Thursday, February 12, 2015
F: 4:30 a.m. We’ll try it directly on the computer this morning, Rita. I’m too tired to think of writing and then transcribing. We’ll see how it goes. If I can tell a difference, maybe I’ll have to abort and start again in the journal, either today or next time.
But I was lying in bed unable to sleep –unable to turn off the thoughts – and as I expect you know, it started with the dreams I woke from an hour ago or more, particularly the one involving you. For the record, I’ll record the dream. I can’t help wondering if it was a communication from you, or a dramatization of my internal state, or what.
I was doing something – looking in a garage, I think – and I became aware that a car came up behind me, and paused, and moved on, going up an alley on my left. I thought to look at it, and I could recognize your head of silver hair in the back seat. So I followed, but when we were all together, there were a lot of people there. Besides you and me, there was a woman who helped take care of you who I knew [in the dream, not in real life] and her daughter that I didn’t know she had, and my brother Joe, dead these 35 years, who dropped into the scene and lay there, I think unconscious. All those people are in the way of your and my communication with each other and I wondered, either in the dream or outside of it, whether all this controversy about suffering may be creating static on the line, or, alternatively, if static might be the result of doing this wire-walking in public. There were more dreams but I don’t remember them. In any case, your comments please, and then can we continue stirring people up by talking about a subject on which they have strong opinions.
R: It will be worth your while to look at the dream closely, but this is not the time and in public is not the way. You might say that I was prompting you – reminding you of certain preconditions – but it’s always a mistake to reduce a dream to a simple message, just as it would be to reduce a novel to a description of the plot. Simplification is always distortion. Necessary distortion, sometimes, but distortion nonetheless.
Of course I am aware of the controversy about the topic of suffering. In such cases, the conclusions people come to are less important than the question of whether their thought processes were activated or not. That is, when the subject arose, did their truth-detector, as you call it, engage, or did they play old tapes of opinions previously arrived at? If the former, they had engaged with the material; if the latter, they have not. Progress may come out of engagement, regardless of conclusions and final stances (assuming there could be such a thing as a “final” stance) but what could result from refusal or inability to engage?
The potential for static on the line comes not from others but from yourself, of course. When is it ever different in life? “If only `they’ were different, or acted differently, then I wouldn’t have to –” etc. That often seems true and never is, and a good thing it isn’t, or your free will would be dependent on outside variables.
F: Victor Frankl said the one thing no one can take from us is the ability to choose our attitude toward what happens to us.
R: And he learned that wisdom in a hard school. So the point is, don’t let your awareness of others listening in, and don’t let your concern over their possible reactions, move you off the place where you need to be, to engage in this enterprise. I on my end promise that I won’t be thrown off the rails either. There is a big difference, you see, between being flexible and responsive, on the one hand, and being dependent upon external feedback, on the other.
Now, that’s all I am going to say about your dream. You have the resources to explore it further, and I would advise you to use them, but not in public.
To return to the subject of suffering.
F: I just glanced back, to refresh my memory. You said three things, the world is just, and then you were going to talk about the manifestation of hidden relationships and delusions of competence.
R: Many of the difficulties people have with this and related subjects stem from the mind’s persistent pattern of reverting to thinking of people as unitary individuals rather than as functioning communities. If you think in those terms – especially if you don’t think so much as automatically (unconsciously) assume – you come up with logical sounding and often persuasive descriptions of the way things must be. So, if you can’t stand the idea of the universe being unjust and yet you see bad things happening to good people, to quote an old book title, you invent the idea that everything that happens to you now is payback for something you did earlier, or, presumably, is an advance payment that you can use at a later time to amortize something you haven’t done yet!
But even the idea of “bad” and “good” people is a distortion based on an inadequate concept of what we truly are and how we truly function. We won’t follow that up at the moment, but make a note of it. The point will be obvious to some, less so to others. And, in fact, the previous paragraph is full of similar distortions all caused by unconscious assumptions. That we know what a “bad” thing is, for instance. That “bad” things shouldn’t happen to “good” people if this were a just world. That everything has to be repaid. (It does, actually, but not in the way that is so often assumed when people begin throwing around words like Karma.)
So let us talk about hidden relationships. Or, come to think of it, let’s dispose of delusions of competence, since it will require only a few words and we’re halfway there.
People have strong feelings about what they see or think they see, and those feelings are rooted in their values, and so far well and good. But that doesn’t mean they are competent to judge what they see. It doesn’t mean they understand or that they even see clearly. Think how scientists continually see more and more deeply, the more they investigate any phenomenon. The whole field of chaos studies, invented about five seconds ago (in terms of a civilization’s lifespan), suddenly demonstrated that what looked – well, chaotic – had implicit laws that it followed. Think of it! Chaos is rooted in order, and order in chaos. The more closely you look at anything, the more complex it reveals itself to be, and the more interrelated.
Yet people think themselves competent to judge and even condemn [word missing here], because it offends their sense of the fitness of things.
F: I remember the guys telling you that just because you don’t like sharks, that doesn’t mean the world doesn’t need predators, and also scavengers. They said without killers the world would be awash with live bodies, and without scavengers it would be awash with dead ones. As I recall, you didn’t like the answer much.
R: No, I can’t say that I did. But I respected it, and that’s the difference. A scholar learns to respect the data, not quarrel with it, and to wrestle with the argument, not dismiss it. It was easier, perhaps, because Bob [Monroe] always said earth was a system of organized predation modified by the existence of love.
The point here is that there is a very big and crucial difference between rejecting an argument because something within you feels that it is untrue, and rejecting it because something within you says. “by rights, it shouldn’t be true.” The latter amounts to pretending to know the dynamics of the system, and also sets up your own morality as presumably superior to that of the creator of the system.
F: It still surprises me how easily people talk about making “a better world,” as if they or anyone knew how to do it. Working on our own stuff, sure; we can do that, and it’s a lifetime job. But reforming others? Or putting some automatic mechanism into place that will fix things? I don’t think so.
R: But, you see, working on yourself is the way to make a better world, and thank you for that deft segue.
F: You’re welcome. Any time.
R: Once you stop thinking of yourselves as unitary individuals and experience yourselves as communities, you begin to realize that you extend in all directions as well as backward and forward in time. If you have uncounted strands, each of which was an “individual” comprising uncounted strands, which each –. You see? You change what you are and you impact parts of yourself that you will never experience until your consciousness centers on the non-3D and you can see yourself as you actually are rather than as you look in any one particular time-slice that you call “right now.” As you have experienced, Frank, and as many others have experienced somewhat less publicly, you, in your present, can impact and therefore change other strands of yourself in their present, which in turn will have further ramifications, again usually unsuspected by you.
That is the power to change the world. That is the only power to change the world. The only power you have, and the only power you need. Because, perhaps it may not have occurred to you, changing the physical world at any given moment is not the point of all this. The physical is a subset of the non-physical, created to serve a specific purpose, and doing so. You are the purpose of the whole exercise, not foreign relations or the elimination of poverty or a cure for cancer. All things pass away, but does the non-physical pass away?
This is a part of what I mean by hidden relationships. Another part is that you do not know the healing effects that suffering can produce, or the growth. It is always a mistake to judge the suffering of others as if you knew. You don’t, you can’t, and in a sense it isn’t any of your business. To alleviate the causes of suffering is well and good. Who can argue against it? To want to alleviate it, however, is not necessarily any more than an emotional impulse. At worst, a self-indulgence, reassuring yourself that you are a caring individual. To condemn the world for containing what you perceive to be injustices is to arrogate to yourself the right to judge what is beyond your ability to understand, let alone to prescribe how to cure. Actions always have unanticipated consequences. The evil that you shut the door to here may come with redoubled force through the window there.
Now, that’s enough for today, and if it is any comfort to you, I don’t think that doing it on the computer costs you anything in clarity as long as you don’t succumb to the temptation to go back and revise.
F: Okay. Well, more next time. Our thanks as always. (And I am glad not to have to type all this in again.)