Awareness of reality: Why we should accept that there are some things we can’t understand?
KEY POINTS: 1. From time to time, most of us have strange experiences that defy common sense and can't be explained. 2. Some observers are too ready to explain such experiences away as coincidence or self-delusion. There is a limit to human beings' awareness of reality. There must be forces and phenomena that are beyond our awareness. 3. We should remain humble, knowing that our awareness is limited and that our lives will always contain elements of the inexplicable.
As we go about our lives, most of us operate under the assumption that we have a basic understanding of how the world works. At school, we learned that the world operates according to laws of cause and effect, and that time runs in a straight line from the past through the present to the future. We learned that human beings are biological machines whose consciousness is produced by the brain and will cease to exist when our brains stop functioning.
People in previous centuries – or in less rational cultures – may have believed that there are hidden dimensions of reality, and that the world contains forces and phenomena beyond those of which we are normally aware. But we assume that the physical world perceived through our senses is all there is. This is what you could call the ‘common sense’ view of the world that most of us accept as the truth.
However, from time to time we all have experiences that seem to contradict this common-sense view of reality.
Here are three of the many that have occurred in my life.
My Father’s Prediction Of His Death
My father died 18 months ago, at the age of 79. He had Parkinson’s disease and was quite weak and a little confused, but no one expected him to die at that particular time. A week before his death, he told a friend, “I’ve found out when I’m going to die – it will be a week today, next Thursday.”
His friend was shocked, but as my father didn’t seem seriously ill, he didn’t pay heed to his comments. My dad had only recently woken up after a doze, so his friend assumed he was more confused than normal.
Then my dad continued, “I’ve seen the book where all the dates of people’s death are written down. I can find out the date of your death if you like.”
“Oh no, don’t worry,” said his friend. “I’d rather not know!”
My dad’s friend was certain that he was in a state of delirium. But a couple of days later, my dad’s health took a sudden turn for the worst. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and died on Thursday, just as he had predicted.
Also read What Is Your Sixth Sense? QUIZ
My Dream Of A Soccer Match
In September 2001, England played Germany at soccer, in a World Cup qualifying match. I had arranged to watch the match at my friend’s house, together with his German girlfriend. The night before the match I had a dream where I was sitting in my friend’s living room watching the match, which was still in progress. The score on the TV screen read ‘England 4, Germany 1.’
The dream was in my mind when I woke up in the morning, and I remember thinking ‘England 4, Germany 1—that’s impossible!’ Germany had the best soccer team in Europe, whereas England had a long history of underachievement. England had only beaten Germany once in 35 years. But as it turned out, England outplayed Germany and after 66 minutes, they scored their fourth goal, to take a 4-1 lead. I had been thinking about my dream all the way through the match, and as the screen switched to the same score I had dreamt, I was filled with a very eerie feeling.