Chapter 12 – Beyond the Veil

A veil of mist and a sample of projection

Navigating Illusion and Truth in Life’s Stories relating to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy:

Since my last post some time ago, I’ve been astounded and uplifted by the broadening of my perception. I suspect it’s the aftermath of chemotherapy—the lifting of a fog! Meanwhile, my ongoing coaching sessions utilising Acceptance and Commitment Therapy sit nicely alongside my remission, which may eventually be labeled as a cure. Fingers crossed!

Time Line of This Chapter:

July 2023 approx – March 2024

  • Exploring the validity of memory based stories.
  • An unexpected phenomena around illusions.
    • Veiling
    • Projection
    • Transcendence via art
  • Hindu based concepts of māyā
  • Christian based concepts of māyā
  • Book recommendation
  • More books
  • The Last Word: Historical perspectives

Experiences so intense:

Over the past several months, guided by professional support, I’ve delved into my memories surrounding my divorce a bit over a couple of decades ago. This exploration has led me to revisit numerous recollections from the ten years leading up to the final days of my 18-year marriage. Now, I’m even journeying back further to childhood, where many beliefs were instilled in me by my loving parents.

Ah, the complexities of life – like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube blindfolded while riding a bicycle. If you’ve ever found yourself pondering the mysteries of existence while simultaneously wondering why socks un-pair, you’re not alone. Welcome to the merry-go-round of philosophical musings and everyday absurdities that make up the human experience

Along the way, I’ve come to understand that we construct our stories from fragments. These fragments often stem from experiences so intense, their memories are etched in fragments, too. Science tells us that when our heart rate exceeds approximately 150 beats per minute, our self-awareness narrows dangerously, leaving us to grasp only fragments of the experience. This phenomenon is why many law enforcement agencies worldwide now forbid car chases by officers—it’s not only the chase itself (incredibly dangerous, of course) but also the potential actions of the officers once the chase concludes.

Reflecting on my extensive library of stories, I’ve concluded that many are superficial, perhaps self-serving, and quite selective. Critical thinking and deeper exploration of their origins could have rendered them more accurate. Being open to alternative narratives and weighing them against our own would serve us better—a quest for a balanced perspective.

This realisation has lingered with me for months, accompanied by the nagging thought, “How could I have been so deceived in some cases?”

So, in the last few weeks, thinking that if I’m going accept my experiences (in therapy and otherwise), my commitment must be to ensure their accuracy. On this score then I found myself revisiting and rereading sections of…

To quote Joseph Campbell, the acclaimed author of numerous books on mythology, there’s an “Indian term for ‘illusion,’ māyā—from the verbal root mā, ‘to measure, to measure out, to form, to create, construct, exhibit or display’—referring to both the power that creates an illusion and the false display itself.

Māyā may remain an enigmatic and multifaceted phenomenon, however lets explore it:

Campbell elaborates on three key points concerning māyā, which intertwine with my journey and understanding.

  • A Veiling Power. The “real” is concealed or hidden. The inward essential character of things is not obvious at all.
    • An example he gives is when we fail to see the likes of white light, when it is broken into rainbow colours with a prism. The colours to my mind become a distraction. The phenomena seems deliberate even.
  • A Projecting Power, which sends forth illusionary impressions and ideas. To my mind we can be the unwitting recipient of this power, or we can project our own illusion onto a situation. Take your pick! Either can be valid, or a mix.
    • The projection manifests along with associated desires and aversions. Campbell uses for example that at night, “one could mistake a rope for a snake and experience fright. Ignorance (the Veiling Power), having concealed the real, imagination (the Projecting Power) evolves the phenomena”. The prism becomes not only the veil, but the projector.
  • Transcendence! In the context of Joseph Campbell’s interpretation of māyā and its relationship with art, the idea is that art has the potential to transcend the illusions and veils that māyā creates, revealing deeper truths about existence and human experience. Here are abbreviated examples that illustrate how art serves this revealing power:
    • Literature: Novels, poetry, and plays reveal truths about human experience and societal structures.
    • Visual Art: Paintings and sculptures use symbolism to communicate profound meanings.
    • Music: Melodies and lyrics express universal emotions and existential themes.
    • Film and Theater: Movies and plays explore existential questions and moral dilemmas.
    • Dance: Choreography conveys themes of unity and spiritual awakening through movement.

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.

William Blake ~ The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
  • Here’s a breakdown of the Hindhu concept:
    • Illusion of Reality: Māyā suggests that the material world we perceive is not the ultimate reality but rather a temporary and illusionary manifestation. It is often described as a veil that obscures the true nature of existence.

    • Creative Power: Māyā is not just about illusion but also about the creative power that brings the illusion into existence. It is the divine power that manifests the world and sustains the cycle of creation, preservation, and destruction.

    • Samsara: Māyā is closely tied to the concept of Samsara, the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth in Hinduism. The illusion of the material world keeps individuals bound to this cycle until they attain liberation (moksha) by transcending māyā.

    • Understanding Reality: According to Hindu philosophy, transcending māyā involves gaining true knowledge (vidya) that allows one to see beyond the illusion and recognize the underlying unity of existence.

Despite the absence of a direct equivalent concept, exposure to Catholicism during childhood prompted this overview:

  • It’s important to note that Christianity and Hinduism have distinct theological frameworks and perspectives on the nature of reality and the human condition. The concept of māyā is deeply rooted in Hindu philosophy and cosmology, while Christian theology approaches these questions from a different standpoint.
    • Original Sin and Fallen Nature: In Christian theology, the concept of original sin suggests that humanity is born into a state of spiritual separation from God due to the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. This separation from God can be seen as a kind of spiritual illusion or distortion that affects human perception and understanding of reality.
    • The Veil of Ignorance: While not a formal theological concept, some Christian mystics and philosophers have discussed the idea of a “veil of ignorance” that separates individuals from direct knowledge or experience of the divine. This veil obscures the true nature of reality and can be seen as analogous to the concept of māyā in Hinduism.
    • The Illusion of Materialism: Christianity teaches that material possessions and worldly pursuits can distract individuals from their spiritual purpose and lead them away from God. This illusion of materialism may be compared to the concept of māyā, which suggests that the material world is ultimately illusory and not the ultimate reality.
    • The Role of Faith and Revelation: Christianity emphasises the importance of faith and divine revelation in understanding spiritual truths that may not be apparent through empirical observation alone. This resonates with the idea in Hinduism that transcending māyā requires spiritual insight or realisation rather than mere intellectual understanding.

This book will take anyone keen on the subject to a very comprehensive overview on the art of living.

“The Power of Myth” is a captivating dialogue between Joseph Campbell and journalist Bill Moyers, where they explore the timeless relevance of mythology in human life. In the book, Campbell discusses various aspects of mythology, including the universal themes and symbols found in myths from different cultures, the psychological and spiritual functions of myth, and the significance of the hero’s journey as a metaphor for personal growth and transformation.

Penguin Random House

ISBN 9780385418867

  • Some more books that delve into the concept of māyā and related philosophical ideas include:
    • “The Bhagavad Gita”: This ancient Hindu scripture is a central text in Indian philosophy and provides insights into concepts like māyā, karma, and dharma.

    • “The Upanishads”: These ancient philosophical texts explore the nature of reality, consciousness, and the self, offering profound insights into the concept of māyā.

    • “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali”: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras discuss the nature of the mind and provide guidance on how to transcend illusion (māyā) through practices such as meditation and self-awareness.

    • “The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita: Explained by Paramhansa Yogananda”: This commentary offers a deeper understanding of the Bhagavad Gita’s teachings, including insights into māyā and its role in spiritual evolution.

Veiling and projection are pervasive forces that influence our perception of reality, often operating subtly and unconsciously in our lives.

Picture this: You’re strolling through the labyrinth of life, armed with a map that resembles more of a scribbled doodle than a GPS. Suddenly, you stumble upon a signpost that reads “Welcome to the Twilight Zone of Philosophy.” You pause, scratching your head and wondering if you took a wrong turn at Gore NZ!

The Last Word: Historical perspectives:

I compiled these while evaluating my thinking in, number one, my formative years, and secondly when I became a parent.

In the 1960s, as television emerged as a dominant medium for advertising, marketers capitalised on this platform to project idealised images and desires associated with consumer products. Advertisements of that era projected images of, for example, the American Dream, tapping into the optimism and affluence of post-World War II society.

Meanwhile, in the realm of Western religious beliefs, projections often revolved around interpretations of biblical prophecy and the search for meaning in a rapidly changing world. The 1960s witnessed both apocalyptic fears and charismatic movements within Christianity, reflecting a broader cultural fascination with spirituality and alternative forms of religious expression.

By the 1990s, marketing and advertising had evolved with the rise of new media technologies, such as cable television and the internet.

Advertisers became increasingly adept at targeting niche audiences and projecting aspirational imagery to evoke desires and aspirations in consumers.

Similarly, projections within Western religious beliefs continued to evolve, influenced by cultural shifts and technological advancements. The rise of digital communication platforms and online communities facilitated new forms of religious expression and dialogue, enabling individuals to connect with like-minded believers and spiritual teachers regardless of geographical boundaries.

Contemporary examples of veiling and projection abound in our interconnected world. On social media platforms, individuals project curated images of their lives, often veiling the complexities of their inner selves behind carefully crafted personas. Meanwhile, advertisers continue to project idealised images and desires associated with their products, tapping into consumer aspirations and insecurities to drive sales. In Western religious beliefs, projections may manifest in interpretations of sacred texts through the lens of personal beliefs and biases, shaping religious discourse and practices.

On closing New Zealand politics is currently rife with examples of the first two points of illusion. I find it much to heavy though, but various players would provide ample scope for consideration of the various lens we could view their antics through.

Four layers of projection, or a transcendence?

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