Synchronicity. I don't believe in it as something supernatural or miraculous. Just as an interesting phenomenon which has a natural explanation. Still...
I enjoyed the connection between a book I started reading this morning, and a new video from David Lane, a.k.a. neuralsurfer, I came across a few minutes later via a Lane Facebook post. Common theme: brain-produced hallucinations which can seem absolutely real to the person hallucinating.
The book is Oliver Sacks' "Hallucinations." Sacks is a professor of neurology who writes books about ways the brain produces unusual experiences.
Here's some of what I learned in the first few pages:
It is not always easy to discern where the boundary lies between hallucinations, misperception, and illusion. But generally, hallucinations are defined as percepts arising in the absence of any external reality -- seeing things or hearing things that are not there.
Perceptions are, to some degree, shareable -- you and I can agree that there is a tree; but if I say, "I see a tree there," and you see nothing of the sort, you will regard my "tree" as a hallucination, something concocted by my brain, or mind, and imperceptible to you or anyone else.
To the hallucinator, though, hallucinations seem very real; they can mimic perception in every respect, starting with the way they are projected into the external world.
...Hallucinations have always had an important place in our mental lives and in our culture. Indeed, one must wonder to what extent hallucinatory experiences have given rise to our art, folklore, and even religion.
...Do "ecstatic" seizures, such as Dostoevsky had, play a part in generating our sense of the divine? Do out-of-body experiences allow the feeling that one can be disembodied? Does the substanceless of hallucinations encourage a belief in ghosts and spirits?
After putting down the book I watched Lane's "The Illusion of Certainty," a short 5:38 video about Faqir Chand. He was an Indian guru who realized how devotees' miraculous visions were produced by themselves, projections of their own desires and expectations.
Well-done, David Lane. I like the title.
Certainty is a subject I've blogged about a lot. Evolution/natural selection favors those who aren't paralyzed with indecision when confronted with, say, a tiger about to leap on them. Bursting into action by feeling certain about what to do, even if the decision isn't optimal, is better than remaining actionless.
And soon after, killed.
But it also is necessary to be in touch with reality. Hallucinating things that aren't there, or failing to see things that are there, also isn't conducive to staying alive. Or living productively.
However, hallucinations of supposed supernatural phenomena often can co-exist with someone living a more or less outwardly normal life. If someone's vision of a guru, heaven, angels, God, Jesus, or some other spiritual entity doesn't interfere with necessary practical actions and thoughts, then he/she can believe wrongly that reality has been augmented, rather than diminished.
The video makes a strong neuroscientific point: expectations and prior experiences have a big influence on perceptions.
My wife and I hate the brownish California ground squirrels which have migrated north and made Oregon their home. They dig destructive tunnels and can kill plantings with their chewing. But we like the native gray squirrels. Sometimes they can be hard to tell apart.
If we've been having problems with ground squirrels, often I'll look out the window and think "Damn! A ground squirrel is sitting on that rock!" However, a closer look reveals the truth: it's a lighter colored gray squirrel with its tail hidden (tails of the two species are quite different).
What I see is affected by my past experience and current expectations. Same goes for visions, hallucinations, illusions. If a religious devotee desperately wants to see God, guru, or whoever, his or her mind may oblige with a subjective perception that feels absolutely real.
Feeling certain about the objective reality of an experience is by no means a guarantee that what was experienced exists outside an individual's mind/brain. This is why demonstrable evidence or confirmation by other sources is so important to truth-seekers.
How about seeing what is immediately present like trees, rocks, birds, freeways, bums and commuters in such a way that they are seen as self?
I am not talking about some otherworldly or heavenly vision, just a simple perception of homogeneity, unity or oneness where there is no "other".
Yes, this too could be a hallucination as far as "others" are concerned. You can only know what you know and even then you may not really know it and may be being deceived. Even if 10 of you have the same experience together and confirm it. Or a million.
Nothing is real. Or is it? We'll never know.
Posted by: tucson | December 20, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Yes, I agree that many 'visions' can be our own mental projections - although this blog interested me in a slightly other way. You spoke of your hate of brown ground squirrels, favouring the gray. Here in the UK our native squirrel is the brown or Red squirrel whereas the larger Grey squirrel (brought over from America) has become a pest by passing on disease to the the brown, killing trees and taking over 'Red' habitats. There are Grey squirrel 'control' programmes and schemes to introduce Reds' back. The argument is that Greys' are here 'unnaturally' having been introduced by man. The inference is that we are above nature perhaps having 'dominion' over 'lesser' species (an old but still active mind-set). Okay, so we need to protect our woodlands but my point is, if we are unable to look at things like squirrels without automatically bringing in the ego/mind with its concepts of good and bad or how things should be, how is 'this mind' ever capable of discerning illusion from reality?
Posted by: Turan | December 21, 2012 at 05:32 AM
Thanks for the good words, Brian. Next up in the film projects: SPOOKY PHYSICS.... why Einstein doesn't gamble.
Posted by: David C. Lane | December 21, 2012 at 10:46 AM
I would like to know if a group of people that see an image/god is a hallucination/mind projection or is it real?
Faqir Chand stories only involve his disciples seeing him, but there was one disciple at the time.
Posted by: Gaz | December 21, 2012 at 11:13 AM
"And, let's be fair, Beas' version of history is so limited and so edited that it wouldn't be inaccurate to say that they have butchered (or even lied?) about the early days."
quote David Lane 210422
That is a gross understatement. Beas people are
so uninformed they don't even know
who their founder was, even though he only
died recently in 1898.
I believe Beas history to have been written by very sick people.
Criminals with no ethics.
Posted by: Mike Williams | December 22, 2012 at 09:35 AM
The Beas history has been edited by angry ex satsangis,simple, I like the fact that Brian doesn't incorporate the Beas history on here.
You have to be very fragile, and willing to believe anything against RS to believe secret history. I recall J Barrish, a very narrow minded person tried to get me to believe the history.
I can't tell you what happened in the early days of Beas, no one can. The secret history has some correct facts, but most are just merely assumptions/fabricated.
My point is everyone is so critical of RS miracles, they want evidence, which is fair enough, but I wish the critical people would be like this towards false secret history.
If an author of something always remains anonymous, doesn't give their true name/location and doesn't have a picture then it shows something isn't right.
At least with Brian and Dr Lane, they give their real names and pictures. Although me and Brian won't see eye to eye on everything, I still have respect for him same goes for Dr Lane.
Posted by: Truthseeker2012 | December 22, 2012 at 10:31 AM
DAVID LANE states:
".... I think Maheshwari (despite whatever
axe he may have grinded) deserves tremendous credit for opening up the lost and
hidden chapters of early R.S. history.
Quite frankly, without Maheshwari unleashing the treasure trove of materials he
did there simply wouldn't be Radhasoami history as we know it.
In point of fact, his criticisms are probably what prompted a slew of materials
coming out of both Beas and Ruhani related sangats.
And, let's be fair, Beas' version of history is so limited and so edited that it
wouldn't be inaccurate to say that they have butchered (or even lied?) about the
Jaimal Singh's editing out of huqqa is just one example and there is no doubt
that Bachan 250 comes from a written source and is not simply invented out of
cloth..... which is, ironically, what Beas did when they juxtaposed their own
version which has no written basis except that it is a theological view (rightly
or wrongly) that Jaimal held onto...... and I am not saying I disagree with
Jaimal's interpretation but only pointing out that his version is made up from
him and doesn't relate to a historical written document.
Beas has been much less open than Agra to air some dirty laundry......
Agra via Maheshwari has unleashed things that do not reflect well on them.....
and that tells me that they are much more confident in their position than Beas
In other words, Beas doesn't want to go toe to toe with Agra on early
I know this because I saw how they react to such matters."
Posted by: Mike Williams | December 22, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Science, religion and Spirituality unite in
NEUROPLASTICITY & NEUROGENESIS, the new scientific revolution in neurology and religion. The Dalai Lama, the religious leader of the Tibetan Buddhists, and his colleague, Neuroscientist Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, at The Mind and Life Institute, explain how consciousness can alter the brain's structure, change our minds and bodies, and influence the physical world. This is documented in the book 'Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain' by Sharon Begley.
Posted by: JENNIFER KING | December 23, 2012 at 05:29 AM
Here is the book on the brain and religion by the Dalai Lama himself: read it! do it!
'The Universe In A Single Atom: How science and spirituality can serve our world' by His Holiness The Dalai Lama
Posted by: JENNIFER KING | December 23, 2012 at 05:56 AM