Friday, August 21, 2009

As We Believe, So It Becomes

“We see things not as they are, but as we are.” —attributed to many sources: including the Talmud, H. M. Tomlinson, Anais Nin, Immanuel Kant

photo by photographer padawan

In “Magic and Mystery in Tibet”, Alexandra David-Nell tells of a ‘hat that walked.’ The hat was blown off the head of some traveler and fell into the valley below. In the next party of villagers that traveled this point in the road, several people saw the dark spot in the valley below and speculated on exactly what they might be seeing. Some thought they saw it move, so it must be some unfamiliar animal!

This continued with future travelers. Each time what the travelers saw below seemed to become more animated and frightful tales began being spread among the villagers. Everyone was too frightened to go to that place in the valley to investigate. Eventually, all the belief (energy) invested into the “creature” imbued it with enough life force that it actually began to take on a life of its own…and eventually went about its way.

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.—John Lennon

Science now tells us that what we “see” is really not what is before us. Our personal consciousness assigns imagery and meaning to energy fields. We believe and it becomes so—for all practical use.

I have had enough experiences of being sufficiently exhausted (or just plain foolish) to truly have not seen something that was before my eyes. Coming back to a book after years of change in one’s perspective to find ‘new gems’ in the same text is another common example of the phenomena. With such explicit experiences of selective perception, how can one be certain of the limit of possibility?

We are much more likely to see what we believe than believe what we see—author unknown to me

I have read of cases of hypnotic suggestion manifesting physically, such as a highly responsive hypnotic subject will blister when touched by a finger and told it was a cigarette—and vice versa. A couple of small studies reported in a Harvard Gazette article (08 May 08) concluded that hypnosis actually sped healing for surgery and broken bones. There have been numerous studies of the positive medical benefits of placebos. Each of these scenarios is the perception of the individual defining their physical experience—the mind over matter.

Perception defines affect. -- Strike a Chord of Silence

In the same context—and a bit of good news--the demon of our nightmares evaporates in the light of acceptance/scrutiny. It is said that dream is the arising of a subconscious issue/concern that has not been given consideration in the light of consciousness. If the need is strong enough and we do not resolve the conflict, a theme will repeat, or perhaps the exact same dream may repeat.

I have only had a few recurring dreams in my life. Many years ago, I had one of being the head guard in a prison. The dream always started with the inmates rioting in a courtyard partitioned within the main prison building by a 2/3 height concrete wall. Alarms were going off, all my armed guards and I are running down stairs to take positions around the courtyard and quell the riot.

Once we were in place, I noticed that many of the inmates also had guns. Very quickly, I identified a single—very large—fellow as the leader/primary instigator. I was certain that if that person was immobilized, the riot would collapse. Without hesitation, I raised my pistol and aimed at his head. As I did, he turned to face me.

When I pulled my trigger, certain all would be resolved very soon, I heard an impotent click. I pulled the trigger several times, each with the same result, as the man raised his pistol to aim at my face and walked toward me. Every time I had the dream, just as the man put his pistol to my head, I cowered behind the wall and would awake in a sense of fear/anger. I would not be able to get back to sleep and the residual tension was evident in my body and mind for several days afterwards.

The wound may be illusion, but the pain inflicted by the imagined is real.-- Strike a Chord of Silence

Each time I had the dream, and was forced from sleep by it, the dream became more powerful, the impact afterwards was greater, and the anticipation of the next occurrence more traumatic. Though the scenery, activity, and characters of the dream were exactly the same each time, my experience of the dream (and its impact) became more intense with each repetition—merely because of my changes in my perspective going into the dream.

I could not find the message that the subconscious wished to convey, so out of frustration I demanded of ‘myself’ that I would not cower when the next dream came—even though I had some concern about just what physical manifestation might be the result of getting myself shot in the head—even in a dream. Though I do not consider this hardheaded approach to be particularly wise, I reacted the only way I seemed to be able to at the time.

Finally, I had the dream and all ran exactly as it always had, up until the part where I cowered. This time I felt the fear as keenly as ever, but did not move. When the leader of the inmates pulled his trigger, I heard, Click! Click! Click! --the bullet never firing.

Though I slept through the night, I remembered the dream clearly in the morning, and felt the strong impression of the experience in my body—not as tension, but as something that I had lived and incorporated in my very definition of self. I never had the dream again. And, am certain that it was not by sheer will power—conscious mind overcoming subconscious—that the subconscious issue was resolved.

My speculation is that the message from the subconscious was how perception/expectation defines experience.

copyright 2008 CG Walters
Excerpted from **Strike a Chord of Silence, a new book of metaphysical maxims and essays

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CG Walters primarily writes fiction that focuses on the multidimensionality of our loves and our lives.

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