“Why, after all, take as our standard a material world whose existence is affirmed by nothing more trustworthy than the sense-impressions of ‘normal men’; those imperfect and easily cheated channels of communication? The mystics, ,… have always declared implicitly or explicitly, their distrust in these channels of communication. They have never been deceived by phenomena, nor by the careful logic of the industrious intellect. One after another, with extraordinary unanimity, they have rejected that appeal to the unreal world of appearance which is the standard of sensible men: affirming that there is another way, another secret, by which the conscious self may reach the actuality which it seeks.” Evelyn Underhill
If you have been paying attention to the news in recent months, you probably know that the eyewitnesses to a crime are not the most reliable source of accurate information about what happened. Five different witnesses describe a crime very differently. And, in most cases, this is not because they are lying but rather because the filter everything they see and hear through their beliefs and experiences. We don’t see what is there, we see what we believe is there.
A loud noise happens. Everyone in a group hears it, but no one saw what caused it. One such “witness” describes the sound as a car backfiring, another as a gunshot, a third as fireworks or an explosion. Which is telling the truth? They all are telling what they think is the truth, but the truth cannot be all those things, and may not be any of them. It may have been thunder. Or a large rock falling in an unseen nearby cave.
A stage magician tricks us into believing certain things are happening, when we know they are not. David Copperfield and his assistant walk through a spinning electric fan and then pop up unharmed a hundred feet away. Did they really walk through the fan and turn into a puff of smoke? Of course not. We know it is a trick, and we enjoy the show realizing that we are being tricked and wondering how it is done. But what would we believe if we didn’t know the person doing these things was a professional magician? Would we believe our senses?
As you can see, while the sense of the physical body, and the interpretation of the information they receive by the brain/mind, can be very useful in functioning in the material world. But, as the examples and many others we could list show us, they are not all that reliable. Albert Einstein famously said, “Reality is an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Actually, it isn’t “reality” that is an illusion, but what we believe is reality. I think it would be more accurate to say, “The material world is an Illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
The real reality is not an illusion. The actual reality is spirit. The simplest way to describe the relationship between matter and spirit is to say that matter is a distorted reflection of spirit in a fun house mirror. That is an oversimplification, but it makes it easy to understand. And beyond that is the distortion of what we see by our beliefs and experiences. Still, we have many people who worship this illusion as the ultimate, indeed the only, reality.
So the question naturally arise, “If matter is an illusion, and our physical senses only sense matter, how do we sense reality?” The answer, of course, is that we need to awaken our spiritual faculties, our spiritual eyes and ears. They can see and hear and experience reality, the spiritual reality, and not be fooled by the distorted images of reality or the smoke and mirrors of demonic tricksters. So don’t wait until you are dying to decide it is time to start awakening your spirit and soul. Start now, today!