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Mistake 4: That I see what you see

If you know where this image came from, please let me know. I want to give credit where credit is due: both to the photographer and the architect.

Today I’d like to muse over interior experience, the nature of perception, and the nature of reality.

Sharks and duck-billed platypuses perceive electrical fields. Many species (bird, reptile, fish) are known for their homing instincts, often attributed to detecting the Earth’s magnetic field.

I know a woman who can’t bear to be around many people at a time because she hears their unique vibrations (Seth’s feeling tones) involuntarily. With too many people around it becomes an overwhelming barrage of noise. I’ve known other people who hear voices (ghosts, spirit guides, demons, devas, etc.). One time, in a former apartment of mine, I heard a man’s voice yell, “Hey!” The voice came from my bedroom. My roommate didn’t hear it, but one of our cats leapt 2 feet into air at the sound and spun around to stare at the doorway to my room. No one was there.

Sometimes the voices people hear are helpful, sometimes damaging, and sometimes meaningless (as in that experience of mine).

I know people who see auras too. Sometimes they are able discern things about the person (animal, plant) not observable by other means.  I was once unnerved by an aura reader who could see that I was attracted to a certain man (apparently there were pink blobs in my aura). Luckily he didn’t pass that tidbit on to the man. Ugh! There are also people who can detect auras by senses other than visual. Do they feel it? Hear it? Smell it? I can almost imagine feeling it, by a sense other than touch. Sorta.

Because I can’t hear, feel, and see what others do, does that make what they perceive unreal? Are the things most of us agree about seeing, hearing, and feeling out in the world less real because people whose senses are missing, or less acute cannot sense them as we do?

Energy practitioners seem to feel energy fields with their hands. Often they are conscious of what they are feeling, but sometimes they are not. When I do Reiki, my hands tend to feel hot and the person I’m working on often can feel where my hands are because of the heat they feel. Yet, I heard about one Reiki practitioner who was particularly good at healing, but claimed not to be able to feel anything.

I was highly skeptical of Reiki before I learned it. Was it less real because I didn’t believe in energy healing?

Are bacteria less real because they are too small to see without magnification? Most of us don’t have access to the tools that magnify sufficiently. Does that make those who do have access nuts because they can see something we can’t?

A number of these people who see and hear things I cannot were punished cruelly as children for talking about them. Some managed to shut down those senses. Others were unable to do that and worked instead to not talk about what they saw and heard. We make judgements about the experience of others without ever having experienced what they do.

Then, there are those who take the information they receive (from whatever source or sense) and interpret it in ways that are incorrect, or not useful. Ways that can be unkind or even damaging. Of course, they may have access to information I don’t have. The difficulty people have in being able to tell whether a person is purposely telling lies to get another person in trouble, or has truly been wronged by that other person illustrates just how challenging it is to tell what is real and what is not. The near impossibility of forming a true description of what happened at a crime or accident scene from witness statements alone is another example.

While we should not turn off our critical thinking and accept every statement anyone makes as true, we should keep in mind we may not be able to see the whole truth from our own perspectives. The things someone else sees may be real in a way not accessible to us. The things we are able to perceive that others cannot may be real and may be constructs of our own brains. There is a reason Hindu philosophers refer to the world that we see as maya, or illusion. I try to keep this in mind as I walk through the world.

I used to believe in black and white. Not so much anymore. Each of us has a perspective that helps flesh out an understanding of reality. There may be more than one. Pick the one that makes the world beautiful to you. It may not match mine.

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