DAVID’S DESK #117- ALTERNATIVE FACTS
David’s Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however the material is ©2017 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org.
Some years ago, a friend of mine wrote me to tell me that I was in the Encyclopedia Britannica under the topic of the New Age. Not having a copy of the Encyclopedia, I couldn’t check it out, but the next time I visited my library, I remembered and decided to look me up. Indeed, there I was! But as I read what had been written about me, I became more and more dismayed as there were statements about events in my life or things I had said that I knew had never happened or that I had never said. I was reading about an alternative David Spangler!
I’ve had more than one experience in my life of reading things about me that are not true but which fit the writer’s preconceptions or are what the writer would like to believe. However, I didn’t expect to find this in such an august document as the Encyclopedia Britannica. I knew the scholar who had written the entry by reputation; he was well known for his alleged expertise about alternative religious and spiritual movements in the United States. What bothered me was not that he had made the errors he had but that as a scholar, he had not tried to verify his information. It wasn’t as if I were inaccessible. At the time I had an active public career and was easy to get hold of. He could have simply written or phoned me and said, “This is what I’ve been told about you. Is it accurate?” I mean, why not go directly to the source to ascertain the correctness of your “facts,” especially if that source is readily available?
Because of my training as a scientist and because I’ve been on the receiving end of misinformation and “alternative facts,” I’m sensitive to the need for good information and for sticking as closely as we can to the truth. But increasingly, we are living in a time when misinformation is more and more prevalent. The Greek poet and dramatist Aeschylus, living some five hundred years before Christ, said, “In war, truth is the first casualty.” Now, though, we don’t have to be at war for truth to suffer. We simply need to have an Internet in which anything can be said by anyone (usually anonymously) about anything and someone is going to take it as fact because it fits their belief system or their desire that it be true.
Back in 1959, a psychic said to me, “David, the time is coming when the astral plane will be materialized, and no one will know what to believe anymore.” The astral plane, for those not up on esoteric jargon, is a non-physical realm of thought and emotion in which reality is whatever we think or want it to be. Its other name is the “Plane of Illusion” because a person caught there loses the ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood. With the advent of the Internet, social media, twitter, and the like, I would say that that psychic had been wonderfully prescient, for there is indeed an illusory, “astral” feel about the digital world in which so many of us increasingly live and function. At the very least, as many others have pointed out, it allows each of us to access information that is tailored just to what we believe and are likely to accept. We can each live in our own private digitally supported thought-world, which is precisely what the astral place is like in esoteric lore and why it is regarded as a dangerous place if one is not discerning.
I believe firmly that our hope for the future rests on our ability to communicate and collaborate with each other, giving birth to both creativity and a wider, deeper vision that is enriched by our differences. We know ecologically that monocultures—the planting of only one kind of plant in a field, such as all corn or all soy, and doing so year after year—are not resilient or sustainable when confronted with environmental change. It doesn’t take much awareness to look around and see that nature depends on diversity. So does human creativity, especially in the form of collective decision making that some are calling “crowdocracy.”
But reaching across boundaries of thought and feeling, transcending differences, and being able to talk to and cooperate with each other requires trust. When truth is compromised, when everyone has their own set of alternative facts, when there’s no information one can truly count on—or the information isolates us through how we cherry-pick what we want to know and believe—then trust suffers. Trust is broken, at which point a creative and healing collaboration becomes difficult, if not impossible.
When our leaders in all fields play fast and loose with truth and make claims that reality is what they say it is, so that disinformation is the name of the game, we are playing with fire. People have always told lies and governments especially have always been deceptive, but in a time when the Internet diffuses information in ways that create a fog of “alternative facts,” not being scrupulous with truth is like lighting a match in a room filled with gasoline vapor. The result can be an explosion of distrust that makes any kind of fruitful working together hard to come by. Given the planetary challenges that face us, we cannot afford not working together.
In esoteric lore, the astral plane lies between the physical world and the realms of spirit, the realms of love, wisdom, and wholeness. Symbolically, it’s as if one has to push through the illusions created by one’s own thinking and feeling in order to come to a place of truth. It’s a call for discernment.
We are certainly called to be discerning. But we can also bypass the “astral” and the realms of illusion and misinformation by simple acts of reaching out, connecting, listening to each other, making an effort to see truth beyond the illusions, widening our sources of information, and most of all, by learning to love each other. Love is the alternative to “alternative facts.” It allows us to build the trust we need to survive the storms of misinformation and distrust that seem to be upon us.
Join David Spangler, along with Julie Spangler and Jeremy Berg, for Recognizing the Note of Your Call– a free teleclass on Saturday, February 11, at 8am PT. Click here for more information or to register.