Conversations June 8, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

6:15 AM. Yesterday mid-day I was sitting at the kitchen counter, reading the end of [Reynolds’] The Homecoming, when an impulse to pick up journal and pen resulted in the day’s second entry — to my delight. A nice gift, Papa, and already two people from my little list e-mailed me to say that it meant something to them individually. And why not? One is an artist and you described the inner satisfaction of an artist’s life whether gardening or cooking or whatever — life lived in two worlds simultaneously. And another has had extensive shaman’s training, which comes to the same thing. So — thank you.

And of course it has not escaped me that this time you came unbidden — out of the blue — and that the content delivery and style of your message was less me and more you. I’m very glad to serve as conduit, and not because you were famous but because we were friends.

You heard your hesitation, there? Before you wrote “were friends” you began to write “are friends” with a different meaning.

Yes, and I had the sense, too, that this is one reason why we are able to communicate — but whenever we were friends, it wasn’t when you were Ernest Hemingway. And if the flavor of the relationship is any guide, it was a strongly intellectually and spiritually oriented life. I have wondered if you too were one of the band of monks at the scriptorium — particularly after my friend Michael, who was there with me (so to speak) had the experience recently of stopping at a bookstore “for no particular reason” and “just happened” to wind up holding, and then buying, a copy of A Movable Feast. Of course these are my quotes for ironic emphasis, not quotes of his words, for he knows as well as I do that coincidences are never meaningless. Anyway — a monk in the scriptorium? England, in the 1200s?

Let’s not compound one intangible with another. Questions like that aren’t meaningless and they aren’t necessarily frivolous — that is, they may be or may not be, depending on what you’re going to do with the information — but they aren’t going to help what we’re doing here, any more than your going downstairs at Monroe [after a Lifeline exercise in 1995] and announcing that you’d just been talking to your old friend Yeats would have done anything but make your learning (or remembering) the retrieval process harder, by making you more self-conscious.

All right, then, let’s proceed in whatever direction you all (you guys) have in mind.

It wasn’t a detour to mention it; far from it. But it isn’t where we need to go. If you start talking about “past lives” you immediately wind up thinking about people (including yourself) in their individual aspect, and it’s easy to lose sight of their community aspect, which is the thread we’re following at the moment.

Yes, I have found it hard to put the two together. I figure it is because we don’t have the right concept.

That’s exactly the problem. And in that problem of contradictory observations and contradictory analogies lies the germ of the solution, because if it didn’t nag at you, maybe you wouldn’t ever put your attention to it.

I went wandering somewhere, just now, and I feel the loss of connection not so much to you as to where we were going.

Your perception is gaining in clarity and intensity as we do this. Practice makes perfect. Earlier you would have thought you’d lost contact with me; earlier than that, you might have thought I’d withdrawn contact from you. Now you feel (but in the absence of an explaining concept) that you somehow didn’t lose contact with me but with the topic of the moment; with the point. Let me suggest a different figure of speech. You and I are together on a street corner, talking, looking at a bird in a window. For a moment you get distracted by a glimpse of movement from the side of your eye — you glance over to see what it is, instinctively as we do, and for that moment you aren’t anywhere different, you and I aren’t separated, you haven’t changed location relative to me or to anything. It’s just — your attention wandered and you followed it, distracting yourself from the bird you were looking at. If you then were to forget that you and I were on that street corner, you might forget that you and I were even talking.

That is a very close analogy to what it’s like over here, except that we don’t have the body to hold us in one place — but also don’t have the body to drag us away from a place. It’s less stable here, in terms of “external” forces. You bring your own stability or lack of stability with you, when you’ve given up the body, and if you were really such a thing as a disconnected individual, you’d be in hell of a mess.

That felt at the very end like a hand-over from Hemingway to Dr. Jung.

And you were able to allow yourself to perceive it despite the problem that logic would pose.

Yes — how could you change over in the middle of a sentence, that sort of thing.

You have at the very edge of your active perception at the moment a hazy idea of a truer picture. Describe it, and we will go from there.

I can’t describe it very well. I get a sense that the information is like a thread connecting the three of us and so any of us could begin and any of us continue while we are on that thread.

This is a beginning. We are about to tear down and reconstruct your idea of individuals and immortality, and the difficulty is that while you are between concepts, a failure of nerve, or of faith, will leave you with nowhere to stand, and you will retreat to some more concrete but less accurate position. But if you do so, that is probably the end of your exploring the subject for this lifetime.

Which is why the long preparation.

Which is why the long preparation, advancing concepts and complications and new appealing vistas and then half-withdrawing them. Playing you like a fish, keeping you on the line.

Yes, I felt Papa’s presence just then. I get that I shouldn’t concentrate so much on who is speaking, should I?

There isn’t anything wrong with it, but it does tend to move the emphasis from the information to the speaker. However, the improved sense of “who” is speaking, and of the changing of the guard, so to speak, is also part of the process.

You all tend to make of the afterlife a continuation of individuality in a distorted sense, misled by your wrong ideas of what individuality is, while you are in a body. It isn’t that it is an illusion, or a mistake; it’s that what is, is mis-perceived, mis-interpreted, hence mis-reported and put into distorted concepts which naturally tends to distort future perceptions, perpetuating the cycle. That’s one good reason why life has seasons of forgetfulness — to allow new understandings. It is why cultures and civilizations die, and also why they leave legacies. Life depends upon remembering and on forgetting.

To spell it out:

The culture you were born into in 1946 was Christian in its assumptions, its social structure, and its everyday “flavor.” This was true even for the non-Christians within it, and therefore that shaped the actions and bounds of that society. You understand, this is but a quick sketch, with no time or need for caveats or qualifying statements. The point is simple. From where you are now, 60 years and more farther along, that society is entirely different. The social assumptions and the common historical reference points are gone. If the culture were an individual you would say he had forgotten his roots.

Ignoring, for our purposes, the disadvantages and losses this entails, you can surely see the immense gain in freedom that follows such a loss of memory. Into a spiritual and intellectual vacuum, new ways of perceiving and thinking of things may come that would have been barred or hampered previously. This very skill you are learning would be hedged with cautions, or banned outright. And for us to attempt to show the limitations of the concept of individuals on either side of the veil connecting and separating physical and non-physical would be nearly impossible except in secret, under conditions of caution and danger from society that would inevitably warp the result. The only secret societies that do not get warped by their situation are ones that exist in the open, their secrets laid out for any to see, and for only the wise to comprehend. But this is the definition of a religion!

I have known for decades, since reading Arthur Koestler’s book The Sleepwalkers, at least, that we are in an era like the 1500-1600s — at the end of one world-view and the beginning of another, with everything mixed up in ways that would be incomprehensible to old or new. I regard it as a rare period of freedom from form.

Another name for which is chaos.

Touché. But chaos has its place in the creative process.

And you who are alive and well and feeling progressively less out-of-place came in to ride this particular wave. That’s why it doesn’t scare you — you’ve been waiting for it.

Perhaps next time we will pursue your half-perception of the information itself being as independent of those who convey it — or, should we say, those who attune themselves to it. We will have a lot of verbal traps to watch for, because the very fact that an abstraction has been “noun-ed” — to coin a verb — changes the way it appears. In a very different language, we would have a very different problems, but as we are confined to the lingua franca of the 20th and 21st centuries — English — we will deal with its disadvantages as we capitalize upon its advantages.

I take it that’s too long to go into at this point.

We smile at your half-smothered sense that we wasted the opportunity by going off on side-trails. They were not side-trails. It requires many strands, to weave a cloth.

Okay, boss. You’ll find me sitting at the loom when you’re ready to go again.

But not tomorrow. Tomorrow goes to preparation for your talk — and we will see you Thursday.

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