In the West we have a way of seeing things in a very straight, linear line.
There's "backwards," foolish thinking and then it moves upward to logical, scientific and practical thinking. The world started out ignorant and we are making progress toward knowing and categorizing everything. The world is straightforward and any event can be explained within the framework that we have.
This is over-simplifying, of course, but what I've been thinking about is the way I think about more mysterious things.
I am a grounded, practical, straightforward person. I don't have much patience for whimsy or magic and I think that's holding me back.
I started thinking about this because my Hindi teacher and the other student in the class were talking about superstition and some of the beliefs of people in their homes in villages in India.
Many, many people believe in ghosts, spirits, curses, boons, miracles, fairies, demons, etc. Traditionally I and most of the West see that sort of belief as ignorant and foolish. In grade school we hear the go-to explanation for myth: "Ancient people didn't know what this was, so they made up a story to explain it and now we know better."
I'm not convinced of the truth of that anymore. First of all, it sounds outrageously condescending. And the world of "myth" is tremendously rich and beautiful. The world is a wild place, always on the edge of chaos. I don't know everything there is to know and no one else does either.
Why do we assume that there is only one plane of existence? I think it could make perfect sense for there to be ghosts and spirits and other things occurring in the subtle world around us that we are completely oblivious to.
I would like to believe that.
I don't yet, but I would like to.
I want to expand my mind and my way of thinking, to accept that there may be value and truth in astrology, in crystal healing, in the ability of the spirit to leave the body and return. I've never been able to believe any of that and I've been secretly dismissive and judgmental about it.
One thing I don't believe? I don't believe that we are smarter or better for having been born later in the world's history.
When I was a child I went to a Waldorf preschool. There I learned about magic. They told us about gnomes and fairies and taught us to see a sparkle and mystery in life. I lost touch with that as I got older and I would like to go back to it.
Science has shown* that we dismiss things we see or experience that don't fit into our expected model and I want to break down those expectations to see a more intense world.
* In one of my college classes there was the following experiment: My teacher told us that he was going to play a video in which two teams were passing a ball back and forth. Each team had its own ball. One team was dressed in white and the other in black, there were three people on each team. He asked us to count how many times the white team passed the ball.
I knew there was a catch, but I played along anyway and watched the video, counting how many times the white team passed the ball to each other. They were doing it in a narrow hallway in a college dorm. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. After the video I told the professor that the team had passed the ball five times. He asked if I had seen anything odd and I had not.
He played the video again, this time without focusing our attention on any one thing. In the middle, a man in a giant, black gorilla suit walked onto the screen, went right up to the camera so that he was taking up almost the entire screen, and waved, then walked off.
I had not seen it at all on the first viewing. Because it was black and I was looking for white, my brain completely dismissed it.
That proved to me that there is a lot going on around us that we never process because it isn't what we are looking for.