If you mix your drinks, you will wake up with a hangover. But if you mix your worlds, you wake up with the imagination of a new reality. The rational mind believes in what it sees, hears, touches. But the imaginative mind sees beyond the clear blue sky. After growing up in a fantasy world of Grimm's fairy tales, after falling asleep to the whispers of mythological stories that are not always that logical, after waking up to the sounds of Alice in wonderland, it is hard to believe that you don't imagine. What if Alice in wonderland was not a fantasy, but a real world? What if we set out on an expedition to find that crack in the world to slip into a different reality? What if? Different writers have explored that notion, Neil Gaiman's dark twist in Coraline or Jules Verne's classic tale of the journey to the center of the earth. They all talk of a hidden realm and we read it like a story and let go. But, what if it was more than a story, what if it was someone's reality?
I came across this book at the airport bookstall last week, this book called "A Step Away from Paradise". I didn't know what to expect but the book called itself a Tibetan Lama's extraordinary journey to a land of immortality. Sometimes, you are not sure what attracts you to a book. But, my casual interest in Tibetan spirituality, my intense love for deep blue skies captured so very well on that book cover and my huge curiosity about all things paradise propelled me to pick up this book by Thomas Shor. I am halfway through the book and so, this is not the point where one would write a book review. But, for me, this is the point where you roll your eyes and imagine the world differently from the one you know. This is where you begin to imagine a new reality. The book tells the story of a crazy Lama called Tulshuk Lingpa, who leads a band of followers to unravel a hidden valley of peace, prosperity and happiness. This hidden valley is called a Beyul. Tibetan folklore has it that such beyuls, hidden realms exist in this world for believers to retreat to in times of cruelty, plunder and disaster. These beyuls are only unlocked by the right chosen Lama. I am still not at the point in the story to know if the beyul was unlocked or not, but, the beliefs and experiences of a life unlike any we can imagine is beginning to question my sense of reality. Atlantis, Avalon, El Dorado, Shangri-la and all those hidden mystical lands...are they real? America was not real until Christopher Columbus chanced upon it. The earth wasn't round until Magellan went around it. A beyul remains fantasy until some unlocks it? What if there are realms unseen by the eye? What if there are realms beyond the comprehension of a sense conditioned mind? What if you looked beyond the crazy, what if these dimensions were for real?
Knowing only what we know, we are limited by the constraints of time and space. There is a thin line between reality and imagination, the thin line called perception, or as William Blake calls it, the doors of perception. "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern" Open your mind, explore the possibility of the unreal....unlock hidden realms, imagine new realities of a borderless, limitless world of peace and happiness.