Did you hear the joke about the dyslexic agnostic insomniac? He lies awake at night wondering if there really is a dog.
All of us wonder. Does Dog (or “God” for those of us who aren’t dyslexic) really exist? It’s one of the great questions of life. You’d think after all these millennia of human existence we’d have an answer. It’s kind of ironic, really. After untold millions of hours of pondering, praying, and arguing, we’re no closer to an answer now than when the first caveman argued about it with his buddy.
Like you, I’ve pondered this my whole life. My first memory of it was when I was a little kid – no idea how old I was. It’s funny how, despite forgetting almost everything we experience, a handful of events from our lives are stuck in our active memories – visual images that keep repeating like an old record player that’s skipping and plays the same clip over and over.
My dad was weeding the little flower bed along the side of our house and I was just hanging out watching him and chatting. For some reason I asked him a question, just out of the blue, like little kids do. “What happens when we die?” My dad said that’s the end, it’s all over, just blackness and nothing – or something like that. I was shocked and terrified. I guess it was the first time I’d though about my own mortality. My little kid’s mind recoiled at the thought. I had “life” and had never contemplated “not life”. I guess I had just assumed that life was more, that life somehow went on, that life was “spiritual”, although I didn’t have that word.
I’ve come to the point on my spiritual journey where I think two key concepts help us understand this eternal question. The first is the concept of consciousness (that’s part 1). The second is about experience (that’s part 2).
Consciousness, or our mind, is something outside of physical reality. We have become infatuated with Western science because of its incredible success in helping us understand the world around us and its usefulness in modifying that physical world to suit our own needs. We sometimes forget to observe that Western science really only deals with the physical world. It only perceives things that we perceive with our five senses. All the instruments of science are extensions of those five senses. So, despite the efforts of Freud, Jung, and all the philosophers and psychiatrists, science cannot understand consciousness. As I heard Dr. Eben Alexander say, “Modern medical science has no idea how the brain gives rise to consciousness.”
We know we have consciousness. We know our minds are real, our thoughts are real. Yet they are not physical and we do not have an adequate scientific explanation for how they arise or “where” they exist. We “know” our consciousness exists in a different way of knowing than science “knows”. Perhaps we can think of our consciousness existing in the same way, or plane, or reality, that God exists.
So, I think it’s not too hard to extend that thinking to speculate that perhaps God “exists” in consciousness, in a sense. God exists, not in a scientifically measurable way in physical reality – he’s not sitting on a cloud up there – but somehow in “consciousness reality”. We might call it spiritual reality. And just as science cannot explain the relationship between the brain and the mind, science cannot explain (or even perceive) the relationship between spiritual reality and physical reality. That’s the first concept: consciousness is real and it is outside of physical reality.
Next week I'll explain the importance of spiritual "experience".
God Bless You!
Check out Dr. Eben Alexander’s video presentation, “A Neurosurgeon’s Journey Through the Afterlife”.