s as if Someone or Something is littering your lifetime with clues and markers that will lead you in a particular direction and towards significant discoveries.

I’ve had that feeling for most of my life.  I know all experience is important and all that but, you know, some things have an extra special feel, and some inner mechanism lights up a little flashing LED that signifies, ‘Notice this.  You’re going to need it later on.’

I’m going to follow the path – as best I can – of one of my own ‘treasure trails’.  You are very welcome to join me on my journey.

Drawing of T. S. Eliot by Simon Fieldhouse. De...

Clue 1:  I was 17 years old, and had just discovered TS Eliot’s poetry.  The Eng. Lit. A-level syllabus involved forensic study of texts, to extricate all possible layers of meaning.  Quite a task with Eliot, but a wholly fascinating and satisfying  one.

I can vividly recall the shock waves that ran through my body on first reading the opening lines of Burnt Norton:

“Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,

And time future contained in time past.”

Heraclitus

Heraclitus (Photo credit: cote)

The next line spoke of time being “eternally present”.  He was quoting (according to our English teacher) the ideas of Heraclitus, founder of Metaphysics and believer in eternal flux.

I was stunned, amazed, numbed by the significance of those words.  For me the world had changed.  I wasn’t sure how or why, but I knew I’d just been handed a valuable pointer, and I’d find out more one day.

Clue 2:  Fast forward about 30 years.  (I’m sure there were other clues between – some I’ve forgotten and many I missed – but the wonder of this system is that no matter how many hints and tips we miss, there will always be others dangled in our path, until we finally notice.)  Even with my sluggish and myopic way of moving through life, I realised that I was being pushed towards reading a particular book.  References to it were cropping up everywhere.

To be honest, the title was putting me off a bit.  It was called Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch.  I was expecting something earnest, slushy and religious.  Fortunately, the book was none of these.  It was a channelled work, quoting a ‘God’ who differed markedly from the one Sunday school teachers had tried to fob me off with.  This God was authentic, witty, fun, always wise and often outrageous.  Many parts stood out, but the words relevant to my present trail came near the start of  Book Two:

“There is no time.  All things exist simultaneously.  All events occur at once.”

There it was again!  First a poet and an ancient philosopher, now God – all telling me something that seemed impossible and yet perfectly right at the same time.

Now the indications started to come thick and fast – mainly because by this point I was actively on the lookout for them.

Space-time continuum

Space-time continuum (Photo credit: pellesten)

Clue 3:  A lifetime’s disinterest in science became a fascination when I discovered the space-time continuum, relativity and fractals.  True, I needed all this to be delivered in the most basic form for it to be intelligible to me, but gradually it opened my mind to time being, at the very least, something wobbly and variable rather than an absolute.

When things start to go blurry at the edges, I begin to get interested; that’s the place I want to explore.

Science also had some helpful quotes.  Einstein said:

“People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

and he had a still more pithy explanation for that illusion:

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

Clue 4:  More channelled material.  It didn’t seem to matter where it came from – the messages were the same.  Jane Roberts, channelling Seth, was stating that yes, we all have many lifetimes, and spaces in between, but that these events were/are/will be all happening at once.

So for ‘past lives’ should we read ‘alternate present lives’?  Oh good grief!

Clue 5:  I met the boy.  I had an unusual but very close friendship with a youngster who had been in a class I used to teach.  Not only did he share my fascination with the bendiness of time and the existence of alternate lives – he personally experienced them.  He had the most brilliant mind and for several years was kind enough to share his thoughts and experiences with me.

Train tickets

Train tickets (Photo credit: Alice Bartlett)

He told me of experiencing involuntary – and highly confusing – ‘slips’ between one reality and another.  (Readers of my book will perhaps recall the train ticket story as an example of this.)

He told me of the 4th dimension where “time becomes fractal and there is no distinction between past, present and future”.  He explained that once someone could interact with this dimension,

“…they could eliminate the normal journey time involved for travel between two points.  As if time is the same at somebody’s destination as their origin, the move between the two points is instantaneous.”

My book coverFinally, I had enough information to put my book – Life: A Player’s Guide – together, including plenty of material on time, and the curious way in which it only exists in our imagined reality.  Like taste, sight and smell, it seemed to be no more than a helpful feedback system for exploring corporeal life, and one that would cease to have any meaning or importance once we shed this mortal coil and moved beyond.  Possibly it was even something we could warp and bend a bit while still here…

I wasn’t finished yet.  The treasure trail clues kept coming.

Clue 6:  As I mentioned in another post, I was recently handed a copy of ‘One’ by Richard Bach.  This, too, explores the idea of parallel lives which could, if we knew the way, be accessed from ‘now’.

Clue 7:  Attending one of those ‘evenings of clairvoyance’ that come up every now and then (so to speak) , I watched as the medium connected to various people’s grannies and parents, giving detailed accounts of their lives that were obviously deeply meaningful to the recipients.

One member of the audience asked why these ladies and gents were still hovering around ‘beyond the veil’, waiting to give accounts of their – it has to be said – rather trivial ailments and idiosyncrasies.  “Why haven’t any of them reincarnated?” she asked.

The medium didn’t answer.  She side-stepped.  She began talking of her own past lives.  The questioner had a good point, though.  The thought of spending eternity queuing up patiently on the other side of the veil at seances to get the chance to tell your great-niece how happy you are and that the tummy spasms no longer affect you doesn’t appeal much, does it?

It only makes sense if we can accept that we can exist in all places and times, all the time… and that tends to send us a little crazy.

I still have plenty of unanswered questions.  Where does all this leave karma, for example?  Can there have been a beginning – Big Bang or whatever – if there’s no time?

I wonder how many more clues the mysterious treasure trail organiser will drop in my path before I figure it out …

If you’re one of the people who is holding any of those clues for me, do let me know, won’t you?  🙂