Conversations July 17, 2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Nearly 5:30 AM. An idea [for another novel], finally — the one character begins as black-and-white and learns that everything is relative, every judgment can always be nuanced. I woke up to that idea, but don’t remember anything else, or any specifics. Perhaps influenced by having watched “Witness” with Larry [a visiting TMI friend] last night.

So here we are again. I re-read that material from yesterday to a friend who had found it hard going, and I saw that if you didn’t already know where it was going, it was hard to grasp, for it combined two themes — what it was trying to say in itself, and what it was trying to say about the process of saying it. Again evidence that I will need to apply my skills at writing and editing. I can’t just take dictation.

Papa, you will have seen “Witness” with me, I suppose — or anyway can see what I know about my having seen it. (Which is it?) I wonder if you share my feelings about what it says of our loss of community.

The question “which is it” isn’t one that can be answered very well, because you’re confusing two ideas by thinking it’s a question of which. You pretty nearly have to think that way while you are living within time-slices, but once come away from them and you see that either way — seeming to live one slice at a time or seeming to re-read the slices — it is actually the same thing once you are not within the physical system that requires your brain to process sequentially and consecutively. Your mind is in the non-physical, remember, and processes information (so to speak) according to the laws of non-physical existence. Your brain is physical and processes according to the laws of physical existence. The best you can do to experience the non-physical is to help your brain recapture results obtained by non-physical processes — dreams, OBE’s, visions, etc.

I do see. And by the way I become better at seeing when one voice — Ernest’s, in this case — becomes another’s.

And you can see how this knowledge would have posed a barrier, earlier in your development.

Oh yes. There’s nothing like the doing of something to teach you the laws of its existence and functioning.

Now it is up to you to do the hard work of translating what you have come to know. It can be done, but it is hard work because it comes closer to cutting against the grain. Mystics often make terrible teachers, as in general anyone who does a thing with innate inborn skill tends to make a poor teacher. Even if a born teacher, it may be difficult to teach the nature and process and limitations of teaching, for example.

I understand. We’ll see how well I do. I am presuming help from the other side along the way. I doubt I can do it, otherwise.

Is this not as Lincoln said? Without God’s help I cannot succeed; with it, I cannot fail. In his day that is how non-physical assistance was experienced, and his attitude of humility and willingness to serve the highest cause — the right as God gives us to see the right — was his touchstone and was itself his highest assistance, as it kept him actively connected. The reality of physical- and non-physical interaction hasn’t changed, only the concepts that your society allows to express. In his day it would not have been well understood, had he not expressed it (and understood it) in terms of God. In yours, the word God has become an emotional stumbling-block to many, a sign from the barricades that those who understand it the opposite way are superstitious — no matter which side of the barricade is doing the judging.

Yes, the war about God. I experience it continually among my friends.

Coincidence, no doubt.

No doubt. All right, is this what we are to explore further this morning? I’m willing to continue, if this is the information that can come over easiest at this time (meaning, right now, Saturday morning). Or, we can revert to the previous question.

No reason not to talk about “Witness” and my reaction and what it says about me and what it says about the subject in general.

Okay. And I, anyway, can feel the difference in voice, Papa. And in passing may I say what a pleasure it is, working with you.

You were noticing as you registered the date that it was three years ago that you came across volume 1 of Reynolds in a bookstore in England. It has led us far already, with farther to go.

Good. May it continue. I every so often register these nuances about us having worked together before, and I have resisted pursuing Story. So — about community?

Isn’t that what the main message of that film is, quite as much as the question of violence and non-violence, or rather the question of a lifestyle based on non-violence as opposed to one based on acceptance of violence?

Go ahead. I won’t interrupt.

The film shows a tough Philadelphia cop, somewhat roughened by his life and somewhat insensitive because of his absolute black/white way of seeing the world. The cop winds up living for a while among the Amish, and for that while sees another way of life that attracts him, only he would have to be someone else to live in it. The central threads of his emotional existence would have to change, to put it in the way you are being led to adopt. He would have to lay down every thread he was used to using, except his physical skill at carpentry, and pick up others. Perhaps he would be able to do so, perhaps not. He is tempted, because of the powerful attraction to him not of non-violence per se but of community. He has functioned as a man alone. He knows how to do that. But living as a man among a community is a different thing. He doesn’t know if he can do that.

The application is obvious, perhaps, emotionally. But there are other aspects that may not immediately suggest themselves.

Our minds in the physical are not anything like as simple or straight-forward as they appear. Or let’s say it this way — sequential processing and lack of direct access mind-to-mind on a routine continuous basis tends to distort our perception of what we are experiencing.

Just as we are not individual in the absolute way that physical life suggests, so the nature of mind is not so separated as the words “all one thing” may suggest, any more than one animal or plant within an ecology disproves the concept of the unity of the complete system.

As you begin to appreciate the way mind really is, you see that there is (in one sense) no separate individual mind. They seem to function that way, just as one body seems to function as an individual rather than as part of a whole, but that’s only a point of view, a taking of the trees rather than seeing the forest. As you begin to see the forest-nature of things (as you begin to concentrate on the integral aspect of things rather than the distinct-pieces aspect) you realize that what you have been seeing, you haven’t necessarily been closely observing.

Your friend [author Dana Redfield] brought through the concept that humans have a “hive mind,” and though you edited her book you had to more or less let that go by without your understanding it. Now, perhaps, you can see a little more clearly. Your understanding of it is —

Well, let’s see. There is one group-mind shared by all human beings. Within that “hive” are all sorts and levels of cells — perhaps Jung’s racial- and national- and family-unconscious groupings, and at the individual level what seems to be an individual, separately functioning mind. But actually that “individual” mind fluctuates between greater and lesser states of participation in the larger group-minds. That’s as I understand it more or less.

You can see how much is there to unpack. Re-read Dana Redfield’s work when the time is appropriate, and this will give you part of the tools needed, for her thoughts and recorded experiences will help you grasp relationships. Like symbols, predigested experience (another person’s recordings) allow you to process more data in a given relationship.

To return more closely to the theme of John Book (Harrison Ford’s character in “Witness”) and community —

“More closely” is right, for we haven’t actually left the theme, but merely laid background. John Book may for the purposes of illustration be regarded as a representative of modern, western, scientific, materialistic, separated man. Highly separate from his surroundings, very inner-directed, dividing the world between Self and Everything Else. This is a very chilly existence.

In the Amish world as portrayed, he experiences another way to be — less modern, less Western in a sense, less scientific in a sense (we’ll have to explain this later), less materialistic, less separated.

Now bear in mind, isn’t an absolute division. It isn’t as if he were one pole and they were the opposite pole. They are merely at different places along the polarity. Either-or belongs to John Book’s mental world, not yours!

We used the word “scientific” because that came mostly from you and it wasn’t absolutely wrong, but with another mind we might have been led to a different comparison. Since we have consented to use it, let us define the one aspect that applies here: the examination of a thing as if it were not connected to the person-group examining it. Book is very much divorced from his surroundings, and the Amish are very much less so. That’s all we consent to mean by using that word in this comparison.

As we said, not absolute opposite polarities, but different points on a scale.

For John Book to fit into the community and experience its appealing features, he would have to function differently, not merely in abstaining from violence but in truncating his world. This was well brought out even in such innocent scenes as he and she dancing to his car radio’s music. You can’t be both one thing and its seeming opposite. You can be drawn to both, you can balance both for a while, you can to a limited degree alternate from one to another, but ultimately you can’t live in two worlds with contradictory ways of seeing things. The strain will tell. She had no exposure to the outside world but him — yet that was almost too much. He had no exposure to their world but her and the life of the community as he observed it as a sort of temporarily tolerated outsider — and it was almost too much.

This background has taken too much time. Proceed with Hemingway and its application to you another time.

Yes. Thank you.

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