I believe that I became aware of and began to actively tend to mysticism as a result of my religious training which was augmented by the natural curiosity of a child stimulated by cultural stories of mystical events.
I would suggest that almost the entirety of LDS membership is made up of individuals who to some degree became self-informed and self-identified at an early age by taking literal the mystical cultural stories. Taking the events themselves as literally true was not so much the problem as was having to deal with the theology, dogma and doctrine that were the result of human interpretation of the storied events themselves.
These ideas bring me back to this, my most recent thematic writing: our deliberate and conscious suspension of disbelief.
In previous articles I have tried to portray the negative consequences of suspending disbelief and then emotionally and mentally entering into the mythical world about which we have suspended disbelief in order to understand and make sense of our lives as our culture portrays them.
At this time, I want to take a different tack in order to express appreciation for and discuss the value – the positives, if you will – of what can happen when a suspension of disbelief helps bring about an equalizing of our dual perceptive natures.
On the one hand, education and overall cultural tendencies within our Western society and culture for the most part emphasize scientific reasoning, cause-and-effect absolutes, technology and a tendency to trust mostly those things we can measure, quantify and define in logical language and/or in the abstract.
This we call “objective” reality.
As valid as it may seem in very real and literal perceptual terms, objective reality as we understand and function within it constitutes only one half of our perceptual nature.
Whether we like it or not, desire it to be so or not, we are not Vulcans. It is impossible to suppress the subjective reality we experience. I suspect that the reason for our inability to be and remain “totally objective” about everything is that we attempt to suppress real feelings that are driven by mental and emotional reactions to and interpretations of things, events, words and ideas that show up as detected on our attention antennas.
Suppressed feelings, despite any notion of living in a reality limited to objective perceptions, are not healthy nor normal. Actions based on suppressed feelings do not normally lead to “positive” outcomes regarding perceived problems, issues or challenges.
Let me attempt to express it another way.
It is my life experience and conclusion that we live an existence governed by the perceptions of our five senses. We have come to understand that our brains function from both a left and right side.
The left-brain is primarily an interpreter of facts – an encyclopedia of personally acquired knowledge and experience. The right brain, the creative and imaginative side, is the source of our music, poetry and inventions.
Both sides of our brains reside in the same cranium and it makes sense that the intent of the Creator is that the two aspects are to be harmonized in use. Through our senses, facts and experience are admitted into our thinking, ordered and collated on the left side of our brain. Essentially this same information may then conceptualized and experienced perceptively on the right side.
Furthermore, I’m not aware of any writing, sacred or secular, that advises us to emphasize one side at the expense of the other.
Balance and harmony of perception seems the path of our spiritual and physical evolution to wisdom and a higher spiritual plane. In a circumstance of religious and/or spiritual balance, we deal with what I have labeled “letter of the law thinking” and “spirit of the law thinking.”
Left brain thinking with its collection of facts assembled into a knowledge of the “world as it is” may, if relied upon with as much exclusivity as possible, almost totally overrule the intuitive wisdom that is formed in the right brain. Right brain wisdom makes possible an ability to perceive and negotiate the “world as it ought to be; the world intended by God,” if you will.
Put another way, we are equipped to see in three dimensions: height, width and depth. Without three-dimensional vision, we see only a square instead of a box and a circle instead of a sphere.
There are in my view dimensions to our intuitive perceptiveness, our spiritual awareness so to speak. The most commonly missing dimension of this intuitiveness seems to be a prompted wisdom that exists on the side of experience and common sense.
Let me talk about this in a context of what we do with scripture.
Knowledge of the scriptures isn’t enough in and of itself. Knowing the laws and commandments without grasping the divine or spiritual intent is not enough.
If scripture was written in an intuitive and prompted manner, then left-brain logic dictates that scripture ought to be read that same way. More to the point, left-brain logic suggests that a prompting more fully moves through the mind via the creative and imaginative side — the right brain side.
Left-brain thinking turns on the spirit receiver by its ability to read words, remember definitions, remember stories and remember personal life incidents. Right brain thinking activates the more spiritually creative aspect of thinking that senses the will and influence of ideas both higher and deeper in the mind and, very importantly, recalls FEELINGS, something the left brain cannot do except by linear definition.
To live entirely with an emphasis on left-brain thinking makes us no more human than a computer, which amasses knowledge and acts only according to facts in the database.
To live entirely with an emphasis on right brain thinking causes us to live in a world of fantasy, wishful thinking, and imaginary states where the practical application toward bringing wishes to reality is missing.
Right brain conceives the wish, but left-brain has the resources to realize the wish. It is probably the healthiest internal duality we possess.
It makes no sense that God would speak to man solely through left-side, logical, law-based thinking. Nor is it sensible that the Spirit would speak to man solely through right side thinking where ideas would remain only in a conceptual state without the will and knowledge to action.
The implication is that the Spirit speaks to man through a mind balanced with knowledge and wisdom.
Speaking in a specific religious context, I assert that the major weakness of Christianity is that while its Founder did all that He did using the Law as reference material to teach and point toward God, Christianity uses the scripture as Law first and Spirit second. It then points not at God but at the Founder and at its founding heroes instead of where the Spirit leads.
Do we lazily resort to a literal interpretation of spiritual things and then rely on left-brain-dominated blindness by acting only as the words are literally written?
Do we assume then that we have no need that sacred writings be placed in a context of spiritual feeling and understanding?
Do we lazily reside in a fantasy world with a right-brain-dominated weakness of wishful trusting that if we “believe” we are fulfilling God’s intent in giving us life and opportunity?
Do we restrict ourselves to merely looking and pointing at Jesus instead of looking where He looked and pointing where He pointed?
“Lazy” is appropriate here. Are we mostly interested in learning only that which we are commanded to “do”, that which we need to “obey” and that which we “shouldn’t do”?
I have at times in my life been a piano teacher. Worrying about jots and tittles to excess is like being able to play music only by reading notes and counting the rhythm loudly inside our heads as we try to hit the notes as dictated by our loud inner counting.
We have no true feeling for the music itself, the phrasing and the flow.
It is very unlikely, playing or listening to music in that manner, that we will be captured by the fullness of the musical piece nor carried to a higher plane as the music actually communicates its mood and feeling.
Such playing and listening, such “active participation,” if you will, is dominated by left-brain thinking. Although mechanically a player can become very skilled, not only does the music remain mechanical in sound, as if played by a computer, but it is unlikely such a player will ever successfully understand or interpret what he plays, let alone create his own music.
Left-brained musicians and composers did not create our greatest and most beautiful music.
Left-brain-dominated-humans make poor practitioners of lives fully blended by logic, wisdom, intuition and promptings.
It takes a right-brained deliberate resistance to left-brained habit of mind in order to achieve willing suspension of disbelief.
In so doing, it becomes possible to fully experience AND ENJOY a spiritual aspect of living.