A little self-exploration with Papa’s help

Thursday, February 10, 2011

6:45 AM. A little bit of snow on the ground.

Well, I am a little tired this morning, a little out of tune. But if you can stand it, Papa, I guess I can.

Now that you have gotten your books mostly packed, you should look around and be sure you aren’t overlooking other things that need to be done and can’t be left until after you move into your new place.

Yes, I suppose so. I’ll make a list. So what do we talk about today?


Seems to me that this is one aspect of my life that I’ve talked about extensively — and even as I say that, I realize that there are aspects of it that I have carefully never touched on.

You see? Once get the habit of being willing for any memories to come, and they line up at the door. But they won’t come if they think they aren’t wanted — won’t except when called forth by some external prod, that is. That’s why a chance encounter so often brings out what you call robots. They’re opportunistic, and they wait for any chance to appear lest their message be forgotten.

Their message, you call it.

How would you describe what they’re doing, except holding the place for you until you get around to dealing with the emotions and reactions that caused their existence?

I sort of know what you just said, but only because I already know it from practice. I don’t think it is in the words themselves.

Shall we invite in Dr. Jung?

I don’t remember him talking about robots, but then, I don’t remember you doing so either. Dr. Jung, would you join our conversation?

Yes, gladly. You might consider that I and others are already participating in the conversation, as part of your unnamed Guys Upstairs. This conversation, all these conversations, are not initiated by your conscious — Downstairs, you call it — intent, so much as suggested to it by your Upstairs component, the breadth and nature of which is still mostly unknown to you, as the Self is always mostly unknown to the consciousness.

Your nickname “robots” works well enough, but we could wish there were a different one that would continually remind you that they are not constructed mechanisms, but — one might say — cases of arrested development, or “individuals” acting in trance. Sleepwalkers, call them.

Sleepwalkers. Not sure what nuances you are going to provide, but I like it, at first glance.

You have tried calling them time capsules, and have seen the undesirably static nature of the analogy. Your analogy to computer executable files closely illustrates one aspect of the mechanism of dealing with them — the rewriting of their instructions — but again is too mechanical an analogy.

Maybe I should use several analogies successively, to take advantage of each of them and yet remind people that it is only an analogy. So — robotic in that it was formed for a purpose and does what it was told, unbendingly. Computer file, in that it can be easily and quickly brought into memory and rewritten, then stored to do what we now want. Snapshot, or time capsule, in that it perfectly embodies where we were at the time we laid down these particular instructions. Sleepwalker, in that it is a somewhat conscious, living part of ourselves, functioning mostly unaware of its surroundings. Or, more like, somewhat aware of its surroundings but largely or entirely unaware of itself.

All this is true enough to be useful, but at the end of it you are still going to need one convenient shorthand for all that you mean.

I’m willing to go with sleepwalkers for the moment and see how it turns out.

So. Gateway memories and associations.

I hadn’t forgotten, Papa.

Start with an image.

Lots of them. Sitting in debrief — more than once — and listening to that ungrounded artist from Italy describing all the things she had seen and done in whatever tape we had just done, and wanting to believe her but knowing (rightly or wrongly) that it was bullshit, that either she was fooling herself or was trying to show off for us. As I write this, I see that another possibility is that she really was having direct experiences — and was used to having them — but was madly creating story around them, and didn’t know how to separate perception from story. One thing I know: She was not any kind of model I’d care to follow.

Before you move to another image, stick with this one for a while. Why does this one come up first, do you think?

I wouldn’t have thought to ask that. I suppose there was a reason.

It’s always worthwhile to suppose there’s a reason. What would you say to somebody who told you it came up for no particular reason?

I’d tell them there was some reason, so ask. I guess what I’m hearing is that it embodies the major theme from my Gateway experience. If not the major theme, a major one, anyway.

And that is?

I see now that a large part of me went in there suspicious. Not suspicious of the Institute, but of


Hard to say it, actually. I went in there suspicious of anybody claiming to have what I was looking for, because I wanted it so much that I was afraid of fooling myself into believing I’d found something that in real life didn’t exist.

Not as far from Angelo as you thought, then, were you?

No, not as far as I would have thought. I remembered being determined not to fool myself, and I remembered how it made me cautious when experiences did begin to come — but I hadn’t remembered how actively suspicious I was of the true-believer types, call them.

I’m holding you to a methodical exploration of one thing at a time, instead of the superficial connecting of many themes (which has its place as well, but not yet) but can you see how just approaching the idea of your Gateway memories with the intent to actually re-experience them rather than judge them has made them so eager to come forth?

I can. Is as if they were little kids, wanting to be seen and heard. There are two or three of them right now, clamoring for a moment of my attention.

And yet you wrote up that experience extensively, and repeatedly! You’ve talked about it. Or — did you?

No, I see what you mean. The experience I wrote about and talked about was only a truncated version of the real experience, because I was only looking at what I thought were the important themes.

One thing that happens when you go over is that you learn that what was important in your life and what wasn’t (to the extent that anything wasn’t) aren’t necessarily what you thought they were. I know you accept that statement as true, and even obvious, but that’s only a superficial acceptance. Some things have to be experienced to be even conceptualized, let alone known.

So go back to the memory of your sitting silently listening to something you didn’t believe.

I realize, her over-enthusiastic manner helped put me off. If she had described things more casually or with any degree of detachment, I’d have been more likely to believe her. I was as put off by her natural manner of being as by anything else! I didn’t realize that. If I had, I might have had a less ungrounded experience three months later at Guidelines, when I acted in ways that must have affected at least some of the others in ways she had affected me. Never realized it.

An image, or a feeling from an image. It unlocks things, if you don’t judge the image, or characterize it, but just call it up. Perception without judgment, you see.

Yes, I do. It’s magic. What was inaccessible is not only available but is banging on the door, just from taking a different approach.

So go back to the image, the first one that arose, and describe the scene as if to others, trying to describe it in such a way as it is accurate but is accurate emotionally, not merely physically.

As you did in “Big Two Hearted River,” say.

That’s what I was doing, but I was making up the whole “external” scene. You don’t have to do that, just go back to what you really remember.

Funny, I can even remember that I was against the wall nearest the door, and she was on the opposite wall, the wall with the door to the trainer’s control room, and the wood stove that was never used.

So you see, you remember it visually. If you were to put the effort into it, you could connect with that memory (that’s a way to put it, anyway) and remember every relevant detail. You couldn’t reconstruct the memory by deducing what must have been where, but you could reconnect with it at its source, where it remains incorrupt and timeless, and that would give you what you need.

Or — are you listening carefully, you Hemingway professors? — you could reconnect with the emotional memory of a given incident, or of several with a theme, and construct a story by choosing externals that would reflect and suggest the elements that needed to be expressed if you were to portray the emotional surroundings of the memory you were attempting to recapture. I don’t say I did this consciously, but it’s what I did.

Great stuff, great process, Papa, and Dr. Jung. It’s eight and so I need to shut down and do other things, but this seems a real advance.

You’ll find that it has its uses.

Next time, then.

Friday, February 11, 2011

5:30 AM. Too much coffee yesterday, including at supper. Made for a restless night. Let’s see how we do without it.

All right, Papa.

Continue as prompted.

They called mine “the Gateway that never came together” I suppose the universe had called together a bunch of loners, with different agendas and at different levels of being . We all found a special person or two, I think — but it is true that the program never came together as every other one I attended did. Or — come to think of it —

You see that as you reconsider while in a feeling place, your judgments change. And speaking of judgments —

Yes. I meant to write it down, thanks for the reminder. Last night, at supper with Jim and Carol, I realized that the reason logic alone can’t bring access Upstairs is because logic is a form of judgment, and judgment and perception are two very different modes. They are complementary — we need both — but they can’t work simultaneously. At best they can function in rapid alternation.

Now, return to an image of that Gateway, either connected to what you started to say, or not, remembering that the spirit has its own agenda, and so may override connections or sequences that seem to you logically inevitable.

Right, another image. I think of the guy who knew it all, and my attempt to correct the situation anonymously.

Proceed, staying in the feeling about it.

In Gateway, of course, not only do the participants not know each other, they haven’t had any experience of the process, so they don’t necessarily know what works and what doesn’t. We had one guy — I’ve forgotten his name after 18 years, not that it matters as I wouldn’t use it here anyway — who clearly was a success at what he did. He had confidence. And he knew some stuff. The trouble was, he would expand on what the trainers were saying, basically lecturing the rest of us on what he knew, he assuming that we didn’t know it.

In those days I was very timid socially among strangers, and couldn’t bring myself to object to him, either in public or (it never occurred to me) in private. So I asked one of the trainers if she would have a word with him. So she did [during a session] — and then looked at me and said, quite pointedly, “did that take care of it, Frank?” (or something equivalent). Thus of course deliberately blowing my cover, either not considering that I might have had my reasons for not wanting to be known as the source of the criticism, or being irritated by it and deciding to retaliate, so to speak. Or, maybe, thinking it would be better for me if I were out in the open, though I don’t think that was it.

So where do you go with it?

I don’t know that I go anywhere with it. This is the first time I’ve ever written about it, even in my journal of the time. (I didn’t write much in my journal during Gateway, which is why I wrote about it extensively on my return, to fix it in my memory.)

Yes? But this unwritten-about scene remained pretty firmly fixed.

It did.

So where do you go with it? How do you deal with it? It came up, so it has an importance. How do you learn what that is?

I remember chiefly my feeling of being betrayed when she made such a point of making clear to everybody in the room that she had delivered the message only at my behest (even though she agreed with it) and that I had not wanted to be seen as the source of it. It was a valid message, and she had phrased it carefully — that we should all avoid assuming that we knew stuff nobody else knew, or

Now! You have only a general idea of how she said it. But the memory exists, and you can retrieve it. That is the water jumping off the tightening fishing line. What  did she tell him?

“We want to be careful,” I think she said, but I don’t remember her words after that, except that her question to me ended, pointedly, with my name.

Believe it or not, you can do better than that. Don’t reconstruct the memory; you’ll wind up falsifying it. Remember it. Put yourself back in the room.

I’ve already done that. I was sitting behind him and to his right, and he was sitting pretty near the front, on the right side of center (seen from our point of view, not that of the trainers). Can’t remember his name or face, and can’t remember where anyone else was but the three of us, but I do have that fixed in my mind. I think it was a morning session too, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Monday.

What was the last thing he had talked about, that led you to ask the trainer to ask him to ease off on lecturing?

My initial reaction is, “that I can’t remember” — and then I realize that I’m trying to force the process. Well, it would have been the night before, I imagine. What did he talk about? I know that he spoke as if he had studied these things and the rest of us knew nothing.

I remember, too, he wasn’t doing it out of ego. It was as if he was genuinely trying to be helpful.

Any different from what you’re doing these days?

Not much, in a way. He might have made fewer assumptions about his audience. Over the years, I have never concentrated on his lecturing us, but on the trainer’s deliberate slap at me — that’s what it felt like. Come to think of it, I don’t think he ever lectured us again, but I don’t remember him contributing or not contributing. I mean, I don’t think that gentle admonition shut him down. If it had and if I had noticed, that would have bothered me extremely. But maybe I just never noticed. Uncomfortable thought. I wasn’t noticing much.

Let’s try this with coffee.

You got the first part of what you need. You have the visual memory which, notice, you never lost. You have the emotional memory because of the sting involved. You have the general summary of the situation because that is the tag you hang on it. But you haven’t had a clear run-through of the event. It isn’t a big event. It didn’t have huge consequences. No matter. It is all connected, and if you regain access, you retain access to everything it connects to — and those are going to be emotional connections, not logical ones. So, there’s no telling in advance what you’re going to find.

Return to the image not of her pointedly looking at you and blowing your cover, but of something connected with him.

The first night, Saturday, we had had the introductory talk and had done the first tape, and I was forcing myself to socialize, down in what was then the participants’ dining room. I really had to force myself, but I didn’t want to hide in my room, which is what it would have amounted to. The only thing I remember about that time is asking him — whatever his name was — what he did for a living. He hesitated, said almost to himself that he guessed it was okay to talk about our other life on the first night of the program, and told me he made custom cases for instruments for professional musicians.

And the emotional point of that memory?

A sense that he was highly successful in an unusual field. A sense that he was conceding something in talking shop — either responding to my ill-concealed nervousness or choosing to agree to talk to somebody he wouldn’t have chosen himself.

You were still feeling like an outsider.

That’s about it. I always did.

So, looking at it from your new perspective?

He was a catalyst, just by being there, and probably never realizing it, for activating several of my robots. He was self-assured, prosperous, successful. I wasn’t any of these. He had a tendency to think he knew much more than any of the rest of us, and I resented it even though I wasn’t able to say what I knew, and wasn’t able to ask him to consider that the rest of us knew things too. And then the trainer’s pointed remark showed me that my asking her to suggest to him that he tone it down looked sneaky to her

And then he disappears from view.

Basically. I don’t know whether I talked to him again or not, but I don’t remember any significant interactions at all. I seem to remember that I had a better opinion of him by the end, but really, I can’t say. He not only disappears from view, his very name and face are gone, though I could find it in my papers.

Enough for now. Enjoy your day.

Thanks, Papa. I’m enjoying the tutelage, if I’m not always sure where it’s leading.

One thought on “A little self-exploration with Papa’s help

  1. Fascinating. My Gateway did come together, despite the fact that someone left on Thursday.

    For people who have attended Gateway, this post brings back many memories.

    And….I probably know of your custom instrument case-maker, and am intensely curious who he was. Realizing of course that you will not “out” him here.


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