Distinguishing Reality from Illusion

As David Childress points out in his piece on crystal skulls elsewhere in this issue, there is some truth to the story in the latest Indiana Jones epic, even if the producers did get somewhat carried away. The same can be said for many Hollywood productions, including some that are even more outrageous. The producers of Tinseltown like to grab a fact or two as their starting point and then to venture into the imaginary. Mutant powers, as in X-Men, are based on actual medical anomalies, cyborgs of the future (i.e., Iron Man) start with current lab experiments, extraterrestrial agendas (Roswell) are extrapolated from abduction case histories, etc. All of the facts gathered in support of such fic­tion are intended to serve the purposes of entertainment, thus making the essential willing suspension of disbelief easier to achieve—or that, at least, is the theory.

Could, in fact, something else be going on?

There is, we suspect, a deeper process at work, something coming from an innate ability to discern greater truth—something which plays a fundamental role in determining whether we buy into the premises of the many yarns presented to us in popular entertainment. For one thing, we all are connected to the same world of dreams that has been with us since time immemorial and investigated in our time by such luminaries as Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell. Contact with the dream world—also known as the universal unconscious—gives us an ability to appreciate the presence of universal themes and archetypes. George Lucas has made it clear that he consciously employed such elements in his Star Wars stories, and the same can be said for many of the classics of cinema, from Casablanca to Citizen Kane. Like story tellers for millennia, the best in the business today still try to tap the same universal foun­tain of understanding that inspired Homer. Whether or not they succeed is a measure of their own atunement with the process, and that gets us to our point.

The modern notion of the human psyche is that it is a product of the mass culture and simply echoes back the stimulus which is provided to it. We are, in other words, merely expressing the tastes which we have been condi­tioned to experience. In such a world, it really doesn’t matter what images are shown to us, we will learn to react to them in the way we are trained. Like Pavlov’s dogs, we will learn to salivate when the bell signaling mealtime is rung. Suppose though, that within us all, there is some deeper truth detection mechanism at work—some connection with the absolute which the current fad makers cannot touch. Could, in fact, there be within every soul an unconscious knowledge of the ultimate truth of things—a kind of crystalline geometry which though ordinarily inactive and per­haps somewhat damaged, will, when a particular note is sounded, suddenly begin to sing?

That such a thing is true has long been taught by the great spiritual teachers of all ages East and West, and is reg­ularly experienced by many who try to follow the spiritual path. The reality of such a faculty is, of course, denied by those whose own internal tuning fork has long since ceased to resonate. Nevertheless, they, for purposes of control­ling others, struggle to re-create the lost effect. Such counterfeit displays may fill the media, but for those who have glimpsed the real thing, the illusions offer little charm.

For those with ears to hear and eyes to see, the distinction between fact and fiction remains deeply personal.


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