Many of our most detrimental misconceptions about human nature stem from the erroneous belief that mind and matter are separate.
This belief, which is shared by millions (maybe billions) of people, and has long been a central tenet of modern science, creates a profound sense of separation within us. It makes us feel alienated from our surroundings and from our own inner life.
A belief in natural selection, for example, carries with it a boatload of other unsavory ideas: That nature is unfeeling; that life carries no underlying purpose but to merely continue; that our only source of worth lies in our ability to propagate, etc.
But natural selection only seems to make sense and bear out if you believe that the physical world came before consciousness. If you see the world of matter as a product of the mind then such a theory has no stone to stand on.
Beliefs Beget Reality
A scientist may argue that such a conception of reality can never be proven. But the scientific method itself cannot prove that anything exists at all, or behaves as it appears to, outside our perception of it. It must rely upon, as its basis, the testimony of the five senses.
And if one dares to explore perceptions beyond this testimony of the physical senses, and trust them, then one must enter into the realm of dreams and intuition, so-called “extra-sensory” perception… A realm that science has largely dismissed as frivolous.
This is the arena of belief rather than fact – belief that many people out there have found to be corroborated by the vividness of their own inner experience. That consciousness comes first in all things is a notion that may never be conclusively proven in a lab – though some of the developments in quantum physics have come close.
The Impact of a Belief in Separation
And in the end, perhaps it’s more fruitful to examine the effect of a belief rather than whether it can be conclusively proven as ‘true’. The belief that mind and matter are separate – indeed, that matter came first and consciousness was just a sort of accidental afterthought – has created immense suffering and limitation within our modern world.
It strips the world around us, the world that we are innately a part of, of its luminous magic. It makes us strangers to ourselves, reducing the sacred sense of self (which every child carries) to the level of soulless mechanisms. It paints a picture of a universe that can never have meaning or significance beyond that which we give it, out of baseless fantasy, to comfort ourselves.
Such beliefs hardly encourage any human being to realize his or her gifts and potentials, to believe in life and its possibilities, to treat the Earth as the sacred gestalt of consciousness that it is. And the inevitable outcomes of these beliefs lay all around us in broken fragments.
There seems to be little point in exploring and moving through our own subjective experience at all, if we’ve accepted the idea that we’re just a walking jumble of mechanisms and involuntary processes, accidentally formed from chance collisions of matter.
As my protagonist Brandon Chane hears it from his mentor Saul in Trust in the Unseen:
“So you know why the idea of self-exploration feels threatening? Because you don’t see the value of it. Because you still don’t believe that your life is mirroring your own inner condition. So examining your own thoughts and feelings seems beside the point. But it is, in fact, the essence of the point.”
Mankind is ready for more expansive stories, stories that revolve around the miracle of the mind and soul rather than the notion of a meaningless universe of dead matter.