Rediscovering Magic Through Science

This is an audio recording of an essay I wrote for Graham Hancock’s website, when I was selected as Author of the Month for June 2019.

Advertisements

Author of the Month at the Graham Hancock website

I’ve been selected as Author of the Month for June 2019, on Graham Hancock’s website. The administrator asked me to contribute a 2,000-word essay. I could have extracted something directly from “I, Universe,” but decided to write something new instead. You can read it here: Rediscovering Magic Through Science.

Interviewed on the Trans Resister Radio podcast

A few days ago, I was the guest on episode 227 of the Trans Resister Radio podcast. The host, Aaron Franz, and I chatted for a hour on all kinds of esoteric topics: religion, death, non-duality, the meaning of life, paranormal phenomena, and more. You can access the show at the link below (available as an MP3 download or through services like iTunes, Spotify, and others). Enjoy!

http://www.theageoftransitions.com/podcast/183-darryl-sloan-interview-i-universe-trr-227

As always, I ,Universe is available from online bookstores everywhere, including…

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1910098043
Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1910098043

Butterfly dreaming

I’m inclined to think there’s something more than wishful thinking to the notion of dream interpretation. I’ve had a few bizarre ones in my day, and upon waking, I’ve been able to see direct synchronicities with things in my life. One such dream was about me cooking a dog (alive) in the oven, followed by me about to be caught in the act by my mother. The factor that ties this dream to reality is not the specific details, but the themes of guilt and shame – specifically something I was dealing with at the time of the dream. Isn’t it strange that our subconscious presents these challenges to us encapsulated in such bizarre symbolism? I certainly hadn’t been cooking a dog!

Last night I had a dream that involved something so weird that, immediately upon waking, I had the urge to commit the details to memory. First, I’m dreaming that I’m having an enjoyable bike-ride in the countryside with a woman (someone from real life that I happen to like a lot). My bike has no handlebars, so I can’t brake (probably a reference to my bike in real life that is in need of a little maintenance, including new brake-blocks). I almost fall off a few times as I encounter the corners at speed. My bike actually takes air at one point, but the laws of physics are a little funky and I manage to land safely and stay on course. This part of the dream finishes with one bend in the road that is a little too sharp, and I go spinning through the air doing multiple summersaults. I don’t recall an impact. Now, here’s the weird bit coming up: suddenly I’m at my house, standing alone, entering through the front door. As I close the door behind me, I notice three butterflies on the doorframe, near the top, sitting still, close together.

Now, I’m not going to jump to any wild prophetic conclusions. But it just strikes me as totally weird that my subconscious should insert something as out-of-place as butterflies inside the house. I’m not a nature-lover and I never think about butterflies. And here are some very specific details: there are three. They are not flying but resting together in a huddle on the inside of my doorframe – doing something I’ve never seen butterflies do; they’re not pack animals, after all.

I looked up some dream interpretation dictionaries online, but it’s hard to know when you’re being taken for a ride by these things.

The book Secrets of Dreams by Caro Ness mentions that butterflies can be seen as “symbols of transformation”, or as “accurate and startling affirmations of rebirth into a newer, brighter, and more illuminating existence …”

Interesting. The only thing I can say with confidence is that to dream of butterflies appears to be a very positive thing. Got to be better than oven-baked canine!

Writing a new book: Reality Check

The intellectual and spiritual journey I’ve been on for the past year has been powerful and life-changing. It shows no sign of fading. In fact, the whole picture has gotten clearer and clearer as time has progressed.

I’m really glad I blogged about it all, because I now have a permanent record of what is probably the most important transition of my life. For a while, I’ve been considering turning the past year’s blog entries into a physical book, but I think I need to start afresh and introduce the insights from a more effective angle than the haphazard way that they occurred to me at the time.

I put an outline together today, penned an introduction and the first chapter, totaling some 3,000 words. I’m really happy with the results so far.

I’m not sure how much or how little a book of this kind is going to interest the folks who visit here. I just feel passionately about, so I’m going to do it.

The working title is Reality Check, which is a perfect fit thematically, but is a bit common. I’m sure those words have already been used as titles before now. I’m all ears for an alternative title.

I would like the cover to feature a kitten playing with its reflection in the mirror (i.e. not fully understanding reality), but how I’m going to get a photo of that I’ve no idea.

I want to thank everyone who posted challenging comments to my blog entries over the past year. It’s good to be kept on your toes and also helps me to notice my failure to communicate at times.

The journey is, of course, not over, and probably never will be. I haven’t reached any sort of ultimate conclusion, and I doubt there’s a point where I will say, “I understand it all now. Job done.” So, when is a good time to write a book about the nature of reality? Might as well be now.

There‚Äôs no such thing as time … Say what?

Some people think of eternity as a line with no beginning and no end. In church, I’ve heard preachers say things like “Way back in eternity past …” It’s as if God were on his own forever until he decided to make the universe. Likewise, we are led to believe that we, as individuals, had a beginning but will not have an end – that we will simply go on collecting experiences forever, both on earth and in heaven. But I think we misunderstand the nature of eternity. It is not a line with no end. We’ve misunderstood the whole nature of time itself. Infinite Consciousness (my preferred term for what you might think of as God) does not experience time in the way that we (that is, our individual egos) do because it knows the end from the beginning. There is no value for Infinite Consciousness in travelling along a never-ending line where it always knows what’s coming.

Infinite Consciousness exists in eternity, which is not a never-ending time-line; it’s a realm of no-time or all-time – a realm where free will, deductive thinking, and decision making do not exist, because all is known, all is complete. Time as we understand it is merely a construct. Infinite Consciousness created time as a means of fragmenting itself, of experiencing incompleteness, for reasons known only to itself. The consciousness within me is Infinite Consciousness. The consciousness within you is Infinite Consciousness. We are the same being. We have simply been placed into an arena where we cannot access the full awareness of what we are. Just beyond my subconscious mind is Infinite Consciousness holding me here – holding itself here. Likewise, just beyond your unconscious mind is Infinite Consciousness holding you here. We are one and the same being; we have simply been forced into a state of amnesia, because that amnesia is the only way to experience what it’s like for there to be something other than you. To be human is to leave eternity and enter time – to deliberately forget what you are and undergo a period of learning filled with thrills and spills, joys and sorrows.

I experienced a sudden moment of clarity recently. It came like a bolt from the blue when I was out cycling one evening, travelling along a route that I had cycled since boyhood. I was reminiscing about what it had felt to be here doing this when I was a teenager, playfully imagining I could ride through a time-warp and suddenly be that person again, re-living those memorable school days. And it suddenly hit me: “There is no time. You are not moving forward through time. You are Infinite Consciousness, and there is only this one eternal moment – the NOW. Time is an illusion that is playing through you. You are standing still. There is only NOW.” I had read these ideas before, but never understood them until this strange moment when the pieces of the jigsaw clicked. I suddenly got a new perspective on the question “What happens to my soul when I die?” Or as Christians would say: “Where will you spend eternity?” I’m not heading for anywhere, heaven or hell. I’m standing still. The events of time move towards me and play through me, and it’s all a construct. It’s like time is a DVD and you’re the laser reading it, standing still in the now while the movie plays through you. If I could tear the veil of time away, the full knowledge of what I am would flood my consciousness – and time would disappear. When I had this moment of clarity, I just started to laugh joyously (good job I was alone). It was a wonderful moment of intuition that added another layer of clarity to the intuitive journey I’ve been on for the past year.

I have heard the analogy that we are like droplets of water and collectively we make up the ocean. It’s a limited analogy, because we’re still inclined to identify ourselves with the droplet (the ego) and not the ocean. The truth is you are the ocean. Yes, little you. You are Infinite Consciousness. The awareness inside you is the awareness of God, if you like. The only reason you don’t already know that is because the experience of human individuality makes you forget it. It’s the only way the human experience can work. If you suddenly awoke to your true magnitude, you couldn’t function here in this place as an individual. Here at this human level we are individuals. We may still be individuals are a higher level. But at the highest level, you and I are the the same being. In simple terms, imagine two people dying at the same time, suddenly realising they are the same person with two sets of memories (the truth is likely more complex than that, but I hope you get the idea). We are only lulled into thinking that we are separate by “ego.”

Some people who embrace this kind of thinking seem to favour the idea of reincarnation. Now, reincarnation might be true on one level, but at the same time, it’s just another part of the time construct, and we have to get beyond that. Even if my indivudal “soul” has lived a hundred lives before now, on a higher level of awareness, my soul and your soul are the same person. Reincarnation strikes me as just another way to perpetuate the human ego into “eternity to come,” when the whole point is the realisation that ego is a construct, and the future is a construct. There is only ONE existing in the NOW.

The whole universe is an expression of Infinite Consciousness undergoing an experience of separation. And humans are only a small part of that. The three-dimensional physical nature of the universe is nothing more than a holographic projection which allows human and animal life to interact via five senses. In its fundamental essence, way beyond the atomic level, it is pure energy. And all of it is a projection of Infinite Consciousness.

Well, that’s what I think. Crazy as it may sound to some ears, this is the view of life that resonates most clearly to me. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest that I can’t stand in line with a whole bunch of people and call myself a Christian or an atheist or whatever. The world is full of people patting each other’s backs and assuring each other that they’re on the right track. There is a massive section of the population that believes strongly in something that is in direct opposition to the strong beliefs of another massive section of the population, and only one of them can be right. Or maybe neither! The sheer scale of each opposing herd leads me to put no faith whatsoever in the herd mentality. The truth is not found in following the archetypal belief systems of those around us.

Have you ever noticed how someone can say “I’m an atheist,” or “I’m a Christian,” and no one will laugh. But if you should say, “I am Infinite Consciousness. I am everything that ever was, is, and will be,” the person you are talking to might think you are mentally ill. This is how much we are infected with the herd mentality. It doesn’t matter if one herd says something in complete contradiction to another herd. As long as it’s a herd, we give it respect. But when someone stands up and says something different, the ridicule begins (David Icke, circa 1991, anyone?).

We refer to ourselves as “human beings,” but it might be more accurate to call ourselves “human becomings.” None of us are existing in a state of being. The experience of life in a body is the experience of continual change as we move through time. There is only one that possesses being outside of time: Infinite Consciousness. I intuitively believe that this Infinite Consciousness is the awareness inside every one of us. The experience of being propelled through time is just an illusion, born out of our disconnection from the full awareness of the vast being that we collectively are.

What is consciousness?

Most people identify who they are with their physical selves. This is evidenced by how obsessed we are with our bodies. It’s all well and good to take an interest in your appearance, on the grounds that your appearance is what you use to interact with the world around you. But few would deny that the pursuit of beauty has reached epidemic proportions. “Buy this new wondercream to hide those wrinkles!” screams the latest TV advertisement. Young people are constantly bombarded with impossible standards of beauty from the media and are urged to think, “This is what you must be or you are not good enough.” Middle-aged people are encouraged to mask what they are becoming by this gel, that needle, or the other operation. It’s as if the entirety of your personal worth hinges on what you look like.

You can buy into the hypnotic trance sold to you by the media and society, or you can think your way out of it by asking one simple question: “What am I?” First of all, you are not your body. Your body is a machine. It may not be made of metal, but it works on exactly the same principles. Grab any human biology textbook, look at the diagrams, and tell me that’s not a machine. Our bodies are made up of thousands of parts, each one unique in appearance and function, each one serving the whole machine, allowing you to walk, run, dance, talk, whisper, shout, look, listen, smell, pick your nose, and so on. The body is a biological machine. You feel this machine is you, because you are so intimately aware of it and connected to it. If someone kisses you or slaps you on the face, you feel this, not only on your face, but in your emotions. This way, we are lulled into thinking, “My body is me.”

The body is 70% water. Are you, then, 70%, water? If you fill the bathtub with several litres of water, would you say that you’re two thirds of the way to creating a human being? Let’s take it further. In the centre of your chest is a heart that pumps blood around your body. If your heart failed, and you received a heart transplant, are you any less you for having an organ from another person working in your body? No, you still exist. It’s no different from replacing a faulty component in a car engine. If you lose your your legs in a car accident and are in a wheelchair for the rest of your life, you still exist. In fact, a whole lot worse could happen, and you would still be here. Because the body is not you. It is the vehicle you are using to intereact with the physical world.

So, what am I? You know what I’m getting at by now. I am the awareness looking out from behind these eyes. I am the consciousness that is able to say, “I am me.” It seems so obvious to me now, and yet I’ve lived with the false understanding all my life that I am my body. “Body consciousness” seems to be the prevalent way of thinking in the world, because few people question the reality that is handed to them on a platter by the conditioning of human experience.

Okay, so I’ve identified myself as my consciousness. But what is consciousness? Is consciousness the brain? Am I still just a biological machine with the central part of me being my “grey matter”? Is self-awareness nothing more an electrical activity flowing through neurons? The atheist says, “That’s exactly how it is.” The spiritualist says, “No, we have a soul.”

To answer this dilemma, I would use the analogy of comparing the brain to the processor of a computer. Just like a brain, a computer can think. You can program a computer to perform a task, feed it data, and it will work its way through the task and produce results for you at the end. In fact, a computer can think much faster and more reliably than a human brain. It’s like a superbrain. Imagine yourself playing chess against a computer. The game is quite real, because your opponent’s thoughts are quite real. And let’s face it, unless you’re very good at chess, the computer is going to win. But here’s the thing: even though you’re playing chess with a computer, would you ever say that your computer is self-aware? Can your computer use its own volition to say to itself, “I am conscious”? No. It isn’t conscious. And this points to a very important truth that is sadly overlooked by science. Thinking and consciousness are not the same thing. (I’ve heard people use different words for these concepts, and there doesn’t seem to be any consenus. I’ve heard someone refer to “mind” and “consciousness” as the same thing, and referring to the other as “pure awareness.” For my purposes, if I refer to “mind,” I’m referring purely to physical brain-based thought. When I say “consciousness,” I’m referring to self-awareness.)

There’s no doubt that thinking is brain-based. After all, chemical substances affect how you think. Different animals, with different sizes of brains, have different levels of intelligence. People with brain damage have problems thinking correctly. All this makes the atheist rub his hands with glee and claim, “Look. You’re nothing more than a brain. Here’s the proof.” But this is only true if mind and consciousness are identified as one and the same. And the computer analogy shows they are not. Atheists don’t seem to realise that they are essentially reducing themselves to the level of robots. Robots are a facsimile of consciousness, incapable of self-awareness; we’re the real thing.

An important question to ask at this point is: “If consciousness is something that trancends brain-based thought, then does it die when the body dies?” It’s impossible to answer this question on purely rational, empirical grounds. If I say I have an immortal soul, something that transcends physical life and drifts off to who knows where after death, then how exactly do you measure and quantify that and say “Look, here is consciousness” using the science of the physical plane you’re claiming to transcend? Bit of a predicament, eh? If you’re of the strict mindset that dismisses everything outside of empirical investigation as untrue, then this is the point where some of what I say from here on will read like nonsense. You’ve decided never to believe in something you can’t grasp, even though there may be such a thing as the ungraspable. But as I see it, absense of proof does not necessarily mean proof of absense.

People commonly believe in one of two archetypes: you either have an immortal soul or you don’t. But the trouble with archetypes is that they are merely hand-me-down ideas that slip into your thinking without you realising it. I think the truth is far more amazing than the idea that the human race is a collection of disembodied souls floating around in some other realm. In choosing what to believe about the nature of consciousness, my own intuition is my guide, with rationality as its close cousin, providing clues and helping me avoid self-delusion.

When I was a Christian, I had the rather primitive understanding that when I die, my personality floats off into the ether to meet God. But if I identify my consciousness with my personality, I make another mistake. Personality is purely brain-based and this is easily provable. For instance, the personalities of teenagers are dictated by chemical changes in their bodies as they go through puberty. Alternatively, when a teenager drinks a can of Red Bull, you can watch a rapid change of personality unfold – at least temporarily. There are clear differences in the way that men differ from women in how they think, feel and act, and these differences are purely bio-chemical. Furthermore, imagine yourself shipwrecked on a desert island, completely alone. What happens to your personality when there is no one to interact with? It cannot be expressed, so it ceases to be. Yet you don’t cease to exist. I happen to like my personality (others may disagree!), and I feel quite attached to it, but I know it will undergo changes in later years, just as it has undergone changes up till now. Personality is not a constant that equates to consciousness. Science shows that there’s a lot about you that is provably physical in nature, and everything that is physical perishes. A mother who loses her teenage son in an accident will not find that same bubbly, quirky, mischeivous personality waiting for her on the other side, because all those things that made her son the person he was are physical in nature. When you die, say goodbye to your brain and everything you used it for. After death, we’re done with thought and emotion. Do you think you’ll continue to be a man or a woman, psychologically and emotionally, after you shuffle off this mortal coil? Why would you be, when everything that dictated those qualities has turned to dust?

My, doesn’t this cast a new light on our assumptions about what lies beyond death? I am left with the understanding that my awareness trancends physical reality, and yet there’s so much that I think of as me that I’ll be leaving behind. When I die, just what will I be? Because there doesn’t seem to be much left of me to be anything! The horror of this situation is simply a result of identifying who you are with the wrong thing: your personality, your ego, your sense of being a unique individual, different from everyone else around you. “But if I’m not my ego, what’s left?!” you cry. “If all I amount to when I shrug off this body is some bland, unthinking, unfeeling consciousness, then death might as well be oblivion, for all I care.”

Ah, but all is not quite as it seems. There are more pieces to this puzzle. But that’s a story for next time.

The knowledge of what we are is discovered by realising how we’ve been misdirected by our experience. We’ve been conditioned to think, “I am a human being having a spiritual experience,” when the underlying truth of it is “I am a spiritual being having a human experience.”

The religious pulse of the planet

I’ve just finished watching an excellent documentary series on TV called Around the World in 80 Faiths. Anglican minister Peter Owen Jones took a year off from his parish to travel around the world and to, as he puts is, “Take the religious pulse of the planet.”

If I were still a Christian, I would have been shocked by his willingness to participate in some of the rituals. He did everything from drinking ayahuasca in a Brazilian rainforest to joining in naked at an urban witchcraft ceremony. As an ex-Christian, I have no judgement whatsoever to make on the man. In fact, his willingness to participate made it all the more fascinating.

The documentary looked at the major religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, various branches of these, cults, and other little known faiths.

I came away from the series with the realisation that you could end up as anything, depending on nothing more than where you were lucky or unlucky enough to be born. I finally started to appreciate what people mean when they dismiss Christianity with words like “Everybody has their own beliefs.” When you have an appreciation of the sheer diversity of religions on Earth, and the sheer commitment that all these people have to their own way being the true way, you start to see how incredibly tiny your own religious experience is in comparison to the experiences of others.

I feel a sense of sadness that the world is in this state of diversity, because if the idea of objective truth has any validity, then something somewhere is true. Of course, as soon as I say that, all of those religions are raising their hands claiming, “It’s us!”

Sadly, religions seem happy to survive and advance by presenting only a single version of reality to the young (indoctrination) and encouraging the herd mentality in all (social conditioning). Some also back that up with terror tactics – viewing life in an alternative way results in immediate damnation. Rarely does the subject of evidence come up.

If I’ve learned one thing from the mammoth task of finding the real truth in the haystack of religion, it’s the sheer improbability of finding it. And that, for me, means that I simply cannot take religion seriously.

You pick your religion (although usually it’s picked for you) and you bet your life on it. You hope that your way is the true way, and that your faith will see you safely through the mystery of death into the arms of God (or to your next life, or whatever).

I refuse to be indoctrinated and conditioned. I refuse to assume that the religion of my birthplace is the one true way. I cannot take seriously any threats of judgement without some serious weight of evidence to back it up.

The cure for religious indoctrination and conditioning is to reclaim your right to think your own thoughts – to always ask the question “Why?” when you don’t understand or don’t agree, and to never let yourself be guided by so-called “truths” dictated by nothing more than strength of numbers. Only then will your thoughts and decisions be your own, and only then will you have a hope in hell of discovering any genuine truth.