Sunday, 9 July 2017

'There are more things in heaven and earth...'

The Forth & Clyde Canal

‘There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio than are dreamt of in your philosophy’

Cloud formations were like brief sketches all the more striking for their few bold lines against the blue of sky. One looked as if a rope of cloud had been flattened twisted and smeared across the blue expanse. Another slim rope shot up vertically with one or 2 breaks or segment joins, like some eager celestial plant. Ah good sign I thought, I was up early to catch the bus into Edinburgh and from there, the train to Falkirk. To the Conference on UFOs and the Paranormal. I’m fascinated by unusual experiences – both my own and those of other people – that don’t fit into conventional interpretations of the world.

Afterwards we walked along the Forth and Clyde Canal. 


I would take Shakespeare’s meaning of ‘philosophy’ to be not just our ideas or even our beliefs but the totality of our understanding of what we call reality. This understanding anchors our sense of self, who we are as a being, to the world all around us that we inhabit – nature, social reality, our interactions with others. But sometimes the most basic assumptions of what our reality is and how it works can be not just altered but blown apart. This was the case with Sacha, one of the speakers who had had such an unnerving experience complete with a sense of unreality that she had spent the years since then, trying to find answers to what had happened to her.

Shakespeare did say ‘heaven and earth’.

And Rainer Maria Rilke said ‘Jeder Engel ist schrecklich’ (every angel is terrifying)

Alyson Dunlop gave instances, experiences – of her own and of others – of being helped by non-visible energies, that some call angels. All these are positive and uplifting. However, she encountered dark energies as well. Whatever your reaction to the names of Archangels – Michael, Raphael, Gabriel and Uriel – they can be called upon in time of need. Whatever your belief system, construct of understanding of the world or cosmos we inhabit. 

Innes Smith is intrigued by our belief systems. What makes us believe what we do? Although we may talk about evidence he says, what some call evidence is not accepted by others – it is not an agreed term. And sometimes professional scientists have dismissed evidence which is statistically significant, because they cannot reconcile it with their current belief systems.

The Romans were here a long time ago: part of the Antonine wall

Beliefs and perceptions are changeable. Unless we have coated them with a layer of glue – which can lead to the ‘this is how it is and I am right’ kind of thinking.

It seems to me it is possible that perception follows belief. How much of our perceived reality is a construct? After all, if we take the perception of vision, the brain interprets what is seen, it doesn’t simply record what the eye sees. This construct is necessary of course for us to participate in our lives as humans, in our groups, families, societies, friendships, and in the natural world too that we inhabit. And if we can consciously change what we believe – and that is perfectly possible, if we repeat for example, a positive statement, such as thankfulness or gratitude –  can we not then change our perceptions and then alter our feelings, thoughts and actions, and too, the effect we have on others?

Why do we believe what we do, what draws us to this belief or that one? Perhaps that’s a long and deep question. Perhaps we identify with one or another and so, like external territory that belongs to us, we will defend it – with ridicule of other beliefs, or emotional aggression or worse.

It seems to me that it’s best to wear our perceived reality loosely, so there’s room for alteration, so there is room in a loose weave consciousness, for light to come through.

And so much light to be grateful for.

The sky on the walk back home was also spectacular, with coloured clouds around the recently disappeared sun, and the full moon rising in the opposite side of the sky.