Physicists do thought-experiments. Using everything you know about how certain things would work in certain situations, you shift some of the variables in your mind and see what happens then. I didn’t know that scientists do thought-experiments when I started thought-experimenting in the mid-seventies, but I discovered then – surprisingly – that experimenting in your mind seems to work.
I was just out of law school at the time, a stay-at-home new mother. Having just come through the youthquake of the sixties, I was deeply cynical about our culture. Out of boredom, I began to think about a human society that would be the polar opposite of western civilization. How would it work? The core element, of course, would be personal freedom and profound respect for the freedom of others. But if everyone is free, how does the work get done? Marriage would have to be permanent, since in modern society it is almost whimsical. How does that reconcile with freedom? Would there be laws? Who would run the place, and how? If you have read Letter From Freedom, you have a sense of what my thought experiment became, but it was a process. Moving thoroughly into this alternative world and understanding how it worked took time.
Writing it down as a novel made my experiment feel more real. I would come up with situations and watch to see how the denizens of my little world would react. The Atlantican culture seemed curiously resilient, but it took me awhile to understand why.
What surprised me most was the fact that the people in my experimental world became more and more sensitive to one another. That being so perfectly free from coercion might make them more tolerant and kinder made sense, but this reading-minds thing they soon had going did not. One of the only scenes in Letter From Freedom that was written when it was still a novella and survives in the finished novel unchanged is the moment when Jude tells Liz why it is essential for human minds to be free:
“I’ll tell you what I told him. I can’t think of another way to say it.” He squatted and fished a stick from the ground and said, “Now, it seems to you that you and this tree over here are separate, right? Nothing between you but air? And you think you and I are separate, too. But you’re wrong. It’s an illusion.” He drew a circle in the dust and said, “Suppose you had a big hollow sphere. Suppose you could see it only across the middle. What would you see? A circle, right? A slice out of a sphere? Now, suppose the sphere were ribbed. Connected at the top and bottom, but separate at the sides like a birdcage. So if you saw that only across the middle, what would you see?” He drew a circle of dots beside his solid circle. “That’s what you’d see. Separate, right? But not separate, because even though you can’t see it, those dots are connected above and below. Their separation is an illusion. It’s your seeing that’s faulty.”
I thought that moment was surprising and beautiful and really, really strange. By then it was the early eighties. I was beginning to read afterlife communications, but it was only after my father’s death in 1991 that I stopped writing fiction and my afterlife research became obsessive. I read hundreds of communications, most of them received before 1950. I began my research as a skeptic, assuming that every medium was a charlatan and feeling that I was searching like Diogenes to find a bit of honesty. But that phase soon passed. Within a few years’ time I realized that not only have we been receiving good communications from the dead for more than a century, but those communications taken collectively are so consistent and so detailed that now we can say with confidence not only that we survive our deaths, but also what the afterlife is like. I solved that problem early. My interest then shifted to using communications from the dead to better understand the nature of reality and what human beings actually are.
We all know human nature, right? We’re human. Everyone we know is human. But are we expressing true human nature? Or is our profound lack of mental freedom keeping us from expressing what we are?
Let me introduce you to Patrick, who used to be the star of the Dallas Zoo. Patrick was born and reared in captivity. After eighteen years in Dallas, he matured into a gorgeous silverback gorilla who had no idea whatsoever of how a gorilla should behave. He got along okay with male gorillas, but he attacked females. He couldn’t be allowed near them. Recently he was shipped to a gorilla reform school in South Carolina, where they will try to help him discover and express his true gorilla self.
You and I are in captivity, too. We live constrained by rules and taboos and customs. Of course, we think that’s fine. It makes us civilized, right? And civilization is good, by definition. The problem is that over all the thousands of generations of human civilization, there is no evidence that humankind has been improved by civilization at all.
I discovered what I call the “civilization problem” as I was putting together all the things that I was learning from studying the afterlife evidence. All the hundreds of communications that I had read, received over more than a century of time, were remarkably consistent in what they had to tell us about what we really are. Here is a quick summary of what I have learned:
1) The only thing that exists is an infinitely creative consciousness matrix. Everything we think of as real is created and held in suspension by that matrix. Even Max Planck, the eminent physicist who in 1918 received the Nobel Prize for quantum theory, knew about the consciousness matrix. In 1944 he said:
“As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
The afterlife evidence tells us he was exactly right.
2) Our minds are part of eternal consciousness. And they are the only part of ourselves that is real. You aren’t just created in God’s image, dear friend, but the evidence consistently tells us that your mind is of the very stuff of God.
3) Consciousness is infinitely loving. God is not human-like. God does not have a beard. God seems from the evidence to be something like an infinitely powerful energy-like potentiality without size or form, alive in the sense that your mind is alive, and highly emotional. The only emotion that consciousness apparently has is an intense affinity – love, in other words. And we are part of that love.
4) There is no evidence of a powerful being set in opposition to God. After decades of looking, I have to say that there doesn’t seem to be a devil. And that would make sense, since the evidence tells us that the less loving an entity is, the weaker it is, so the most evil entities of which we are aware can scarcely function.
All the evidence taken together confirms that our true nature is to be infinitely loving. And only loving.
Um, what? Wait a minute. If that is genuine human nature, then where does all this evil come from? The afterlife evidence suggests pretty strongly that it comes from us. We infinitely loving beings, each of us a part of eternal Mind, are also, like Mind, infinitely creative. And because we are living so at odds with what is apparently our true and loving nature, we create all the evil that exists.
Christianity tells us that human nature is crass because we have rebelled against God. There was a “Fall.” So, here is a question for you. What if that Biblical “Fall” was actually the dawn of civilization?
I don’t know the answer, but I think it is long past time for us to ask the question. Other than computers and microwaves, you cannot honestly look around and say that human nature has advanced one whit since civilization began. Civilization is no help to us. It only keeps us constrained. We are all like Patrick, making do in a cage that seems superficially comfortable, but that distorts the way we think and behave to the point where we have no idea who we are.
The Letters From Love series began as a way to ask this crucial question. It begins with a glimpse of how human beings might happily live without the cage, and its later novels will explore how we might even now begin to leave the cage behind. And now, more than twenty years after I first heard Jude speak those peculiar words, I am coming to understand what he meant. He was right. We are all densely connected, and the separations that we perceive among people are illusory. When we begin to understand all the glorious implications of that fact, then our new world of freedom can begin.