Sunday 8 April 2012

The Nature of Truth and Reality

I’ve been doing some thinking about perceptions.  I was reading a story about a young woman at a modern pagan festival where the high priestess put chemicals in a crystal pitcher to make the water inside glow.  These chemicals are highly carcinogenic but look very funky (the same as are in glowsticks).  The young woman had to be stopped from drinking the water later.  She believed the water was glowing because of magical energy.

I don’t know if this was a true situation, the story itself was fictional.  My first reaction was that it was cheap to rely on chemicals for special effects to enhance a spiritual ritual.  But then I began questioning my reaction.

In primal days, the shamans or magicians in the tribes would have used chemicals, herbs as part of the mystical experience.  Does that make their spiritual experiences invalid?  Does it make them nothing more than a drugged-out trip?  Modern day nuns, Buddhist monks and other spiritualists have gone in MRI machines and invoked spiritual trances by repetitive chanting and it’s been shown that specific centers of the brain light up.  Centers associated with significance, memory and euphoria.  Are their trances nothing more than random brain firings?

I believe there is more to existence than physical existence.  I believe in a spiritual side to life.  I believe that people can connect with that spiritual side in a meaningful and inspirational way.  The question is how to reconcile the physical evidence with spiritual experience?

Another book I’ve read asks the question: are you a shaman or a showman?  And the answer was yes.  Because every showman must imitate the genuine, therefore they must understand at least a little of the genuine.  And every shaman must have some of the showman because special effects make it easier for people to accept.  People need a little bit of help to get out of their comfort zone.

It would be comforting if life was an either/or proposition.  Either something is false or it is true.  But that’s not the way it works.  Things are often intermingled and complicated.  We crave simple answers and simple solutions despite all the evidence of history.  Humans are incredibly good at patterning and categorizing.  We like things to fit into nice little niches.  It makes our lives easier to understand.  But not necessarily better.

No comments:

Post a Comment