To use a metaphor, our normal awareness is like a spotlight that illuminates a certain area of reality, with vast ranges of darkness all around it. As living beings have evolved and become more physically complex – with increasing numbers of cells organized in ever-more intricate and complex ways – their awareness has become wider and more intense.
Our spotlight of awareness is certainly wide and intense compared to most other animals, but it would be absurd to claim that it’s so wide that it illuminates the whole of reality or even a significant part of it. There must still be vast ranges of darkness around us, full of unknown aspects of reality.
So in my view, it is almost certain that there is, in Shakespeare’s phrase, “more in heaven and earth that is dreamt of in [our] philosophy.” There are almost certainly forces, energies, and phenomena in the world beyond those which we can presently perceive and understand, or even detect. From time to time, such phenomena may manifest themselves in our lives, causing events that seem improbable and inexplicable.
It is very tempting for us to believe that we have a sound understanding of the world. It gives us a sense of order and control. But, as the great psychologist William James suggested, it would be foolish to “close our account with reality.” We should remain humble, knowing that our awareness is limited and that our lives will always contain elements of the inexplicable.
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Written by:Steve Taylor, Ph.D Originally appeared on:Psychology Today Republished with permission