Reality checks

Hawker-HurricaneI woke up this morning thinking about a short story I loved when I read it back in high school:

This British WWII pilot gets shot down over Germany while on an important mission. He remembers nothing after his plane goes down, but wakes to find himself in a sunny hospital room in England, not far from where he grew up. The smiling hospital attendant informs him he’s been sent home to recover from his wounds.

The base commander will be in to debrief him as soon as he feels stronger, he’s told, but first he should just concentrate on getting well. In the meantime, they serve him just the right English food. The pretty nurses speak to him with just the right regional accent. And when he looks out the window, he sees countryside that looks just right. Just the way his corner of England is supposed to look.

But then he goes into the bathroom and turns on the water. And this water is very soft. But the water of his hometown area is hard as rocks, and everyone who lives there would know that.

So he realizes this ‘reality’ that’s been carefully constructed for him is just a trick. Despite what his senses are showing him, none of it’s real. The story ends in the debriefing session, as he answers every question with only his name, rank and serial number…


So in this story, the Germans are the bad guys and the English pilot the good guy. And although assigning guilt would get us nowhere, I can’t help finding some parallels to the predicament we find ourselves in when we start our search for spiritual Truth.

In Truth, of course, there are no good guys or bad guys. There’s only one of us, and we’re relying on our collective ego mind to fabricate a world for us that allows no hint of the Real world to shine through. We ask for that deception by choice, and the ego is happy to oblige us.

How does the ego mind keep out Reality? Through its crowning achievement: The body. We thoroughly believe our one eternal Self is split up into lots and lots of individual people, each of whom has a separate mind housed in a separate body.

We’re completely wrong about that, by the way.

But it’s not hard to see why we’re so thoroughly convinced of it.  As Gary Renard says in The End of Reincarnation, “The body allows into its awareness only that which conforms to the reality of the ego’s cherished illusions. So now, everything we experience testifies to us of the reality of this illusion. That’s asking the illusion to explain the illusion.

So now, the illusion [of the mind] is telling us what to think and the [illusion of the] body is telling us what to feel. So it’s actually an illusion telling us everything about itself, and we buy it because it’s all that we experience.”

A closed feedback loop of fake sensory input.

Fiendishly brilliant, that ego mind. Which, of course, is really just us. (There are no bad guys here.)

But, if you’re paying attention, there are plenty of hard water/soft water-esque anomalies that prove the illusion has holes in it. In fact, (if you’re paying attention) it becomes ridiculously clear that it’s all smoke and mirrors.

It just takes a certain willingness to disbelieve what your eyes are seeing and what your ears are hearing and what your senses of touch and smell and taste are telling you, that’s all.

Name, rank and serial number, baby. That’s all I’m sayin.

6 Replies to “Reality checks”

    1. I don’t, Amit. It was in a book of classic short stories (Somerset Maugham, O. Henry etc.) that I read in school as a child. I’d love to see it again – I probably got some of the details wrong in my memory. But it was a wonderful, unforgettable story.

  1. Thanks for the reminders about the massive, yet innocent hoax we’ve apparently perpetrated on ourselves… If we’re all one, then – at least internally, not to arouse suspicion – we can skip the name and rank and giggle know we all have serial number 1 🙂

  2. The story is by Roald Dahl and its called Beware of Dog.
    I read your blog via Undoing the ego and sent the name of the story to Nouk because I didn’t have your email handy.
    Thanks for the great analogy of what our eyes tell us is not reality.

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