The Subjectivity of Experience & the Futility of Skepticism

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Brendan D. Murphy

To explain the visual input we receive and the resultant images we construct and perceive, we have to acknowledge that the brain is hardwired to decode energy waves and their frequencies, or vibrations.

Where the major differences in belief, perception and, consequently, awareness come in is that the brain is not passive in decoding the wave input. It edits and rewrites information constantly.

In fact, when it comes to visual input, our retinas—extensions of our brain matter—perform a significant amount of preprocessing inside the eye, then send a series of twelve partial representations of a scene simultaneously to the brain for interpretation.

One major force compelling the brain to edit this way or that is belief. The subconscious mind constantly intervenes and colors incoming data according to what we believe.

Out of a vast sea of energy signals, in the words of late author and futurist Robert Anton Wilson, “our brains notice the signals that fit what we expect to see, and we organize these signals into a model, or reality-tunnel, that marvelously matches our ideas about what ‘is really’ out there.”

We tend to agree on sense data that falls comfortably within the range of “normal,” everyday, five-sense perception. But for data pushing the boundaries of five-sense perception, people can reach gravely different conclusions, based on what their subconscious mind filters out or leaves in. Modern neuroscience, as Wilson pointed out, reveals that “I see” actually means “I have made a bet.”

Constantly reminding ourselves that we do not see with our eyes but with our synergetic eye-brain system working as a whole produces constant astonishment as we notice, more and more often, how many of our perceptions emerge from our preconceptions.

For instance, in the case of the human energy field(s), or “auric field,” our beliefs and perceptions vary so greatly from one person to the next that we have people who staunchly believe there is no such thing, while at the other end of the spectrum we have people who need not rely on any kind of belief because they can perceive it directly.

In the latter case, people’s subconscious programmed beliefs have not edited the incoming information to conform to their limiting preconceptions. (This is to say nothing of the objective scientific verification of the reality of the auric field.)

Hypnosis, particularly stage show hypnosis, where people are instructed to believe that an onion is in fact a delicious apple, illustrates my point.

The hypnotized person has had his or her fundamental beliefs so drastically changed regarding the frequency data he or she is receiving, that the onion is mentally reconstructed as an apple and then tastes like an apple.

If the people eating the onion while thinking it’s an apple don’t shed a tear (“onion eyes”), then you have proof enough that fundamental and drastic changes have occurred in the psyche and physiological response mechanisms.

Under normal conditions, ripping into an onion would make almost anybody’s eyes run, no matter what effort a person goes to trying to fight it.

Such a phenomenon is similar to the way someone with Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), a real condition, can be allergic to bee stings in one personality and non-allergic in another.

The body doesn’t lie—it merely does what different brain states and beliefs tell it to do. Hypnosis accesses the seemingly infinite power of the subconscious mind to effect often spectacular psychological and physiological changes.

At present, there are some 7 billion (human) universes being contrived and perceived on this planet. In some of these universes, for people participating in hypnosis stage shows, for example, objects (holographic interference patterns) that most people would consider “onions” are being internally constructed and experienced as “apples.”

The idea that there is a universe that exists outside of us, a universe that is separate from us and our perceptions, that is not being altered by our implanted beliefs, looks increasingly tenuous. It matters little for the purposes of this discussion whether beliefs are culturally conditioned over the long term, or implanted rapidly, as in hypnosis.

Apple or onion? By Aristotelian logic, things can only be one or the other, not somehow both at the same time. But with “quantum psychology,” the way we “cohere” or “collapse” our reality into view determines what we see—or don’t see.

Our individual neurology determines perhaps not so much the state the universe is in, but our subjective experience of whatever state the universe is in.

Thus the somewhat shallow-sounding catch phrase that “your thoughts create your reality” is actually true in quite a fundamental way: your thoughts and accepted beliefs create your subjective interpretation and experience of so-called reality.

This means that, ultimately, you create your own emotions. If you have created “depression,” you can un-create it.

Tibetan Buddhists consider that we simply see what our karma allows us to see. Each perceives “truth” according to the “karmic patterns” that inform and condition one’s perceptions.

R. A. Wilson was a proponent of E-Prime: English without “isness”; in other words, English without the words “is,” “was” or any other definite existential labels.

The practice of E-Prime trains one out of the Aristotelian mode of thinking that there is an “objective” experience of reality to be had or experiences that “are” what you might label as “terrifying,” “boring,” “amusing,” and so on.

In E-Prime, “I am skillful,” becomes “within the framework of how I construct my reality, I appear to be what I would regard as skillful.”

You acknowledge the implicit experiential subjectivity in all scenarios with E-Prime by avoiding absolute labels that designate “isness” and thereby infest the world with “spooks”: things that perhaps you see but are not necessarily an experience shared by everyone else.

You acknowledge the gray area of the maybe. Maybe I’m not completely “right” … Maybe I am coloring my own perceptions … Maybe the model I have created is less than perfect … Maybe my mental model of reality is only a partly accurate approximation.

To illustrate how perceptions of “reality” can vary dramatically, snakes see heat waves (infrared) and seemingly do not see so-called objects, at least not as we do.

“The world seen by a snake looks fundamentally like a spiritualist séance—fields of ‘life energy’ floating about in murk,” explains Wilson. “The belief that the human umwelt [world field] reveals ‘reality’ or ‘deep reality’ seems, in this perspective, as naive as the notion that a yardstick reveals more ‘reality’ than a volt-meter, or that my religion ‘is’ better than your religion.”

The unsuspecting snake lives in what we might consider a rather bizarre-sounding reality-tunnel or universe. It is not a “right” or “wrong” perspective; it is merely one of the trillions upon trillions of subjective experiences unfolding on this tiny planet at this moment.

Charlatan? Fraud? Delusional? Crackpot? If we could describe our reality to a snake, it would likely think we were the lunatics.

The world would look very different to most humans if they could easily perceive infrared frequencies (one of Bearden’s “magic windows” into hyperspace).

In fact, some people do, as well as seeing higher than “normal” frequencies (such as ultraviolet, the other magic window), as we shall explore. Human perceptual abilities lie on a broad continuum.

In the early 1900s, in the first chapter of CLAIRVOYANCE, Charles Leadbeater explained that not everyone’s physical perceptual faculties possess the exact same ability to apprehend information and that the few people who can see farther than ordinary at both ends of the visible light spectrum would most likely be regarded as intuitives.

Subjectivity at its best is synesthesia, “multiple sensing.” Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof found during his clinical practice that LSD sessions could cause clients to experience synesthesia: the blending or switching of sensory responses to stimuli. They could see music, hear pain, taste colors.

What synesthesia really demonstrates is the manner in which frequency information can be decoded in different ways.

Instead of hearing music, frequencies are deciphered, perhaps, by faculties of the brain that are more typically associated with vision. Or maybe the ears still sense the air vibrating as the music reaches them, but the brain and mind interpret the experience in terms of taste—giving new meaning to listening to some “tasty tunes.”

Clinical experiments identify synesthesia as a product of the limbic (emotional) system in the brain, which, incidentally, is the part of the brain largely affected by LSD, along with the reticular system. Thus, LSD works on parts of the brain processing sensory information and feelings about it.

Neurologist Richard E. Cytowic states that the phenomenon has always existed, and moreover can be developed at will. As the seat of our survival urges and our “emotional center,” the limbic system also seems, according to P.M.H. Atwater, to be central to the near-death experience (NDE).

Near-death researcher Richard J. Bonenfant performed a study on the after effects of the NDE in which he found that a whopping two-thirds of participants developed synesthesia following an NDE.

These data indicate that this phenomenon is tied to neurological “aberrations,” some of which are actually induced by the NDE, heightening sense perception abilities.

While researching his excellent book SUPERNATURAL, the indefatigable Graham Hancock took a heroic dose of thirteen dried grams of P. semilanceata (psilocybin mushrooms, which contain tryptamine, as does LSD and DMT), nearly three times the dose that landed Bill Hicks in a UFO.

In his altered state, Hancock listened to his daughter Shanti playing music on their old piano. He found that the notes took shape in the air, “sometimes as huge curtains of light rippling across my visual field like the aurora borealis, sometimes as fireworks and starbursts, sometimes almost as winged beings.”

His brain-mind had been altered to convert information that would normally have been decoded as auditory data into visual data. “The arbitrary divisions which ordinarily frame our perceptions and experience are not immutable,” independent scientist David Yurth tells us.

We have internal, biologically-based discriminator functions that allow us to distinguish between color, taste, sound, etc. When these discriminating biases are suspended—whether through drugs or hypnosis—we can “hallucinate” that we hear color or smell sounds, and so on.

Charles Richet, who received the Nobel Prize for his discovery of anaphylaxis, related in THIRTY YEARS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH the case of a person who, in a state of hypnosis, had the faculty of sight temporarily localized in the fingertips (dermo-optic vision), so that she could read a page of print with the hands instead of the eyes.

Examples can be traced back to 1787 when mesmerist Jacque Henri Petetin from Lyon reported that an entranced cataleptic woman could see, hear and smell through her … stomach.

More recent cases include that of Molly Fancher of Brooklyn. After two accidents, her lower limbs atrophied, and she became blind, lost the ability to swallow, and apparently subsisted without food. In the course of her decline, she developed various clairvoyant abilities.

Fancher could see what was happening in distant towns, read the contents of sealed letters, and read written text through her fingers. In double-blind experiments, she was able to see the colors of objects correctly. She could see from the top of her head and from her forehead, and of that, one witness—a judge—could not “permit of a reasonable doubt.”

In Russia Rosa Kuleshova was similarly talented in reading through her fingertips (and elbow), and succeeded in doing so under a variety of test conditions that proved beyond any doubt her ability was real.

Nina Kulagina, a fellow Russian and PK medium, also consciously developed this ability after finding out about Kuleshova, and her abilities were subsequently verified by scores of scientists.

Classes were even offered in Russia that successfully taught the art of eyeless sight. Many, many people were tested and instructed, with many able to demonstrate some level of dermo-optic ability after as little as half an hour of practice.

Carol Liaros of Buffalo trained the blind in the art successfully and even ended up with cases of traveling clairvoyance/remote viewing. One man actually gave up using his cane, somehow becoming aware of curbs, telephone poles, and jutting storefronts.

In Beijing professors have trained ten-year-olds and found that sixty percent of them could read with their ears. Shanghai investigators likewise trained juveniles in this art.

It is evident that dermo-optic vision is possible at virtually any point on the body, as French novelist Jules Romains found for himself in the early 20th Century. It is noteworthy, however, as Ostrander and Schroeder reported in PSYCHIC DISCOVERIES in 1970, that those with damage to the optic centers in the brain cannot demonstrate dermo-optic vision.

Now, if the individual’s subjective inner experience of consciousness can be correlated with objective information (i.e., the subject can demonstrate the ability to read accurately with the fingertips), then clearly the internal subjective conscious experience has innate validity.

In the same way, the internal conscious experience of a clairvoyant or medium who attains accurate but hitherto obscure or unknown personal information about someone through extrasensory means clearly also has innate validity and objectivity.

We are not dealing here with the kind of subjectivity in which a schizoid personality fantasizes that his or her therapist is actually Satan or a government agent working as undercover spy.

Rick Strassman’s DMT research provides clues that the pineal gland (with the DMT it apparently produces) plays an active role in mediating our perception of energy frequencies, and thus creating the reality we experience.

Strassman proposes that DMT can allow our brains to perceive “dark matter” and parallel universes, or hyperspace. Hence the unusual DMT accounts involving UFOs, aliens, and other hyperspace entities (though there may be symbolic biological elements with some DMT encounters).

We know that the human brain is a frequency decoder. Research by Fritz Popp and Peter Gariaev and their colleagues shows that all cells in the body are wave transmitters (and receivers). This information is transmitted to the brain but does not always make its way to our waking consciousness.

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DNA itself is an ideal frequency transmitter and receiver, making every cell in the human body a mini beacon for sending, receiving, and storing wave information, including light.

We might infer that the light and “torsion” waves radiated by text can be received by the cells and DNA anywhere on the body and transmitted to and decoded (“read”) by the brain. Hence eyeless sight.

It is interesting that Russian researchers found that dermo-optic vision works best in bright light and fades, exactly like normal sight, as darkness falls. This phenomenon may be at least partly dependent on photon absorption.

Strassman suggests that increased levels of DMT in the brain increase the perceptual range in terms of available frequencies. This effectively yields the experience of a different universe or reality.

Biochemist and author Don DeGracia proposes that hallucinogens like LSD actually allow conscious perception of nonphysical imagery (non-sensory perception) as well as internal structures and workings within the brain itself (“dark noise pathways”). This activity may account for some of the fractal-like patterns perceived on a “trip.”

Obviously, our biology and chemistry largely mediate the type of information we receive, how we reconstruct it in our minds, and the general range of frequencies which we can perceive.

You may live on the same planet as a snake, but you experience a completely different reality tunnel. The biological link to heightened perception, or what might be called psychic perception, is something that deserves to be elaborated on further.

In the meantime, we need to dispense with any notions that “paranormal” phenomena are a “psychiatric” phenomenon; this is merely a transient, culturally indoctrinated belief that is well and truly outdated and revealed as fallacy by vast swaths of evidence.

More constructive by far is to look at such things as ESP as a matter of genuine perception, stemming from our particular perceptual faculties, which are not identical in functioning from one person to the next.

In essence, we find that our perception of reality is an elaborate illusion. Of course, such is the perspective of mysticism from well before modern science ever realized that “solid objects” are mostly empty space (i.e., illusions).

J.J. van der Leeuw explains that it is when we take the virtual image in our minds as being the actual thing itself, existing independently of conscious perception, that we become ensnared by illusion or maya. Fred Alan Wolf shares his perspective as a physicist in similar terms:

Right now, you have some sense of being present in your body looking out at the world. But according to what we know from physics, this is an illusion of perception: there is no place inside your body where “you” actually exist. You don’t have a particular volume of space or spot that is “you.” It is an illusion to think that everything outside that volume of space is “not you” … The best description we can give for this sense of presence is that you “are everywhere” … although we experience ourselves as being these solid human bodies, it’s more like “who we are” is an awareness or consciousness that lives in space.

Physically, we are all spatial extensions of what has been called the aether, the vacuum, and the zero point field. Schrödinger said that “what we observe as material bodies and forces are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space.”

In terms of consciousness, we are that “space,” which is really a conscious field of potential. What Wolf and other contemporary physicists, mystics and occultists are saying is that we inhabit a subjective personal universe that masquerades as an objective one.

The only way we can come to realize the universe as one rather than the other is through our subjective experience of it, via differing states of consciousness. We cannot intimately know anything except through our experience of it.

“The only ‘realities’ (plural) that we actually experience and can talk meaningfully about are perceived realities, experienced realities, existential realities—realities involving ourselves as editors—and they are all relative to the observer,” Wilson explains.

The only litmus test we have for determining whether something is real is to find out if other people can see it as well. If only some people can see it, then, in pioneering scientist Tom Bearden’s model, that defines it as paranormal.

As Michael Talbot pointed out, the admission that two or more people can create a shared reality (as has been documented) means we no longer have a way to prove that everything else is not also created by the mind (or perhaps consciousness in a broader sense).

This observation renders dogmatic skepticism a position of utter impotence and futility. As self-confessed ex-skeptic Steve Pavlina comments, “If our beliefs are just a self-fulfilling prophecy, then the prophecy of skepticism is a lame one to fulfill.”

Copyright © Brendan D. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.

Brendan D. Murphy is an Australian researcher, speaker, musician and author of the groundbreaking work, THE GRAND ILLUSION: A SYNTHESIS OF SCIENCE & SPIRITUALITY. Brendan is also a certified Level I Facilitator of the Regenetics Method of DNA activation, as well as a Psych-K and personal transformation facilitator, and has received formal EFT training. Check out THE GRAND ILLUSION at

Adapted from THE GRAND ILLUSION. Reprinted with permission.


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