A Three Thousand Year Secret — Part I

By Doug Marman

For over a hundred years, the bizarre mysteries of quantum mechanics have puzzled physicists. Most have given up trying to explain the strange behavior of subatomic particles. Scientists have no intuitive answer. As a result, the quantum revolution is incomplete, as I said in another article, because we haven’t gained any wisdom in our lives from this great discovery.

Lenses of Perception offers a new approach. These mysteries do make sense and we can learn valuable lessons from them. We simply need to look at quantum behavior as the result of relationships. This offers us new insights into the true nature of life.

I Ching — The Book of Changes

I Ching — The Book of Changes

I’m still absorbing the meaning of it all. So, I keep running into discoveries that take me by surprise. For example, the realization just hit me that none of this is new. A deep understanding of the quantum enigma was known over three thousand years ago, under a different name.

This didn’t occur to me until after finishing my book, Lenses of Perception. As the first printed copies were being shipped, memories of an ancient book, the I Ching, unexpectedly came to mind. All at once I had the oddest idea: The I Ching and Lenses of Perception are both describing the same thing.

What a strange thought. Could this be right? I found a copy of the I Ching—Book of Changes and began flipping through its pages. The more I read, the more I saw the connection between these two books. But, how can this be?

No one knew about atoms or the subatomic world over three thousand years ago, when the I Ching was first written. How could they solve the quantum riddle? They lived in a world surrounded by animals and nature. Lightning and thunder, the life-giving rays of the sun, the cycles of life and death, day and night, and the changing seasons were all mysteries to them.

Their awareness of mechanical and chemical reactions was primitive compared to ours. But as I thought about it, I realized that this was an advantage. It helped them see some things clearer, because it made them more aware of the power of relationships. Not just their ties with people, but with nature and life itself.

Wood, Bamboo, and Elegant Stone by Ni Zan (Wikipedia)

Wood, Bamboo, and Elegant Stone by Ni Zan (Wikipedia)

They didn’t see themselves as observers. They were participants. Life, for them, was an experience they shared with the natural world. If relationships are the key to understanding quantum behavior, they were fully prepared to solve the mystery.

The problem we have today is that we keep trying to explain everything through third-person lenses. We learned this hundreds of years ago from Isaac Newton. It is now considered a foundation stone for all of our sciences: We study the world as outside observers. And there’s a reason why objectivity is so crucial: It’s the perfect tool for understanding cause and effect.

Unfortunately, this way of seeing fails in the quantum world. The behavior of particles can’t be explained by cause and effect. Physicists have proven this. Particles seem to defy all logic, from an outsider’s perspective. Understanding relationships, however, changes everything.

The I Ching emerged in an age when third-person perception—which we think of today as the scientific perspective—was being learned and used for the first time. However, people in those days were mostly blind to the mechanical reactions that are second nature to us today, because their lives and experiences were dominated by relationships, not mechanisms.

Centuries after the I Ching was first written, objectivity began to bloom. China shows some of the earliest efforts in the practice of science. But we see similar changes in Ancient Greece and other countries, as well. For example, in Greece, we find Pythagoras, followed later by Plato, Aristotle, Archimedes, and others.

This move toward objectivity created a growth in knowledge about the world. At the same time, it decreased our feelings of closeness to nature. This is exactly what the writers of the Old Testament were getting at with the story of the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were forced to leave when they ate from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” In other words, objective knowledge was dimming their intimate connection with life.

This doesn’t mean that we should live like our ancestors. No, that’s not the lesson here. The point is that our ancestors saw the changes taking place—the shift to objectivity—and they tried to warn people about what they were losing. It isn’t necessary to give up our spiritual connection with life. We simply need to learn how to use different lenses.

All of this explains why, three thousand years ago, some people began teaching a natural way of seeing that shows us the secrets at the heart of all relationships. It turns out that these same principles solve the riddles of quantum particles. We gradually forgot this ability, as third-person lenses took over more and more of our perceptions. I think it’s time to remember.

But this story goes much further. After looking through the I Ching, it is clear that the original authors realized that the same principles that govern relationships in the outer world play an equally important role in our inner experiences as well. In other words, the same lenses help us understand the spiritual mysteries. In fact, they help us penetrate deep into the inner planes.

Let’s start by looking at the role of relationships in the physical world. In Part II, we’ll explore the inner side of this story.

In Lenses of Perception, I showed that all four of the forces known to physics, along with the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, can be explained by three different types of relationships:

  1. There are one-on-one connections between beings.
  2. There are groups that form as action teams, pulled together by a common goal.
  3. Large groups also create a feeling of pressure on their members that tends to align people to a norm.

The first two, above, are highly personal experiences. The third one is impersonal because it’s based on outsider perceptions—the way everyone sees everyone else. (For more details see Lenses of Perception.)

We can relate to all three types of relationships on the human level. Let’s review.

First, one-on-one relationships naturally lead to feelings of attraction and repulsion. Friendships and love affairs spring from something that exists between two people, drawing them together. This type of relationship doesn’t belong to one person or another, but to both together. It’s a shared connection and a private experience. And it’s never static. It continually changes as our understanding of each other, and the world, changes.

Second, groups that work as a unit are pulled together by a sense of “all-for-one and one-for-all.” We feel this in strong families, well-functioning teams, and the sense of loyalty we feel for the communities and companies we work for. This can be a powerful and deeply moving relationship when it inspires everyone to pitch in.

Third, large groups have a completely different type of influence on us. We call it peer-pressure, and we feel it even when no one is intentionally pressuring us. It happens unconsciously because we feel a need to adapt to the norm of society. This is why lawyers tend to dress and act alike, while actors and accountants have different styles and behavior. We try to fit in with groups because it’s uncomfortable being out of step with the world.

These three types of relationships not only play an important role in human affairs, they also define the world of subatomic particles (as shown in Lenses of Perception). For example, “entanglement” is one of the great puzzles of quantum physics. When two particles become “entangled,” their traits become aligned in such a way that the connection between them seems to reach across time and space, defying all logic. This fits perfectly with our experiences with loved ones. We feel their successes and failures, their joys and suffering, as if we’re connected, because we are.

Now, what about the I Ching? What does it say about these three types of relationships? Here is what the I Ching—Book of Changes says:

“In ancient times the holy sages made the Book of Changes thus:

“Their purpose was to follow the order of nature. Therefore, they determined the way of heaven and called it the dark and the light. They determined the way of the earth and called it the yielding and the firm. They determined the way of man and called it humane feeling and rectitude. They combined these three fundamental powers and doubled them; therefore the Book of Changes captures the signs of nature by six lines.”[1]

Let me explain. First, by studying nature, the ancient sages determined that there are three fundamental powers behind all changes. They represent these powers with three lines.

These are the symbols used in the I Ching. They’re called “trigrams.” Each glyph has three lines, either solid or broken, creating eight possible combinations:

I Ching trigrams

I Ching trigrams

Historians have discovered the use of trigrams in China in the earliest Chinese writings. However, around three thousand years ago, the I Ching went through a change: The trigrams were doubled and turned into hexagrams (six lines instead of three).

Why were the lines doubled? It turns out that the sages who first created the I Ching saw both inner and outer forces behind everything that happens. And these inner and outer influences are governed by the same three powers. However, the inner and outer worlds are different.

Therefore, in the beginning, the trigram for outer changes and the trigram for inner changes were separate. Two trigrams were needed to see a complete complete picture of the influences. That’s why these two trigrams were combined into one hexagram with six lines.

For now, I’m going to focus on the outer trigram. In Part II, we’ll look at how the inner trigram works. This should make it easier to understand the deep wisdom revealed by the I Ching about the nature of life. But first, let’s look at the history of the I Ching. It’s something of a mystery.

It is one of the oldest books in the world. No one knows when it began, since it goes back before the earliest records. Legend has it that it started with Fu Hsi, the first emperor of China (2852–2737 B.C.), but this is just a myth. No one knows.

However, one thing that is well known is that the I Ching was the inspiration behind two of China’s greatest teachings: Taoism and Confucianism. In fact, the I Ching was the well-spring for much of what we think of as “oriental wisdom.” It inspired the flowering of ancient China, leaving its mark on everything, including Buddhism, especially Zen. Its influence can still be felt today, thousands of years later.

Now, let’s listen to how a translator of the I Ching, Richard Wilhelm, explains the meaning of the trigrams:

“The eight trigrams are images not so much of objects as states of change. This view is associated with the concept expressed in the teachings of Lao-tse [Lao Tzu], as also in those of Confucius, that every event in the visible world is the effect of an ‘image,’ that is, of an idea in the unseen world. Accordingly, everything that happens on earth is only a reproduction, as it were, of an event in the world beyond our sense perception… The holy men and sages, who are in contact with those higher spheres, have access to these ideas through direct intuition and are therefore able to intervene decisively in events in the world.”[2]

These aren’t actual ‘images’ or ideas, but this gives us a hint of what this is referring to. They are intuitive perceptions, as Wilhelm says. But even this doesn’t explain what they are. The I Ching tries to show us that there are three patterns behind the influences of life, both inwardly and outwardly. By contemplating the trigrams, it’s possible to learn new lenses that gives us new ways of seeing these patterns directly. This is why the I Ching produced such a powerful influence on Oriental thought. It is just as valuable for our lives today.

This is why I say the I Ching teaches the same thing as Lenses of Perception, because it shows that with new ways of seeing, a deeper understanding becomes clear.

Now, let’s study these trigrams. Are they really describing the same three types of relationships as in Lenses of Perception? I believe they are. But I’ll will warn you that we have to look behind the words to find their true meaning. This takes a little digging, but it’s worth the effort, because it helps us uncover a treasure that has been buried for over three thousand years.

The I Ching represents the “three fundamental powers” by giving them different names. Their meaning seems elusive at first. But I’ll walk you through them.[3]

First, the power represented by the top line in a trigram is described by these words: “heaven as content.” What does this mean? What force is this describing?

We need to set aside the literal meaning of these words to see what they’re hinting at. Remember, we’re looking for a lens that makes this clear to us.

Don’t think of heaven, here, as another world. It’s referring to an influence, not a place. It is describing a specific element of change—an inner impetus that shapes life.

The philosophy of yin and yang came from the I Ching

The philosophy of yin and yang came from the I Ching

To get a better insight, we need to hear what the ancient commentaries say. They tell us that when the top line is solid, it is called “light.” When the line is broken it is “dark.” The dynamic between these opposites, light and dark, describe this power. This is the principle that inspired the Taoist teaching of “yin” and “yang.” It tells us that opposites give rise to each other as they relate to each other. Light and dark, in the world, along with many other dualities, are considered manifestations of this power.

It still seems mysterious, doesn’t it?

Now let’s look at this in terms of relationships. Think about a connection developing between two people. It starts with an unconscious attraction. In other words, it starts in darkness. Soon, an intuitive impression—the idea of a possible relationship—emerges into the light of day, you might say.

Feeling this potential for a relationship influences them. But as soon as they realize that the feeling is mutual and real—the moment they both perceive this—it changes the way they see each other. Suddenly the future seems less clear. They’re plunged into darkness. What will happen next? The process goes back and forth as the couple, layer by layer, come to understand each other. More and more emerges into the light. In other words, this top line describes the influence of one-on-one relationships.

The I Ching calls it “heaven as content” because it comes from within. It is the inner content and substance that shapes the dynamic nature of relationships. It gives birth to attraction and repulsion, and from this springs all of the energy that propels our world. The light and warmth from the sun, the vitality of a sprouting seed, the power of storms—all emerge from this source of change. It is easy to see why the ancients saw this as the spirit of life itself—the influence of heaven—because it comes from within.

The dawning of light, when a relationship becomes real, is indeed the source of light in our world. Physicists call it electromagnetism (see NOTE below). The sages were right. The back and forth nature of relationships is also the cause of the wave action in electromagnetic waves. The alignment here with what I wrote about in Lenses of Perception is clear.

At first, when we looked at the meaning of the top line, it seemed hard to fathom because it isn’t describing an object or a thing, or even an idea. This power is a dynamic that we experience with connections. We can’t understand it using third-person lenses, because it’s invisible to outsiders. We only know it because we’re involved in relationships with life. I call it a “second-person lens,” because it’s a way of seeing the “you” in others, in relation to ourselves.

This is what physicists have been missing. They study the way outside forces influence things. They don’t see the dynamics that emerge between things, because these exchanges are private and hidden. We have to be in a relationship to see them.

Sages of the I Ching (image from https://universe-review.ca

Sages of the I-Ching from left to right: Emperor Zhou-Man, who wrote some of the earliest commentary on the I-Ching; Fu Hsi the mythical first emperor of China; and Confucius (image from https://universe-review.ca

Next, let’s look at the middle line. This one is just as mysterious. It’s described by the words: “man as subject.” That doesn’t make much sense, does it?

The word, subject, means the opposite of object. An object is something that seems to exist on its own. A subject exists only in relation to something else. For example, the subject of a painting is what the art is about. However, there is another aspect to this word: A subject is under the rule of someone else. This is what we mean when we say a person is subjected to another. This gets us closer to the meaning of the word we are looking for here.

The word, man, refers to mankind. Being the middle line, it says that people stand halfway between the inner expression of light and the outer world of form. Halfway between heaven and earth. This is how sages saw the human race thousands of years ago. But remember, these lines represent influences. So, man, here, is more like a verb, such as manning a post.

What makes mankind different from the other creatures of our world? We work for causes. We have goals. Working with a group of others for a purpose means taking up a role, a position in a hierarchy. This is what raises the human race. This is the power that allowed us to create civilization and modern technology. It also shows us why mankind is subjected to heaven.

This doesn’t mean that we’re stuck in the middle between heaven and earth. The I Ching shows that all conscious beings are involved with all three levels of the trigram, whether we realize it or not. Rather, what this is saying is that the term, man, is hinting at the power that comes from working for a greater cause by being subjected to a higher rule.

When the middle line is solid, it represents “humane feeling,” which is the desire to help others. Caring for those less fortunate, or those who need care, is the way this power flows down from above. When the middle line is broken, it means “rectitude,” which is a sense of moral correctness—doing what is right. This is the way the power flows up. Once again, the dynamic between these opposites is the key to understanding.

Think of a leader who cares for the people he is leading, or an artist who loves her work. In these cases, the artist and the leader act as agents of change, but they soon come to learn that they’re never completely in control. The power they bring to the world comes through them, not from them. The artist, for example, is subject to the source of her inspiration. She must look up to and honor her muse. The leader must find a vision to show him the right course.

In other words, only by looking up can the leader and artist find the source for leading and creativity. Artists need inspiration. Leaders need a purpose. We find these by looking up to something larger than ourselves. This is the reason why this mode of action is in the middle between heaven and earth.

The I Ching doesn’t just see this middle power as something that belongs only to mankind. Plants bear seeds and fruit that are gifts to the world. Animals care for their young, and their offspring learn from and depend on them until they mature. All living creatures give birth and make sacrifices for the sake of the continuation of life. This is the power of the “all-for-one bond,” the most powerful force in the world.

At the level of particles, we see protons and neutrons instead of seeds. We find atoms instead of families. The hierarchical structure of nature is visible from the lowest levels to the highest, due to this power. Ancient people saw this even more clearly than we do today.

The_trigram_and_its_meaningNow for the bottom line. This is the easiest one. The I Ching describes this power with these words: “earth as form.” It represents the influence of outer forms—the public world.

If the bottom line is solid, it represents “firmness.” If the line is broken, it is considered “yielding.” From this we see that the nature of this element moves from being a stabilizing force, like the ground we stand on, to a force that moves us to adapt as the world changes.

Think of times in your life when you were in-tune with society. You felt like you were exactly where you were supposed to be. That’s a feeling of firmness. Other times you realize how desperately you need to change because the world has changed. That’s the desire to yield. These experiences come from being part of an outer reality. In other words, it comes from impersonal relationships with groups. This same force, in physics, creates fields.

The I Ching tells us that there are times to stand firm, because firmness is needed in the world. In other situations, we should go along with changes, because it’s a time to be receptive to the world. We can choose our actions wisely if we see the situation correctly.

This is the whole crux of this teaching: If we see the inner influences of these three powers, we will understand the way of life and can align ourselves to it. In other words, it can make our relationship with life whole and complete. Here is how the I Ching puts it:

“The Book of Changes enables us to comprehend the way of heaven and earth and its order.

“Looking upward we contemplate with its help the signs in the heavens; looking down, we examine the lines of the earth. Thus we come to know the circumstances of the dark and the light. Going back to the beginnings of things and pursuing them to the end, we come to know the lessons of birth and of death. The union of seed and power produces all things; the entering and leaving of soul brings about change.

“When, in this way, man comes to resemble heaven and earth, he is not in conflict with them. His wisdom then embraces all things, and his way brings order into the whole world. He is active everywhere but does not let himself be carried away. He rejoices in heaven and has knowledge of the laws of nature, therefore he is free of care. He is content with his circumstances and genuine in his kindness, so he can practice love.

“The Book of Changes includes the forms and scope of everything in the heavens and on earth. Nothing escapes it. All things everywhere are completed in it. Nothing is missing. Therefore, by means of it we can penetrate the way of day and night, to understand it. Just as spirit exists everywhere, the Book of Changes is not bound to any one form.”[4]

All of the wisdom contained in this three-thousand-year old book can be understood with the right lenses. This is the same message as Lenses of Perception. It is strange to realize that I am restating something that started so long ago. It does indeed seem like an ancient science.

But what I’ve shared so far is only part of the story. We’ve been focusing on the outer trigram. That’s the same story I wrote about in my book. It turns out, however, that these same influences play a role that is just as important in the inner worlds. They underlie the workings of heaven as well.

This is the part of the story that I didn’t tell in my book, but needs to be told. This is also part of the teaching that was lost over three thousand years go.

Stay tuned for Part II.

NOTE: If you are interested in how these three types of relationships explain the four forces of physics, here’s a quick explanation:

One-on-one relationships between charged particles lead to attraction and repulsion, which is where the force of electromagnetism comes from. You might think that every electron repels every other electron, but physicists have shown that this isn’t true. This is one of the unique qualities of relationships—you can’t predict them.

The “all-for-one bond” on the level of particles creates the “the strong force,” the strongest of all the forces. When three quarks come together as a group, they can become so unified that the group acts as if it’s a singular particle. This is where protons and neutrons come from. When protons and neutrons unite, they create atoms. A new whole emerges from this relationship that is greater than the parts. And as we saw above, quarks don’t always bond in this way. It doesn’t happen automatically. Often, when they form a group, their ties are so weak that the bond fizzles almost immediately, while protons can have lifetimes that are almost as old as the universe itself. These relationships are completely unpredictable.

We also see peer pressure between particles, the third type of relationship. This is where “fields” come from. For example, all of the particles in our universe form a single field called “space.” Space isn’t just an idea, and it isn’t empty. It exerts a real pressure. Einstein showed that curvatures in space define the force of gravity.

We saw above how accountants, actors, and lawyers form groups with differing senses about what is normal. It’s easy to see that this can lead to conflicts between groups, since they form different ways of seeing. The same thing happens with electrons, neutrinos, and quarks. The clash between different types of particles gives birth to the last of the four forces of physics: “the weak nuclear force.” It causes particles to change types, leading to the radioactive decay of atoms. And, once again, the process seems completely random to outsiders. Physicists never know when an atom will decay. They only know its typical life expectancy. That’s why they call it a “half-life.”

The point is that none of the four forces are driven by cause and effect. This is a problem. Why are the laws of nature so unpredictable at the quantum level?

The answer is easy to see, with the right lens: It’s all about relationships. They’re complicated. You can’t predict what happens next at the level of individual beings, because attraction and repulsion comes from within. They aren’t outer forces. They’re the result of life interacting with life. This new insight completely changes the picture of what is happening in the quantum world, and it opens new doors to understanding our own lives and interactions.

If you find it hard to believe that relationships could play such a central role in quantum mechanics, then you might enjoy this recent article: Complementarity and the Quantum of Life: Nobel-Winning Physicist Frank Wilczek on Why Reality Is Woven of Opposing Truths

In the article Maria Popova writes:

“[Niels] Bohr [who has been called the father of quantum mechanics] was so enchanted by complementarity and its manifestations beyond science that he became fascinated with the unified duality of yin-yang in the Eastern philosophy — so fascinated that he placed the yin-yang symbol in the middle of the coat of arms he designed for himself, under the banner Contraria sunt complementa [Opposites Are Complementary].

“[Noble-Winning Physicist Frank] Wilczek writes:

“From his immersion in the quantum world, where contradiction and truth are near neighbors, Niels Bohr drew the lesson of complementarity: No one perspective exhausts reality, and different perspectives may be valuable, yet mutually exclusive. The yin-yang sign is an appropriate symbol for complementarity, and was adopted as such by Niels Bohr. Its two aspects are equal, but different; each contains, and is contained within, the other. Perhaps not coincidentally, Niels Bohr was very happily married. Once recognized, complementarity is a wisdom we rediscover, and confirm, both in the physical world and beyond.”

 

[1] Derived from: Richard Wilhelm, English translation by Cary F. Baynes, The I Ching — or Book of Changes, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1967, p. 264.

[2] Richard Wilhelm, English translation by Cary F. Baynes, The I Ching — or Book of Changes, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1967, p lvii.

[3] For an explanation of the three “powers” represented by the lines in a trigram, see: Richard Wilhelm, The I Ching — or Book of Changes, p 264-265.

[4] Derived from Richard Wilhelm, The I Ching — or Book of Changes, p 293-296.

This is Your Brain on Religion — This is Your Brain on Science

By Doug Marman

The main premise of the Lenses of Perception theory is that there are fundamental lenses—ways of seeing—and we can only perceive through one lens at a time. A recent series of experiments validates this idea.

Researchers from Case Western University and Babson College published a study three weeks ago titled, Why Do You Believe in God? Relationships between Religious Belief, Analytic Thinking, Mentalizing and Moral Concern.

Their test results show that when people think of religious matters, their brains suppress critical thinking. And when they focus on scientific topics, their brain suppresses religious thoughts.

“It suggests religious beliefs and scientific thinking clash because different brain areas are involved in both cognitive processes.”[1]

Thinking about science and thinking about religion requires two different brain networks, and both networks suppress the other. ("Say your prayer" photo by Joachim Bär. Eucaryote cell illustration from Wikipedia.)

Thinking about science and thinking about religion require two different brain networks, and both networks suppress the other. (“Say your prayer” photo by Joachim Bär. Eucaryote cell illustration from Wikipedia.)

In other words, the experiments showed clearly that working with science involves one brain network, while religion works with a completely different network. And the two networks interfere with the other, making it hard to use both at the same time.

The fact that these brain networks clash with each other is one reason we see conflicts between religious belief and science. However, lenses of perception theory suggests that this isn’t the underlying cause.

Our brains evolved these two networks for a reason: The world is governed by different ways of seeing. This isn’t just about the lenses that human beings use. It reaches all the way down to the level of subatomic particles.

Everything works this way because the world isn’t created by outer forces. It comes into existence through conscious experiences, at every level. That’s why perception plays such an important role.

For example, the scientific perspective uses a third-person lens. That’s the lens we use when looking at the world as if we’re outside observers. This turns out to be the best approach for studying mechanical reactions because particles go along with the outsider perspective. This is why, when trying to analyze a cause-and-effect process, third-person lenses give us the clearest picture of what’s happening.

But the world isn’t just mechanical. Relationships also hold groups together and connect beings to each other. These ties emerge from second-person experiences, created by common interests shared with others.

Second-person perceptions are the basis of all relationships. However, they come in two distinct forms.

First, there is a sense of empathy that allows us to relate one-on-one with another person or animal. We experience this with friends and our pets when we connect with them.

When someone we care about is in pain, we actually feel it. At the subatomic level this is known as entanglement. If two particles become entangled, they literally form an invisible alignment that reaches across time and space. This is one of the many mind-boggling features of quantum physics that make sense when we see them as relationships.

The second type of second-person perception gives us our moralistic sense of the right thing to do. Moral concerns emerge from connections to groups such as communities we belong to, companies we work for, or even our feeling for the human race or the whole of life. Working together with others shows us that we can create something greater as part of a group.

This is where our sense of responsibility comes from. We want to contribute. We want our lives to mean something. I call this the “all-for-one bond,” because it’s a special relationship that team members have with each other when working toward a singular goal.

At the level of fundamental particles, the same force holds atoms together. And in biology, cells bind to the organisms they belong to for the same reason.

So, our brain evolved ways of seeing these patterns of behavior because the world is shaped by these relationships.

The research paper, above, ran tests to see the difference between empathy and moral concern. They wanted to determine how each of these two types of relationship relate to religious belief. Surprisingly, they found that only the moralistic sense showed a strong connection. Empathy played hardly any role at all in the religious experience.

This is exactly what the lenses of perception theory predicts. Religion comes from our sense that there is a higher purpose to life and that a life with meaning comes from working with others for something beyond ourselves. This doesn’t belong to religion alone. Scientists also feel the sense of purpose that comes from working with others for the advancement of science.

This raises another interesting point reported by the above paper: There is no reason why we can’t move back and forth between religion and science, between our moral sense and an analytic perspective. We simply need to learn that they engage two different ways of seeing. Two different brain networks are involved. This means that we need to change lenses when shifting from one to the other.

“The study also points out that some of the great scientists of our times were also very spiritual men. ‘Far from always conflicting with science, under the right circumstances religious belief may positively promote scientific creativity and insight,’ says Tony Jack, lead author of the study. ‘Many of history’s most famous scientists were spiritual or religious. Those noted individuals were intellectually sophisticated enough to see that there is no need for religion and science to come into conflict.’”[2]

[1] http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/critical-thinking-suppressed-brains-people-who-believe-supernatural-1551233

[2] http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/critical-thinking-suppressed-brains-people-who-believe-supernatural-1551233

Making Life Your Friend

By Doug Marman

What’s everywhere but is hard to find? The spiritual path. Discovering it is never easy. First we must to go through a major struggle and search. Only a deep hunger and desire for the inner meaning of life can bring us to the threshold where the spiritual path is possible.

"Stairway to Heaven" by Beniamin Pop

“Stairway to Heaven” by Beniamin Pop

Why? Why is it that no matter how openly the path is taught and how simply it is explained, it’s still so difficult to find? This is the age-old paradox.

With the new understanding described in the book, Lenses of Perception, we have a new way of explaining what is happening: A new lens—a new way of seeing—is needed to recognize the spiritual path. It can’t be seen by only looking at the world as if we were standing on the outside looking in.

The problem is that changing our fundamental way of seeing is traumatic. We need to let go of how we view ourselves and our place in the world. Then we must pass through a zone of not-knowing, before we can recognize the reality of a new perspective.

As a result, people feel lost just before finding the spiritual path. This is a universal experience. It feels as if the whole foundation of life disappears before a new light dawns.

The spiritual path only opens up for us after we make an inner connection with life. This is why many people feel that something is missing. They felt closer to life as children, but they don’t know how to get that joy of discovery back. How do we restore the link?

The good news is that we never lose this ability. We’ve simply forgotten the path because we change our way of seeing when we grow up. Our objective, third-person view of ‘the world out there’ blinds us to our inner experiences. This is why we miss the subtle opportunities of the spiritual path all around us. The solution is simply to remember the lens we used as children.

"Boys Will Be Boys" by Amy Burton

“Boys Will Be Boys” by Amy Burton

Our childlike sense if wonder comes from a second-person point of view. This way of seeing doesn’t look at the world as an object. It sees everything as if it were alive, as if it were a living being.

Think of the words you write to a lover or a close friend. “I wish you were here. I miss you. I thought of you today…” You call your friends YOU. That’s a second-person perspective. Spending time with your friends creates invisible connections. These bonds are made from the second-person perceptions you share with them.

We can feel the same relationship with all of life. We only need to change our lens. That’s when we remember that we have always been connected and always will be.

But remember: If you want to make the whole of life your friend, you must be a friend. Look forward to every day. Greet your mornings and evenings with a kiss. Become a lover—not of the outer world—but of life itself.

However, this is just the first step in finding the spiritual path. Waking up to our second-person connection with life isn’t enough. The real change takes place after we find the “all-for-one” bond. This is what lifts us up out of our limited consciousness into something larger.

As I explained in, Lenses of Perception, the all-for-one bond is a special relationship that forms from second-person connections. It only happens when conscious beings connect with beings at a higher level, such as living cells bonding with an organism, forming its body. We see the same thing when employees follow leaders in an organization.

"Magic Forest" by Rodrigo Lozano

“Magic Forest” by Rodrigo Lozano

Therefore, the spiritual path begins when we find an Inner Master. That’s where our search is leading us.

Finding a true inner teacher links us to a higher consciousness that uplifts us. This connection is what allows us to experience the magic of the spiritual path. It’s an inner experience, and once we see it working in our lives the whole meaning of life changes for us.

Following the spiritual path requires a commitment, but not to an outer form or person—it’s an inner relationship. The same is true with all second-person relationships, they’re not held together by outer forms, they are inner bonds. Friendships and families survive because people are willing to make sacrifices for each other. That’s what keeps the bonds alive. The same is true for the spiritual path.

However, we need a whole new way of seeing, to understand what it means. This has nothing to do with belief. It’s all a matter of perception.

The commitment we make is not to the Inner Master directly, but to the uplifting wave of spirituality that flows through the all-for-one bond. This only works if the Inner Master is also working for a higher state of consciousness. As Lenses of Perception shows, the same force drives all of evolution. That’s why we see a hierarchy in the structure of life forms, with genes working for cells, cells working for organisms, and organisms coming together for the sake of societies.

The difference with the all-for-one bond on the spiritual path is that it connects us to an inner hierarchy. Thus, no matter where we might stand in that hierarchy, we always seem to be in the middle, since there are always those above us who we can learn from, and those below who we can help.

With the right lens, the invisible path becomes visible.

Spirituality and Atheism Are Not Opposites

By Doug Marman

Previously, I wrote about The Difference Between Spirituality and Religion.

Here’s a quick summary: Followers of religion look to outer forms for worship—whether a holy book, a savior, a sacred place, or God.

Seekers of spirituality, on the other hand, look more to inner experiences as the source of their inspiration. These can be simple feelings of a connection with life, or a deep sense of wonder that changes how we see the world.

This difference leads to a surprising conclusion: Spirituality and atheism are not opposites.

Religion and atheism are clearly at odds with each other. Atheists openly reject the existence of God. They see deities as myths created by human beings. Most religions, however, say that belief in God or a higher power is crucial.

These positions are polar opposites. How can spirituality escape this age-old battle?

The answer comes from what causes the conflict between atheism and religion: It springs from differing beliefs.

Belief, however, is secondary for those who walk the spiritual path. Inner experiences can occur at any time and change our relationship with life. So, it’s more important to stay open and listen inwardly to the purpose hidden in the present moment. Planting a flag in the ground to demonstrate our belief can limit our abilities to catch life’s subtleties.

bird-in-the-wind-800px-DavidMackenzie

Bird in the Wind by David Mackenzie

All of this means that spirituality-minded people can, at times, find themselves aligned with atheists in surprising ways.

For example, both atheists and spiritual seekers agree on the importance of searching for truth and that each person should come to their own conclusions about God and the meaning of life. The personal quest to understand is too important to settle for simplified answers passed down by others.

Traditional followers of religion disagree. Their teachings are built on practices and doctrines that have been tested and proven by thousands of people, over the centuries. They see their teachings as timeless, originating from a divine source.

As a result, religious belief often leads to the perception that there are outsiders and insiders.

This is an idea that both atheists and those who follow their own individual spiritual path oppose. However, they have different reasons for rejecting the idea of outsiders and insiders.

Atheists claim that the religious emotion of being on the inside—the feeling that they are “the chosen ones”—is irrational and based on superstitious thinking. Atheists want to have nothing to do with being in such a group.

Spiritual seekers agree that we shouldn’t be sorting people into outsiders and insiders, but for a different reason: Everyone can experience a spiritual connection with life. Neither birth nor belief are the deciding factor, because we all have this inner link. It’s only a matter of becoming aware of it. Therefore, those who follow spiritual paths often feel closer to the founders of religion than their followers, because the founders went beyond religious traditions to make contact with a deeper truth.

In other words, spiritual freedom is more important than being right, to those who follow their own path. Belief can trap and limit a person’s consciousness just as much as it can open new doors. Even objectivity and logical thinking can be way too limiting for the human spirit.

This unexpected alignment between atheism and spirituality is not just a theory. It’s real.

In her book, Science vs. Religion, Elaine Ecklund describes the surprising results of the largest study of scientists and what they really think about religion.

“Since surveys of scientists’ religious beliefs began nearly a century ago, no one has produced a study as deep and broad as Ecklund’s. Perhaps its most surprising finding is that nearly a quarter of the atheists and agnostics describe themselves as ‘spiritual.’”

Ronald L. Numbers, Professor of the History of Science      (On the back cover of Ecklund’s book.)

“Rice University sociologist Elaine Ecklund offers a fresh perspective on this debate in “Science vs. Religion.” …

“Fully half of these top scientists are religious… Even among the third who are atheists, many consider themselves “spiritual.” One describes this spiritual atheism as being rooted in “wonder about the complexity and the majesty of existence,” a sentiment many nonscientists—religious or not—would recognize.”

Josh Rosenau, Washington Post, May 30, 2010

Indeed, the sense of wonder is a spiritual experience.

However, another startling turn of events that recently occurred even better illustrates the ties between atheism and spirituality. Sam Harris, an outspoken critic of religion and well-known atheist, surprised even his own followers when he published “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.”

“Harris…describes [his book] as ‘by turns a seeker’s memoir, an introduction to the brain, a manual of contemplative instruction, and a philosophical unraveling of what most people consider to be the center of their inner lives.’ Or, perhaps most aptly, an effort ‘to pluck the diamond from the dunghill of esoteric religion.’”

Maria Popova, BrainPickings, September 15, 2014

Sam Harris has a moment of awakening that came from an inner experience. This changed his perspective on spirituality:

“It would not be too strong to say that I felt sane for the first time in my life. And yet the change in my consciousness seemed entirely straightforward… I had ceased to be concerned about myself. I was no longer anxious, self-critical, guarded by irony, in competition, avoiding embarrassment, ruminating about the past and future, or making any other gesture of thought or attention that separated me from him. I was no longer watching myself through another person’s eyes.

“And then came the insight that irrevocably transformed my sense of how good human life could be. I was feeling boundless love for one of my best friends, and I suddenly realized that if a stranger had walked through the door at that moment, he or she would have been fully included in this love. Love was at bottom impersonal—and deeper than any personal history could justify.”

Sam Harris, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, p. 4-5.

The key to spirituality is inner experience. Connecting with the presence of life can change us in deep ways. Belief isn’t necessary. In fact, the spiritual path often begins with doubt.

Spirituality and atheism are not opposites. In fact, they have more in common than you might think.

Waking Dreams — The Unfinished Story

A book review by Doug Marman

If you are familiar with this web site and the discussions here on Spiritual Dialogues, you have probably heard about “waking dreams.” David Rivinus has just published a new book that tells the rest of the story.

Always_Dreaming_David_Rivinus-540pxDavid explains the idea:

“Suppose life could be taken at more than face value. Imagine seeing the individual events of our waking world metaphorically—like symbols in a dream. How would that affect how we live, what decisions we make, who we associate with? This intriguing idea was one I began to ponder in earnest…”

Hearing David tell the story is like discovering the origins of the idea of the waking dream, since he was the one who introduced it to Eckankar. Few ECKists realize the role that David Rivinus played in spreading the concept. He led workshops on waking dreams around the world, in many different languages. His new book takes the subject to far greater depth.

It began in the 1970’s, after David graduated from college. He started working in a clinic with children who had emotional problems and brain disorders. At the same time, he was exploring the writings of Paul Twitchell and other new ideas that were being sparked by psychologists in those days. In particular, he became fascinated by Fritz Perls and his role-playing approach as a way of getting inside the experience of dreams.

The more David studied his own nighttime excursions, the more he realized that there must be an easier way to understand them. He began developing a simpler, more effective approach. That’s when a new thought hit him:

“It is the idea that there is essentially no difference between the dream world and the world of our waking lives. Through my own work and experimentation…I discovered that when one understands one’s waking life as if it were a dream and then acts upon the personal insights that are revealed by that understanding, the world takes on a whole new meaning.”

He began helping others use his new techniques and immediately saw the transformational impact it has. The idea that the world around us is a reflection of who we are and that we create our own universe isn’t new. Countless spiritual teachers have taught this down through time. But once we see the way our outer lives speak in the language of dreams, it changes how way we interact with our daily events.

If we can see that all the truly bizarre events in our lives have a deeper meaning, it is impossible to escape the conclusion that we are unconsciously shaping the world around us. The same problems keep happening to us over and over again for the same reason that we have recurring dreams: Life is trying to show us something. The experiences are telling us that we have an unfinished story. There’s an important lesson we need to learn.

Always Dreaming 2How is this possible? The idea that the outer world can act like a dream seems to defy science. But this isn’t true, as David spends a whole chapter explaining. The scientific process of cause and effect is logical, but the hidden meanings of life’s events are not. Logic will never explain them fully. If we reject the dreamlike quality of life, then we’re missing half of what it means to live in this world.

David writes his book for readers who want to understand the waking dreams in their lives, as well as their nighttime dreams. He also writes for those who want to teach and help others learn how to do this. He offers pointers on what works and what doesn’t. It is filled with real life stories and amazing examples of how waking dreams have changed people’s lives.

The stories come from the many workshops he has led on waking dreams in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Canada, Mexico and throughout the US. His conclusion is that dream symbols are the vocabulary of a universal language, while at the same time they are highly personal. This, in itself, makes the idea of waking dreams a valuable message for our times.

However, I believe the importance of David’s work is that he shows us a way to move dreaming from an unconscious process to a conscious one. When the messages behind the personal events in our lives sink home, we can consciously take the reins of the seemingly wild subconscious forces within us. If we act on this new understanding, it changes us. We are then no longer the character in some drama. We become the author of the play.

If we’re interested in learning mastership of our selves, we need to master the language of our dreams. That’s when the unfinished story of our lives becomes finished. And in many ways, reading David’s book is like discovering the unfinished story about waking dreams.

David’s book, Always Dreaming: Gaining insights from the Metaphors of our Sleeping and Waking Lives, is available through Amazon and other booksellers: http://www.amazon.com/Always-Dreaming

David continues to lead workshops, give radio interviews, and help others understand dreams. You can get more information from his web site: http://www.teacherofdreams.com/

Prajapati

By Doug Marman

Artwork by Diana Stanley

(This article is an excerpt from The Silent Questions, pages 129-131. It describes an inner experience I had many years ago.)

Bare outlines of a wooded scene filtered into view. My attention locked on and I found myself projecting into a most beautiful world. Trees of bright green, with leaves that flashed in the sun, lined a rushing river. The river filled me with energy and lightheartedness. It flowed with water of blue-green, the lightest hue, like none I had ever seen before. I wondered where it came from.

Then, looking up, I saw the white majestic walls of cliffs and mountains soaring high into the clouds. The rock face fell straight and smooth at least 1,000 feet. I instantly thought of the Hindu-Kush Mountains in Northern Tibet.

I flew upstream searching for some falls where the cold, fresh glacier water crashed from above. I seemed to remember where this might be. But I suddenly swerved right, traveling at a tremendous speed and only half catching images of the changing terrain.

Off in the distance, I saw a yellowy glow reflecting off the trees. As I approached, a campfire revealed itself. Yet, this was no ordinary fire. Its flames filled me with an expansive feeling, as if it could awaken all the secrets throughout the worlds. It was a mysterious light that drew me to it, and I knew exactly why the moth will fly into a scorching flame. I felt this same desire within me.

Like a magnet, it drew me on, and as I approached I noticed that no warmth came from this fire. It spread out only a feeling as vast as space itself. My vision became crystal clear from this energy and I knew that all things grew in harmony with this light. Its glow washed through me and eased all my tensions. There seemed to be a soft sound coming from the light, like a babbling brook, which brought relaxation and an increase in understanding. I reached out to touch it.

My hand felt something solid. I jumped back, startled, for the figure of a man stood now where the fire had been.

Bowing at the waist, he introduced himself. “Prajapati, at your service,” he said with a smile. A merry look that sparkled in his eyes set me laughing at his gesture.

Here was Prajapati, the great Master who guides animals. Watching him before me was like finding the answer to some great mystery I had always longed to know. He walked softly to a stone, placing his hand on the smooth surface as if in some communication. Then he took a seat, pulling his knees up within his arms. He looked off into the distance saying nothing.

After a long period of silence, he turned to me and spoke in a voice that was clear and soft.

“Freedom is the law of nature!

“Nature exists on the breeze, circulating and touching all atoms. It is the call of freedom and the world is soothed by its song. Such shame that man lives and dies for civilization. If he put his faith in nature, I would show him his true kingdom.

“Man is heir to the throne, but his world is paced too fast. Whirlwinds of energy, like invisible tornadoes, dizzy the minds of billions. Where do they all hurry to? I have no idea.

“Yet I marvel at Man. Look what he has done! Man brought the smile to Dolphin. He brought softness to Cat. Loyalty to Dog. He has the gift of God!

“In days of old I walked openly with Man. Do you remember when we met in that glorious empire of Mu? That was the soft rolling land where all things grew without seed, for Life awoke spontaneously in the water and air. Cat was invited into Man’s temples there.

“I stood by the side of fishermen in Atlantis when they built that great bond with Dolphin. Then, in the Northern land of Europe, shepherds led Dog out of the woods to tend their flocks. Look, time has whisked by since then, but what has changed?

“Everything in your world is your kingdom. It is yours to uncover and awaken, for you can see its True Form. No others can see it for you. Forget not even the smallest one by your side, and even Rock and Stone will await your shadow when day’s work is done. Perception is your gift of creation!

“If you give freedom to all things, then you have the secret of nature. I can give you no more. Look to the Inner Master for all else!”

Prajapati stood up again and looked far away toward the horizon. His form gradually faded into a golden light, which grew and grew until there was no saying where it ended. This was truly his world!

The Key to Mental Relaxation

Photo by James Kunley.

By Doug Marman

Hundreds of years ago, people worked from dawn to dusk raising crops, milking cows, and taking care of their children. They were often exhausted, at day’s end, from the sheer physical work.

Today, we suffer from a different kind of stress. More and more we complain about our minds driving us like task masters. We can’t stop the racing of our thoughts. We worry about the chaos in our lives, as if the only way we can survive is by plotting the right path through an obstacle course. The mind isn’t easy to control. A night of peaceful sleep can be like trying to tame wild horses.

The easiest path to mental relaxation is not passivity, as many people think. We don’t need to turn off our thoughts. Instead, we need to work for Life, rather than looking for ways to make Life work for us.

It is refreshing and rejuvenating to be involved in doing something we love, especially when we see it reaching out and touching others. If we are absorbed in our work, knowing it is for a larger purpose, we forget about ourselves.

Spirit then flows out through us, relaxing us. It is deeply satisfying to our mind, because our efforts are aimed toward something—or someone—we care about. This turns it into something meaningful. Therefore, our actions become more spontaneous and natural, when we love what we do.

On the other hand, if we work only for our own gains, to earn money, or for recognition, then our focus turns in on ourselves. This reverses the flow of our attention and undermines our inspiration to do what we love. As a result, the mind becomes divided, and this is where stress begins.

Thinking too much about trying to get what we want robs us of our graceful connection with life. We stop flowing and moving with the world around us, and instead start fighting the forces of the world, as if they were all waged against us. We claw our way to survival. It becomes a perpetual battle that never ends.

Wouldn’t you rather be living a life with purpose—a purpose so compelling that it lights you up from inside? Following your heart means finding something you love. Not for your own benefit, but for others, to create something larger.

How do we learn what it is that truly warms us within? I don’t know. I can’t tell you how to do it, because there is no way of laying traps for love. You find it the same way it finds you. I don’t know how else to put it.

It is often unexpected, like a gift waiting for us one morning, from our lover. It can be so subtle that we miss the opportunity, if we aren’t looking for it. And that’s why searching is so important. It prepares us.

When I search for deep and satisfying love, I find myself considering unexpected paths. I’ll look anywhere. Then, when I least expect it, it finds me. It can seem small at first. But, if I care for it and follow where it takes me, it opens up like a flower.

To relax your mind, learn from the river. Every molecule reaches out to touch others, grasping gently, while churning and spinning and tumbling forward. The flow of water is an amazing dance. All the atoms are so enamored with what they are creating together that they forget about where they are going and what might happen next. Time disappears for them, in the moment.

Let your experience with life carry you along, in the same way. Become an atom in the river that flows out, touching the whole of life itself.

Nothing is insignificant to a lover. Every move and shape has meaning. Every whisper is a song. We can see it in even the smallest things around us. This is what makes life meaningful and relaxes the mind.

The Difference Between Spirituality and Religion

Meteora Monastery - photo by Dragan Sasic

Meteora Monastery in Greece (upper left). Photo by Dragan Sasic.

By Doug Marman

There is only one way to see the difference between spirituality and religion: Through experience. Only by walking the two paths can we see how different they really are.

They start off similarly. A person finds a connection to something larger than themselves. It might come from a book they read, a person they meet, or they could discover it by just being in a certain place. Whatever form it takes, it inspires the person and uplifts their view of life to a new perspective.

At first, it is just a glimmer, but the sensation grows that life is more meaningful than they realized. They find themselves involved in a new reality, at a higher level than ordinary life. This isn’t yet an idea, a pattern, or a teaching. In the beginning, it is simply an experience.

This is where the path forks. Actually, the difference is so subtle that it is easy to miss, because everyone takes the same next step. If we want to experience inspiration, we naturally return to the book, person, or place where we first found it, to feel that spark again.

The similarities diverge here. For religious followers, the form that uplifts them becomes the object of their worship. It becomes holy and sacred to them. They see it as the source of their experience.

On the other hand, for those who walk the spiritual path, whether they realize it or not, it is the experience, itself, that draws them on. Something comes through the words, or the personality of a leader, or the atmosphere of a location that inspires them. This flow of what we might call Spirit is what they are after.

The difference is subtle. In fact, religion begins with spiritual experiences. Therefore, it is almost impossible to distinguish a religious follower from a seeker of spirituality, based on the first steps of their journey. It is the tests of time that prove out which path they are on.

The most significant parting of the ways takes place when a person stops feeling inspired by the form that once awakened them. What do they do now?

Religious followers often question themselves, first. Was there something they did wrong, to lose the feeling of grace they once felt? Most religious teachers encourage this. There is actually a valid reason for this, since the experience of Spirit requires a delicate state of receptiveness; a willingness to align with a new perspective. The flow of spirituality is most dramatic when we willingly let go of our moorings to move with Spirit. This is so subtle we often don’t even realize what we are doing.

If we learn to grow into the new way of life that Spirit shows us, the spiritual experience changes us. It is as if we found a new state of being. This is the promise of inspiration: It alters us and the way we see life. However, once we’ve learned to see with new eyes, the books, teachers, or sacred grounds that moved us, may not uplift us as they once did. In fact, sooner or later the form can hold us back.

This is when we make a choice: Will we place our loyalty to the form above all else, or will we follow Spirit, itself? It isn’t easy choosing, especially if we realize how valuable the gift is that we received. We grew into a new life through the grace of that form. However, there is no middle ground on this decision. We must take one path or the other.

It is this crossroad where questioning one’s self produces different results. The religious follower concludes that the problem is with themselves. They are not worthy. They must have sinned in some way, to bring about this dark night of Soul, as it is called. This is the only conclusion they can come to, because they see the form as sacred, and this holiness exists outside of themselves. Therefore, they are dependent on that form.

Seekers of spirituality take a different course. The experience of Spirit has changed them in such a deeply personal way that it has become a part of them. It exists within them – not as if it took root – but more as if they remembered it was always a part of their being. Therefore, it is no longer something external. It is this experience of Spirit that matters, and nothing but this experience.

This is when they discover an amazing truth that changes their lives forever. They learn that when one door closes, another always opens up. Spirit shows itself through another form, leading us on, to change us again and again, until we can’t see any separation between who we are and Spirit.

When followers of spirituality question themselves, it is to see how they might be holding themselves back, or standing in their own way. What new change do they need to make? What new lesson is life trying to teach them?

The challenges of Soul’s dark nights are no easier. In fact, they can become more difficult as one grows spiritually…until the day comes when we realize that when we feel absolutely alone, with no purpose, this is Soul emptying itself of old meanings. After we’ve experienced this emptiness over and over again, we eventually realize that darkness comes before a dawn. A new beginning. A whole new life is ahead.

The difference between these two paths begins as something too subtle to recognize. Over time, they diverge in dramatic ways. Is it the form that is sacred, or the experience of spirituality, itself? There is only one way to learn the answer: Through experience.

The Masks of God

Masks of GodBy Doug Marman

(This article is quoted from The Silent Questions, pages 234-238)

If the people are Hindu, It has appeared as Krishna, Buddha, or Vishnu, so they would know him. It is Zeus to the Greeks; Jupiter to the Romans; Ishtar to the Babylonians; Varuna to the Aryans; Jesus to the Christians; and Allah to the Mohammedans. It has appeared to all in every age of this world since its creation. As the vehicle for God It has come in the form to which the people are most accustomed and by the name familiar to them.

These are the masks of God. The one timeless power guides and protects whoever may contact It in every age, yet we know no more of It than our own limited understanding. To see Its true form, to personally experience It in Its unlimited reality, we must remove the masks of God to look beneath.

No outer path, no holy book, no metaphysical formula can show It in Its full force. We must find for ourselves what is the truth behind all life. It is a personal journey.

“I have been asked what I mean by ‘The Beloved,’” Krishnamurti, a spiritual teacher who spoke out against the need for organized religion, told an audience in 1927. “To me it is all—it is Sri Krishna, it is the Master Kuthumi, it is the Lord Maitreya, it is the Buddha, and yet it is beyond all these forms. What does it matter what name you give?”

Krishnamurti freed himself of the religious images that hide reality. He had pierced this veil. Yet, fifty years later, he admitted honestly that he still had not solved the mystery.

“Some element is watching over. . . ” he said. “Something is protecting. . . It would be speculating to say what. (What we know) is too concrete, is not subtle enough. But I can’t look behind the curtain. I can’t do it. I tried with Pupul Jayakar and various Indian scholars who pressed me. . . Is this something which we cannot discover, mustn’t touch, is not penetrable? I am wondering. I have often felt it is not my business; that we will never find out. . . We are trying with our minds to touch THAT.”

Our minds cannot fathom God in its true form, for Mind creates mirrors and masks that hide the true reality. Like a computer searching for the source of its own intelligence, Mind can only generate more and more theories that reflect upon itself. Soul Travel is the solution to this impasse. Meeting the God force on the inner planes leaves no doubt in the mind of the seeker, for it is a direct experience of Soul. Unless we free ourselves of the human state, we have not gotten beyond our small range of personal reality. We have not yet touched the universal.

“(The) figures of my fantasies brought home to me the crucial insight,” Carl Jung, the psychologist, recorded in his autobiography, “that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life. Philemon represented a force which was not myself. In my fantasies I held conversations with him, and he said things which I had not consciously thought. For I observed clearly that it was he who spoke, not I. He said I treated thoughts as if I generated them myself, but in his view thoughts were like animals in the forest, or people in a room, or birds in the air, and added, ‘If you should see people in a room, you would not think that you had made these people, or that you were responsible for them.’”

Jung reached beyond the conscious mind to understand the law of the unconscious – a greater world than our personal opinions and narrow theories can imagine. There, thoughts and feelings exist of themselves and we are the visitors that experience them. How did Jung come to this discovery?

“Shortly before this experience,” Jung explains, “I had written down a fantasy of my soul having flown away from me.”

According to Jung, this was a significant event, because Soul is our connecting link to the inner worlds. Therefore, if one has the experience of Soul leaving, said Jung, this means that it has withdrawn into the inner worlds where it gives life and visible form to an ageless reality.

With Soul Travel as his key, Jung explored further, opening the way from within, but could never quite open the final door. He had many experiences, but where did his insights come from? Who was Philemon? What was this force that was leading him? Jung continued to search for the Reality behind the mask.

“Psychologically,” Jung continued, “Philemon represented superior insight. He was a mysterious figure to me. At times he seemed to me quite real, as if he were a living personality. I went walking up and down the garden with him, and  to me he was what the Indians call a guru. . . In my darkness I could have wished for nothing better than a real, live guru, someone possessing superior knowledge and ability, who could have disentangled for me the involuntary creations of my imagination.”

Why are we, like Jung, so unwilling to accept our experiences for what they are? Why do we only go so far in our understanding of God, and then stop?

At times it seems too hard to shake free of our beliefs. We cannot forget the opinions of the world. Everything rises up in our imaginations to keep us from using the keys that we have. We are afraid that our fictions of reality will crumble, leaving us with nothing, yet this crumbling, this falling apart of everything we’ve been taught is the threshold to truth. This struggle, this dark night in our lives is the shadow before the inner gift arrives.

It can be the presence of the God power, an unexpected spiritual experience, a sudden new awareness. It might be simply a feeling of love, or protection. It is different for each, but it is as if we have crossed some invisible line and found our lives are changed. We find an inner guidance leading our steps, yet here too we must see beneath the masks of God.

“While I sat in the cathedral this morning,” wrote a young boy in his diary, Easter Sunday, 1886, (and later published anonymously as The Boy Who Saw True,) “I was wondering about a lot of things to do with God, even though mama would say it was very wicked, because she is always telling us it’s wrong to question what we are told. Then suddenly I saw Jesus, and he said, ‘It is never a sin to think, my son, but it is not always wise to tell one’s thoughts to others.’ And he smiled that lovely smile of his, and was gone. So now I’ve been thinking all the more, because if Jesus says it isn’t wicked to think, I don’t mind what anybody else says.”

The next day a similar experience came to encourage this young boy to see behind the masks of God. Once again Jesus appeared, and said:

“Be not troubled, my son, for that which the multitudes believe to be true is only the faintest shadow of Truth, and much of it is not the Truth at all.”

This boy had no preconceptions about what he saw. He had that wonderful quality of youth to accept and recognize the love of God that poured through this being he called Jesus. Yet, he was soon to learn the truth about this, as well. On   November 25, of the same year, he wrote the following:

“Wonders never cease! Fancy, I’ve been wrong about Jesus all this time, and I found it out yesterday. But I don’t care. Whoever he is I love him just as much, and if he asked me to crawl on my hands and knees to London town, I’d try and do it to please him, though I know he’ll never ask me to do anything so silly. Anyhow this is what I heard him say yesterday, ‘My son, be not sad if I tell you that I am not Jesus, but another one whose name is of no consequence, but who has been your teacher through many lives. . . Bear this in mind, my son: it is not what ye believe but what ye are that weighs with the Exalted Ones, for They look into the heart and not into the head to find the shining jewel.’”

Behind all things flows the river of life. Out of the heart of God it comes to bathe the world and soothe it. Thus the Godman appears in every age to find those who are ready. He can take any shape. He could appear to one or many in contemplation. He can appear as a thousand or even a million different forms to a million different people at the same time. Yet, he is always the one that links up Soul with the path to God.

Each know him by a different name, yet often he walks amongst us, unrecognized. We can try to glimpse him beneath ancient images, but we will only find him in his true form on the inner planes through the direct experience of Soul. Then, through his words, we hear the sound of God. Within his eyes we find the light. We then can travel with him as Soul into the higher worlds of reality.

Only Soul, our higher self, knows when it is time. Only Soul can recognize the call. And when the moment arrives, only Soul of itself can remove the masks of God.