The movie What the Bleep Do We Know!? challenges us with the question, “How far down the rabbit hole would you like to go?” In the safety of a movie theater seat, it is easy to confuse the invitation to glimpse another dimension with a ticket to a virtual A-ride at Disneyland. A rabbit hole seem such a benign thing – leading curious Alice to a grand adventure in Wonderland on the trail of a tardy little furred animal. What a delightful way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon!
I don’t mean to sound foreboding – quite the opposite. Nor do I wish to make the process of descent appear overly difficult – it isn’t. However, it’s one thing to read about doorways into the quirky world of quantum metaphysics or see them depicted on a movie screen, and quite another to actually risk entering those depths. Be forewarned of the many hucksters – including your own inner voices – peddling all manner of shortcuts into the rabbit hole. Laced sugar cubes, magic ‘shrooms, sacred plant concoctions, and a host of other mind-altering substances seem such simple ways to separate from the portion of oneself that believes it is living within the illusion. In this age of instant gratification, who is ready to do the serious work?
In fact, diving into the rabbit hole calls for nothing less than the release of any sense of personal identity – and along with it, whatever belief systems are holding it in place. That’s like saying the path through the illusion is simple, provided one has no preferences. Knowing this, why would anyone in their right mind want to go anywhere near a rabbit hole?
If the venture still entices you, consider this: who is the you who would make the journey and who is the you making the decision? What do you really know about yourself that doesn’t come from your lifetime resume? You can make a list a mile long of your physical attributes, likes and dislikes, thoughts, and beliefs, and you wouldn’t have begun to depict who you really are. These particulars are little more than the ways you choose to project yourself into the illusion. None of them can make the journey.
As for religious beliefs, they turn out to be the single largest obstacle to ascension (the lightness of being required to explore the deeper regions of rabbit holes) – not because people have them, but because they cling to them as truth. Feeling lost and abandoned at the edge of a vast galaxy in an incomprehensibly large universe, we understandably cry out for a mommy or daddy to comfort us. Religions give us community, and they offer answers that, for many, make the challenges of life more bearable.
It is worth noting that the vast majority of the 5,460,000 people (84% of the world’s population) who identify with a particular religion did not choose to believe as they do. Rather, their religions chose them, usually through circumstances of birth or enculturation. What they know of their faith comes from scriptures interpreted by the clergy and other believers. Virtually everything about their beliefs is prepackaged and predigested. They need only do as they are told and good things will surely come to them by the will and mercy of their God.
Imagine going to the same ice cream store every day and ordering a vanilla cone because vanilla is the only flavor you allow yourself to eat. You choose it because it is what your parents ate, as did their parents and their parents before them, as far back as anyone can remember. What if one day you realized other options were available to you, different colors and tastes with strange, exotic names like Rocky Road and Pralines ‘n Cream?
Over the years, one chain, Baskin and Robbins, has tempted its customers with over 1,000 different ice cream flavors – in addition to vanilla. But that’s small potatoes compared to the variety of spiritual choices available. At last count there were over 10,500 different religions and denominations on this planet. In the face of that abundance, how can anyone continue to pretend that his or hers is the only way to worship while the others are fatally flawed?
By its very nature, belief is a two-edged sword. It offers a link to the great mystery, yet it easily degrades into a set of judgments and presumptions that stifle curiosity. Thus rabbit holes turn out to be off-limits for God-fearing religious folk. The portal into alternate realms slams shut in the presence of notions about how things ought to be. If you poke a bit, you can find this stated in the sacred texts themselves – to the chagrin of those who would have us believe otherwise. Consider one familiar passage from the Christian Bible. The literal translation is: “Verily I say to you, if ye may not be turned and become as the children, ye may not enter into the reign of the heavens” (Matthew 18:3). To avoid suggesting that Jesus was encouraging his followers to ask questions and explore the mysteries of creation on their own, and to affirm the church as the only way to arrive at heaven’s door, most of the current versions (including the King James) have translated this verse as: “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
I have found that whenever I don’t pretend to know something, the universe readily becomes my teacher. When working on a book or article, I always ask for clarity and insights and become keenly alert for clues that appear around me. Sometimes they are subtle – words on a billboard, a tune on the radio. Other times, they are provided in 36-foot neon lights to make certain I see them. Today was such a time. I had lunch with some delightful and well-informed people. We had already said our good-byes when one member of the group ran out to his car and returned with a book he said I was meant to read.
The book’s epigraph was a quote (author unknown): “It is easy to believe that something must be true because everyone else believes it. But the truth often comes to light by daring to question the unquestionable, by doubting notions which are so commonly believed that they are taken for granted.”
These sentiments brought to mind the words of Anaïs Nin, “When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow.”
Then I had a curious thought: what if none of 10,500 religions had it right? After I had ruminated on this radical possibility for a while, a prayer suddenly sprang to mind: “Dear God, please grant me the right to be wrong.” I would like to claim that this prayer pleased God, but so far He/She/It has been notably silent. However, it did open another door of exploration that afforded a curious burst of epiphany – a small gift from the rabbit to tease those who are childlike enough to play very adult games.
We live, as you may already know, in an illusion in which everything is at it seems, but nothing is real. Science tells us that our world operates according to immutable laws and can be known by observing and measuring. However, that too is just a belief based on the geometries and frequencies of the illusion. If you are one whose curiosity won’t be satisfied until you have at least peeked down the hole, consider this: In the world of the illusion there are only belief and paradox. It is easy to tell them apart. Any inquiry that does not end in paradox is a belief. If that resonates for you even a little, you can begin to grasp how little any of us really know, and how foolish are those who proclaim otherwise.
For many, this is fearsome stuff. And even a hint of that dreaded emotion will block you from entering into the rabbit hole, as will a tenacious hold on some belief system. Rabbit holes are only for the passionately curious, for those who are not so overburdened with someone else’s answers that they long ago forgot the questions. Arguably, the greatest damage wrought by a belief system is the blunting of the desire to seek beyond the boundaries of dogma. A rabbit hole by nature unravels all knowing. What you experience on entering one will not only blow your mind, it will strip away all sense of personal identity.
Rabbit holes are definitely not for the faint of heart. Don’t let the cleverness of the question fool you into thinking you can stick your toe in to get a preview. What black hole ever asked, “How far into me would you like to go?”
Jean-Claude Gerard Koven is a writer and speaker based in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. He was a featured weekly columnist for the UPI (United Press International) Religion and Spirituality Forum and is the author of Going Deeper: How to Make Sense of Your Life When Your Life Makes No Sense, recipient of both the Allbooks Reviews Editor’s Choice Award and the USABookNews.com Award for the Best Metaphysical Book of the Year.
©2004 – 2021. Jean-Claude Gerard Koven / All Rights Reserved.