Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Great Myth

It was Christmas Eve, and we were watching the carol service from King's College Chapel, Cambridge (UK). I have lost count of the number of times I have watched this service over the years. Often, I watch with delight, but sometimes out of a sense of duty that I cannot explain. This year the experience was altogether different. It was as if, because of my loss of hearing perhaps (some 30 - 40% has gone), a third eye had opened and I was beginning to 'see' in a new way. Then, on Christmas Day, we once again followed our tradition of listening to the "Messiah." All that I had felt the day before began to wash over me again. If, in the past, I had barely scratched the surface of Christianity (see " L'Abbaye de Boquen ", posted 27.4.2013), now a new experience and understanding was beginning to emerge from the darkness that had obscured it for too many years.

It is difficult to find appropriate words to describe this sense of enlightening, or indeed to know the depth, breadth and height of the experience. Certainly, the experience was very complex, the details of which I have barely begun to understand. Yet I feel that, even if I have misunderstood, even if my words are inadequate for the task I have set myself here, I must at least make some attempt to describe what I 'saw'. It was as if a great light was shining inside me, so brightly that even I could not fail to see how woefully inadequate my assumptions about Christianity have been. What I 'saw' was one of the greatest myths of all times, wonderful in its splendour, yet flawed.

Before going on, let me say that when I use the word myth, I am not using it as it all too often is used nowadays as a synonym for a lie, a falsehood. A myth, as used here, is a story that embodies truth and which is told in a fashion that can be understood by anyone at a superficial level. The truth may well remain hidden until one has experienced that truth, but the myth points the way. A myth does not attempt to deceive, but to preserve a truth. 

In the West we are fortunate in having a great heritage of music and drama which has been put to the service of Christianity. This has helped to construct a mythological edifice of great power that is at the very heart and soul of our culture. But why is this religion so powerful? Why does it seem at times to be all things to all men? Perhaps it is because it tells the story, in symbolic form, of humanity's deepest fears, highest aspirations, its needs and yearnings, its desire to come home to the only home that really matters to sentient creatures. Perhaps it is because it speaks directly to the psychological soul of humanity. All this is projected through the life of one man, Jesus the Christ. The Jesus of the New Testament may well be different from the Nazarene who walked the Earth two millennia ago, but that man, flawed as am I, lived and taught then. Now there exists a mythological system about someone who may represent the psychological solution to all my ills, uncertainties, doubts, searchings and much much more. 

If the myth is flawed, it is because I am flawed. And that is why it is so powerful. A perfect man, a perfect Son of God, was never any use to me, because I am not perfect, whatever perfection means. He could never have been a role model, and that is why he has nothing to teach me;  his way is not my way. Only through the experience of Truth will I ever be able to approach this Great Myth and say that, finally I understand. Only then will I be able to say that I have more than scratched the surface, that I have laid bare the Truth.  

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Thoughts About Morality

It has been said that contemplation is rather like sitting in the garden with a glass of beer, and gazing into the far distance. If this is true, then perhaps I was in a state of contemplation, the subject of my musings being morality. I do not recall there being any great mental effort involved. Rather, or so it seems to me in hindsight, the exercise took on the mien of an unfocused, dreamlike contact with something whose presence caused a certain sense of shock.

The image of the head, seen initially in profile, seemed real enough though existing in a non-material form. Well of course it had to be an image generated in my mind, but it nevertheless appeared to have a separate, perhaps projected, existence somewhat beyond my physical self. And there was that about the image that, if not entirely familiar, was not entirely unfamiliar either. It waited in the shadows, puzzled at what was passing through my mind, the unfocused subject of morality. As I have said, the puzzlement experienced by the image, which I had taken to be some expression of my Higher Self, generated a feeling of shock within my consciousness. It wasn't as if the image of the head was in any way immoral. That would have implied the acceptance of a moral code, but one which could be transgressed. Neither was there a sense of the image being amoral, for that would have implied the recognition of the existence of a moral code, but one which did not apply to the Higher Self. No, it was as if the whole notion of morality was totally foreign to my Higher Self, a meaningless concept. But how could this be?

It seems to me that morality serves only to make it possible for multitudes of egos to coexist in something approaching a state of harmony. That in itself means a state of separateness exists in what we see as reality, a state which also has the property of illusoriness. Now I am not saying that the world out there is an illusion, only that it is somewhat illusory. Reality and illusion can only be defined relative to a given set of parameters. Neither the experience of presumed reality nor of illusion can be considered to be absolute.

On the other hand, if it is true that I experienced some projection of my Higher Self, and that that state had no concept, if that is an appropriate word for something existing beyond the intellect, of morality, then the implication is clear. There can be only one Higher Self, call it God if you wish, a state or process which can be experienced by everyone. At that level, separateness ceases to exist, and each becomes part of a universal All. 

I have lived with doubt and uncertainty for as long as I can remember. At this moment, my uncertainty is almost palpable. It sits within and around me, waiting for understanding or to be understood. Of knowledge, I feel empty. And maybe that is a good place to be. So on the occasion of this winter solstice, I wish all my readers, whether they comment here or not, the best of the season's greetings. If you, like me, are searching, may you find that for which you search. If you knock, may the door be opened to you.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Good Shepherd

For some time now I have been hovering around the question of what Jesus the Christ (a.k.a. the Anointed One) really was from the evidence available, rather than from the mythology built up around him as part of a personality cult. The reported words of Jesus in the Bible's New Testament may not be entirely reliable. Where possible, therefore, other sources need to be studied such as, for example, the Nag Hammadi Scriptures. I also need to study my own reactions to the biblical sources to try to determine whether, and how much, my personal prejudices about the Christ, gained from diverse sources, may influence my conclusions about who and what he was. In short, I need to answer questions such as, 

"What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?" 
"But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment?"
"But what went ye out for to see? A prophet?" (Matthew 11:7-9)

And I must admit to not knowing the answers to these questions. I need to open my eyes through meditation, and hope that I see what is there, not what I would like to be there. With this in mind I can now approach the parable of 'The Good Shepherd.' (Matthew 18:12-14). This is the well-known story about the shepherd who, discovering he has lost one of his one hundred sheep, goes into the mountains in search of that lost sheep, whilst leaving the rest of the flock on a hillside.

Now as a child, and even later since I lacked the interest to query the story, I was taught that this epitomises the love that Jesus has for even the weakest, meanest, of his spiritual flock. No-one is so worthless that they cannot be saved. This was all part of the 'gentle Jesus, meek and mild,' and the almost long-suffering parent that strove to keep me out of spiritual and moral danger. It was good old Victorian child discipline through the agency of guilt. And that could be a powerful weapon in the hands of one adept at using it. But what does this parable really mean?

What kind of shepherd is it that leaves most of his flock alone on a hillside, undefended against possible, prowling predators, whilst he sets off to try to find one sheep whose survival instincts do not appear to be entirely up to scratch? What kind of shepherd is it that is unable to cut his losses, and settle for the 99% of the flock he still has? Or, and I think this is the crucial question, what is it about that one particular sheep that is worth saving, that marks it out as being different from the rest of the flock? In answering this last question I think I may come a little closer to understanding who this 1st. Century Master of spiritual philosophy was trying to say, and what it said about him.

There are countless stories of people, often teenagers and children (but not exclusively so by any means), who 'kick over the traces', refuse to conform to accepted mores, who 'go it alone', and who make good! These are the people who refuse, or who do not feel led, to follow the flock or the herd. They are the ones who strike out alone, leave their comfort zone, in search of something more, something deeper, something more worthwhile in life. These people are special in society. And that search for greater meaning and understanding is not easy. The paths to their goals often require great courage, great fortitude, and not a little humility and doubt. Without the constant companion of doubt, spiritual pride all too easily raises its head.

But that is not the end of the matter. At some stage, with some luck perhaps and a great deal of perseverance, they attain their goal and return to the fold and pass on what they have experienced and learned. This is the meaning behind the universal hero myths. We have been blessed with many such spiritual heroes in our history. And in modern times we have had our Mahatma Ghandis, Martin Luther Kings, Nelson Mandelas and many others, all following the inner call as did the Jesus the Christs and Gautama Buddhas of old, and too many more to be named here. If I have mentioned only great spiritual and political leaders here, it is not to ignore the leaders, both male and female, in other fields, the arts, medicine, engineering, science and so on.

It is the fact that humanity generates these people that, for me, is the wonder of our species. Too often I look at the world around me.....and I despair. Oh lord, I despair. But so long as there are those who seek truth, understanding and wisdom, there is always hope.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A Life Worth the Living

The only valid reason that I can advance for the investigation of my inner life is to discover what I am, if that is possible, and to understand myself better. Unless I carry out this investigation, and do so as intelligently as possible, I ghost my way through life with no purpose other than the sating of passing desires and instincts. There is no worthwhile purpose to such a life, and I would remain ignorant of possibilities, as yet unknown, that might arise and enhance my experiences of what it means to be truly human. If I pass my life away in such a fashion, how can I judge the validity and value of what I do, except by comparison with others who may be similarly afflicted? There needs to be an ongoing psycho-spiritual awakening in my life.

It is not enough to accept unquestioningly the knowledge or opinions of others, even though they may be great spiritual leaders without, at some stage, making that knowledge my own from direct experience. Spirituality, in other words, that which has to do with what is most important in life, is experiential. It is not a foreign import. Only through the ongoing investigation into what I truly am, and the spiritual power with which that firsthand experience endows me, can I respond to life through conscious choices, rather than react to life as if I were sleep-walking, as if I were a robot or a zombie.

It is the ability to make genuine, conscious choices, after the mists of illusion have been blown away, that is the joyous outcome of a life lived by responding to the universe. Living a life that is one of reaction rather than response is not only a life lived less satisfactorily than it might otherwise have been, but also a life that can lead to increasing difficulties and unnecessary pain. Rather than being helpful, reactive behaviour creates a state of increasing disharmony within the body, which rather misses the point of living a happy, fulfilled life. Put into religious terms and stripped of judgemental and pejorative connotations, unmanageability of one's life is a measure of sin, or the degree of missing the point of, or one's way in, life. If this situation remains unaddressed, physical and psychological ill-health and even a form of insanity will result. To every action there is an equal reaction. That law is as true of the world of the spirit as it is of the science of physics.  Measure for measure is a form of justice, but not reward and punishment. It is a matter of consequences. If I may put that idea another way, I would affirm that God is not mocked.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Scratching the Surface

..........As I chased the elusive figure ahead of me, I found that my progress was constantly hampered by fishing nets hung out to dry. Other nets were in the process of being mended, but laid out in a manner that seemed to be designed to catch my feet. Gradually Jesus was increasing the distance between me and him. The more I tried to hurry, the further away he became.........More nets were being thrown across my path. The actions had about them a greater sense of intent, as if I had to be slowed and stopped. The shore of Galilee suddenly threw up a crop of large rocks surrounded by broad layer of very sharp seashells. That not only slowed me even further, it also made me lose sight momentarily of the man I was chasing. And the fishing boats being drawn up out of the water by Jesus' disciples didn't help. Finally, I called out to the now very distant, fleeing Jesus, asking him to stop. He called back that this was his Way; it wasn't mine..........

              [From my private diaries, and posted in "God Loves You, Tom!" - 29.6.2013]

..........It is no teaching and no instruction that I give you. On what basis should I presume to teach you? I give you news of the way of this man, but not of your own way. My path is not your path, therefore I cannot teach you. The way is within us, but not in Gods, nor in teachings, nor in laws. Within us is the way, the truth, and the life..........
                                                                                       [From "The Red Book" by C.G.Jung]

..........Woe betide those who live by way of examples! Life is not with them. If you live according to an example, you thus live the life of that example, but who should live your own life if not yourself? So live yourselves..........
                                                                                       [From "The Red Book" by C.G.Jung]

[The quote from my private diaries was a report of a meditation journey along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The quotes from "The Red Book" were part of a dream sequence experienced by C.G.Jung just prior to the start of the "Great War".] 

In the "L'Abbaye de Boquen" - posted 27.4.2013 - I reported that whilst meditating on the rood screen, I 'heard' the words:-

"You have not even begun to scratch the surface of Christianity."

Today is the First Sunday of Advent. Now I am not a religious person - at least not conventionally so - and neither could I claim to be a Christian, although my upbringing was within the culture of Christianity. Nevertheless, today I feel as if I have been refreshed. Whilst intending to come to grips with that indictment delivered in the Abbey of Boquen, hopefully at some time in the near future, I discover that already I have been laying the groundwork, or at least that preparation has been taking place inside me, for this coming venture.

Part of that preparation has been recognising that although I need to experience what the Bible and the religion of Christianity has taught, I am not obliged to throw in my lot with the Church. I think I have always known that, but I needed to be certain that I wasn't simply trying to impose my will on God. As the image of Jesus said on the shores of Galilee, his way is not mine. I need to live my own life, not the life of some image or exemplar. The question might be asked as to why should I need to experience the teachings of the Bible and Christianity at all. The answer to that question is a simple one. My life is geared to discovering truth through the Way of Knowledge. Truth is something experienced through the process of meditation. No truth can be obtained from the printed word, no matter how holy those words may be. In the end, words are nothing more than symbols which point the way. 

So, on this lovely Advent Sunday, the sun is shining and not only on the material world. 

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Self Deception and Ego

As a follow up to my previous post, "Prejudice and Self Deception," I would like to develop some thoughts about the ego, and the part it plays in deceiving us into believing that its illusions are truths. But first I need to describe, and try again to clarify, what I mean by ego. It may help if I use a variety of analogies. Of course analogies have their limits, but if I can get across the feeling of what I am trying to say, perhaps some progress can be made towards mutual understanding.

The anatomy of the ego can be said to consist of our thinking function, our feeling function and our senses. Dr. Paul Brunton has written extensively on the ego and, if memory serves, follows this structure. It is also strongly implied by the lower Sephiroth of the Tree of Life, the central glyph of the psychological/spiritual structure of mankind used in studies of the mystical Qabalah. If the anatomical structure of the ego is important, then even more so is the physiological workings of the ego. Once again, Dr. Paul Brunton has written at great length on this subject in his diaries.

If it can be said that the ego is the engine that drives us forward in our endeavours, and this surely cannot be doubted, that engine can also be put into reverse. Furthermore, all engines need to work within safe parameter values, they need to be governed and controlled. They must always play a secondary role to the driver. Consider another, analogous, source of power, the nuclear power station. Let the controls be obstructed or removed, and total meltdown is the result. Anyone who has suffered the advanced effects of addiction, or who has lived with those problems, knows about the resulting effects, about the undeniable, spiritual devastation or meltdown that follows from rampant egoism. I pick that particular problem because I know something about that subject, but there are many more problems that result in insane behaviour caused by giving the ego licence to behave as it will.

I always need to remember and recognise that although great good can be achieved by harnessing the power of the ego, that energy needs to be harnessed and reined. Without those controls, what can happen? It would appear that the ego searches, neverendingly, for something to latch onto. When that happens, that on which it latches loses any autonomy and becomes identified with the ego. How many times have we heard someone say,

"I am angry!" or "I am happy!" or "I am" anything that comes to hand.

The truth is that no-one is either one or some combination of their personality characteristics. It is legitimate to say that I feel anger, or that I feel a sense of happiness. That is not the same as total identification with anger or happiness. It is this physiological structure of the ego that leads us into accepting illusions as if they were truths. These may seem trivial examples of the identifying or owning power of the ego, known in the East as Ahamkara. So let me present some other examples.

We know that people have a tendency to become identified with their thoughts, their achievements, their work, their particular roles in life - family, professional, political, and many more - and material possessions. Where does 'road rage' come from, but from an identification of the Self with a car, as if the Self is the car? Let's up the anti! Where has the persecution of minorities large and small come from, but from an identification, an owning of a philosophy - good or bad - by the ego. Ahamkara! In each case the engine of the ego is twinned with pride/arrogance and other unsavoury characteristics of our personality. And what lies behind the Eastern (and not necessarily Eastern) problem of 'losing face'? Do I need answer my question? 

The point is that we are not our thoughts; we are not our feelings; we are not our bodies and senses. We are something else!

Let me approach the problem of self deception from another angle, a more God-oriented but not necessarily religious point of view. And this is particularly relevant to those who follow, or who wish to follow, a contemplative lifestyle. Let me quote some words by Ruth Burrows OCD:-

"We are born to die, yet have a tenacious attachment to our natural being, a need for the created world and a will towards happiness, security, fulfilment as we conceive these things. Instinctively we want to live life on our own terms, in our world, not God's. (my italics). Even when we think we want God [or union with the divine Ground of our Being-ness], it is as often as not with our own conditions, our own expectations [the conditions and expectations of the ego].  [my brackets]."

"Mystical contemplation is not the reserve of a small elite; is for all. Sadly we block [that process] God. We do not want God [the process of mystical contemplation]; we want ourselves [our egos] and a God who fits our own requirements. Moreover we are not prepared to do what we can to clear the way for him."

I have, as I indicated it was my intention, tried to get across the feeling, or is it passion, of what I am trying to say. I have tried to speak from the depths of my own terrifying experiences of my ego. There will be many, some may even read these words, who have not indulged in the foolishness of my mistakes. But my mistakes are mine to live with, and from them I have learned much. Every day of my life I am aware of the need of my ego to attach itself to, and own, whatever lies within its reach. In the end truth will not be found in anything I write, but in the experience, painful or otherwise, that life chooses to teach me.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Prejudice and Self Deception

It has been opined on a number of occasions that the ego, that sense of I-ness, has a function; it has a task to fulfil. What that task is, I must confess, no longer bothers or even interests me very much. What does interest me, however, is the study of the energies that seem to drive the forces for ego-manifestation. Counter or circumvent those energies, and the ego is brought under some measure of control. I am in no doubt about the strength of the force that the ego can exert in its drive towards some kind of manifestation. Indeed, it is so powerful that I feel helpless against it. Unable to watch the process of manifestation when it is taking place, because it happens in an instant, it is only when I am released from the grip of my ego that the awareness dawns that I have been some place else.

One particular form of energy onto which the ego latches its hooks is the energy involved in the maintaining of prejudice and self deception. All too often, and without realising it, a mode of mental and emotional behaviour has been adopted that may be at complete variance to anything approaching reality. Only later, or sometimes but dimly whilst it is happening, is it seen how easily we have been hijacked by our egos. There was a time when I simply wrote off these descents into unreality as a passing phase of some ill-conceived fantasy. It'll pass, I thought; it's not that important. But it was important, because every time it happened the descent became easier until eventually it became habitual.   

It was as if I were walking the circumference of a sphere, taking a great circle route that made, from long usage, an ever-deepening trench. So long as I stayed in the safe trap that was the trench, I continued to react unthinkingly. I needed to climb out of that trench, push my head above the parapet so to speak, before I could thoughtfully respond. And for every prejudice, there was yet another trench. Far beneath my feet, inside the sphere, turned the clockwork mechanism of my ego.

The problem with habitual behaviours, whatever their kind, deemed good or bad, is that they appear to arrogate to themselves their own, semi-independent personalities. They cling to life even when they may have outgrown their original validity and usefulness. I said above, whatever their kind, deemed good or bad, because it seems to me that prejudices 'in favour' are just as suspect as those 'against'. If I unwisely choose to allow a shell of prejudice to grow, then I build a bar to the experience of truth and, even further, an obstacle to union with the divine Ground of my Being. But removing that shell is far from easy. Self deception can be very subtle and difficult to detect. However, the consequences of rooting out that deception, and its associated denial, is an unimaginable, uplifting relief, and an ascent to a new sense of Beingness. 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

An Awareness of Presence

..........What is this sense of 'presence'? What is its name? Is it what the religious call God? I learned a great deal about God when I was a child. I knew that I was supposed to love him with all my heart. And I did try, but I did not like him very much, or what he would do to me if I sinned - which I felt I often did. In the deepest part of my child's heart I was very afraid of him. He was so much like my father, and I lived in terror of them both. In the end the strain of trying to love them both became too great. My father thankfully died and I turned away from God. Yet the sense of 'presence' remained and continues to do so.
          Maybe it is Jesus the Christ, though I do not think so. He was never really there for me. He was always too busy being perfect and suffering a lot. That still seems to be his major attraction for millions of people. Not for me. I tried hard enough, and for long enough, to be perfect, whatever that might mean. I do not need his blood and suffering: I have enough of my own.
          What of the Holy Spirit? In my childhood he, the third member of the divine trinity - a concept I never understood - was not spoken of very much. He was the mysterious one that I steered well clear of in case I accidentally blasphemed against him. Had I done so I would have been damned and eternally unforgiven. As a child, that was too terrible to contemplate. Yet was he not sent to be the Comforter?
          So who or what are you, this 'presence'? I do not know, so how can I name you? You seem to appear in various guises, often, I suspect, unrecognised. Sometimes I am aware you have been present only when you have moved aside, when I seem to catch a fleeting glimpse of you out of the corner of my left eye. When I think of you I am overcome by a deep sense of longing. Where does that come from? Whatever you are, you feel very real and very close.......... 
                                                                   [Excerpt from my private diaries]

It was in my twenties, with my first marriage showing the first deep cracks that would eventually lead to fracture, that I rebelled against, and rejected the idea of God. It was a very specific event followed by three days of total, inner darkness. Love seemed to be turning sour on me, not that I was greatly surprised. All my previous experience of relationships within my family had prepared me for this. Love was weakness, to be despised as a refuge for those without any strength of character. Duty and responsibility were the only things that mattered. Service in their names was what marked out a strong human being from the rest. And God, also of course, was love. That alone was sufficient cause to reject him.

Yet in rejecting God I did not become an atheist, a philosophy I rejected as arid, and without any more evidence to support it than there was material evidence to support theism. It was simply that God had become an irrelevance in my life. It took me many years to realise, with some relief, that what I had rejected was a fundamentalist, anthropomorphic concept of God. And that was the beginning, both of a descent into spiritual devastation, in which my life became a wasteland, and the eventual ascent to a new world of awakened spirituality, a world of love as I had never understood it before. 

During the many weeks I have mulled over this diary entry, I have discovered that what I thought was a probing into something about which I felt a great deal of confusion and uncertainty, has turned out to be a moment of some significance on my inner journey. However, that moment cannot stand in grand isolation in an inner universe that is a process of Becoming. There must be follow through, necessary consequences. I know in my heart what that development must entail if I am to stay on the path that all my judgement tells me is the correct path. Yet still I hesitate, put off the moment, and each time I do so something crops up to nudge me forwards. It must surely be wonderful and uplifting to have my footsteps thus guided, but at the same time my natural sense of rebellion says that, on occasion, it is also not a little annoying. What is this God, this presence, this Hound of Heaven that snaps gently but persistently at my heels?

The simple answer to that question is that I do not know. I have never known what that presence is, only that it is there, most often just out of sight, or at least hidden in full view. When it moves.......ah yes!.......then I receive an intimation of something beyond my understanding or conception. And I cannot escape the conviction that that presence is also a living and loving presence, and one that will not put up with any of my recalcitrance nonsense.

It isn't an easy path that I have chosen, yet it is one which I cannot not follow. And if that presence is God, that is to say the supreme focus of my life, then God is what I shall call it.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Prayer of Activity

There are times when I am working on a practical subject, most often when it is related to something to do with my ongoing house renovation, that everything seems to come together in a way that seems to be magical or miraculous. It may be that I have spent many an hour pondering over a way to do something, trying to take everything that I can think of into account, to ensure a successful completion of the task. Of course that pondering, or mulling over a problem, is itself an act of discursive meditation, probing a problem from a variety of directions, feeling out the various factors involved in coming to a successful conclusion, or plan of action.

In the course of the work there may come a point where I realise that certain factors are slotting into place, factors that I had not thought to take into account. It is as if some invisible person has been looking over my shoulder, filling in the gaps I have missed, adjusting matters so that my decisions do not conflict with the practical reality that I am facing. It is then that I sense the presence of the miraculous. If I should choose to talk about that presence, I attempt to do so in a jokingly, half serious manner. Why? Because I immediately feel a sense of self-consciousness, almost embarrassment. Yet deep inside me, I know the experience of that otherness to be a potent reality.

It has been called, and I quote*:- 

".......... the prayer of activity, the kind of union we have when all or most of our attention must be concentrated on some task.........The whole nature of the activity is changed by this mutual presence. Let one go away and all is different.........."

* Ruth Burrows OCD, "Guidelines for Mystical Prayer", Chap. 9.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Focus of Attention

Much has been said in spiritual literature about the need for one-pointed concentration on one's goal, the experience of unity with the ground of one's being. Yet there appears to be a contradiction at the heart of this process. To concentrate is to imply that I must "do something", but "doing something" implies an activity that panders to my Selfness, my ego. All I can do is nothing, except to become available to the higher forces and powers within myself.

If I try to take a more positive, active approach towards attaining that goal of unity, I discover something else, something quite different. I discover that I willy-nilly have my focus of attention drawn towards my sense of Selfness, and in so doing I identify with my ego-self. That movement, it seems to me, is a movement toward spiritual entropy and illusion. When I become totally identified with my ego-self I walk like a zombie in the house of the spiritual dead. Yet I must always be aware of my ego-self. Indeed, I cannot avoid that awareness. Detachment, or perhaps non-attachment is a less confusing word, is about breaking that addictive need to be with my ego-self and all its works, and remaining separate. Difficult though that is, it must be possible to achieve that separateness. Why else would the spiritual teachers exhort us to strive for that end?

On the other hand, spiritual enthalpy, the move toward ever greater complexity is a movement toward life and Being. But I do not know what my Higher Self is, that point toward which I must move to expand my consciousness, to increase my spiritual enthalpy. I have only some very vague, shadowy notions derived from my ego-self, but how can the dead judge the value of the living? Even my spiritual studies, for all their value, can be seen as an egoistic indulgence; all the imagery a way of deflecting my attention from my movement toward spiritual enthalpy and growth. Yet not all is lost; there is clearly a movement from above that draws my awareness upwards towards the ground of my Beingness. I must remain alert to counter the attraction of the ego-self, and also to feel the upward attractive currents toward my Higher Self, which may be God, or at least the way towards the experience of God.

Although I often tend to relate my conscious mind to my ego-self, or Selfness, that state of "out-there"- oriented self, in actuality that would seem to be an inappropriate relationship. My ego and consciousness appear to occupy the same field of view, but Selfness is not about consciousness. To be fully, truly aware and conscious I must detach from my ego-self and its illusoriness, for the ego-self is the state of death of awareness even if the ego-self would claim it to be otherwise.

I think the hope that my sense of Beingness can be raised out of the illusory realm of the ego-self and upwards towards the ground of my being, my oft-called Higher Self, lies both in the assertion, and the experience, that I can be raised from death, from the ego-state.  That is the only form of resurrection that has any meaning, or makes any sense, for me.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

A Waking Dream.......of Truth

..........It feels like a dream, yet I do not seem to be asleep. I am out of touch; my senses cannot respond to the physical world around me. I cannot see, hear, small, taste or feel, but I know there are those outside me that are trying to make contact. To them I must seem to be comatose, a human vegetable. A little sadness perhaps? A vestige of outer consciousness; nothing more. A twinge of fear, even; not that kind of fear.
          I am quite alone, beyond the realm of time. Ahead of me there is a great Infinity of Darkness.  It and I are one; we are all that Reality Is; we are Mind.......... 

It is 3 o'clock in the morning; two of-the-clock GMT. I was dreaming, yet awake. There had been a disjoint between experiencing the Infinity of Darkness and the visual "explanation" that followed. I had to get up from my bed and write it all down before I forgot the memory of the experience. I carried my sleepy body through the quiet, darkened house and switched on the computer. So bright. I began to write, or scribble, from the keyboard. This is what I wrote, without editing:-

..........What is "wrong truth"? What is "right truth" come to that? The questions make no sense to me; they are simply what they are. They are Truth. Truth can only be experienced. I don't know how often I can say that before the very words "Truth" and "experience" become gobbledygook, meaningless from continued use.
        It is like flying, a lone passenger in an aeroplane, and looking out through a near-circular window. Outside the window there are clouds, events in time. They pass by my viewing port because they are caught in time; and time passes. I see the passing of temporality, then suddenly the aeroplane seems to halt in mid-air. There is no stumbling, falling or loss of balance, no sense of inertia, because inertia belongs to the physical realm, and I am in a waking dream, puzzling over the meaning of Truth. The aeroplane is stilled, and the outside passing-bys have stopped. I see a view, framed by the window of my consciousness.  I see an aspect of an experience that has movement but no passing; experience which does not pass on, or pass away.  
          In attempting to "see" or understand, rather than experience from beyond my senses, I attempt to straitjacket, in time, the eternal, the essential "is-ness" of Truth. I attempt to limit the vastness and wonder of some non-thing to within the compass of the window-frame, my everyday consciousness of temporality. It is too big for that. To limit Truth to my consciousness is to attempt to ensnare it. When I try to do that, the aeroplane in my imagination moves on again, and I am left only with a memory, a memory of an experience which is ineffable, ineffable, ineffable.
          But just for a few moments released from time, I knew........ Just for a few moments, released from time, I made some form of non-sensing contact with that which is of my very foundations. That is where Truth is experienced, but as if it lies immediately before my eyes. Truth is divine, and for a short time, outside time, I watched.........

And so back to bed. The physical, temporal world still has its pleasures......the shared animal warmth of a cosy bed......and I can sleep in peace, for the morning is yet far distant.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Why Gwynt?

Most of what I write is based on what wells up from the unknown depths of my Self, rather than that which comes out of my planning, controlling intellect. My intellect must be a tool, not my inspiration. Those statements would appear to answer the question expressed in the title of this post, but only in part. Whether my ego-selfness is the controlling factor in why I continue to write here, an ego that somehow appears to drag my deeper/higher Self along with it, or whether my deeper Self urges me to write, and uses my ego as a conducive element, I am uncertain. Perhaps my motives can only be determined from what I gain from my posts.

Since posting, "A Matter of Truth" I have taken the opportunity to stand back and re-read it, as if from a position "once removed." A number of points have arisen from this examination. First, it lacked the feeling and fervour that I felt prior to the actual task of writing; second, only two points really stood out for me, that Truth was a deep experience and that that experience lay not in the words themselves but beyond those words; third, that there is a very good reason for seeing one's own words in print, a reason which I will come to momentarily.

It happens that when one becomes accustomed to mulling over a topic, over a period of time, one's thinking can become sloppy and dishonest. I use the word "dishonest" with care, but without the emotive baggage that usually accompanies that word. One's thoughts may glide over a point without checking it for truthful accuracy. In time that flawed thought may come to guide one's assessment of a truth. Inevitably, that truth itself becomes flawed. However, if I write my thoughts down, I begin a process whereby the correctness of what I write is examined, and as my writing is further examined by an external reader, it places an extra onus on me to get things correct. In short, it is a way of allowing one part of myself to speak to another part of myself, a well-known technique used in counselling.

Thus it is that my primary reason for Gwynt appears to be about discovering, and having discovered not to dilute, my deepest innermost truths. Now my sense of selfness, or ego, is less interested in truth than in its own survival. Therefore that which initiates the search for truth is of a quite different order. Words are necessary for the development of this process, but they, like the ego, must assume their proper role. To worship the words, as so often appears to be the case with sacred writings of one form or another, is nothing short of idolatry.   

It is strange, but when I write from my depths it feels as if a wound is opened. That wound is not closed and healed until another written submission is placed before my readers. This, I feel, is a good enough reason for posting, "Why Gwynt?"

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A Matter of Truth

If I write:-                                2H2 + O2 = 2H2O

that is to say, two molecules of hydrogen when combined with one molecule of oxygen produce two molecules of water, then that is a statement of truth. In other words, the symbols used in this chemical equation correspond to "things" which we can handle in the outer world, and which behave in accordance with that equation. The truth lies in the sense of equivalence between symbol and object.

Similarly, if I write:-                     10 + 5 = 15

this could correspond to the fact that if I enter a shop and buy ten articles, enter a second shop and buy a further five articles, I will arrive home with fifteen articles. In other words, there is a direct correspondence between the symbols used in the arithmetical equation and the objects I take home. I have made a statement of truth relative to those objects and their symbolic representation, but these exemplars are not the only kind of truth.

In the comments to an earlier post ("An Instrument of Power," posted on 10.8.2013) it was suggested that I draw the Wand of Power.  I have long puzzled over my antipathy towards that idea.  What purpose would the drawing of the Wand have served?  I concluded that the only purpose which could have been served, and which could have been served equally well without the use of a drawing, would have been to point me in a particular direction, for a Wand of Power needs to direct its energy.  Thus it was that when, in a state of meditation, I pointed the wand to some point ahead, a great hole opened in the air before me.

..........Through that hole I stepped, to be confronted by a world of fire, flames that did not consume.  As I walked through the flames I saw that they were heads of people, man and woman, young and old, modern and ancient, of many faiths and beliefs.  Everyone had their faces turned towards a great column of brilliant, white light.  So bright was the symbol of enlightenment that all eyes were closed against that symbol of enlightenment.  And I also, as I approached the light, was obliged to turn my eyes away......... 
                                                              [Extract from my personal diary]

The symbol referred to in this extract was not truth in itself, but a pointer to an ineffable experience which was truth. It was what I experienced that day that was truth, not the imagery which pointed the way.  Similarly, no words in any book, no matter how learned in psycho-spiritual matters, no matter how holy and sacred, can be said to be the Truth.

Like the Wand, the Word is a pointer towards the truth.  Truth is revealed through experience.

Finally, to say, "God Is," or even that, "I Am," is not truth.  They are nothing more than statements using written symbols.  Equally, to say, "God Is Not," is not truth either, for the same reason. But, the experience of God, or by whatever means that theistic experience is named, and which is an ineffable experience because God cannot be defined, now that is truth, and it is absolute, because that experience is "known" by the totality of my innermost, deepest, being.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Mortification, and a Tale of Woe

On Saturday, eleven days ago, whilst Lucy was in England doing her knitting wool thing, Molly and I were taking a stroll around the local Plan d'Eau. The weather and the ground were damp that day, and there came a moment when, lo and behold, I found myself lying on my back and gazing at the limited wonders of an overcast sky. My first reaction to this unexpected state of affairs was to murmur, "Oh Moll!" as I discovered I had let go her lead. Now as you probably know, our Molly is as deaf as a beautiful, black post; her eyesight isn't up to much either. Thus it was with a sense of pleasure and relief that I felt her snuffling my face, with her tail banging against my chest. She had not wandered off, and was safe. It was only when I realised what a fool I might have looked, lying on a wet and gritty path, that I found the necessaries to get back on my feet, and drive home.

At home, I was engaged in the partial laying of a new hall floor, a task I wished to complete before Lucy returned home on the Monday, two days hence. This I did manage to do although the pain in my right thigh, and a slight niggle in my right knee, was causing some difficulty. You see, when I fell - I had caught my foot in a grass-camouflaged animal hole - I did so with my bunch of car keys and my purse/wallet in my right-hand trouser pocket. If I knew the values of the parameters involved in the thigh/keys/wallet-to-ground contact, I'd happily calculate the force of the contact for you. It felt like many tonnes per square centimetre. (Alright, tons per square inch then.) As the week progress, my thigh improved quite satisfactorily. Unfortunately, unsuspected damage to my right knee, held in abeyance whilst my thigh healed, now made itself unpleasantly apparent.

Yesterday, having collected all the reasons I needed to see my local GP, (my alarmingly colourful knee and associated pains, two hypodermic syringes of anti-flu stuff for Lucy and me - mine's free - and a request for my annual blood test) off we went to the surgery. After some gentle poking and prodding, and slight manipulation, the doctor concluded that there had been a sprain, damage to various ligaments, bleeding into the knee joint, and possible disruption to the meniscus between the thigh bone and the lower leg bones. (For those interested that's a cartilage between the femur and the tibia and fibula, the whole joint suffering the effects of a haematoma.) At the completion of our visit, and not needing to have an X-ray - which can be a real pain, sitting in a clinic with sick people and screamingly ebullient kids running around - we went on our way rejoicing, as the saying goes, to 'la pharmacie' for some painkillers.

It has to be said that yesterday I was feeling rather less than well. Nights are difficult to cope with at present, and when the morning finally arrived, and finding me in something of a 'below par' state, I was offered breakfast in bed.

"Poor Tom!" I hear you saying, "Needing to be fussed and coddled."

Now please do not be concerned on my account. Being fussed and coddled by Lucy is not something I have a strong aversion to; in fact I have no aversion to it at all;  I will go further and say I rather like it. So there you are, confession is good for the soul, and so is fussing and coddling.

This morning, meditation was very difficult. Frankly, I was feeling on the up and found it difficult to find a sense of inner tranquillity. I burned a stick of frankincense and myrrh (well you have to do things properly, and my knee is far from pain-free) but it didn't help. Then, before I had a chance to start beating up on myself for my failure to carry out my spiritual exercise in a successful manner (get thee behind me, Ego!), some thoughts came to mind. But before sharing those thoughts with you, let me say that in my experience mortification of the senses was a necessary path out of the extreme spiritual difficulties in which I found myself in the late-eighties/early-nineties. I have never found physical mortification an attractive proposition, so have never indulged, except when falling down when taking a stroll, or similar experiences.

Now let me share those thoughts I alluded to a little earlier.

"When the will, the moment if feels any joy in sensible things [experiences of the senses - my brackets] rises upwards in that joy to God, and when sensible things move it to pray, it should not neglect them, it should make use of them for so holy an exercise;  because sensible things, in these conditions, subserve the end for which God created them, namely to be occasions for making Him better known and loved."
                                                                                                    [St. John of the Cross]

So I don't feel bad about my morning meditation. The next thought is one I really like.

"Anybody who wishes to do so can get all, and indeed more than all, the mortification he wants out of the incidents of ordinary, day-to-day living, without ever resorting to harsh bodily penance."                                                                                                                    [Aldous Huxley]

So that's alright then! My fall (Oh the pain! Oh the agony! etc. etc.) turned out to be a blessing in disguise?..........No-o-o-o-o-o!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Further Probings

Whilst it can be of some help to study the psyche along reductionist principles, the holistic and dynamic structure of the psyche can never be completely ignored or forgotten. In a sense, that proximity to the ever changing nature of one's inner being throws a spotlight on the apparent fragility and powerlessness of the "I", that inwardly observing self. The real sense of deep unease that arises from one's Selfness (ego, or false self) is that it is not entirely in the realm of consciousness. Some part of it, and maybe the larger part, lies in the unconscious mind beyond the relatively weak control of the conscious will. I cannot be unaware of the predatory nature of my Selfness as it forever seeks to control and manipulate every aspect of my conscious life. Trying to fight that psychic predatoriness is like trying, single-handedly, to clear virgin ground only to see Nature move back in with all the urgent and willing power at her command. Similarly, my sense of Selfness refuses to be denied its assumed divine rights. So, also, it seems to be with my soul, my most inner and Higher Self. I am a house divided against itself. "I" desire to rest in silence; my Selfness wants the opposite, to be filled with anything but silence.

Although I have become accustomed to talking about the ego, and also the Higher Self, almost as separate entities, they are, each one, states of being that exist in part or wholly in the unconscious mind.  Furthermore, although there is a different feel about the experience of these states, it is impossible for me to draw a line of demarcation between them, for that would be an action appropriate only to my conscious sense of Selfness, a flawed reality. Thus I can see no way that reductionist principles can be applied to my unconscious mind in order to gain enlightenment. Only the language of imagery and an intuitive sensing beyond the physical senses are of any assistance. It is a source of great wonder to me that the unconscious mind is able to 'speak' to consciousness in this way;  and on occasions insists on so doing.

For all its power to consume and control, I think it would be a mistake to call Selfness either bad or even good for that matter. Judgementalism can play no part in this assessment. Selfness simply 'Is'. The difficulty that I need continually to confront arises from its assumption of Godlike importance and sense of rightness, for therein lies its fundamental flaw. But who or what within my awareness makes this assessment? Maybe this and other questions should be left alone, because they simply draw me back onto the merry-go-round designed to establish the sovereignty of my false self, my Selfness. The paramount task in the search for the true self is to disengage, detach, allow to slip out of focus, break concentration on egoistic traits, and allow timeless silence into my being. And that is what my Selfness least desires.
If I could see the total reality of the power of my ego I would be terrified. It seems to leave my consciousness just the bare minimum I need to survive. I have no real power, no real control. It is like being the most insignificant of human beings caught up in a war of the gods; or Jacob fighting with an opponent that is variously a man, an angel, or God. Even so, "I" must be of some importance in the inner grand scheme of things. That I do not know why the observing "I" is important is a direct result of the fact that I do not yet know myself, do not yet know what I truly am.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

And So To Continue

It seems to me that there are two forces operating inside me, each one seeing my developing spiritual life from a different and opposing perspective. On the one hand there is that awareness of Selfness, or consciousness, that suffers under the illusion of its being the bearer of ultimate reality, that sees growth only in terms of being spiritually upwardly mobile, growing and adding to what has gone before. It sees my life as a process of constant acquisition in one form or another. On the other hand, there is that other force, largely unconscious, that is as close to Reality as I can imagine, that sees my spiritual growth as a continual movement downwards, of disposing of, and losing, all the false accretions of my past life.

To describe all that I have experienced since last I submitted a post on this site, would be impossible. Yet it would be enough to fill this site for many weeks to come. In an effort not to make obvious mistakes, I have nevertheless made mistakes. In an effort to reach, at least towards, perfection I have fallen far short, and rightly so. I have set myself goals that were doomed to failure, such as posting every Saturday without fail. At the time of my decision to do that, I thought I was imposing a useful and even necessary discipline on my activities. It would have been better to have concentrated more on the discipline of my daily meditations and other spiritual exercises, and to have written as and when it felt appropriate. In deciding to drop that, and other, strictures on my posts, I have engaged in the process of disposing of, and losing, false accretions. Going backwards and downwards seems to be a thoroughly exhilarating way to go onwards and upwards, as C. S. Lewis phrased it.

Thus it is with what feels to be a tentative, even perhaps nervous, post I am continuing where I left off last month. It feels good to be coming back.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

A Time To Pause

An Open Door

I have observed of late, and I intimated as much in a recent comment, that over the last few months I have experienced a growing sense of weariness. I have therefore decided to take a rest from writing for a few weeks. During this period I hope to assess where I am with Gwynt, and where I wish to go in the future. It will also include, hopefully, getting some sleep free of disturbing dreams. When one refuses to listen to inner promptings, doors begin to close. I intend that my inner doors shall remain open.  

Saturday, 14 September 2013

A Fearful Warning, Part 2 of 2

My Vision of Torment

There have been very few times in my spiritual life when I have felt truly afraid. This was one such occasion. It occurred at the time when I realised that there was no future in my relationship with the person in my life, suffering from advanced alcoholism, unless I could effect some changes. As it happened, the following two weeks were to show me that there was to be no future with her at all. But that is jumping too far ahead. At that time I could only see, but dimly, a few hours ahead at a time. Without going into any more detail, I will return to the guest house where I was alone in my room.  I seemed to be so very wide awake........   

"..........I stood, alone, watching the cosmos from a circular window in space. Galaxies wheeled in disinterested splendour, stars shone in self-contained aloneness. And I looked into the depths of silence. To one side hung a huge baggage of energies, and heaven alone knows what deeper aspects of my Self, parcelled into four bulging quarters with strangling cords. Every now and then lightning strikes ripped inwards causing the baggage to throb with frustrated fury, eager to break free. To my left, a green and golden curtain forged from hexagonal, carbon-shaped, molecular links rippled gently as if rhythmically disturbed by a cosmic breeze.
  But ahead floated a figure, terrible in his strength and determination. Garbed in the light brown habit of a monk, he watched me with a frightening intensity. As my gaze travelled downwards I saw that his body was becoming extended and his legs stretched and drawn. Below him whirled a cosmic maelstrom. Horrified, I felt the silent vibrations of millions of stars being ground into oblivion in a voracious, black hole. I looked up again into the face of the monk, and I felt so deeply, so terribly afraid.........."
 (From my private diaries.)

That experience almost defies explanation, except that it was clear that I was in great psychological danger. I needed, regardless of all my struggles to understand, simply to observe and accept what I saw. Somehow, the experience went beyond any form of inner language written in imagery. It needed to be accepted in its own right, on its own terms. Any attempted interpretation would have intellectualised and thus degraded the experience. Somehow, something seemed to be attempting to communicate with another and inner part of me, desperate in its need to warn me of my extreme danger. So it is that I have presented the experience just as it happened.

Interestingly for me, that was the first time I ever had such an experience, but it wasn't to be the last. It seemed as if, in my extremity, something needed to make itself known, and having done so I was then able to engage in the imaging process I have reported in my posts, almost at will. Indeed, from that moment onwards, I was never truly able to stop the imagery appearing whilst simultaneously maintaining a meditative state, or to prevent being overwhelmed whenever that inner 'presence beyond the veil' required my attention. It has been called a gift, and I think it probably is. It is also a privilege to be invited to converse, even if only one-sidedly, with my deeper Self.

The following weeks were to be a time of great spiritual turmoil and pain, in which my personality was dissected in painful detail. Gradually I learned to see myself as I really was, rather than how I had imagined myself to be, and out of that experience came a recognisably spiritual need, a drive to Be. Having learned something of the egoistic falsities of the life I was living, I began to long for something deeper, more true and worthwhile in life. Beyond those longings I could not know what it was I was really seeking. That was to come later. It was the beginning of a journey that I have never for one moment considered giving up. It has had its moments of difficulty but also times of great joy and exhilaration. Yet the living of this Way is not something that I have, because there is always the possibility that one can lose a possession. Rather it is the Being of the Way that is important, and my being, in all its totality, will not be lost. 

Saturday, 7 September 2013

A Fearful Warning, Part 1 of 2

The Upper Room

..........When did it all begin? When did You begin to call me? There was a time when my life seemed to be coming apart, when I was barely able to carry out even the simplest of tasks. Inside, I felt lost, that I had slipped into the darkness of a bottomless, black hole vortex from which there could be no escape. I had tried for too long to help, manage, control someone close to me, in my fight against her alcoholism. Did I do it out of love or need? But I despised love as a weakness: I claimed to have no need, that I was self-sufficient. You were not even a glimmer on my inner horizon.
  In time all doors, save one, seemed closed to me. To pass beyond that door would require my ending of the uneven struggle to survive. My emotional pain was extreme, but to end the struggle, to give in, seemed to be the ultimate folly, one more act of insanity which must surely have dire consequences. Yet the more I struggled, even to the limit of my resources and perhaps beyond, the further into the darkness I slipped.
  One night I lay in bed in an upper room in a guest house. Above me hung the pitched, wooden ceiling so reminiscent of a small church. Was I asleep? Had I awoken? On the ceiling was portrayed the powerful image of a tormented cosmos. Was it, perhaps, a vision? Surely not! This was me in the late twentieth century. Things like that didn't happen any more, did they? But I watched, astounded, then slept. Maybe it was then that I heard You call to me, though I did not recognise You.  
  I sought an end to my hurt. I wanted someone else to carry the burden that was my life for a while, just for a little while, a burden I could no longer carry alone. It was for that reason only that I accepted the offered help of sanctuary. Not for one moment was I searching for You, for God. I did not even remember that You could have been part of my life, and love had seemingly become a travesty of anything remotely worthy of that name. With that simple, if desperate, acceptance of help, in whatever form it would come, for I no longer had the energy or will to care, the way was opened for You. Although I could not know it then it was the moment a new day began to dawn..........

                                                                              (From my private diaries.)

All those years ago, yet sometimes it seems like yesterday. Perhaps it was the most important turning point in my life.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Shores of Galilee

(A Study in Oils)
..........Below me lie the dark waters of Galilee, deep and brooding. Overhead an umbrella of silent, stormy-looking, grey clouds stretches to the horizon. I drift to the west to where the waters lap gently against a beach.  And there stands the Cross. It stands at the boundary of darkness and light, inner and outer, spiritual and material, real and unreal..........and death and life. Here on the shores of Galilee we, the Cross and I, stand at the boundary between the unconscious Foundation of my being and the Kingdom of my consciousness. The Cross also stands at the boundary of what is and what is only perceived to be, an infinite universe approaching the threshold of interpretation by the personal, finite mind.
          The Cross stands erect, its foot floating deep in the Earth's core beyond my consciousness; seemingly on fire but remaining unconsumed. Far above me beyond the clouds of unknowing, the Cross reaches upwards into the heavens towards the lighted Crown of creation. The Cross..........yes of stands over the boundary between one state and another. Truly, it stands at the Crossover point.
          Where the vertical crosses the horizontal, at the coexistence of all opposites, the point of paradox, hangs a Rose. At its very heart is darkness, dark matter, dark energy, a vortex of darkness. And I sense an uneasiness, as if trying to face the awful possibility that the observed universe is nothing more than a projection of my mind, an image that hides another reality that I can never know. How can I know what is, by gnosis? A dangerous, exciting idea. A way of knowing that requires the deepest awareness of doubt and uncertainty, as well as humility.
          But the nature of the Cross is changing. No longer is it a Rose Cross, but a Calvary Cross. At the point of paradox hangs an ancient skeleton, long dead and partly obscured in a mist of uncertainty. Yet one living Eye remains in its socket and watches me as I move and survey the watcher. What is it that I see? I see that it is only that it is. Yet that also is what I am!..........Sacrifice?..........A sacrifice, or  a continuous sacrificial act that reaches back to the very dawn of creation?
          The Dark is closing in once more, and I must leave..........

(Images from my meditations on the Rose Cross)          

The explanation of this meditation is proving to be rather more difficult than I had first imagined. To begin with it appears to be a combination of two meditations with the Cross appearing in two different guises. The meditation began as an inner investigation of the Rose Cross, and therefore it is natural and expected that an equal-armed Cross should appear. The fact that a change takes place, and a Calvary Cross replaces the Rosicrucian image, is significant. That is one of the unexpected events which must be investigated. The other is the appearance at the centre of the Rose of a black vortex.

This apparent combination of meditations can also be seen as an 'interference' or a 'contamination', both descriptions to be seen as being non-pejorative. But how and why would such contamination occur? Whilst not knowing how, I see three possible answers as to the why of it. The first reason could be an invitation to psychological denial. I will discount that on this occasion because the sublety that usually accompanies that invitation is missing. The second reason could be that the higher realm of the self has something important it wishes to communicate. On balance I suspect this is the case here. The third reason may simply be that further meditations and thought have clouded, or clarified, the existing recall of the primary meditation.  In effect this reason changes little, if anything, about the investigation.

It will be recalled that in a previous post, "L'Abbaye de Boquen" (posted 27.4.2013), I was told that I had not even scratched the surface of Christianity. Although I do not interpret that message as an invitation to pick up a religious thread in my life that I discarded decades ago, there is implicit in that earlier statement a call to uncover something that I have missed, something that is worth researching. There appear to be three interlinked strands in this meditation. The first strand, which I do not intend to develop, is the allusion to the mystical Qabalah through the terms Kingdom, Foundation and Crown. It is the two remaining strands which are of prime interest, the Rose Cross and its contained vortex, and the Calvary Cross and its skeletal image.

One final point must be made before an analysis of this meditation is attempted. In my experience, when my unconscious mind seeks to communicate with my consciousness or ego, it does so with images that have some meaning for me. That is to say, the images carry certain meanings and also consequences. This is why Christian symbolism as well as images relating to physics and astronomy play such a large part in my meditational life. On occasions, even ideas from favourite books and films/movies have a role to play. It's all language after all, and language is about symbols.  

The Rose Cross.

In a previous post, "Into the Abyss" (posted 22.6.2013), I described a journey into an inner, black hole vortex. It is this that lies at the centre, at the heart, of the Rose. In the material universe, according to current thinking, nothing can escape the pull of a black hole once the event horizon has been crossed. Even stars cannot evade their fate inside that presence. Nothing can come back to tell us what lies beyond the event horizon, any more than can anyone return from beyond the death event to tell what lies beyond. As the ego cries out in terror,

"Fly!  Do not jump!  It is too dangerous, and I will be lost!  I will surely die!"

Yet it is a journey that must be taken by each one of us, at some point in our lives. To experience that journey in virtual reality may be one of the greatest gifts the unconscious mind can bestow, particularly if in the end, we do in fact fall into the safety of no-where, of no-when. It is a state which the ego will never reach, any more than Moses was ever allowed to reach the promised land. One can only look beyond, and hope to get a glimpse of the far country.

The Calvary Cross.

This particular image of the Calvary Cross has given me much uncertainty as to its possible meaning. In fact it wasn't until I dreamed a dream very recently that I finally understood. Here is a very brief extract from that dream:-

..........She walked towards me, her arms outstretched. "May I remove your face, Dad? Do you look bizarre behind it?" I backed away terrified. "No you may not!" But I knew what lay behind my face, an inability to hide or influence with appropriate use of facial muscles what I truly thought and felt. She grinned.  "Okay Dad."..........

Thus, finally, I realised that the Eye, the inner "I", is what this is all about. Beyond the flesh, the face, the mask of the persona, lies the True Self. It is that Self which is the beneficiary of the act of sacrifice of the domination of the ego. Yet at a much deeper level I suspect that there is something about the concept of sacrifice, perhaps relating to the Higher realm of the Self, that I have yet to understand. And I fear to probe lest I lose that intuitive experience amongst a collection of words. For words can kill just as easily as they can draw forth understanding. 

Yet one thing more is apparent. If I have not yet scratched the surface of Christianity, then I must strip away any preconceived religious notions I have have been taught about Jesus the Christ; rid myself of any Jesus-personae images I have collected from the Church. I must go further than the scriptures or art, particularly Victorian art, and begin again to try to see the historical Jesus as he really was. An impossible task? Perhaps, but to dump all preconceptions about that man is better than having wrong perceptions. A correct 'not this, not that' is better than an incorrect 'he was this, and that'.

I would be surprised indeed, if I discover at some point in the future that I have plumbed the full depths of this composite meditation. All I can do is wait and watch, and have faith in the process. Whatever answers there are to be had lie deep inside me. I need to exercise patience. It is the Calvary concepts with which I need to deal, because they are more personal than the Rosicrucian material.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

What Am I?

..........I become aware of my awareness, yet am nevertheless subject to random thoughts and a slight feeling of frustration.  Now and then I feel  physical discomfort.  In some way all those sensings are connected to my state of awareness, a massless, formless awareness.  There comes a moment when it seems as if all I need to do is to stop concentrating or focusing on anything.  In an odd way that leaves me in a kind of limbo where I am 'concentrated' almost by default on a nothingness.  I give up 'trying', at least for a series of momentary-nesses.  The links with the material world are still there in potential, but much weakened.  It isn't until the stillness moves that I realise how deeply I have travelled..........

                                                                              (An excerpt from my diaries)

How do I know that "I" exist, that is to say to exist as a reality?  I tacitly assume that I exist for two reasons. The first is that everyone around me assumes that they exist, although they may have no real existence at all. They may simply be holograms projected from data encoded on the boundary of the universe for all I know. On that basis, therefore, my assumed existence rests on very insecure foundations. The second reason that I assume I exist is that when in a state of meditation I am able to observe and become aware that there is that which is called the ego, false or virtual self which acts from its own consciousness. There are even occasions when I watch my actions, as if I am an independent observer. However, that status, independent of a virtual and therefore unreal self, may simply mean I exist but only relatively. Whilst this second reason gives a firmer basis for the assumption of existence, it is by no means entirely secure. The fact appears to be that I do not know myself, do not have enough information on which to form a firm conclusion.

Still I have the unanswered question before me, "What am I?" for I do not know. With effort I can know, through my intellect, much of what I am not. To all the statements that I might make as to what I am, I can answer, "No! Neither this, nor that!" Such statements of what I suppose myself to be merely describe my relationships with others, the many roles I play in life, my gender, my sexual orientation, the emotions I feel, and so on. Not one of those statements defines what I AM. As the Old Testament God said, allegedly, I AM THAT I AM! Take it or leave it! I offer, can offer, no explanations; nothing!

An inability to define myself, to know what I truly am, does not remove the urge to know. For so much of my life I have felt incomplete, two dimensional, like a cardboard cut-out. Now, I feel more complete. What has changed? What has happened inside me? Am I closer to knowing what I am? Is the consequence of all that I do, all that I seek, a growing sense of Being? Is what I am somehow a part of all that? Yet still I find myself at the mercy of powers I cannot control. Events occur within my unconscious mind of which I have no knowledge, much less understanding. Is it even possible to know what I am, the reality of what I am? 

And life passes. I do not. Oh yes, my body ages and tires. It almost seems as if my energies are steadily becoming converted into experiences and memories. But deep inside my being I am aware of that which does not seem to age. It is not so much everlasting, which implies time, but eternal, timeless, outside time. How can that be? If I, this tacitly assumed presence, could answer that question I might just get closer to knowing what I am, and maybe where I am.

The deeper I slip into meditation, the more I disidentify from all that would falsely claim to be my "I"-ness, the more I pass into a state of nothingness; no-thing-ness. Thoughts, emotions and senses come and pass on, but I remain. Images pass away and I am left behind. Do I sense fear? Maybe, or something like it perhaps. I sense an approaching state of ultimate emptiness, of a profound stillness that goes far beyond what my ego chooses to allow me, when it chooses to indulge me. I cannot force the pace of this new discovery, that I am nothing that I ever thought I was, or would want to become. I do not know what I am to be, because I first need to know what I am.

The Great Darkness of unknowing, of not understanding, steadily approaches, but I do not wish to turn away. This inner expanse of nothingness, this remnant of "I"-ness, would not wish to turn from the Presence that approaches, that somehow seeks me. Something else begins to tug at my attention. That something else forever seeks to dull my awareness of what is, my awareness of a new kind of freedom. That something, so full of its own fear, tugs again and again.  

"Do not leave me!" And I am held back;  my strength begins to wane. "I cannot face annihilation!"

That is not the real fear. To be left alone, to be lost, to be annihilated, implies I once Was and that I can remember. In that memory I am aware of a state of Having; I have a virtual being-ness. However, that is not true Being-ness. It is an illusion. I sense, but cannot know, that true Being-ness is having the slate wiped clean, to be nothing and nowhere except before a detached state of eternal presence; to be at one with the Reality of Eternal Presence.

And the Stillness moved........

Saturday, 17 August 2013

A Fantasy Desert Island

The purpose of this post is to demonstrate how a guided pathworking can reveal some unsuspected incident, attitude or relationship information that may be lying in the unconscious mind.  In this instance, what is being sought is something about the relationship that existed between a child and its parents, in particular me and my parents.  Because it is a guided pathworking, sometimes called a fantasy journey, and not a freely flowing journey, certain key points need to be included and observed.

Before moving onto the details of the journey, perhaps I should describe my preferred meditation technique.  I am fortunate enough to have my own meditation room, which I darken almost completely, with just a single candle burning.  This enables me to be aware of some kind of presence, and also to stop me falling asleep.  If the room were too well-lit, that would interfere with the process, allowing too much light to penetrate my closed eyelids.   I sit in an almost upright chair, keeping my spine straight but not necessarily bolt upright, which can cause strain.  (If you do have a slight tum, a slightly leaning back posture helps to achieve unforced breathing. Meditation after a large meal is not advised.)  With eyes closed, I travel around my body slightly tensing and then relaxing, each part in turn starting from my feet (one at a time) and finishing with my breath and scalp.  At the same time, any slight discomforts are dealt with.  (Incidentally, I have never achieved anything like a lotus position, and frankly never try.  This is not an exercise in contortion olympics.)  By the end of this procedure, my breathing rate has decreased to around six natural breaths a minute, thus allowing certain rhythms in the brain to come into their own.  

A Fantasy Desert Island

And now to the journey itself.  It is helpful if the imagination is used to develop as realistic a setting as possible.  If the participant finds that they are beginning to drift upwards so that they are observing themselves on the inner journey, efforts need to be made to rejoin with their participating selves.  This tendency is not uncommon in the early stages of pathworking. So, first of all, the participant or traveller having entered a full state of meditation, begins the journey from a desert island.  Second, the traveller enters the surrounding sea or ocean, symbolic of the unconscious mind.  Third, having entered the water, it is necessary to continue the journey as far as the participant desires.  (In my experience, the deeper the better, so long as one can 'see' what is going on in the vicinity.)  Fourth, having arrived at some stopping point, the participant turns to face in the direction of the island, and waits.  Fifth, some image will manifest itself from the righthand direction, the father image.  Another image will emerge from the lefthand direction, the mother image.  What those images are, how they arrive, any interaction they may have between themselves, and with the participant either singly or together, is for the unconscious mind to decide.  In fact everything about this journey, other than the steps set out, is for the unconscious mind to decide.  Sixth, when any interaction is complete, the observing participant travels back toward the island, leaving the water as the end of the meditation approaches.  The key to this journey (as well as any journey involving imagery) is to observe what happens, without interfering with the unfolding story.

Below, I describe my experience of this particular journey.  If a reader of this post chooses to try this experiment, it must be remembered that this is my path, it isn't yours.  Your experience may well be very different from mine.

..........I began to walk towards the ocean, leaving the trees further and further behind me. Overhead the sun shone down from a perfectly blue sky.  To my right, the gently sloping beach stretched unbroken as far as I could see;  I was unaware of the beach very far to my left.  At last I reached the water's edge, the sand still remarkably firm underfoot.  There seemed to be very little, if any, movement in the water so that as I walked further into the ocean, the water rose steadily up my legs, over my trunks and up to my waist and on until it reached my throat.  For a moment I wondered, then the water was over my head and I found that I could breathe without any discomfort.
          Shafts of light shone down into the water producing a strange but beautiful sparkling effect. There was also some movement of shadows as if clouds had suddenly appeared in the sky.  I continued to walk out into the deepening ocean until the water around me began to take on a darkened, gloomy aspect.  I noticed that the sand beneath my feet was beginning to be swallowed in darkness.  It was time to turn and face the direction from which I had come;  back towards the island, and await events.
          I noticed some slight movement in the darkness off to my right, but closer to the island than me. My retreat was effectively blocked.  As the movement became more pronounced, a large, white shark swam into the light.  It swam this way and that, with a sideways undulating movement, one of its eyes continually watching me.  Once it made a lunge towards me, but at the last moment veered off to my right.  It was at that point that I became aware that I was completely naked and vulnerable.  If I could have felt anything, it would have been an uneasy watchfulness on my part, and a coldblooded disinterest on his.  
          After watching the shark for some while I observed the arrival of an indistinct shadowiness from my left.  As it swam into the light I realised that it was an equally large, black octopus.  She swam much closer to me and seemed to confront the shark.  They each made lunging movements towards each other, but no real contact was made.  Then she slipped behind me, grabbed me with her crushing tentacles, and turned me to my right so that I directly faced the shark.  I was trapped between them, unable to throw off her stranglehold, or defend myself from the shark.
          The waters around us, whilst not stormy, became agitated.  Then the shark lunged at me and struck.  He was overwhelming.  He had struck me somewhere below my waist, yet my legs remained firm and untouched.  She lashed out forcing him to withdraw.  But she would not let me go, neither did she choose to adopt a position between me and the shark.  Steadily she crushed me tighter and tighter. I had to do something to save myself.  I looked up.  High above me, how deep the waters had become, appeared a great sword hanging vertically, hilt upwards like a Calvary Cross.  I reached up in desperation and down it plummeted.  Somehow I managed to grab the sword with both hands on the hilt, reached upwards and backwards, then thrust the sword with all my strength into the octopus. There was a shudder through the water, and she released me.
          Both the octopus and the shark, as well as the sword had disappeared.  The confrontation was over, and I began my way back towards the beach.  It grew steadily lighter, until my head broke the surface of the water.  On I walked onto dry land.  The sun still shone from a cloudless sky.  The only marks on the beach were my own footsteps.  Yet something had changed.  It was as if an invisible veil blocked something beneficial from radiating from the sun.  I began to feel a sense of shame, of guilt, and of an indefinable darkness.  Thus was I roused from my meditation..........

Clearly, because the shark (my father) and the octopus (my mother) are described as large, this experience relates to a time in my early childhood, even perhaps in my infancy.  The confrontation was apparently very destructive on a psychological level.  It all seemed to be about control and ownership.

What is of crucial significance in this encounter is that on a conscious level (the desert island's beach, smooth under a warm sun in a cloudless sky) everything seemed normal.  Yet my unconscious perception of what was happening was very different.  And it must be stressed that this is all a matter of perception.  That unconscious perception is my only truth.  To attempt to replace those perceptions by some form of 'what-actually-happened-in-the-real-world' could only 'intellectualise' the event.  It would not succeed in arriving at any substantive truth that could claim any greater objectivity than my unconscious perceptions had already revealed.  Such an attempt would only further the ends of psychological denial, and to rubbish the feelings of the participants; most importantly in this event, mine. 

One final point, in the exercise described above, an account of certain happenings has been passed from the beyond-conscious mind into consciousness.  Its real significance can only be measured against a background of such disclosures.  In other words, to arrive at a more meaningful conclusion about one's inner world, to "Know Thyself" more fully, a continual ongoing search into one's inner life needs to be undertaken.  That is what my journey is about, whatever it may reveal.

Footnote:      Readers of Gwynt might be interested to note that I have added an extra explanatory script to my side bar, regarding matters relating to my meditations under the title, "Something Extraordinary".