When I was a teenager, I first heard the Beatles sing that they were the walrus. I found that strange and chalked up the odd lyrics to some drug-induced hallucination. Now I’m not so sure.
Mesmerized by the Tunnel
This morning as I sat on my meditation cushion, my monkey mind was in its full glory. I couldn’t tame it to safe my life. It didn’t help that my chocolate lab Harmony was laying nearby and panting heavily for some reason. Then, all at once the phrase “mesmerized by the tunnel” popped into my awareness coupled with the abrupt end of Harmony’s panting. It was as if Spirit was putting an exclamation mark on the phrase.
What the heck did this mean? Immediately it became clear that it was a message that perhaps I was placing too much emphasis on the world “out there”. Each of us move through this human experience interacting with the external physical world while simultaneously absorbing this experience into our inner thoughts. We experience, we analyze, we create a story, we form an opinion. This process is natural and is hardwired into our DNA. It has served our animal evolutionary past to form judgments on the outer world. Such discernment has saved us from harm and directed us towards those things which nourished and protected us. In a way, we are moving through this external life much like we are moving through a tunnel – it’s out there channeling and directing our experience through the path of time.
Of course, an overemphasis on focusing upon the external world and creating stories about it can be quite mesmerizing. It can lead us into believing that the material world is the ultimate “real” reality. Could it be that this phrase was a reminder to me – and by my writing it here, a reminder to you – not to get overly caught up in the stories we make up about the world?
Where Am I Mesmerized?
Let’s face it, no matter how spiritual we know ourselves to be, we’re still human. Speaking for myself, I meditate, I pray, I do affirmations, I continuously proclaim my truth and see it as being something greater than any apparent worldly limitations. I do a pretty good job overall of looking beyond anything that appears to be less than the greatest good for my personal life or the world at large. I try to stay focused on the good – God knows I try! Yet still I can be seduced by the affairs of the world and buy into those limiting stories my mind tells me about my experiences.
For example, a few months ago I sent an email to a friend asking for us to get together. I got no response. I followed up a week later with a phone message. Still no response. I left another message. A month or so went by and I reached out again without any response. My mind began creating stories around this situation. Had I done something wrong? Were we no longer friends? My stories became even more creative and generated internal emotions. I got angry at my friend. I judged myself to be inadequate in some way.
Blah, blah, blah. All of it just a bunch of stories I’m telling myself. All of it evidence of my being mesmerized by the tunnel of my worldly affairs. No matter how much I knew there was a greater spiritual truth occurring here, I allowed my human emotions to overcome my wisdom.
Matter, Illusion, Maya or What?
Something deep within me knows that the outer world is not the ultimate reality. But does this make it “unreal”? Although some have taught that this sensory world is simply an illusion, many mystics and spiritual way showers have reminded us that our inner world of our thoughts and our outer world of physical manifestation are all part of the oneness of life, of Spirit. It’s not an “either-or” matter.
Here’s how mystic Ernest Holmes put it in defining the concept of “illusion”:
“The ancients taught an illusion of mind and an illusion of the material universe. The illusion of mind they called Maya, the great “feminine illusion,” which does not refer to woman, but to the subjective universe, which contains many images which are false, the results of man’s erroneous conclusions. This does not mean that the subjective world of itself is an illusion, but it might present us with an illusion unless we were careful to discriminate between the false and the true. Jesus said, “Judge not according to appearances.” Even the physical universe is not what it seems to be. As a matter of fact, neither the physical nor the subjective universe are things of themselves. As Plotinus said, “Nature is the great no-thing, yet it is not exactly nothing,” since Its business is to receive the forms of thought which the Spirit lets fall into It. The illusion is never in the thing, but in the way we look at it. “
What Holmes is reminding us here is to be careful in the conclusions we draw from our outer experience. We can tell ourselves an incorrect story about what’s real and true. This even includes looking at the world out there and deciding that the whole thing is simply an illusion. It’s not. Although in our minds we can draw wrong conclusions and put limitations upon our world, it is simply the interplay between our thoughts and our experience of the world that is “less than” our highest possibility that is creating an illusion. And, our illusion is still part of the oneness of the universe – it holds out to us the experience of what we don’t want so that we can learn from it and create a greater world. When we move towards that “greater world”, we are moving towards the “perfection” that Spirit envisioned for us.
Let’s put all of this another way. There is the great emptiness (or “no-thing”) of Oneness or Spirit. This is the source from which we came. Simply stated, in order to more fully experience Itself, Spirit created both the manifest and subjective worlds and embedded Itself into it as us. In doing so, Spirit held the idea of our perfection – our ultimate truth. Yet Spirit also gave us the free will to make our own choices, including the ability to perceive or not perceive our perfection.
Hence, this free will can place us in bondage as the thoughts of our imperfection in the subjective realm can create the illusion of our imperfection in the physical realm. As Holmes put it, “Spiritual Man is perfect, but his individual use of Life and Law enables him to cover a perfect idea with an apparently imperfect cloak.” Yet our free will ability also holds forth the freedom to break through the illusion, know in our use of mind that we are perfect and then experience that perfection in the world of form.
Oneness, Oneness, Oneness!
The question then becomes, how can we turn away from this “imperfect cloak” and not be “mesmerized by the tunnel”? How can we stay in tune with the truth of our perfection? The answer comes in training our use of mind to continuously remember that everything is connected – that although our perspective may be limited, everything we encounter is really another aspect of the “greater us”. At the scale of Spirit, we are one.
“I am that I am” is a common translation of the response that God gave to Moses when Moses asked God his name in the book of Exodus. My favorite interpretation of this phrase is that it can be an affirmation for us as we move about the world and see it through “God’s eyes”. Anything that God and we see “out there” in the world becomes the “that” that God and we are. Look around you wherever you are right now and note something in your environment. Then say to yourself “I am that”. You and everything you experience are one.
Again, the words of Ernest Holmes – “There is One, and not two. Never forget that. Anywhere in the universe, just One. That one life is the substance of everything. It is one in unity but multiple in manifestation. It is one substance from which an infinite variety of different things come but every one of those things is made out of the one thing.”
The Beatles sang, “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.” They went on to add, ” I am the eggman, they are the eggman, I am the walrus, coo coo cuchoo.”
I am one with my friend and he is one with me and we are all together. I can create some stories around the outer world experiences, but those stories and any sense of separation between us is simply an illusion. My stories don’t change the truth of our oneness.
The same is true with you and any stories you tell yourself that separate you from others in the world. Everything you and I see is a part of you and I and we are all together.
I am the eggman, you are the eggman, I am the walrus and so are you.
Coo coo cuchoo!