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Marvels: Letters from an Elder, Part 2

From an upcoming book called Marvels: Letters from an Elder by Tobias Green:

Letter # 1 16th February 1948 (continued)

So let us assume that you are in possession of senses which are currently dormant or latent. Why should they be in such a state? Leaving aside any decision you might have been involved in to restrict your own perceptions — such matters are best left until later in this correspondence— we can tackle this from the perspective that your unused senses are weak and hidden from you because they have atrophied through lack of use.

Analogies are always incredibly useful: if we regard ‘sensory fitness’ as the full and rigorous activation of your entire range of perceptions, then, like an athlete who ceases to train, such apparatus slowly declines and becomes weaker and weaker, until, in extreme cases, it withers away to nothing. Such might be the position with regard to your original senses: you haven’t used them, haven’t exercised them, haven’t placed any kind of demand upon them, and so they have withered away.

One of the reasons why you haven’t used them is because the culture which surrounds you neglects to place any emphasis upon them at all. From an early age, you are taught that you have five physical senses, and these are utilised every day in some way — but other, invisible senses, which, as a child you are more apt to use instinctively and regularly, because they are given less emphasis, fall by the wayside.

Many parents report their very young children apparently being aware of other people in the room, not discernible to the adults present: mysterious ‘conversations’ with absent figures, interchanges and smiles and giggles with invisible people, and so on. Usually these interchanges are short (as far as you know); sometimes they are unobserved and only reported some time afterward; usually they are unpredictable. If questioned, the child (if capable of verbalisation) will say that they were chatting with a deceased grandparent or other relative no longer physically operating on your plane. They will look at a particular point in the room, indicate with their face or hands where the person is standing or sitting, but the accompanying adult will ‘see’ nothing and not be aware of any kind of ‘presence’ at all. Easily dismissed as ‘childish imaginings’, these incidents are not so easy to set aside when one realises how common they are.

But as the child grows up, as they begin to be able to verbalise their experiences, and as their attention is put upon material things and responsibilities — eating, walking, dressing, sleeping, talking with people who are physically present, and so forth— these uncategorisable experiences tend to fade, as do those mysterious recollections, too many to discount, of children remembering past lives, complete with names and locations, often verifiable by independent enquiry. It all drifts into the background, in the same way that candle flames fade in brightness when taken into daylight: the flames are still there, but the eyes are dazzled by other sources of light.

Once social education begins, usually with some for of schooling, these ‘extra’ senses fade even more rapidly. It wasn’t always so and isn’t necessarily a universal experience even today — some cultures still respect these perceptions and validate them — but the Western culture has developed over the last two centuries into a matter-orientated one. Anything which falls outside the realm of the five senses tends to be dismissed or belittled. This is understandable. The entire fundamental premises of the civilisation in which you live rest on the five senses as the only admissible criteria for truth. They are the basis of scientific method: physical evidence and quantifiable data are the Scripture of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Woe betide anyone who questions these! For, if any doubt enters into the Dogma of the Five Senses, the entire edifice built upon that dogma might begin to develop cracks. Were physical evidence and quantifiable data somehow shown to be inadequate measures of the ultimate reality, the entire culture would suffer quakes to its core. This is despite the fact that its own physics, approaching unanswerable and barely conceivable questions as to the nature of the universe, has already begun to shake those foundations. Quantum physics begins to display the basic inadequacies of the five senses as guides to what is absolute and true.

For the meantime, though, social education continues to push the consensual view that we live in a material universe make up of ‘solid’ particles, and that our only channels of perception are through the body’s physical senses. So the child, who has known otherwise in its heart, becomes literally ‘disenchanted’ and more and more orientated to that social consensus. Subjective experiences which seem to lie outside that consensus are gradually shunned, pushed aside, categorised as ‘strange’ or ‘unknowable’, relegated to the realms of fiction, horror stories, ‘imagination’ and insanity. Death manifests itself in a material culture as an ending, beyond which there is no existential continuation of consciousness — and then all conversation about that ending is minimised, curtailed, pigeon-holed as ‘morbid’ and pushed into the same realms as those individual inexplicable experiences from early youth.

You can test this out for yourself through another analogy. Let’s assume that you live in a house with a group of other people. By assertion and agreement, and even through the domination of some residents over others, you come to regard the door leading to the outside world as a Forbidden Portal: anyone passing through it is considered to have ‘gone’, never to return. Such apparently final departures might be so upsetting to the house residents that they refuse to talk about it and minimise any references to it — or perhaps the ‘authorities’ within the house determine that such matters are taboo and restrict discussion. This enables all, they believe, to live their lives within the house with a minimum of emotional upheaval or distraction. Everything, in such a culture, is about life within the house.

But every resident in the end leaves through that door. Enormous efforts go into directing attention away from that fact and placing it instead on the bright and energetic life within the walls of the place, ephemeral though every resident deeply knows that life to be. Anyone caught looking out of the windows is vilified and ostracised; anyone wanting to discuss the whole matter of the Door is shouted down or laughed at or even punished. To any visitor to the house, though, this behaviour would be clearly neurotic or paranoid — especially when the visitor knows that just beyond the threshold of the place lie beautiful gardens and a wide open world waiting to be explored.

Such is your present situation. You live in a house in which the cultural consensus is that ‘the house is all; there is no “outside”’. Any perceptions you might have to the contrary are actively diminished and discouraged. You are like a blind man, who, whispering of your experiences of light to your neighbours, is ridiculed and cast out.

And so your real journey, your real education, is yet to begin.

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