The idea that some deeply unconscious and even spiritual part of us can reach across the boundaries of time and is responsible for our destiny can also be found in many shamanic traditions. This is an excerpt on the idea of a malleable reality from Michael Talbot’s book The Holographic Universe.
According to the Batak people of Indonesia, everything a person experiences is determined by his or her soul, or tondi, which reincarnates from one body to the next and is a medium capable of reproducing not only the behavior, but the physical attributes of the person’s former self.
The Ojibway Indians also believed a person’s Me is scripted by an invisible spirit or soul and is laid out in a manner that promotes growth and development. If a person dies without completing all the lessons they need to learn, their spirit body returns and is reborn in another physical body.
The kahunas call this invisible aspect the aumakua, or “high self.” Like Whitton’s metaconsciousness, it is the unconscious portion of a person that can see the parts of the future that are crystallized, or “set.” It is also the part of us that is responsible for creating our destiny, but it is not alone in this process. The kahunas believed that thoughts are things and are composed of a subtle energetic substance they called kino mea, or “shadowy body stuff.” Hence, our hopes, fears, plans, worries, guilts, dreams, and imaginings do not vanish after leaving our mind, but are turned into thought forms, and these, too, become some of the rough strands from which the high self weaves our future.
Most people are not in charge of their own thoughts, said the kahunas, and constantly bombard their high self with an uncontrolled and contradictory mixture of plans, wishes, and fears. This confuses the high self and is why most people’s lives appear to be equally haphazard and uncontrolled. Powerful kahunas who were in open communication with their high selves were said to be able to help a person remake his or her future. Similarly, it was considered extremely important that people take time out at frequent intervals to think about their lives and visualize in concrete terms what they wished to happen to themselves. By doing this the kahunas asserted that people can more consciously control the events that befall them and make their own future.
In an idea that is reminiscent of Tiller and Stevenson’s notion of a subtle intermediary body, the kahunas believed this shadowy body stuff also forms a template upon which the physical body is molded. Again it was said that kahunas who were in extraordinary attunement vrith their high self could sculpt and reform the shadowy body stuff, and hence the physical body, of another person and this was how miraculous healings were effected. This view also provides an interesting parallel to some of our own conclusions as to why thoughts and images have such a powerful impact on health.
Most people are unaware that they possess this power, said the Tantrists, because the average human mind functions “like a small puddle isolated from the great ocean.”
The tantric mystics of Tibet referred to the “stuff” of thoughts as tsal and held that every mental action produced waves of this mysterious energy. They believed the entire universe is a product of the mind and is created and animated by the collective tsal of all beings. Most people are unaware that they possess this power, said the Tantrists, because the average human mind functions “like a small puddle isolated from the great ocean.” Only great yogis skilled at contacting the deeper levels of the mind were said to be able consciously to utilize such forces, and one of the things they did to achieve this goal was to visualize repeatedly the desired creation. Tibetan tantric texts are filled with visualization exercises, or “sadhanas,” designed for such purposes, and monks of some sects, such as the Kargyupa, would spend as long as seven years in complete solitude, in a cave or a sealed room, perfecting their visualization abilities.
The twelfth-century Persian Sufis also stressed the importance of visualization in altering and reshaping one’s destiny, and called the subtle matter of thought alam almithal. Like many clairvoyants, they believed that human beings possess a subtle body controlled by chakralike energy centers. They also held that reality is divided into a series of subtler planes of being, or Hadarat, and that the plane of being directly adjacent to this one was a kind of template reality in which the alam almithal of one’s thoughts formed into idea-images, which in turn eventually determined the course of one’s life. The Sufis also added a twist of their own. They felt the heart chakra, or himma, was the agent responsible for this process, and that control of the heart chakra was therefore a prerequisite for controlling one’s destiny.
“Proper visualization by the exercise of concentration and willpower enables us to materialize thoughts, not only as dreams or visions in the mental realm, but also as experiences in the material realm.”
— Paramahansa Yogananda
Edgar Cayce also spoke of thoughts as tangible things, a finer form of matter and, when he was in trance, repeatedly told his clients that their thoughts created their destiny and that “thought is the builder.” In his view, the thinking process is like a spider constantly spinning, constantly adding to its web. Every moment of our lives we are creating the images and patterns that give our future energy and shape, said Cayce.
Paramahansa Yogananda advised people to visualize the future they desired for themselves and charge it with the “energy of concentration.” As he put it, “Proper visualization by the exercise of concentration and willpower enables us to materialize thoughts, not only as dreams or visions in the mental realm, but also as experiences in the material realm.”
Indeed, such ideas can be found in a wide range of disparate sources. “We are what we think,” said the Buddha. “All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” “As a man acts, so does he become. As a man’s desire is, so is his destiny,” states the Hindu pre-Christian Erihadaranyaka Upani-shad. “All things in the world of Nature are not controlled by Fate for the soul has a principle of its own,” said the fourth-century Greek philosopher Lamblicbus. “Ask and it will be given you. If ye have faith, nothing shall be impossible unto you,” states the Bible. And, “The destiny of a person is connected with those things he himself creates and does,” wrote Rabbi Steinsaltz in the kabbalistic Thirteen-Petaied Rose.
An Indication of Something Deeper
Even today the idea that our thoughts create our destiny is still very much in the air. It is the subject of best-selling self-help books such as Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization and Louise L. Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. Hay, who says she cured herself of cancer by changing her mental patterning, gives hugely successful workshops on her techniques. It is the main philosophy inherent in many popular “channeled” works such as A Course in Miracles and Jane Roberts’s Seth books.
It is also being embraced by some eminent psychologists. Jean Houston, a past president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology and current Director of the Foundation for Mind Research in Pomona, New York, discusses the idea at length in her book The Possible Human. Houston also gives a variety of visualization exercises in the work and even calls one “Orchestrating the Brain and Entering the Holoverse.”
“We create our own reality because our inner emotional — our subconscious — reality draws us into those situations from which we learn,”
— American Astronaut Edgar Mitchell
Former astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon and a longtime explorer of inner as well as outer space, has taken a similar tack. In 1973 he founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences, a California-based organization devoted to researching such powers of the mind. The institute is still going strong, and current projects include a massive study of the mind’s role in miraculous healings and spontaneous remissions, and a study of the role consciousness plays in creating a positive global future. “We create our own reality because our inner emotional — our subconscious — reality draws us into those situations from which we learn,” states Mitchell. “We experience it as strange things happening to us [and] we meet the people in our lives that we need to learn from. And so we create these circumstances at a very deep metaphysical and subconscious level.”
Is the current popularity of the idea that we create our own destiny’ just a fad, or is its presence in so many different cultures and times an indication of something much deeper, a sign that it is something all human beings intuitively know is true? At present this question remains unanswered, but in a holographic universe — a universe in which the mind participates with reality and in which the innermost stuff of our psyches can register as synchronicities in the objective world — the notion that we are also the sculptors of our own fate is not so farfetched.