Episode Ten: The Reality of Magic

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Magic is real.

We play with the idea of magic in movies and books, pretending that it's fantasy, impossible, something only for make believe witches and wizards. If we dare consider that there could be real magic in the world, we are taught to think that it can only come from a dark or evil source.

This is because the true nature of magic is kept from us. We are told that the power of miracles can only come from somewhere outside of us, and so any sense that we could summon and direct energies to bend the fabric of reality must be either delusional or diabolical.

I understand the desire to hide people's power from themselves. Stan Lee is right. With great power comes great responsibility, and in a society where responsibility is often abandoned in favor of laziness, grift, apathy, dogma, or other immaturities, there may be good reason to teach people to turn away from their own power and direct them to simply do as they are told.

If your goal is to exert control over a society, then of course you would want to hide the secrets of magic and keep them for yourself. You would teach them that magic belongs to gods, and that in their hands magic is profane.

But our world is changing. Each of us has more power than ever before, and when we don't understand how to use our power it comes out in strange and unfortunate ways. Road rage. Mean tweets. Mass shootings. Conspiracy memes. We have been taught for so long that any real power to change the world is so far out of our control, that nothing we do really matters, and so we are more likely to scream in desperation or anger, more likely to follow a madman with easy words, than we are to roll up our sleeves, take the wheel, and steer the destiny of our lives.

Being ignorant of how magic works also makes it easier for others to spin spells against you, keeping your mind distracted with fear and anger, disengaging your ability to reason and reflect, preventing you from gathering and casting your own energies. If you don't understand the mechanisms of magic, others can take control of the energies of your life and steer them as their own until you find yourself deeply in debt, sick beyond care, or lost in a life long forest of fear.

Magic is real, and is always in motion. You must either learn the ways of the magician, or be forever lost in an endless mirror maze of someone else's spell.

Reality is fluid, because reality is not only physical. While we live in and are a part of physical reality, our perceptions of this reality are filtered by our senses and by how we understand and relate to the world.

Our senses are limited. We only see colors that our eyes evolved to see. We can only experience temperatures in a specific range where water flows and sometimes freezes. We can only hear some sounds, or smell some oders. Because of the limitations of our senses, and because of the ways in which our brains interpret and understand what we experience, we can never live directly in the vastness of physical reality. We can only live within a sort of three dimentional movie of reality created by our brains.

Because of this, what we think of as reality is actually a set of ideas and models of reality that we create and can actually control. Sometimes this is direct and immediate. We can feel the heat from a fire and so we move away. Here, our senses are in close alignment with the physical world. Other times what happens in the world is not as obvious. Until we understood planetary motions, the apparent position of the rising sun against different constellations throughout the year seemed purposeful.

When we add language and rules from our society, our ideas of what is real grows to include all of the cultural realities that affect our lives.

Just as we learn not to put our hand into a fire, we also learn, for example, not to slap the king. In both cases, the consequences will be extremely unpleasant.

In our movie of reality, the distinctions between what is physical or what is cultural, what is science or what is superstition, can all blend together in the complexities of the human experience.

Our perception of what is reality expands to include our role in society, what we are capable of achieving, what we learn, and how we live. We might say, I am a race. I am a nationality. I am a gender. I am a profession. I am a believer.

All of our world, together, all of the colors, tastes, consequences, opportunities, abilities, and beliefs blend together to build the movie of reality that we experience.

Magic, as we understand the word from our stories, is the ability to alter reality with the power of our mind, and reality, as far as we are concerned, is a creation of the mind.

This is the key that unlocks our magic.

Of course, none of this means that we can alter the rules of physical reality, but atoms and energies are seldom the part of our reality that holds us back. Atoms and energies can be affected by our actions, and our actions are affected by our decisions, and our decisions are affected by who we think we are and what believe that we can accomplish.

Most of our lives are spent in plateaus between moments of transition. We change jobs or buy a house. We start a new relationship, meet new friends, or learn a new skill. These transitions are large and life altering, and they take attention, care, and energy. The plateaus are times between change, when we can settle into new habits and take more time to reflect on what we have accomplished. Of course, even the plateaus take energy. The job, the commute, the broken refrigerator, cutting the grass, paying the bills, going to meetings, people, bosses, taxes, laundry. All of this takes our time, our attention, and our energy. It keeps our magic busy with keeping up, rather than introducing something new. This is why it is important to also take time, amid the familiar patterns of our lives, to consider something more.

Magic is the ability to imagine something different in the world, and to then manifest that imagination into reality.

Sometimes this doesn't have anything to do with the physical world. It can be a decision made, a perspective shifted. One day you can say, I am so angry that I was treated badly. The next day you can decide, I'm so glad that I don't live with the type of anger and fear that caused that person to yell at me. I hope he's ok. And like that, you are living in a very differnt world. Reality has shifted. With that decision, the world became a little less harsh, and became, for you, a little more peaceful.

Sometimes manifesting an idea in the world can be done not by changing your own perspective, but by changing the three dimentional movie of someone else's reality. By talking to others, hearing their concerns and understanding them, you can help them sculpt their own reality into something better.

Usually, however, when we think of manifesting an idea into the world, it requires changing something physical, doing something different. That something different is what magic and manifesting is all about.

Humans are creatures of habit. It is most likely that what we will do tomorrow is much like what we did yesterday. If we encounter some situation, our response will be a familiar one. If we tend to get angry, then the next time we encounter a similar situation or idea, it will likely make us angry. These habits and patterns form the plateaus between moments of change, and so understanding the mechanisms and motivations for change is an important part of mastering magic.

Once we make a change, and live with that change for a while, this will become the new habit.

First we must imagine the change we wish to summon, and then we need to change the very structure of the reality in which we live. You can say, I'll never have a car like that. But magic happens when you change the world that you live in by saying, of course I can have that kind of car if I do all the right things. I just don't have it yet because I'm still learning what to do and how to do it.

Because we are such creatures of habit, we need to create and then continue to reinforce our new reality until it is more familiar than our old habits.

This is why Anthony Robbins talks about making decisions and using mental conditioning. This is why Stephen Covey talks of sharpening the saw, having personal mission statements, and learning to look for win-win. This is why the first chapter in Napleaon Hill's book Think and Grow Rich is titled, "The Power of Thought." And this is why The Secret teaches that "to change anything in your life, change your thoughts."

There is no external power that comes to you, no universal energy opening doors. You already have that universal energy within you, waiting to be directed. It's just you and your relationship with the copy of reality that you build inside your own head. Until you live in a world where a thing is possible, there is no action that you could take for success. But once you live in a world where you know that such things can happen for you, then you can take that first step, even if the first step is recognizing that you have no idea what to do next. So then, the next thing to do is to start learning.

You will start to see other things in the world as though they were put there to help you. You might notice a book that you would have overlooked before, or you might ask a friend a question that you might not have asked. When you buy a new car, you start noticing all the other cars like that on the road. In the same way, when you decide to learn or do something, you will notice more and more tools and support, like gold nuggets right under your feet that you never noticed before. As the proverb says, when the student is ready, the master will appear.

Your brain is a neural net, and like software versions of neural nets, yours too must be trained.

But it's not sufficient to get up every morning and write in a journal, "I am a millionaire," if writing that sentence is the only action that you take.

That's because magic isn't a prayer. It's programming.

The point of shifting the structure of your reality with daily affirmations and focused intent is that it helps create a new context for your behavior. Just as we create a reflection of the world through our senses and expectations, we also have a reflection of ourselves within that reality.

This why we say things like, "That's just how I am," or "I could never do that," or "we can't afford it."

This feels like reality. So, imagine a new reality, and then imagine yourself in it.

One way to think about magic is as a practice of building support systems that reinforce the new habits that we desire, and which make manifesting our goals more likely.

For example, if you have trouble remembering to pay the bills, and you find yourself wasting money on late fees and wasting time on looking for the checkbook, a simple system would be to go buy a special box. This requires intent, and energy. You might have to make a special trip to the office store, but once you have your new bill box, you can put the bills in there when they arrive, along with your checkbook, a pen, and a small calendar. Every week you can check the box and take whatever action is necessary. Once you create the system, and push through the inertia to establish the new habit, that system will start running on autopilot, and you will have taken one more step toward your goals. Or, you can stop paying bills like a caveman and learn how to use the bill payment feature on your bank's mobile app. Either way, you are investing in a system, creating a new habit, and this system will manifest your desires into new realities.

We are the agents of change in our lives, because only we can decide what to do with our hands, our eyes, and our imaginations. We are creatures of habit, and habits conform to the practiced channels that make up our world.

It takes time, and it takes energy and practice, but when you put your imagination into motion, the world changes, first the one inside your mind, and then, by your hands the physical world will change in the direction of your intention. Each system that you create is like a brick in the foundation of your life. Having more money makes it easier to travel. Traveling more means that you can experience new idea and meet new people. Meeting new people helps you see new opportunities and find new things to learn to build your next system, and so on.

This is magic. This is manifesting. The only difference between the magic in our stories and the magic in our lives is that our stories skip ahead, over all of that messy doing of things, but the results are the same. You can't turn a pumpkin into a carriage, but, with enough time, material, and skill, you can build a pumpkin carriage. If you watch as others cast their spells and change their lives, if you don't know the processes and practices, it can seem just as fantastic as all the spells in all the books.

To be a human in this world requires the mastery of basic magic. We have to feed our bodies, care for our families, and keep ourselves clean and healthy. These are no small things, but this level of magic is found in other animals. Tigers hunt. Beavers make dams. Birds build nests. All creature with consciousness can touch the world and shape it to their needs.

Humans, with language and our abilities to learn and teach, to share and cooperate, are capable of much greater levels of magic.

When we share our dreams and inspirations, when we combine our magic, each doing one part of a complicated mission, we can build cities, culture, laws, roads, skyscrapers, and all the vast interwoven majestic world that is humanity.

As with our own lives, our cultures also are creatures of habit. What a nation does tomorrow will be much as it did yesterday. To change the course of a village, a city, a nation, or of the entire world, is also a manifestation of imagination.

Those who are adept at the mechanism of magic, who have mastered change in their own lives and within their groups, will be more capable when it comes to changing the course of a nation.

Companies, by necessity, must master the skills of effectiveness, of creating and managing change. The question, how can we attract more customers, is the practice of magic. An idea must be found, and then that idea must be shared, and then each will do a part to change the world until more people are buying brand X instead of brand Y.

Our large organizations, corporations, religions, governments, are complicated systems of magic, working every day to manifest into the world the goals and desires of those organizations.

Companies want to maximize investor profits, and so they take actions, create change, and manage the magic and capabilities of their employees to realize that goal. Religions seek to preserve and share their beliefs. Governments manage the facilities of our communities.

These systems of magic are powerful. They can create both great inertia and great change across the world. Our large institutions have created systems within systems, and are masters at leveraging money and power to accumulate more money and power. As in our own lives, these institutions and their systems build upon one another until more and more of our own magic, the degrees of freedom that we enjoy, are reduced to smaller footprints within the realities forged around us.

Building codes, insurance policies, traffic laws, our health, our mobility, our security, everything is an expression of grand magic shaping the world. We live in manufactured realities. Our truth is hacked and manipulated.

It can feel overwhelming when we consider trying to change the world. Most days we are just keeping up. We practice retail magic. Buying something today that we think will help. Saving a little money. Finding a little time to ourselves. Our lives, our identities, our patriotism, and our beliefs are shaped and fed to us.

We are the consumers. We are the worker bees. We are the batteries in the Matrix.

But this is the human condition as it has always been. Magic is alive and in motion all around us because we are creatures of great magic.

We don't need to change the premise of our society to improve our own lives. We start with what we have. We know that we are magical beings. Knowing that, we can create systems and habits to place our house in order. We can enjoy the plateaus of security built through our efforts. We can continue to sculpt our own realities and build better nests for ourselves and for our families.

Every day is built on the foundation of the past. We have all the systems and accomplishments that we have created and now enjoy. Today we can imagine and begin to manifest the next idea or system to play our part in building the next reality that we will pass forward to our selves of tomorrow. Each life is a chorus of magic and next steps, singing together with the past and the future.

We are part of communities, our families, our network of friends. As we practice and perfect our magic, as we learn to create systems of empowerment and change, we can join our voices, our intentions, and our magic with others. We can be the ones to create organizations, fellowships, and companies.

Monarchies and religions no longer enjoy the monopolies of monolithic magical manifestation. As democracies and freedoms flourish, the established agents of control will continue to attempt to weaken our magic by driving us apart, playing on our fears and keeping us locked into their manufactured monetary, health, and belief systems. Do we need nations? Do we need money? Do we need borders across our lands and our beliefs?

The ways in which we could live together on our small planet are more than we know today.

What could the world be if we summoned all of our systems of magic, all of our engineering and scientific capabilities, and all of the best love and compassion that is in each of us, and used all of that in service of a world of peace, opportunity, joy, and health for all?

We are born. We live. We die. Everything else, every other aspect of what we think of as reality, is someone's magic.

The magic of manipulation is powerful, and has been practicing for thousands of years. This has led to the type of realities that we live in today, where few control many, where few are rich and many are poor, where few have magic and most have forgotten.

So remember: You are a creature of tremendous magic.

Learn and practice the ways of magic. Master the art of manifesting change in your life. Share your magic with others, and build new realities and speak new truths. Take time to consider and imagine the best that could be. Magic belongs to you. Make the next choice. Hack your truth. Build the next system, and pass that on to tomorrow.

The ways in which we could live together on this small planet are ours together to imagine.

We are the dreamers. We are the builders. We are the magic awakened.