[This is the text of an email exchange with a friend during the time I was trying hard to validate what I was getting from Joseph Smallwood.]
>> I admit, I am about out of patience with chasing “past-life” memories and never finding external verifications.
> Why do you need verification?
I think metaphysically inclined people are sometimes a little too inclined to explain away difficulties, rather than truly exploring them. Verification of any one detail would give me a solid place to stand.
> What would you do differently if you had it?
It isn’t so much what I would do, as where I would be. Rather than believing I would be so much closer to knowing.
> We talk about creating “reality”, about how everything is composed of energy, how reality is “our perception” and how our beliefs determine that perception. Yet we still assume that components of our “reality” have an objective existence apart from our perceptions and beliefs.
> If reality is mutable, if we’re all co-creating “reality” every nanosecond, what’s “proof” other than another of our creations?
That is all well enough in the abstract, but of course we build our everyday lives on the assumption that the sources of our perceptions have objective existence. We only resort to saying “it can’t be proved” when we are dealing with something we aren’t really quite sure is objectively real. (I know that the word “objectively” in itself could give rise to quite an argument; but let us confine ourselves to the common usage.)
> Is it enough that we take our experiences for just what they are — experiences? Perhaps it’s the experience of looking for proof that you’re after, the feelings of intrigue, discovery, frustration, betrayal…
> Are we learning to operate consciously on multiple levels: in physical reality where we eat and drink and need proof; in meta-reality where we recognize that the need for proof is an experience like any other and nevertheless we commit to fully experiencing it; in meta-meta-reality…
No, no. I do not believe that there are two categories of reality, one for everyday and one for “psychic” things. Rather, both are particular aspects of one over-arching reality, which — I think most of us on this list would agree — needs stretching. But stretching our definition of reality to include our experiences is not the same thing as pretending that we are free to believe whatever we want to believe, regardless of evidence or in the teeth of evidence.