Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The journey begins...

When I was very little, I tugged at my mother’s sleeve and asked her to watch me jump. “Look,” I said excitedly, “I am leaving the planet!” “Yes, dear,” she replied, without much interest. I can still remember my feeling of frustration that I could not make her see what I had seen. Of course, I was not intending to go far, but to jump six inches off the earth and be pulled back by gravity is still to leave the surface. All that is needed is to extend the distance some more, and I could be walking among the stars.

At the age of fourteen, the philosophical part of my brain took another leap. In amongst all the other dawning realizations, at the heart of my search for “something worthy of belief”, was a discovery that completely blew the ground from under materialism. What is consciousness? I don’t mean, what causes it, but what is it made of? It obviously isn’t made of matter. Once again, I simply could not get anyone else to see this fact the way I saw it. “Oh yes,” they might say politely, humouring me; “of course.” But if they had truly understood what I was saying the world would have been transformed for them, as it had been for me. The point is this. Normally we take consciousness for granted, and we do our thinking about the stuff that is in our consciousness, the stuff we are conscious of. The world is out there: it is what is revealed to us by our senses. But try to stop thinking that way for a minute. That very awareness, the experience itself, whether we are awake or dreaming, whether we are seeing clearly or not, is itself a thing. True, it is a strange kind of thing, because it is that in which everything else is located for us. But it is just as real as everything else, if not more so.

I was like a fish discovering the ocean, an eyeball looking into itself, a mirror face-to-face with another mirror. Materialism could not be true, because it had missed the most important and obvious thing, the one thing that could not be doubted. Then I opened the books of the mystics….

Picture: "Trampoline" by Rose-Marie Caldecott

1 comment:

  1. Your opening reminds me of the frustration of Saint-Exupery's Little Prince with the obtuseness of adults.

    Wonderful image! Congrats to Rosie.