So what does my testimony, or anybody’s testimony, amount to? It doesn’t amount to proof of anything, that’s for sure. For all you know, I’m deliberately deceiving you, or am deceiving myself. My data may be wrong, my reasoning may be wrong, my “knowings” may be wrong, my conclusions may be wrong. As always, you’re pretty much on your own, and you’re pretty much going to believe whatever you allow yourself to believe. The only other choice is to find an authority to follow, trying not to remember that belief in authority is itself a belief, not a known.
This being so, can there be any value to you in listening to what I think I know about spiritual realities? Ohhhh, yes! But not just mine.
I am writing this, not to persuade you of anything (which I couldn’t do anyway), but to suggest to you that your life is more magical than you may have thought. Certain types of phenomena have been reported for centuries and denied only in the past few hundred years. If we take them seriously, they cast serious doubt on the materialist fantasy that has passed for science and common-sense in our day. And that has important implications for your life!
Those inconvenient reports include such topics as ghosts. out-of-body experiences, spirit possession, witchcraft, telepathy, afterlife experiences, the power of prayer, the ability to heal by touch or and at a distance… and plenty more.
If such things are real, clearly the commonly accepted view of the world life is not.
Both states of affairs can’t be true. If reality is one way, your life means one thing (or maybe no thing.) If it is the other way, then your life means something radically different. Not everybody cares about the question; they take life as it comes. But if you do care, the question arises: What are you going to do – what could you do – to find out which way it is?
There’s only one way to know. You have to investigate. Stepping off the beaten path can be somewhat scary, but the land beyond the beaten path is not a featureless wilderness. Others have gone this way, and many have told at least some part of their story. You can’t just take another person’s word for the way things are, but you can listen to their testimony as a sort of interim report.
I drew up my a summary of my own interim report 10 years ago in my book Muddy Tracks. My own experiences (including reading and thinking, trying to make sense of these experiences) had convinced me by then of 10 interrelated points.
1) We are immortal spirits temporarily inhabiting bodies.
2) This life is not our only life.
3) We “individuals” are all connected one to another.
4) We as individuals are fragments of a larger being that cares about us and can be trusted.
5) Nonetheless, this larger being sees things differently.
6) The larger being is a source of foresight and wisdom.
7) The larger being contacts us.
8) We can contact the larger being.
9) Thus our lives need not be disconnected and solitary.
10) Nonetheless, we may often lose communication.
A lot has happened since I drew up that list, and I would include additional items today, but I see no reason to retract any of these. Neither do I see why anything on the list should affront anyone of whatever religion.
As a matter of fact, I think that this summary is pretty close to what the major religions have always said. It’s just that words get in the way. You say Allah, he says God, she says Jehovah, and you think you’re talking about different things. One says “higher power,” another says “still small voice,” a third says “conscience,” a fourth says “inner knowing,” and suddenly you’re calling each other infidels, when you’ve actually said the same thing!
It’s time – and well past time – to stop quarreling over language. It is time to stop fearing that if we listen open-heartedly to another way of putting things, it might seduce us from the truth. It’s time that we all paid more attention to figuring out the spirit behind the words of other people’s interim reports.