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  • Sacred journey to peru, mystic travel agency peru, mystic travel
  • Sacred journey to peru, mystic travel agency peru, mystic travel
  • Sacred journey to peru, mystic travel agency peru, mystic travel
  • Sacred journey to peru, mystic travel agency peru, mystic travel

TO SOLVE THE MYSTERY OF LIFE requires only one commandment:Live like a cell. But we don’t, and the reason is not hard to find. We have our own way of doing things. Our cells are fueled by the same oxygen and glucose that fueled amoebas two billion years ago, but we are attracted by high-fat, sugary, more or less frivolous fad foods. Our cells cooperate with each other along the same lines set down by evolution in tree ferns of the Cretaceous period, but we find a new enemy somewhere in the world every decade, perhaps every year or month. We all have a similar tale to tell of deviations from the precise, complete, and almost perfect wisdom that our bodies follow.
Our wayward lapses point to a much larger pattern. To get back to the cell’s wisdom, each of us needs to see that we are living the aftereffects of someone else’s old choices. We were taught to follow a set of habits and beliefs that totally disregard the mystery of life. These beliefs are contained one inside the other like nested boxes:

  • There is a material world.
  • The material world is full of things, events, and people.
  • I am one of those people, and my status is no higher than that of anyone else.
  • To find out who I am, I must explore the material world.

This set of beliefs is binding. It allows no room for soul-searching, or even for the soul itself. Why bring the mystery of life into a system that already knows what is real? But as convincing as the material world looks, to the great embarrassment of modern science, no one has been able to prove that it is real.
Ordinary people don’t focus on science, so this glaring problem is not well known. Yet any neurologist will assure you that the brain offers no proof that the outside world really exists and many hints that it doesn’t.
All the brain does, in fact, is to receive continuous signals about the body’s state of chemical balance, temperature, and oxygen consumption, along with a crackling stream of nerve impulses. This mass of raw data starts out as chemical bursts with attached electrical charges. These blips run up and down a tangled web of spidery nerve cells, and once a signal reaches the brain, like a runner from the edge of the Empire bringing a message to Rome, the cortex assembles the raw data into even more complex arrangements of electrical and chemical blips.
The cortex doesn’t inform us about this never-ending data processing, which is all that is happening inside gray matter. Instead, the cortex tells us about the world—it allows us to perceive sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and textures—the whole array of creation. The brain has pulled an enormous trick on us, a remarkable sleight of hand, because there is no direct connection between the body’s raw data and our subjective sense of an outside world.
For all anyone knows, the entire outside world could be a dream. When I’m in bed having a dream, I see a world of events just as vivid as the waking world (for most of us, the other four senses are scattered unevenly throughout our dreams, but some dreamers can touch, taste, hear, and smell as accurately as they can while awake). But when I open my eyes in the morning, I know that these vivid events were all produced inside my head. I’d never make the mistake of falling for this trick because I already assume that dreams aren’t real.
So does my brain dedicate one apparatus to making the dream world and another to the waking world?
No, it doesn’t. In terms of cerebral function, the dream mechanism doesn’t flick off when I wake up. The same visual cortex in the rear of my skull allows me to see an object—a tree, a face, the sky—whether I am seeing it in memory, in a dream, in a photo, or standing before me. The locations of brain cell activity shift slightly from one to the other, which is why I can distinguish among a dream, a photo, and the real thing, yet the same fundamental process is constantly taking place. I am manufacturing a tree, a face, or the sky from what is actually a random tangle of spidery nerves shooting bursts of chemicals and electrical charges in my brain and all around my body. No matter how hard I try, I will never find a single pattern of chemicals and charges in the shape of a tree, a face, or any other shape. There is just a fire-storm of electrochemical activity.
This embarrassing problem—that there is no way to prove the existence of an outside world—undermines the entire basis of materialism. Thus we arrive at the second spiritual secret:You are not in the world; the world is in you.
The only reason that rocks are solid is that the brain registers a flurry of electrical signals as touch; the only reason the sun shines is that the brain registers another flurry of electrical signals as sight. There is no sunlight in my brain, whose interior remains as dark as a limestone cavern no matter how bright it is outside.
Having said that the whole world is created in me, I immediately realize that you could say the same thing. Are you in my dream or am I in yours—or are we all trapped in some bizarre combination of each other’s personal version of events? To me, this isn’t a problem but the very heart of spirituality. Everyone is a creator. The mystery of how all these individual viewpoints somehow mesh, so that your world and mine can harmonize, is the very thing that makes people seek spiritual answers. For there is no doubt that reality is full of conflict but also full of harmony. It is very liberating to realize that as creators we generate every aspect, good or bad, of our experience. In this way, each of us is the center of creation.
People used to find these ideas very natural. Centuries ago the doctrine of one reality occupied center stage in spiritual life. Religions and peoples and traditions varied wildly, but there was universal agreement that the world is a seamless creation imbued with one intelligence, one creative design. Monotheism called the one reality God; India called it Brahman; China called it the Tao. By any name, every person existed within this infinite intelligence, and whatever we did on our own was part of creation’s grand design. A person didn’t have to become a spiritual seeker to find the one reality. Everybody’s life already fit into it. The creator permeated each particle of creation equally, and the same divine spark animated life in all its forms.
Today we’d call this view mystical because it deals in invisible things. But if our ancestors had had access to microscopes, wouldn’t they have seen concrete proof of their mysticism in the way cells behave? To believe in an all-embracing reality places everyone at the center of existence. The mystical symbol for this was a circle with a dot in the center, signifying that each individual (the dot) was secretly infinite (the circle). This is like the tiny cell whose central dot of DNA connects it to billions of years of evolution.
But is the concept of one reality mystical at all? Outside my window in winter I can usually spy at least one chrysalis dangling from a branch. Inside it a caterpillar has turned into a pupa that will emerge in spring as a butterfly. We are all familiar with this metamorphosis, having witnessed it as children (or by reading Eric Carle’sThe Very Hungry Caterpillar ). But what goes on invisibly inside the chrysalis remains deeply mysterious. The caterpillar’s organs and tissues dissolve into an amorphous, souplike state, only to reconstitute into the structure of a butterfly’s body that bears no resemblance to a caterpillar at all.
Science has no idea why metamorphosis evolved. It is almost impossible to imagine that insects hit on it by chance—the chemical complexity of turning into a butterfly is incredible; thousands of steps are all minutely interconnected. (It’s as if you dropped off a bicycle at the shop to be repaired, and when you came back the parts had become a Gulfstream jet.)
But we do have some idea about how this delicate chain of events is linked. Two hormones, one called juvenile hormone, the otherecdysone, regulate the process, which looks to the naked eye like a caterpillar dissolving into soup. These two hormones make sure that the cells moving from larva to butterfly know where they are going and how they are to change. Some cells are told to die; others digest themselves, while still others turn into eyes, antennae, and wings. This implies a fragile (and miraculous) rhythm that must remain in precise balance between creation and destruction. That rhythm, it turns out, depends on day length, which in turn depends on the earth’s rotation around the sun. Therefore, a cosmic rhythm has been intimately connected to the birth of butterflies for millions of years. Science concentrates on the molecules, but this is a striking example of intelligence at work, using molecules as a vehicle for its own intent. The intent in this case was to create a new creature without wasting old ingredients. (And if there is only one reality, we can’t say, as science does, that day length causes the pupa’s hormones to begin the metamorphosis into a butterfly. Day length and hormones come from the same creative source, weaving one reality. That source uses cosmic rhythms or molecules as it sees fit. Day length doesn’t cause hormones to change any more than hormones cause the day to change—both are tied to a hidden intelligence that creates both at once. In a dream or a painting, a boy may hit a baseball, but his bat doesn’t cause the ball to fly through the air. The whole dream or painting fits together seamlessly.)
Here is another example: Two chemicals calledactin andmyosin evolved eons ago to allow the muscles in insect wings to contract and relax. Thus, insects learned to fly. When one of these paired molecules is absent, wings will grow but they cannot flap and are therefore useless. Today, the same two proteins are responsible for the beating of the human heart, and when one is absent, the person’s heartbeat is inefficient and weak, ultimately leading to heart failure.
Again, science marvels at the way molecules adapt over millions of years, but isn’t there a deeper intent?
In our hearts, we feel the impulse to fly, to break free of boundaries. Isn’t that the same impulse nature expressed when insects began to take flight? The prolactin that generates milk in a mother’s breast is unchanged from the prolactin that sends salmon upstream to breed, enabling them to cross from saltwater to fresh. The insulin in a cow is exactly the same as the insulin in an amoeba; both serve to metabolize carbohydrates, even though a cow is millions of times more complex than an amoeba. To believe in one reality that is totally interconnected isn’t mystical at all, it turns out.
How, then, did the belief in one reality fall apart? There was another alternative, which also put each person at the center of his or her own world. But instead of being included, one feels alone and isolated, driven by personal desire rather than a shared life force or communion through the soul. This is the choice we callego, although it has been called by other names, such as the pursuit of pleasure, the bondage of karma, and (if we resort to a religious vocabulary) banishment from paradise. So thoroughly does it permeate our culture, following your ego doesn’t feel like a choice anymore. We’ve all been carefully trained since childhood in the ways of I, me, and mine. Competition teaches us that we have to fight for what we want. The threat of other egos, who feel as isolated and alone as we do, is ever present—our desires could be thwarted if someone else gets there first.
I don’t have an ego-bashing agenda in mind here. Ego bashing looks for a villain whose actions keep people from finding happiness, which is the underlying reason why people suffer, why they never find their true self, God, or the soul. The ego, we are told, blinds us with its constant demands, its greed, selfishness, and insecurity. That is a common theme but a mistaken one, because throwing the ego into the dark, making it an enemy, only creates more division and fragmentation. If there is one reality, it must be all-inclusive. The ego can’t be thrown out any more than desire can be thrown out.
The choice to live in separation—a choice no cell ever makes unless it becomes cancerous—gave rise to a certain strain of mythology. Every culture tells the story of a golden age buried in the dim past. This story of lost perfection debases human beings instead of exalting them. People told themselves that human nature must be innately flawed, that everyone wore the scars of sin, that God disapproved of his once-innocent children. A myth has the power to take a choice and make it seem like destiny. Separation took on a life of its own, but did the possibility of one reality ever really go away?

To embrace one reality again, we must accept that the world is in us. This is a spiritual secret based on the nature of the brain, which spends every second manufacturing the world. When your best friend calls you on the phone from Tibet, you take for granted that he is far away, yet the sound of his voice occurs as a sensation in your brain. If your friend shows up on your doorstep, his voice hasn’t gotten any closer.
It is still a sensation in the same part of your brain, and it will remain there after your friend leaves and his voice lingers inside you. When you look at a distant star, it too seems far away, yet it exists as a sensation in another part of your brain. So the star is in you. The same is true when you taste an orange or touch a velvet cloth or listen to Mozart—every possible experience is being manufactured inside yourself.
At this moment, ego-based life is thoroughly convincing, which is why no amount of pain and suffering drives people to abandon it. Pain hurts, but it doesn’t show a way out. The debate on how to end war, for example, has proved totally futile because the instant I see myself as an isolated individual, I confront “them,” the countless other individuals who want what I want.
Violence is built into the opposition of us versus them. “They” never go away and “they” never give up.
They will always fight to protect their stake in the world. As long as you and I have a separate stake in the world, the cycle of violence will remain permanent. The dire results can be seen in the body, too. In a healthy body, every cell recognizes itself in every other cell. When this perception goes awry and certain cells become “the other,” the body goes on an attack against itself. This state is known as an auto-immune disorder, of which rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are devastating examples. The violence of self against self is based entirely on a mistaken concept, and although medicine can bring some relief to the war-torn body, no cure can be achieved without correcting the mistaken concept first.
Getting serious about bringing violence to an end means giving up a personal stake in the world, once and for all. That alone will pluck violence out by the roots. This may sound like a shocking conclusion.
One’s immediate reaction is to say, “But Iam my personal stake in the world.” Fortunately, such isn’t the case. The world is in you, not the other way around. This is what Christ meant when he taught that one should attain the kingdom of God first and worry about worldly things later, if at all. God owns everything by virtue of having created everything. If you and I are creating every perception that we take for reality, then we are allowed to own our creation as well.

Perception is the world; the world is perception.

In that key idea, the drama of us-versus-them collapses. We are all included in the only project that makes any difference: reality-making. To defend any outside thing—money, property, possessions, or status—makes sense only if those things are essential. But the material world is an aftereffect. Nothing in it is essential. The only personal stake worth having is the ability to create freely, with full awareness of how reality-making works.
I feel sympathetic to those who have examined the ego and found it so repugnant that they want to be without ego. But in the end, attacking the ego is just a subtle disguise for attacking yourself. Destroying the ego would serve no purpose even if it could be achieved. It is vital to keep our entire creative machinery intact. When you strip away its ugly, insecure, violent dreams, the ego is no longer ugly, insecure, and violent. It takes its natural place as part of the mystery.
The one reality has already revealed a deep secret:Being a creator is more important than the whole world. It’s worth pausing for a moment to take that in. In fact, it is the world. Of all the liberating ideas that could change a person’s life, this one is perhaps the most freeing. Yet to truly live it, to be a true creator, a great deal of conditioning needs to be broken down. No one remembers being told to believe in the material world. Yet somehow we’ve learned to accept ourselves as limited beings. The outside world must be far more powerful. It dictates the storyline, not you. The world comes first; you come a distant second.
The outside world will never produce any spiritual answers until you take on a new role as the manufacturer of reality. That feels strange at first, yet we can already see how a new set of beliefs isfalling into place:

Everything I am experiencing reflects myself: Therefore I don’t have to try and escape. There is nowhere to escape to, and as long as I see myself as the creator of my reality, I wouldn’t want to escape even if I could.

My life is part of every other life:
My connection to all living things makes it impossible that I have enemies. I feel no need to oppose, resist, conquer, or destroy.

I have no need to control anyone or anything: I can affect change by transforming the only thing that I ever had control of in the first place, which is myself.


To truly possess the second secret, begin to see yourself as a co-creator in everything that happens to you. One simple exercise is to sit wherever you are and look around. As your gaze falls on a chair, a picture, the color of the walls in your room, say to yourself, “This stands for me. This, too, stands for me.” Let your awareness take in everything, and now ask yourself:

  • Do I see order or disorder?
  • Do I see my uniqueness?
  • Do I see how I really feel?
  • Do I see what I really want?

Some things in your environment will speak instantly to these questions while others won’t. A bright, cheerfully painted apartment open to the light stands for a very different state of mind than a dark basement efficiency. Yet a cluttered desk piled high with papers could stand for quite a few things: inner disorder, fear of meeting one’s obligations, accepting too much responsibility, ignoring mundane details, and so on. This inconsistency is valid because we each express and at the same time hide who we are.
Some of the time you express who you are, while at other times you detach from your real feelings, deny them, or find outlets that feel socially acceptable. If that sofa was bought just because it was cheap and you decided to make do, if the wall color is white because you didn’t care what color you looked at, if you’re afraid to throw out a picture because your in-laws gave it to you as a present, you are still seeing symbols of how you feel. Without dwelling on details, it’s possible to scan someone’s personal space and fairly accurately discern if that person is satisfied or dissatisfied with life, has a strong or weak sense of personal identity, is a conformist or nonconformist, values order over chaos, feels optimistic or hopeless.
Now step into your social world. When you are with your family or friends, listen with your inner ear to what is going on. Ask yourself:

  • Do I hear happiness?
  • Does being with these people make me feel alive, alert?
  • Is there an undertone of fatigue?
  • Is this just a familiar routine, or are these people really responding to each other?

However you answer these questions, you are assessing your world and what is going on inside you.
Other people, like the objects in your surroundings, are a mirror. Now turn on the evening news, and instead of watching it as if events are happening “out there,” tune in personally. Ask yourself:

  • Does this world I see feel safe or unsafe?
  • Do I feel the fear and dismay of a disaster, or am I just being titillated and entertained?
  • When the news is bad, am I still watching basically to be entertained?
  • Which part of me does this program stand for? The part that dwells on one problem after another or the
  • part that wants to find answers?

This exercise develops a new kind of awareness. You begin to break the habit of seeing yourself as an isolated, separate entity. The realization dawns that the whole world is actually nowhere but inside you.

Exercise #2: Bringing Home the World

To say that you are a creator isn’t the same as to say that your ego is. The ego will always remain attached to your personality, and certainly your personality doesn’t create everything around you.
Creation doesn’t happen on that level. Let’s see, then, if we can get closer to the real creator inside you.
We’ll do this by meditating on a rose.
Get a beautiful red rose and hold it in front of you. Inhale the fragrance and say to yourself, “Without me, this flower would have no fragrance.” Take in the glowing crimson color and say to yourself, “Without me, this flower would have no color.” Stroke the velvety petals and say to yourself, “Without me, this flower would have no texture.” Realize that if you subtract yourself from any sensation—sight, sound, touch, taste, smell—the rose would be nothing but atoms vibrating in a void.
Now consider the DNA that is inside each cell of the rose. Visualize the billions of atoms strung along a double helix and say to yourself, “My DNA is looking at the DNA in this flower. The experience is not an observer looking at an object. DNA in one form is looking at DNA in another form.” Now see the DNA begin to shimmer and turn into invisible vibrations of energy. Say to yourself, “The rose has vanished into its primal energy. I have vanished into my primal energy. Now only one energy field is looking at another energy field.”
Finally, see the boundary between your energy and the rose’s energy fade as one set of waves merges into another, like ocean waves rising and falling on the vast surface of an endless sea. Say to yourself, “All energy comes from one source and returns to it. When I look at a rose, a tiny flicker of infinity is rising from the source to experience itself.”
Having followed this trail, you have arrived at what is truly real: An infinite, silent energy field flickered for an instant, experiencing an object (the rose) and a subject (you the observer) without going anywhere.
Awareness simply took a look at one aspect of its eternal beauty. Its only motive was to create a moment of joy. You and the rose stood at opposite poles of that moment, yet there was no separation. A single creative stroke took place, fusing you both.


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