An Open Mind
Is a Better Guide
by Jonathan J. Dickau
©2002 - all rights reserved

        The world we live in is full of surprises. The more we learn about the universe, the more we find there is to know. It is the same way, on several fronts at once. Whether we are talking about Astrophysics or Biomechanics, there have been tremendous advances. Our criteria for what is real, and our ways of learning about the details of reality, have expanded with the increased vocabulary afforded us by Science, but they are poised to be stretched to their limits before being replaced by a yet more expanded view. I say this with absolute certainty, while knowing that the effects of this revolution in thought will be relative, and will depend upon the ability of individuals to assume a broader outlook. You see, we're in the midst of rapid change, and the pace of change has been steadily increasing, but this is the best time to seek a broader view.

        We're not yet compelled to believe in some things, but they will affect us anyway, and we are better off understanding a little more about what makes things work, and how things got to be the way they are now. We have harnessed many of the forces of nature, but do we really understand them? While some might argue that people are better off leaving some matters to the experts, I believe we will be much better prepared to face the future if we open our minds further, expanding our vision to include more of what we now know is real, and learning anew to reason for ourselves. People have come to take so much for granted they don't really understand, and the miraculous reality demonstrated by our everyday marvels (Radio, TV, Microwave Oven, ...) has implications far beyond the laboratory, which haven't yet made it into the common world-view. The consensus among modern people still reflects a view that was already outdated at the turn of the last century (ca. 1900), but still largely persists with the turning of the new age (ca. 2000).

        Although many common household devices depend heavily upon Quantum Mechanical effects, or other discoveries of Modern Science, relatively few people have taken many of the basic tenets of all this new Science seriously, as far as taking the ideas behind them to heart and applying the appropriate principles to everyday life. Of course, there are a few exceptions, and also some surprisingly long-standing traditions which seem to express many of the same principles, but the experts disagree even about whether there is something substantial to talk about. In my opinion, far too many people are still living in the dark ages, when it comes to having a basic understanding of concepts Science now considers essential. However, much of the scientific community seems to be in a state of denial, about the philosophical implications of Science, and how our philosophy must change with new knowledge. Many are extremely reluctant to believe that philosophy and metaphysics, or mystical realities, have any relationship to Science. Very few acknowledge that we all seek the truth, and very many people think that they already know it.

        This situation can't last for much longer, if mankind is going to survive. We can't continue to cling to illusions and half-truths, if we want to know the real truth. We need to broaden our view of reality in a fundamental way, in order to accept the wisdom of Modern Science. If we cling to the idea that things have to be one way or the other, and that they are never somewhere between, nor both ways at once, we may never see things as they truly are. What passes for truth is the idea that there is usually a single reason for things, and therefore our culture teaches people to find a culprit or scapegoat when something goes wrong. Quantum Mechanics teaches that multiple possibilities each affect every result, in virtually every interaction, and contribute their probabilities to the final outcome. In effect, a collection of discrete influences combines to form a single result, which may be carried out by a particular entity, but is actually the product of a larger process. Even what does not occur affects the outcome. If we use this kind of thinking to analyze human behavior, we may gain real insight into human affairs. Perhaps if we saw exactly how many insults and angry stares some people endured beforehand, we would easily understand what made them snap. The individual blows to a person's ego may be small, but they add up, making people's breakdowns and hatred possible, or perhaps inevitable, and this is very sad.

        Most of us need to become more tolerant of others. We all need to improve ourselves, if we hope to avoid a similar fate, or if we wish to keep ourselves from inflicting that fate on others. The best we can do has got to get better, for enough individuals to make it matter, if there's going to be a world for our grandchildren to inherit. We can only move forward as a culture, if we move toward a more refined and thoughtful bearing as individuals, but this will allow a higher level of evolvement for everyone. What we need most to obtain is an unprecedented degree of open-mindedness. One could say that we need to evolve an open-hearted way of being open-minded. That is; we must find ways to be both courageous and forgiving, in our search for knowledge, taking care to be a bit compassionate while attempting to be both discerning and objective. If we treat the bearers of new ideas with respect, while subjecting their ideas to scrutiny, everyone can benefit from the exchange of ideas. We can't assume that we really know what's going on, before we know all the pertinent facts. Even then, we must be careful not to draw harsh conclusions without taking the time to develop a fair basis for comparison. This means we must learn to address new phenomena, and new entities, on their own terms.

        Invisible forces which were once considered mysterious, or unexplainable, are now well understood. More work remains, however, and we should not be overly hasty in our judgments. Until we know the ground rules for some new area of study, or some newly discovered phenomenon, we should not jump to the conclusion that it will be totally explainable within the existing framework. The same can be said of phenomena that have been observed for centuries, and have never been definitively proven or disproved, never adequately explained, and therefore never truly understood. We need better descriptions for some things we already know about, but this is a remarkably strange world we live in, and people also need to allow for the possibility that certain things may sound far-fetched, paradoxical, or even impossible, when they're described for the first time. Still, those things do remain quite real. I'm certain that the world we live in, and the universe we are part of, have a great many secrets left to show us. It's also clear that the pace of new scientific discoveries is increasing, if anything, and that our continued search will show us what's out there. We need to be prepared to re-think our world-view a bit, as a result.

        The fact that something may be difficult to explain does not negate the presence of an object or phenomenon we observe. Explanations are important to many people, however, in terms of their deciding whether something is plausible, or real. An individual may not get it quite right, but he or she may have the right idea anyway, or some component of the truth which is relevant and essential. We must also consider that some aspects of a description are inaccurate mainly because of the misleading nature of language, the use of inadequate terms when an adequate vocabulary doesn't yet exist, or similar limitations. This is not to say that anything anyone ever said they saw is real. There are both plenty of people eager to deceive others, and plenty more who are earnest but deluded. We could assume that something real may have been observed, however, even if an observer can't explain what they saw, or why it should be there. We're not forced to conclude that it's a farce, by the mere fact that someone cannot justify their observations. We must also consider the fact that knowing about something (even knowing it quite well), and being able to describe it adequately for others to understand it, are not the same thing. Some people are quite glib without having the full understanding of any topic, where others are brilliant in their insights but lacking in the ability to communicate precisely what they know.

        Somewhere in the middle is where I generally place myself, but I will readily admit that there are things I know nothing about. I like to suspend judgment on things for as long as it takes to evolve a detailed view of the subject, but this is not always practical. Life doesn't stop, just because you are taking the time to observe it, and I know that I am a participant in a larger process. To be more specific, we are each a part of many ongoing processes, and these unfolding patterns are evolving together. Our individual evolution is having a compound effect upon the collective evolution of humanity, and this in turn affects each of us. As we make more and more advances, and discoveries, the impact on human culture becomes greater, but many of the most powerful developments are only now at our doorstep. The process of evolution in Science has become a revolution in some areas (Cosmology for example), and the number of new Sciences appearing is unprecedented. Some concepts which were once considered fantastical, such as extra dimensions beyond the physical, have now become a part of mainstream Science (at least in Physics). Oddly enough, though, recent and cumulative developments in Mathematics promise to provide answers for questions as yet unasked. So where is all of this leading?

        The truth is that we are still learning what is real. Although people have evolved a great number of tools to aid in the measurement and description of reality, what is real still eludes a precise definition, and may continue to defy description for some time to come. Our current understanding will soon give way to a more encompassing view of reality, but this higher reality is no less present than it will be, once we understand it. People still cling to a view of the universe as a clockwork mechanism, or a simple machine, even though this view was deposed by the scientists of the early 20th century, and we must be mindful of a dualistic view which sees matter as energy, if we are to take their insights into our reasoning. We must also understand that many of the figures history remembers as championing the cause of mechanistic and/or deterministic views were by no means so certain of those views themselves. Rene Descartes argued vehemently with the mechanists of his time, and Isaac Newton is known to have penned several volumes on metaphysical topics, which his family never saw fit to print. In the June 2002 Scientific American, Michael Shermer bemoans the fact that folks tend to deify people who are Pillars of Science, rather than taking time to understand things well enough to make enlightened decisions on philosophical issues, for themselves. Unfortunately, many people are reluctant to think for themselves. Some are even afraid to do so. What is worse, though, is being unwilling to learn.

        I believe that this phenomenon is a real problem, and I support Mr. Shermer's campaign to combat the abysmal ignorance of what Science shows us about the world, but I think that like most skeptics he is often a bit heavy-handed, and hardly gives reality sufficient room to breathe. Reality is dynamic! What is real isn't limited to what we can prove now, and we still need better answers. Neither the worship of authorities, nor derision of charlatans, is a substitute for real free thinking. Our society has made the fear of ridicule such a potent force, though, that those who have better ideas are often reluctant to share what they know, and those who want to think for themselves are intimidated. People often need understanding and encouragement while they are struggling with fundamentally new concepts and ideas, but true pioneers usually get very little of this. The fact that we have made progress with applications has not closed the gap of our world-view with the ideas behind them, nor has progress in our social evolution kept up with the pace of technology, which might allow our culture to grow gracefully into a new common understanding. Instead, we find that a gulf has formed between those having a fundamental understanding sufficient to encompass the emerging world-view, and those rendered clueless by the shifting sands of a changing landscape, with a new and quite different understanding about reality.

        How will the new understanding affect us, once some of the developments found now only in Science Fiction realities like the world of Star Trek, become part of our everyday world? What if the reality we face shows us that even visionaries like Gene Roddenberry have been a bit too timid, as compared to what is really out there. Modern Physics certainly leaves that possibility open, in that it is not excluded. I know that my own life has seemed just a bit like something out of the X-Files, at times, and I don't believe I am really that out of the ordinary. I know some very interesting people, and I fully understand that some people's lives are much weirder than my own. Many people live very ordinary lives, but there are some strange things going on in our universe (some rather close to home), and I don't even want to claim to have a clue what they are about, much less to explain them. Yet, I believe there is something beyond the ordinary to explain, or understand, as my personal experience exceeds the bounds of what can be easily explained through reason alone, given the common world-view. I also find plenty of compelling evidence, which is likewise difficult to explain with our current understanding. What then is the ultimate standard of open-minded awareness? Can we achieve a state of individual and collective enlightenment that is sufficient to the measure of the true reality? Can we learn to know the world and life as they really are?

        I have reason to be hopeful about this. Though it is difficult to say how, I believe I know the full extent of what is required for our journey, and it appears we are well underway already. You see, my own inquiries into the origin of the universe have led me to an understanding of the world that is convergent with the findings of Science and the basic tenets of Religion, as they exist in our world today. Also, I find that there have been many before me, whose spiritual, mystical, prophetic, and psychic insights give us answers to many of the questions now being explored by Science, which are still valid after hundreds, or even thousands, of years. In fact, it would appear that some of the most ancient wisdom is now being validated by some of the most recent discoveries and developments of Science. I have engaged in some research into this topic myself, and the work is fascinating indeed. This is not to say that all of the insights of seers pertain to Science, in any way. Rather, I mean to clearly state that what scientists are now discovering has always been so, and that others before them may have had other ways of learning the same truths. This does not seem to conflict with either Science or Religion.

        Nonetheless, I still find that I'm in the minority, since most in the mainstream of either discipline don't display an open-mindedness that is even close to being sufficient to the task of describing reality as it is. Paradoxically, those known as Mystics have displayed a remarkable understanding throughout the ages, but most of these individuals saw fit to cultivate personal knowledge, or a personal relationship with the truth, rather than trying to find convincing ways of expressing what they knew. Alas, it is also true that many of these men and women were simply too fanciful, in the symbolic nature of their descriptions, or of their visions themselves, for us to derive any real meaning from them that is of practical value. Still, some of the insights of Mystics, Shamans, and Seers, from various cultures, have stood the test of time and hold perennial value for more than just a few people. And many of their insights point to a common reality which sounds remarkably like the picture that is now emerging from the annals of Science. Scientists seem to be re-discovering what the Mystics once knew, but most of them don't know it yet.

        My studies have shown that there is a remarkable level of convergence, between current scientific thought and ancient mystical teachings. It is as though scientists have given us a reason to believe what enlightened individuals have known all along. The trouble is that the world of Science itself has become so fragmented, with so many different disciplines, each one a specialty worthy of lifelong study and detailed understanding, but somehow a separate island of thought upon the sea of knowledge. The world of Religion has always been fragmented, despite attempts through the ages to unify everyone under the banner of one belief system, or another. It would seem that no historical system of religious belief is sufficiently broad, while being aptly specific enough to satisfy everyone. I feel that neither conventional Science nor conventional Religion has a satisfying understanding of the reality that is life in the universe (or an adequate description), but there have been insightful individuals who knew the truth, and freely understood what is real, walking among us. Some of those individuals entered and/or left the world with great fanfare, where others were virtual unknowns, but all have extolled the virtues of a higher understanding. They have also left their mark on human society, by aiding in our collective journey toward greater enlightenment. In this regard, I'm a mere beginner, as are most alive today.

        At this point in my life, I must knowingly count myself among the Mystics, in that I have sought answers in the worlds beyond by going there myself, and seeing what there is to observe. My own journeys into the beyond have been astounding for what I have learned, and my insights appear to be no less impactful than those of historical figures. Still, on some fundamental level, the strongest message I have brought back is about nothing more than open-mindedness. It appears to me that open minded thinking must be the primary requirement for the continued evolution of life and intelligence, on our world or anywhere else, as our individual process of personal growth mirrors the emergence of life and consciousness in the universe, and the manner in which all life unfolds. Such is the order, or progression, I have seen. I understand that some people will read this far, and then say that there is no basis for this belief, but I ask the reader to bear with me, while I make it clear that I am asking every person to think about these matters for themselves. It is not my idea to make light of anyone's beliefs, but I can report that my attempts to explore the farthest reaches of the infinite have brought back an astounding result. It is almost as if there is a singular message carved across the heavens, and it is a recommendation for all living beings.

        One, open, as multiplicity and formless nothingness, finds peace in true relationship, and knows all as Self. I could add a mountain of detail to this one sentence, but it succinctly reflects the primary message of the Divine, as I have come to know it. It would seem that the message is a formula for open-mindedness. What is being said here is just as important as from whence it came, however. If we are truly open minded, we don't need to cling to a particular viewpoint; we can entertain numerous points of view, while acknowledging that the truth may require all of these insights to comprehend, or may lie beyond the scope of these views entirely. Anything less than this is too restrictive to allow us to see life as it is. While we may wish to believe that the affairs of the real world are simple, the relative complexity of some things we regard as simple is truly astonishing. If we want to live in the actual real world, or to grow at the pace of the expanding vision of Science, we need to expand our personal vision to include a number of things which have been viewed as unimportant, and which probably were until now. People tend to pay far less attention to many of the little things in life than they are due, however, as some little things count for a lot, in the long run. People's lives are often caught up in quite meaningless stuff, while the amazing opportunities afforded by being alive go to waste.

        Part of the reason for this is that we feel so alone, or isolated. We have been too caught up in the idea that the boundaries of things are absolute, and we are extremely reluctant to abandon this view, especially of ourselves. We are afraid to give up our limited view, as we imagine it will compromise our sense of identity, but this is hardly possible. Deepak Chopra has spoken up for the notion that our individual realities interpenetrate our surroundings, rather than our merely co-existing with the larger world, and the larger universe of which we are a part. He reminds us that we may be breathing in molecules of oxygen which were once inhaled by Jesus or Socrates, and states in fact it is likely that you are picking up and releasing a few such atoms, on a regular basis. The idea that all boundaries are simple is being challenged, or is already being supplanted in the area of Mathematical Modeling, to an extent which makes certain common assumptions about objects seem quite questionable indeed. The subject of Fractal Geometry suggests that most natural objects (e.g. - clouds, mountains, shorelines, trees and ferns, ...) are much more complicated than the tools of simple geometrical abstractions will allow us to describe.

        We see this complexity all around us, but people tend to look for easier ways to make sense of things, and have come to regard some of the simplifications and generalizations of language as real facts of life. The English language was not framed in a manner that is Quantum Mechanically accurate, however, owing to the strict separation we make between subjects and objects, in a sentence. The same is true for all of the Indo-European tongues, but not every language takes this approach. Some of the Native American tongues, and the Chinese language are far more accurate, for example, in their manner of depicting process-oriented relationships. This perhaps arises from their perception that in nature, no object exists apart from the web of inter-relation, of which everything is a part. The borders of natural objects are far more complex than circles, squares, or ovals. Ordinary concepts about objects, and dimensions, don't give justice to the reality of many things. The key to simplifying the task of modeling the complexity in nature lies in the world of Fractional Dimensions, and of objects which are not quite two-dimensional, or three-dimensional (for example), but are instead somewhere in between. It is a world we couldn't even talk about until a few years ago, but it now allows us to model imaginary landscapes through Computer Graphics Imaging, which are so lifelike they appear to actually be alive.

        My statement of a measure for open-mindedness suggests this ideal, or quality, but the reality of it is even more compelling. Much more than mere "formless nothingness," fractal nature embodies the very heart of complexity itself. Fractals are not the absence of form, but form so complex that it can appear chaotic, or random. Nor is the concept of a fractal merely a convenient way of modeling what it real; it appears to be an organizing principle used by nature to help create the dazzling array of form we see. The beauty of this concept is not fully captured by the words I've used, nor is my map actually the territory it describes. I fully recognize that mere words are not the measure of essential abstract concepts, and that the reality of this concept is far more grand than even my wildest imaginings. Even so, I have taken the time to understand the ideas behind this reality, and other related concepts, and I have incorporated them into my world-view. I regard learning about these things as essential, as they have helped me to keep an open mind. Thus, I'm afforded an outlook on the world not limited by the conventional views of dimensional reality. This fact has undoubtedly aided my cause of exploring the beyond, and it has also helped me to make sense of what I learned there.

        I can therefore state with some certainty that the evolution of consciousness and the evolution of form have a common basis. I have personally been to the core of reality, made observations, and returned with a detailed map of the far beyond, yet I know that I am still at the very beginning. This is the most fascinating part of my journey in life. I also know that there are individuals whose knowledge of these places eclipses my own, and yet I must go on to express what I have seen, and to share what I have learned with others. I don't expect anybody to just believe me, however, and I'm really hoping that more people will learn to journey in the beyond, so that they can verify what I've seen with their own experience. Mystical or Spiritual experiences can be exceedingly personal, but they also express the universal. What people have the hardest time with is that even possessing all knowledge doesn't guarantee that one can understandably express the specific knowledge about anything between the Infinite and the manifested worlds. That is, knowing the Infinite, and having a grasp of what can rightly be called all-knowledge, does not constitute the ability to communicate the details of your experience to anyone who does not already have a clear basis for understanding, through their own personal experiences. It is fruitless to try to convince people of certain things, until their eyes are opened to those possibilities.

        In many cases the person who knows the subject best, or has had a wealth of personal experience, and the one whose responsibility it is to relate that understanding, are two different people. What then? We are left to fill in the gaps in pure knowledge, left behind by this process, and if we try to fill in some gaps with everyday ideas we'll be left with nothing but illusions. If we assume that we need to seek a better perspective on things, and look to find new viewpoints, but keep in mind that the truth may require a stretch of our imagination, we will find out more of what is real than those who stop looking. Will we realize the rest of the statement, coming to find peace and true relation, and ultimately knowing all as Self? I'd like to think that this is where we are all headed, but I don't know if we'll all arrive. I can only state that having an open mind is necessary to getting there, and I can't guarantee that it will get you there, personally. The biggest piece is your personal involvement, or participation. Instead of having merely a passing interest, we must be more passionate, and cultivate a romance with pure knowledge. The desire to know what is real is enough sometimes, to make us search for the truth, but something more is often required to find it. Perhaps what I'm saying is that we must be open to the idea that there's a greater truth to comprehend, and continue to think for ourselves.

        This is the key of all keys. You cannot possess a clear understanding of reality by proxy. You must make sense of things yourself, and develop a world-view or philosophy that gives you the ability to know what is going on around you, and within you. It is important that you seek your own insights and form your own opinions, prepared to consider new views and updated information, while knowing that a common answer may still be sound. We don't have to cast away every notion of reality we now have, but we do have to be open to the possibility that some of what we have come to assume is factual... is just plain wrong. We also need to be aware that some things we've believed to be disproven actually do exist. Beyond this, there is a great range of things which may be explained well enough by simplistic models, but which are subject to a more refined view, nonetheless. For example, Einstein's work gives us a much more accurate model of the action of gravity than Isaac Newton did, however this model is seldom put to use, as Newton's equations are adequate, even to adjust the course of a satellite or spacecraft, most of the time. So, we need to be open minded, knowing that real answers sometimes require a more sophisticated view, but also to remain sensible enough to use simple answers when they work.

        Reality exists, and it has a particular nature apart from our views of it, but it is also subject to influence and interpretation by human beings. If our understanding of things is based on anything but the most recent data, we are probably fooling ourselves, but even with the most up-to-date perspective, there is still the possibility that the current outlook will be supplanted by a more powerful description of things, when we have a better understanding. On the other hand, Science seems to be leading us to discover the Unity of All, and this is the very same reality that the Saints, Seers, Mystics, and Prophets, have been saying for years we would one day inherit. Is it just a coincidence, that these once divergent realities (Science and Religion) are now pointing in a similar direction, or is this evidence that there is only one truth, after all? It is my belief that we will indeed see a reconciliation of scientific and religious beliefs, or that what we currently call Science and Religion will one day be seen as two unique ways of approaching the same truth, and learning about the same reality. In effect, they are two aspects of the same process. I know that these philosophies have been antagonistic for many years, but each will one day be seen as essential to the other, and each will contribute to our total understanding of reality.

© 2002 - Jonathan J. Dickau - all rights reserved

Single copies for reference or personal use are allowed,
but reproduction for sale is not permitted.

Return to

Return to
Feature Articles

this page was first posted on July 13, 2002
thanks for your interest - jd