Wednesday, March 2, 2016
F: 4 a.m. Today is the day my good friend Dave Schlachter died, back in 1970. That was hard. It makes me think how our lives are shaped by events that scar us, and how none of those events may mean what they seem to, at the time. I don’t remember, Rita – did I ever talk of David to you?
R: I think perhaps once, only. The impact of other deaths was more obvious.
F: Oh yes. JFK when I was 17, his brother – but not unexpected, that time, though the event blindsided me coming that early – when I was 22, then Dave at 24. Those things mark you even if you have changed your ideas about what death means. And of course I realize, ideas are one thing, emotions another. But the pattern remains. I remember as soon as I heard that Dave Wallis had been in an accident, my first response was, “I’m so tired of all my friends dying,” even though at the time there was no reason to think that’s what would happen – and I was, well, however old I was in 1998 – going on 52, I guess. It was just a natural response. It seemed like the pattern.
Somehow I don’t think this is off-subject. Is it?
R: No, of course not. Everything connects. Follow it to the end.
F: You mean the night I talked to Dave [Schlachter] in my house in Chesapeake. I don’t remember whether I had been to TMI yet, I think maybe not. I sat down with a pad and paper and did just what we’re doing now, come to think of it, only in those days it was just instinct, and I didn’t know if I believed it or not. I mean, the conversation came, it flowed, it made sense, but I didn’t know if it was anything more than imagination. If I had had to bet, I would have bet on its being real, but I wouldn’t have wanted to make it a big bet.
R: And the hypnotist?
F: Oh yeah. You’re pulling this together, so I take it there’s some point to it. When I did the Shirley MacLaine workshop in January, 1987, I wrote it up for the following Sunday’s newspaper, and was invited on a local radio show. The host was also a hypnotist past-life regressionist (self-taught) and I wound up buying a session from him, and although I didn’t know, later, how much to credit what we got, I got the sense of one life as a diviner in fire, in Roman times – and got that Dave had been my teacher. I wrote a little about this in Muddy Tracks, but I don’t think I said much about Dave. Okay, so–?
R: So one of the threads of your life – one major thread – is exploration without tidying-up. It’s a good combination, if not carried too far.
F: And I expect you’re going to tell us how it can be carried too far.
R: Indeed I am. It may be carried too far in either of two directions. One may explore so widely, or in so solitary a fashion, or one might say in so
R: Not reckless, exactly, though as you know we considered that word. No, perhaps “undisciplined” is the word. One may wander, you see. Or, alternatively, one may insist too much upon order and system, to the detriment of actual exploration.
F: You can’t always know what you’re doing or what it means, and you shouldn’t let those questions stop you, but you shouldn’t lose sight of them either.
R: That’s what I mean, yes. It is a balance. In your life I would say as I did when I was there, you tend to spend too little time in self-reflection, in retrospective observation and analysis. Of course, this reflects my bias as an academically trained researcher, but still it is a professional as well as personal observation.
Your life was shaped by a few great losses, unexpected, disruptive, and – most clearly to the point – productive of a conflict between emotion and thought, or emotion and idea of what the emotion “ought to be.” After JFK, you told yourself you were hardened and didn’t expect any better. After you read of Edgar Cayce and had absorbed ideas about reincarnation, you decided that death was no tragedy – often it appeared to be something desirable – and so it set you up to be critical of the feelings and emotions you did have, since they “didn’t make sense.”
F: Which makes me look pretty silly.
R: Perhaps we should say, it makes it look as though self-reflection would have smoothed your path a bit.
F: None of this is where I would have expected this entry to go.
R: As opposed to the rest of your life, which proceeds on schedule?
F: Very funny – or have I said that before?
R: Now, what makes you think that other people are any better prepared to deal with the questions of life and death, and the meaning they shed upon each other, than you were?
F: Aha, we’ve come to the meat of it?
R: Smiling at you but shaking my head too, just as when we were in 3D together. Not only that, but yes, that in part. People’s lives are blighted if they live in the shadow of what looks like defeat and futility.
F: An indictment of our whole civilization.
R: Perhaps analysis, or diagnosis, would be a more accurate word, but yes, of western civilization on the cusp of the new era.
F: I’m listening.
R: Surely you see – I know you do see, Frank, but not everyone sees, until it is pointed out – that a society’s beliefs about death directly impact their beliefs about every aspect of life. The courtroom oath swearing to tell the truth “so help me God” became meaningless when people ceased to believe in God – and that changes things. Putting “in God we trust” on coins and dollars and on the walls of public buildings is an idea that never would have – never did – occur to anybody until that instinctive belief had gone. Treating religions as merely social institutions could never come about while the existence of God was taken for granted.
Those appear to be religious beliefs, and they are – but they are equally beliefs about the meaning of life and death. The emerging civilization is a global civilization, disorienting to every part of it that until recently thought of itself as an absolute. Thus everybody’s ideas of life and death are being shaken. Thus, the explosive growth of fanaticism, which is always rooted in repressed uncertainty.
F: Yes, I get it – and now is the time for a new way of seeing life and death that can be acceptable to various narrower traditions. Toynbee would call it syncretism, I think.
R: Toynbee is in the non-3D now, so some of his ideas may have altered.
F: Smiling. Okay. So–?
R: So you have noticed it only peripherally (in your usual non-reflective fashion!) but this material is stirring things up in some people, in much the same way all my ideas were stirred up in 2001 when we began talking to the guys. I had thought I knew what to expect when I would die, and I found that I wasn’t even all that confident that I knew what it was that I was living. Your friend’s anniversary seemed a good time to reassure them that I have their perplexities and anxieties in mind.
F: I had thought we would continue where we left off yesterday.
R: It all connects. Sometimes it is more enduring, more textured, more thoroughly absorbed, if you make haste slowly, layering it in.
F: Feels like the end of the lesson, but I want to ask, if only for future reference, if we’re ever going to be able to tie in various ways of seeing the nature of the afterlife. Specifically, the questions around reincarnation. How could “I” have been a diviner in fire in ancient Roman days, and “Dave” my teacher, if we were created in the 20th century in America? How can any of us have had past lives or – for that matter – future lives? Obviously I get that threads connect us in various directions, but it seems to me a perception of past life actions and reactions implies a much more definite connection than what we are calling resonances, and more than just a generalized connection with everything that shares various threads.
R: And it is just such questions that can only be addressed by the environmental approach we have been pursing for 16 years 3D time.
F: By environmental I take it you mean, description of the surrounding circumstances in which we exist, so that we may better understand what and who we are.
R: It would be educational for the goldfish to incorporate the view from outside the fishbowl. How else could it get beyond the taking-for-granted, call it, that keeps the goldfish confined to unexamined assumptions?
F: And when I hear “unexamined assumptions” I hear, “insufficiently self-reflective.”
I didn’t quite say “insufficiently.” Everybody’s path is different, and nobody else can judge it very accurately. But still, I don’t see how more self-reflection could hurt.
F: And I suppose that’s the motto of the firm, here.
R: Well, it is one theme, anyway. There would be no point in going to all this trouble merely to produce an elegant model of life that has no effect on anyone, helps no one, leads no one to greater freedom. So it isn’t about mere description of life and death as seen from the non-3D, any more than from 3D. It is at least equally about this question, addressed continually (by implication) to one and all, and that is: What does this information mean for you? If it is to be more than entertainment (which is what casual curiosity may be seen as), what more, how more?
And on that note, I’ll bid you adieu until next time.
F: All right, Rita, our thanks as always.