Demonstrating the transcendent

What is the presence of mind that enables us to look out upon reality and see ourselves there? Whence becomes this consciousness of which we are aware? Are we passive receptors, or active participants? Is it wholly identifiable as a brain function, or does its ‘virtual reality’ transcend the physical? Either way, what is our basis for recognition – by what event are we able to detect its presence and recognise its effects?

But what constitutes ‘the real? In being conscious, how do we tell the difference between the real and the imaginary, or know that we have an imagination? In fact, how can we tell that our explanations are not another source of delusion? For instance, what makes us so sure that nothing can be larger than its physical causes, or proof equates one fact to another and explanation finalises the truth?

Then what makes something ‘more or less real’? Doesn’t a sentient presence add a new dimension to reality – so that, even as consciousness remains embedded in the physical world, it also occupies a mental space of unprecedented possibilities? And what other fact could render this evidence demonstrable without the transcending fact of our awareness? Thereby, we engage in a reality that is enlarged by the conscious phenomena of its perception, even though explanation portrays the action the other way round.

Mike Laidler

One thought on “Demonstrating the transcendent

  1. Mike Laidler, You ask,

    “What is the presence of mind that enables us to look out upon reality and see ourselves there? Whence becomes this consciousness of which we are aware? Are we passive receptors, or active participants? Is it wholly identifiable as a brain function, or does its ‘virtual reality’ transcend the physical? Either way, what is our basis for recognition – by what event are we able to detect its presence and recognise its effects?

    “…what constitutes ‘the real?”

    I would say it won’t, can’t, manifest itself unless you, as Jordan Peterson counsels, “Tell the truth – or at least, don’t lie.” I don’t think you could have asked your fascinating and well-worded questions if you weren’t subliminally aware of the aspect of reality I want to “unfold before you” – pardon my hyperbole and lack of existential modesty here. 🙂

    At the risk of boring you to death (“miracle stories” are perhaps boring? Telling them doesn’t make them happen again…), what happened in 1985 made me (and my husband) KNOW that consciousness exists outside us – is intrinsically bound up with us – listens to, follows us, is WITH us and for us. Automatically? Always? Like some Alexa waiting for her name to be spoken? 🙂 I don’t know. My husband’s and my was a long conversation (2-3 hours) that culminated in a miracle. The conversation had questions, visions from a dream he had had and couldn’t remember, but after enough meanderings, did – questions of trust and whether one’s partner was FOR one, or enjoyed doling out hurt – we were trying to determine and follow the ups and downs of this conversation, a conversation which became heavy and fascinating: a world in itself. A life landscape we were traveling through. Trying to SEE in.


    It is said that “Miracles always happen through secondary causes.” As my husband put it to me once, Look at the purported miracles of Jesus. He didn’t snap his fingers and suddenly a Boeing 747 appeared. What actually happened in each case was that something that USED to be whole, that was MEANT to be whole, that had become corrupted (eyes, a limb, life itself), is restored to its natural whole. Miracles restore nature. That’s all. They do not violate nature. The one my husband and I experienced came VIA nature (the rain) – it restored the natural spirit we were born with for the few seconds it lasted. I believe miracles happen only when they HAVE NO CHOICE but to happen. On the order of Meister Eckhart’s saying that there are times God, in essence, MUST respond, “because it is His peculiar nature to do so.” Jesus telling his disciples to not stop the crowd’s Hosanna’s “else the very rocks will cry out!”

    My husband and I witnessed (were imbued by) a miracle in 1985, at 238 Grove Street, 2nd floor of the duplex where we lived in Waltham, MA – we were silent as it happened and my husband was the first to speak, after. It was connected with a difficult admission of one word he made. In answer to my question – which got to the very nub of the matter we’d been discussing – in an increasingly deep talk, during which I marveled at what an amazing novel this conversation would make! – as we lay there, side by side, looking at the ceiling, he brought forth the answer “Yes.”

    This “Yes” was a humiliating admission – later he told me that he answered WITH the truth “because it WAS the truth and for no other reason.” Before answering Yes he had pondered “No.” If he wouldn’t have answered with the truth, the miracle wouldn’t have happened.

    The miracle happened immediately upon the word “Yes” leaving his mouth. At that instant the whole world changed for us.

    With his “Yes,” (he WAS lonely at [name of college]), the RAIN which had been falling for hours – there was no wind – thin, straight & steady behind our heads, outside the bedroom window to the left of my head – we were lying in bed – this rain transformed into an intelligent, caring FINGER which BENT and gently TOUCHED the windowsill. When that touch, peace came into the room. Another FINGER of rain touched the windowsill. MORE grace flowed in. We didn’t turn to look at the windowsill or each other. We just kept staring at the ceiling, not speaking a word, absorbing in awe. When the THIRD finger of rain touched the windowsill, then withdrew, the room was replete with grace. I marveled in my mind, “THIS is what the Garden of Eden was like before the Fall…” It couldn’t have been better. We bathed in perfection. For 15 seconds we were able to drop the heavy burden we hadn’t even realized we were carrying (the burden which makes me understand fully Jordan Peterson’s “mot” – “Life is suffering.”). In my marveling at, being imbued with, this peace and perfection, my burden of suffering lifted for about 10 or 15 long seconds…during those seconds I saw the EXTENT of the burden we each carry each day, without realizing it. I saw how we become inured, hardened by bearing up under it. I saw that even the “BEST” life, a life of which hypothetically we would be envious, does not escape this burden.

    Solely due to my husband’s telling the truth, holding out against the “No, not at all!” with which his ego prompted him to answer, we got to experience this amazing miracle and blessing, to see what the world is made of, underneathe. That it is FOR us. Team life. We were 29 or 30 then. We’re 60+ now. Having that experience has held us through not ultra-successful lives, considering our respective talents. 🙂 But we haven’t lost hope of fulfilling our dreams. We still read and learn and feel the same as when we were young. We have pretty much our exact same dreams.

    This miracle (manifested through a secondary cause: the rain) came because he TRUSTED his wife with the truth – the question he answered had to do with loneliness, and if he had chosen to protect his ego and lie (“Are you lonely at [college he was attending]?”), to the ONE PERSON HE COULD TRUST, the one person who was there for him, he would have been lonely indeed.

    We never would have experienced this blessing of the burden lifted. To see life in its perfection for 15 seconds. The marvel was that what I thought was a lesser substance than we (the rain, which of course I assumed was secondary to us and a mere epiphenomenon and NOT alive, just there to SERVE the earth and creatures for drink, doing its lifeless duty), could be used as a vehicle, something as “great” – perhaps greater than we, since it could communicate more than we knew.

    I felt through those fingers of rain how much the whole world cares for us – is watching and waiting for us to do right. Probably desperately, ha ha! As those fingers one by one touched the windowsill, I marveled – in shock – at the intelligence and care with which this rain was imbued, it was MADE of care and love. It loved what Jim had done. It rewarded him for his difficult feat (and me for my question?) showing us and particularly him in the most powerful way possible that THAT is the right direction. Trust your partner. Be vulnerable. Tell the truth. Life is with you. Life is FOR YOU.

    (I’m not saying rain always has that power, but it can be imbued with such and BE such for us, if the Power that IS determines.)

    After silently together experiencing15 seconds of this perfection filling the room (it took 3 fingers of rain touching the windowsill one after the other to make it replete, to fill it completely), the miracle dissipated. Jim was the first to speak. He said, still gazing at the ceiling, as was I, “PAULA, did you NOTICE….those FINGERS of RAIN!?!”

    Ha ha! “Yeah.”

    Whenever I’ve wanted to discuss what happened in depth, he says, “It was a seed. Let it stay buried. Let it grow.”


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