Billy lives in Montréal, Quebec. He is an artist, writer and shop keeper.
1. What are your spiritual beliefs?
Good question. Is it spiritual to assume the universe is conscious?
Is it spiritual to assume that an order of intelligences embody/inhabit the cosmos, macro and micro? I am of the belief that some kind of consciousness pervades the universe. This belief (and I have a nagging grudge against that word and its misuses) or model is flexible as new information comes in. I never knew and still don’t what current scientific consensus agrees about reality.
I am staggered consistently by scale and its vastness. I am easily lulled (lilted) by visions of infinity.
I love that I have a human brain and nervous system. I am aware how animal sense continues where human senses have modest boundaries. I am aware that being endowed with a whimsy of power from nature’s buffet can cast a godlike shadow. I do not see the problem with congress on many levels simultaneously between humanity and the other species and other elements of the world. I assume full fittedness within nature.
I have senses. I know their limitations. I trust other instruments? I don’t know.
Everything is alive – or treat it as if it was – is my practical spirituality. It serves as a reminder to check oneself, not with guilt or shame but as a mirror. I see myself in all things and I attempt to strike a balance with the world around me.
The world is identified with. A tapestry of meaning and associations unfolds. A connection is made and it is my job to maintain a connection and examine the whole structure. I make myself aware of spiritual currents and mythological players.
So, then, I entertain the notion that the universe may be conscious. In fact, I admit that I assume it is, since I am and since conscious life is a condition (rare or not, who knows?) of this universe. I wouldn’t be too surprised if this emerged as a truth. I am equipped to deal with the opposite or some third or fourth option.
I also entertain the notion that human consciousness can survive outside the jurisdiction of the human body, in life as well as in death. I do not know, nor do I have it on good authority. My intellectual conceptions of life, nor my perception of the huge variety of life on this planet, have not made this an impossibility. I also am quite aware that science can grow if allowed to and we have not figured everything out and may not. I am also aware of the cultural/ideological constraints of modern science (research grants, funding bodies, telescope time, social taboos, etc.).
I believe there exist a number of time-worn techniques to help us discover our human potential.
2. How sure are you that those beliefs are true?
I have had experiences that can be called transcendent, I have exercised muscles that can be called spiritual (I am able to draw a distinction between emotional states, thinking or imagining states and states in which I am truly connected with the rest of creation – or at least more of creation than just me). The human system, in my reckoning, has in it the potential to activate this connection. I, hence, ‘believe’ that we have within us a core that is the ‘overlap’ with the rest of creation (or a chunk of it that seems, in comparison to what we know about ourselves, vast). I know for a fact that we perceive a fraction of what exists around us, that the human mind (not brain, mind) is capable of stunning achievement (the sum total, if appearing in one human, would easily cause mythic accounts and out-and-out worship, if not martyrdom, to occur.
I have experienced subtle energy around my hands and within and around my body. This jives with divers cultural artifacts such as chakra systems and subtle body mappings. I intuitively cast circles of protection around myself as a teenager. I had, by my side always, imaginary animal guides. I empathize easily with pretty much anybody. Instances of synchronicity have been common, it comes in waves. I am aware of pattern recognition and exploit it as a natural resource. I pick up subtle cues and have trained myself to notice detail. I think the planet may well be alive. I have no problem thinking of planetary bodies as gods who exert influence, however subtle, upon us. Where some cry foul at pseudoscience, I see mythopoetic systems that can be willfully employed. Sometimes I wonder if what we call spirituality is simply how minute beings like us perceive planetary intelligence(s). I entertain the notion of multiple invisible worlds intersecting and communicating with the world we take for granted.
I know that some things cannot be held in place long enough to place bets on. I am so fine with that. I am so fine with aspects of nature that cannot be nailed down, that are slippery and unpredictable. Not everything is meant to cater to our classifications.
Belief and certainty of truth meet like matter and anti-matter. Having faith is just that. It is not knowing as one knows one is actually alive. It is an adoption of a possibility left to concretize. I am not too sure of anything. I keep doubt well watered in my shirt pocket. I surf possibilities and don belief systems for a while, and then shed them, outgrow them, forget about them as I am stunned by a new idea. My doubt (skepticism?) does not cause overly complex issues and problems with regards to daily life. I know how to cross the street and feed myself. I also know I operate from biases based on my presuppositions and my experience. My credulity is subject to change.
The desire for certainty is not strong in me vis-a-vis larger questions. Mystery is delicious. My beliefs (opinions?) are apt to change as I absorb more information into my ever evolving model of what’s-going-on-itude. I enter one reality tunnel at the onset of a field of study and exit the other side once I’ve read and studied more. UFOs started as flying saucers, for example, and have evolved into large atmospheric lifeforms, plasma formations, thoughtforms, etc…. The jury is out. The researchers are not in agreement. Thankfully their funding is not threatened by cut backs.
I am often puzzled by the implied separation of human consciousness from the implicit order of things.
3. How did you come to have these beliefs?
These beliefs have, I guess, grown slowly over the years but may hinge on odd dreams as a child, transcendent moments as a teen (I’ll remind the cynical that these experiences pre-dated any experimentation with drugs).
I do not consider myself finished. I enjoy constant study and reflection and may change my mind again and again. I have always proceeded with caution in regards to the spiritual. I take stories of madness seriously. I don’t play with fire. To reiterate, I had a series of dreams as a child that were grand, bizarre and scary. As an adult, the Jungian archetypes these dreams were made of were found to be spot on. How does a child have such information? I was early on piqued by questions of what a human is, the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. I have an easy talent in terms of connecting with others and early on I included non-humans as people (plants and animals and minerals too if I’m feeling fancy). I understood that if I am made up of atoms it just may be possible to put an atomic spin on my consciousness, for example. I am made of water, it is said. Why would I not have an affinity to the water outside me. That would be absurd.
As a teenager I decided to opt for wisdom as a life goal. As a college student I practiced maintaining several points of view simultaneously. Though I still eschew the literature of ‘the enemy’, my early game of playing devil’s advocate has more than primed me in how others may think and in how I too operate on autopilot.
I consciously led and lead (sometimes I slip into sleepy forgetfulness, other times I am blindingly awake) a life wherein mythic cues colour my reality. Not like the man from La Mancha exactly, but more like those filmy pages in old biology texts, subsequently building up layers of what is. I overlaid patterns of meaning, understanding early on that the meaning of life is applying meaning to it and going with that.
The revelations that came from various drugs allowed me to elaborate on models of cosmology and human energy systems. I am an amateur.
4. What do you wish you could believe (but don’t)?
Hmm. If I wish to believe something I eventually do. That is the nature of belief. It requires no evidence. This is a trick question !!
I’d love for there to be conclusive evidence that faeries exist, for example, and that we can’t mess with them at all. But that’s an answer to a different question. And that question can lead me to spin many yarns and hopes and dreams.
But I’ll play along and say that I wish humanity was on the verge of awakening into the greater reality that has always surrounded us and interpenetrated us. I see signs of it and I don’t. It’s a bit of a rorschach.
I wish I could believe that certain atheist friends actually did have reason to dismiss psi.
I wish I could believe that fundamentalists of all stripes can grow.
I wish I could believe that crop circles were Gaia even though Jacques Vallée, a researcher I very must respect, has suggested they may be the result of high resolution plasma weaponry operated from above, which would be a bummer.
5. What do you think it means to believe in something?
I think it’s a stand-in for something else, some kind of knowing that is thought difficult to achieve. I am always surprised that people require efforts to feel connected to the planet, for example, when all it is is a habit developed and maintained. If people understood spirituality as something inherent, something developed (fairly) easily, things would be running a lot smoother. Instead, we often get caught up in authority, dogma, tradition, habit. Instead of listening deeply to our bodies, our dreams, our senses and following the cues that life offers. Or dismiss a perceptual potential out of hand because it cannot exist.
I enjoy ordering my reality with some and certain mythic markers. I make sure to update my beliefs, remaining (I hope) fluid and ready for growth. The old stand-by that ‘people need to believe in something’ is true in today’s day and age. I feel that with growing disconnection to natural cycles and systems, this will become truer still. If one is identifying with something larger than their national/economic/gender/etc group, belief in a larger reality gets replaced with active participation in an larger reality. Unknowable bogeys like God take a back seat because one is part of a planet which is part of a solar system. If the stark reality that one is an actual component of a galaxy is not enough to fill you with awe, then I don’t know….
Of course, this awe of cosmic grandeur is also shared by people who steadfastly do not view the universe itself as intelligent, conscious or alive. They too must believe in something and they do. Though some say that they are simply aware of the evidential truth. Their position is not a belief system like all the others but an actual understanding of the nature of reality as it is currently understood. That sounds familiar. I think it’s kinda funny.
6. Does this stuff matter to you? Do you think about it much?
Yes, this stuff matters to me and I think about it a lot.
It matters to me because I feel that questions of spirituality are essentially questions of identity. Curiosity about what and who one is seems primal.
I think that via consciously directed exercises in self-identity, the doors to a spiritual perception of life can be opened. I feel all this is actually quite easy but I may have some quirk regarding this stuff. I also am aware that I can be a ‘poor student’ hellbent on neglect, distraction, abuse and a bad attitude. I’m no saint. But if we all walked this earth knowing we are not the only living things around here and not the only creatures endowed with consciousness or reason (crows, dogs, etc), we wouldn’t have a need for a separate compartment called spirituality. And life on earth would probably be less blood soaked and out of whack. We would be living the dream, knowing we intersect with larger worlds, knowing we are part of those worlds, knowing we are all connected, knowing full well that we are not machines, that outmoded human models are just that, that we are creatures of bizarre intricacies whose special gift is to see the world as an extension of ourselves and ourselves as an extension of the world. Let’s go already! All the bullshit surrounding unnamed ideologies can be easily cut through if we drop belief as both sword and shield and just start marvelling not only at the world but at how others choose to marvel.
There’s my little soapbox rant. Another way this stuff matters to me is that I admit to long standing head butting with science-fan atheist friends who seem to believe that every human institution is rife with corruption except science. And that all our subtle bodies are fiction. I cannot believe that. Unbelievable.
Any contradictions are fully unintentional. Ultimately I feel I do not know & alternately I’ve known all along.
My spirituality is tricky.