Not only is it often true that “seeing is believing” but not believing can end up with being unable to see. Years ago I learned this because a friend believed she had a parking angel who always helped her to find a space, even on the crowded streets of Washington, D.C.
I strongly doubted the power of her angel, so she said she’d show me. When we got into her car she reached up and, for luck, briefly touched the pastel angel doll hanging from her rearview mirror. We headed to a downtown restaurant and I watched how she circled and circled the nearby blocks until a space did indeed open up. Her persistent belief helped her to find what was there. My own experience with parking places happened a few weeks later when I had to attend a lecture at Georgetown University. I decided to drive down even though I thought I’d probably just have to turn around and go home because spaces were so scarce in that neighborhood. Of course no magic figures dangled from my rearview mirror. I was startled when I realized I had driven past not just one, but two, open parking places. My belief was so strong that I wouldn’t be able to find one, that at first I hadn’t seen them.
This week’s post continues with ideas from the remarkable book, AN UNLIKELY PROPHET, written by Alvin Schwartz. (See Ordinary Superpowers, November 4th) For sixteen years he’d created thousands of Superman newspaper comic strips before moving on in 1958 to a very different career. He didn’t give Superman much thought after that until 1994 when his work with the superhero became an opening for extraordinary experiences. Schwartz wrote that although,
“…to everyone at some crucial time comes an opportunity to become aware of a greater reality and a greater freedom, … in my case it came late, with a bewildering leap into the unknown.”
That bewildering leap happened when Schwartz was 78 years old. Before saying anything more about a story that most of us are likely to find truly unbelievable, I’d like to bring in what he wrote about the purpose of his book:
”(It is) … meant to help us remember those moments in our lives that have touched the unknown and the unexplainable. In the face of unbending rationality, we need to be reminded to wipe away the dust that so quickly obscures our second vision. While such moments always return, we may gradually lose the capacity to see them.”
You don’t have to believe this story, but perhaps you could “drive by” what Schwartz has to say without being certain that there is nothing there for you.
Because of a lecture he gave at the University of Connecticut in which he talked about the power of the imagination and how real Superman had become during the years he created the comic strips, an odd figure sought out Schwartz. He turned up at the front door and said, “Like the Superman you describe in your lecture, I am an idea become real.” The fictional superhero had certainly become quite real to Schwartz:
“…(T)hose of us involved in constantly thinking up new problems and situations to keep Superman going often spoke of him as a real person. We didn’t have a compendium of his abilities. But we did have a sense of whether a certain application of his superpowers fitted his nature. In my case, of course, I had a very special feeling about that. You see, I and my editors knew Superman as a result of long hours spent worrying over him – the way you know an eccentric uncle after years of experience with his ways. So we couldn’t tell a new writer exactly what Superman could do, or should do, or wouldn’t do. It was necessary first to get acquainted with the character and develop a sense of him as we had. As though, in fact, he were really our living and independent eccentric uncle.”
Behind today’s somewhat glib cliché that,”We create our own reality,” lies profound wisdom and thousands of years of mystical experience. This knowledge has shown up in a greatly reduced form, for example, in Rhonda Byrnes’ bestselling book THE SECRET. We can learn more about the effect of the mind on matter through reading books like those by William Tiller, Ph.D. and his coauthors about research such as that done with changing the Ph in samples of water in distant rooms through a kind of meditation. We have scarcely begun to understand what is really involved in this kind of phenomenon, but Schwartz had first-hand experience of the powers of the mind.
Most of us are familiar with the Superman and Batman characters created by Schwartz, but most of us do not know what a tulpa is – a living human created by pure thought. It was a tulpa who showed up at his door in Connecticut because he had taken Schwartz’s comment about the reality of Superman literally. The tulpa was a terrifically tall Tibetan named Thongden, a materialization from the imagination of an English scholar who had lived many years before. Thongden was a being with a real physical presence and personality and a great need for Schwartz’s powers of imagination.
Schwartz wrote that Thongden said,
“… that reality had many levels of which we in the West knew only a single one. Then he spoke about strong forces and weak forces, almost as if he were lecturing on particle physics. I felt as though my head were stuffed with so many new ideas that I couldn’t handle them all at once.”
The further reaches of modern physics affects me that way too. It’s like the “boggle factor” that many people also experience with WINN posts such as this one: “How does that make any sense?” or, “How can that be?” or, “This is beyond me.”
Schwartz went on to say that it seemed to him,”… that the conscious brain is not constructed to grasp what it knows all at once. It really does have to unfold.” That unfolding is the story he tells in this book. I hope it’s a story you will want to read.
SCIENCE AND HUMAN TRANSFORMATION: Subtle Energies, Intentionality and Consciousness by William A.Tiller, Ph.D., 1997
CONSCIOUS ACTS OF CREATION: The Emergence of a New Physics by William A. Tiller, Ph.D., Walter E. Dibble, Jr., Ph.D. and Michael J.Kohane, Ph.D., 2001
SOME SCIENCE ADVENTURES WITH REAL MAGIC by William A.Tiller, Ph.D, Walter E. Dibble, Jr., Ph.D. and J. Gregory Fandel, 2005