Nathaniel — impersonal forces, 3D and improv

Nathaniel — impersonal forces, 3D and improv

Sunday, February 11, 2018

5:20 a.m. The last dream I awakened from was full of English voices, characters. I realized, they were the result of watching so much English drama and documentary lately. And I thought, maybe this is what dreaming is, sometimes: We seize this or that character and get the feel of them and set them to doing improv. Rather like life in general on a larger scale, it seems like, now, writing this.

And perhaps that’s the text for the day’s sermon? For you said last time you might begin to “round things off,” and I’m wondering if this dream isn’t the jumping-off point. You said, to address the question of “toward what?”

You may notice that you are beginning to be led by your dreams in a new way, they orienting you to an emotional point of entry of a topic. Rather than trying to read a dream literally, or as symbols, you are learning to ask why that dream now, and why the effects of that dream now. Of course, what is news for you is yesterday’s news for someone else; it isn’t like a shining new departure for the world at large.

No, I understand that. I’ll settle for “news to me.”

And others, perhaps, of course; we don’t mean to imply it concerns you alone (if there were such a thing as “alone” for anyone). But this is another way in which you are not orphans in the world: The thing you struggle toward [that is, understanding of life] is not impossible of access. Everything has been realized before, at some time or another. It isn’t like the whole thing is on you, no matter what the thing or who the “you” may be. Only, it always is needing to be updated, and that’s your struggle, you see. Now take what we just said and apply it more widely – and here we are very much addressing those reading over your shoulder, for it is a truth that will long outlast you, and them. What we just described is an aspect of life in its underlying nature, which means in its meaning. You are always updating the world’s files, you might say.

The current generation – whatever current generation we may speak of – is always putting into 3D expression certain enduring truths? I know that doesn’t get it, and I know we’ll probably have to go at it slowly, but that’s the sense I’m groping toward.

That’s right. Fast insight and slow exposition. There are worse ways to work.

Remember the continual existence of the vast impersonal forces. They do not exist only in 3D; that would be impossible. But they blow through the 3D world in blowing through the All-D, of course. And it is the 3D’s relative resistance combined with its innate plasticity that allows those forces to be – captured, one might say; shaped; molded into intermediate and creative form.

I get the impression you are finding this difficult to express. Difficult in itself, difficult through me in particular, or what?

That is less of a difference than you might think, but let us not divert to it. We are at the nub of this particular exposition.

All right.

When people ponder the meaning of living, they can bring to their understanding only the things they know or suspect or think they know. You can’t stack blocks you don’t have. So, given that no two people have the same inventory, no two people do the sums and arrive at the same answer, even if they’re all following the same rules of arithmetic – which, by the way, usually they are not. So – trust your own reckoning, but keep in mind that at best you will be only relatively correct, and certainly only somewhat complete. You won’t know everything or understand everything that you know, and so what? You are not so constructed that you could. No one ever had or ever will, and it wouldn’t even be of assistance if someone – or everyone – could. That isn’t the purpose of 3D life. It is viewpoint, not summation, that 3D experience is designed to produce, and if you once really absorb that fact, you’ll see how life is never a failure or a tragedy or a pointless tale told by an idiot, no matter how it seems.

The vast impersonal forces blow through the universe, the weather affecting the atmosphere, so to speak. Only, in the slowed-down 3D crucible, the effect of those winds is embodied, is slowed and shaped and modeled. You begin to see?

I think so. You’ve said we are doing improv, and I’m beginning to see that we are expressing by our natures what we are, animated by the forces that blow through us but are not us.

They are and they are not; that’s a matter of viewpoint too. The spirit bloweth where it will: That isn’t anything to do with your will. Yet, it blows through your shaped and ever-reshaping character, which produces the music, and that is to do with you. You may have been created a harp or an oboe or a guitar, so to that extent the music you produce is limited, but an instrument may be in tune or not, may be adequate to the stress of the music or not, and you and your decisions have something to say about the condition you are in to receive the forces making the music.

Now, it is a difficulty of speech that the high road and the low road may or may not arrive at the same place, but they are more or less impenetrable to each other. So when we give you a high-flying metaphor like the vast impersonal forces blowing through your lives to produce the music that is your lives, we lose the advantages given when we can explain things from your personal experiences. That is why we go so often from one to the other, to try to keep our explanations stitched together.

So, take what we just set out for you, which is accurate enough for all its high flying, and think about the life you are leading, the external and the internal of it, the waking and the dreaming, the practical and the visionary. It’s all true and it’s all accessible, but you have to pay attention to it if you’re to sort it out. And only those who need to do the sorting (need by their own nature, we mean) will be bothered by the need. Others will toss off the idea as idle or fanciful, or even as evasion of “real life.” That’s all just viewpoint as it shapes your lives.

I am again feeling that valedictory feeling as I have before at the end of a particular series of conversations.

You don’t know if this has gone along far enough to provide a book, because you weren’t thinking in those terms. Well, concatenate your transcript files and see. There’s no harm in a short book.

And the central topic or theme?

Read the book! How else have you ever figured out what has been said?

All right. But if I can sort of feel that we have reached a jumping-off point, a rounding off, I’m not at all sure we have even addressed, let alone answered, the question of “toward what?”

Haven’t we? If your lives are designed to allow you to focus and tune (so to speak) vast forces beyond your ken, is that not as much explanation as you can absorb?

Perhaps, but it isn’t really enough to be satisfactory.

We well understand. But you see, just here is where the great danger lies. At the point beyond which you cannot see is the great lure and the great snare. For it is here that you may be tempted to make it up as you go along.

Isn’t that what we do anyway? Necessarily?

Not in the same sense of the word. It is one thing to make it up in the sense of allowing yourself to be carried along rather than trying to steer against the wind or current. It is a different thing to cease to listen and instead impose your own design.

A fine line.

To be sure. An invisible line, sometimes. That’s why intent and character mean so much to ultimate success or failure. If you firmly intend not to deliberately mislead, not to prefer certainty to doubt, not to pretend to know more than you do – all this acts as a safety margin, you see. When you stray – as you will; nobody is perfect every moment – your center of gravity, your character, will pull you back. That’s what the building of character is for, to provide you a reliable center of gravity.

So, the Jung quotes that you entered into your journal many months ago and only now rediscover – “coincidentally” – as you go through old journal books, can you not see that they apply?

Of course I can. He allowed himself to speculate, but he never allowed himself to confuse speculation with experience. He kept in mind just how much he did or didn’t know, in formulating his reports of his long expeditions in the human psyche.

It is a good procedure. Now, Frank, you are not Swiss, and nor are most of your readers. You will not proceed in the same way, will not have available to you a doctor’s training, will not have Jung’s grounding in ancient languages and Swiss culture and the concerns of the 19th and 20th centuries. This is advantage as well as constraint.

None of you is designed to, or supposed to, or allowed to, live another person’s life, but yours. Your advantages, your circumstances, your desires and conflicts and opportunities and constraints are all unique to you, yet are part of the larger improv continually taking place, which without you is incomplete.

Fortunately for you it is not necessary for the actors to understand the plot, for improv has no larger plot within its own terms of reference than to see what happens. So with you. As to the larger meaning beyond the improv itself – whether it is for casting, or for training, or for general entertainment, or for reasons that are not apparent – there’s no harm in looking for them, but no assurance that you’re going to be finding it. Maybe your continuing search is the meaning, eh?

And that’s enough on the subject. If you’ll go back and put together this group of conversations, and see what they come to, we can proceed after that, or not, as you and circumstances allow.

Okay. As always, our thanks and best wishes.



America’s Journey: The election of 1860

The election of 1860

In 1860, the nation’s last party to span both North and South was The Democracy. (Most of the anti-slavery men of the defunct Whig Party had joined the new Republican Party. But Republicans were not even allowed on the ballot in several Southern states.) By 1860, the Democracy’s most prominent son was Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas, Chairman of the Committee on Territories, popularly known as “the little giant.”

The party convention met in Charleston, South Carolina, in late April. From the beginning it was doomed, deliberately, by Southern extremists. They were determined to split the Democracy, which would assure the election of a Republican president (then expected to be William Seward), which they expected to precipitate a wave of Southern state declarations of secession from the Union. Some of them had been working on this for ten years, as we shall see. In the event, they got exactly what they wanted, and thus brought catastrophe upon themselves and their cause and their section and the Union.

Douglas went into the convention the clear leader, with a good half of the delegates. But most of them were Northern men, and Douglas faced implacable opposition from the Deep South. (Douglas, as we shall see, had lost much of previously considerable Southern support in his response to Lincoln’s question at Freeport, Illinois, two years before, during the second debate of their Senatorial contest.)

The Southern-controlled platform committee called for Congress to enact a slave code for the Territories, which would mean Federal protection for slavery everywhere. Delegates from the North pointed out that they would lose every Northern state if they included such a plank in the party platform, and so the convention adopted the platform committee’s minority report, which rejected the idea. Fifty delegates from seven Southern states promptly withdrew from the convention.

When the remaining delegates voted on a presidential nominee, Douglas received about 60 percent of the 250 votes, but in those days (and until Franklin Roosevelt got the rules changed after the 1932 election) nomination required a 2/3 majority. After 10 days and 57 ballots, the convention adjourned. When it reconvened on June 18 in Baltimore, the delegates who had withdrawn were replaced, which caused most of the remaining Southern delegates to withdraw. Douglas was then nominated by 190 1/2 votes of 203 1/2 cast.

The Southerners who had bolted the party nominated not one, but two slates. Southern Democrats named Vice President John Breckinridge. Some former Whigs formed the Constitutional Union Party and nominated John Bell. The resulting four-way race allowed the Republicans to win without capturing a single Southern state, the first time this had ever happened, just as the fire-eaters had predicted and worked for.

Douglas’ role in the campaign earns his forgiveness for a multitude of previous political sins. He campaigned energetically, attacking abolitionism in the North, and disunion in the South. Then, in early October, when the Republicans won state elections in Ohio and Pennsylvania, Douglas told his secretary “Mr. Lincoln is the next President. We must try to save the Union. I will go south.” He went to the South to rally Unionist sentiment. At Raleigh, North Carolina, he said “I am in favor of executing in good faith every clause and provision of the Constitution and protecting every right under it – and then hanging every man who takes up arms against it!”

The final results were

Party                Candidate                    Popular votes   Electoral votes

Republican      Abraham Lincoln         1,866,452        180

Democratic      Stephen A. Douglas     1,382,713          12

Democratic      John C. Breckinridge       847,953           72

Constitutional Union    John Bell            592,906           39

The disruption of the Democracy had let in Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans, just as some had planned it – and it was the end of an era.

Nathaniel on hope and charity

Nathaniel on hope and charity

Friday, February 9, 2018

5:55 a.m. If you’re up for it, then, how about hope and charity? Faith was very interesting, took an unexpected turn. And, last night, I was reassured as so often to try thinking about hope as a possible topic and find that I had no idea what you might say about it. “Hope” is a somewhat nebulous term in our day, I’d say. Hope for the best, live in hope. Not a lot of content to it.

John Anthony West is in your mind, and his manifest contempt for what passes for civilization among you in his day and yours.

Yes. Not much hope for our “civilization” unless it changes greatly for the better, and it is clearly beyond human possibility to design and execute those changes at any 3D-driven level.

Yet in his final statement that you are watching, he was living in hope, was he not? Would you call that nebulous?

Well, it’s difficult to sort out – which I realize is your forte, sorting out. He was or seemed to be feeling that a great change was nearly upon us, after a lifetime’s struggle against entrenched stupidity and willful blindness. Yet his criticisms of our present day were no less trenchant and biting.

So, you see how quickly and easily we pass to the essence of what hope is. It is the expectation of something that cannot necessarily be defined or even more than vaguely sensed; nonetheless the expectation (as opposed to the formulation of what it is that is expected) is a real, certain, tangible presence.

A definite vagueness? A vague definiteness?

We’re smiling along with you, but it can be sorted out. You’ll see.

Start with the difference between faith and hope, remembering that we are not concerning ourselves with how these words and qualities have been understood, but rather how they may be understood henceforth, to assist you. Thus, call faith belief that certain things are true. Call hope belief that certain goals may be attained. Do you see how easily the distinction is made?

It flickers. My understanding of it, I mean.

Abraham Lincoln believed in the people. He believed in human equality. He believed in free government as an idea that had been passed to his generation from its revolutionary forebears. Those were acts of faith.

He hoped, on the other hand, for many developments, some of which transpired and some of which did not. He hoped to keep England and France from interfering; he hoped the South would accept compensated emancipation; he hoped to find a solution to the race problem by the “repatriation” of ex-slaves to Africa. He hoped that whatever latest general he was forced to rely on would measure up. You see the distinction, surely, between faith in principle and hope in outcome.

Yes, I suppose I do. It’s clear enough at this moment, anyway.

You have faith in human ability to contact non-physical sources of guidance. You hope that we will be able to shed light on a given subject.

Yes. Even if a given hope is disappointed, that doesn’t necessarily justify abandoning faith that in general the hope is justified.

We wouldn’t have put it quite that way, but yes, good enough.

Now remember, we are delineating the sins and virtues for a reason, a very practical stocking of your toolbox with cautions and reminders, so that you may have life, and have it more abundantly, as Jesus put it. We aren’t endorsing previously held religious views and we aren’t proselytizing for your First Church of Frank. We are reminding you that you need all the tools and guidance you can get your hands on – or, we ought to say, can get your head around – if you are to make sense of new inputs, new conditions, new exigencies.

Thus, faith is helpful. Hope is helpful. They are power tools, multipliers of force, enablers of psychic judo, so to speak. Without them, you are half-disarmed. With them, you are half-ready.

And charity?

Charity is different in intent and in effect from faith and hope. Faith and hope are attitudes you may take up with regard to what (seems to) happen to you. Charity is an attitude you may take up to shape how you happen to the world. It is your lodestone, orienting your actions. It prevents you from many a wrong orientation, hence from many a wrong action or thoughts.

Again Abraham Lincoln.

He is an outstanding example of a man shaped by living the three Christian virtues, though he did not regard himself as a Christian and joined no church even in his mind, let alone in his external allegiance.

Faith sustained him in his most difficult times, times when he feared he would be driven to kill himself (when he was young) and when he feared he was inadequate to his great responsibilities (when he was older).

Hope sustained him, similarly, in the times when logic and common sense would have persuaded him or anyone that hope was illusory. Like Churchill 80 years later, he clutched at each reason for hope as it appeared, but did not allow each subsequent disappointment to render him hopeless. If faith was belief in certain principles, hope was disbelief in certain ultimate outcomes.

Charity sustained him, in that he knew he meant well. In this he was like Robert E. Lee, who prayed for his enemies as well as for his friends.

Awareness of their good intent fortified them in hope that they were on God’s side?

That’s a little too definite. They both recognized that “God” could not be on both sides at once, as Lincoln pointed out. But let’s say, knowing that they were operating out of charity rather than hatred cleared not only their minds but their consciences. It did not – could not – guarantee success externally. It did enable success individually.

You’d better spell that out, I think.

You do it.

Lincoln and Lee lived the same double-edged life we all lead. The living of their lives concerned them; it also concerned the world around them, influenced by them. Nobody can have things all his own way externally; everybody succeeds and fails to some degree, considered as one person in the world. But that same person’s (seemingly) internal task, the inner life, does not depend upon external success and is not hampered by external failure.

Well, it may be. But the distinction remains. Even though your life is your own affair (on the one hand) and is part of the world (on the other), it is one life, not two, so the effects continually intertwine. Lincoln’s personal qualities affected his relations with those around him. His rise to political influence among the Whigs and then the Republicans affected his own day-to-day sense of himself. It is always a fluctuating balance, that’s how it’s designed.

So, to return to the focus, which is how you, reading this, may benefit from the discussion.

Life seems to happen to you. external events shape your life, day upon day. What is the most effective way to live that life?

You happen to life, too. Internal motivations guide you, moment by moment, and shape how you react and how you pro-act. What is the most effective way to live that life?

We suggest, remembering the seven deadly shoal-water markers will help in a negative way: Here there be, if not dragons, at least difficulties. Remembering the four cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude will help keep your ship balanced and seaworthy. And remembering faith, hope, and charity will provide a common-sense set of guidelines as you go along moment by moment.

But all this leaves unanswered the question – toward what? And that is where we will go, or may go, depending upon you, whenever we meet next. Tomorrow may be an appropriate day to rest from this.

Well, we’ll see. Thanks for all of this – not just today but this whole series. I wish it were easier to keep it all in mind.

We can help you do that too. but let’s round things off first.



Nathaniel — faith v. psychic’s disease

Nathaniel — faith v. psychic’s disease

Thursday, February 8, 2018

6:30 a.m. Seems like I keep saying this, but – faith hope and charity, this morning, or something else?

That will do as a topic. And then we may go on to other things for a while. You have been doing this for a while now.

In discussing the three virtues the Christians added to the classic four, we are less interested in what may have been understood by them historically than in their relevance for today and tomorrow. For, after all, in one sense nothing permanent ever changes, but in another sense everything permanent seems to change – reveals other facets – as the point of view of the observers around them changes. (Yes, “all is one” ultimately, but in discussing anything short of the ultimate, we end by discussing parts as if they were independent or partly independent units.) So how might you usefully incorporate these virtues in the lives you lead from now?

Faith. Faith implies faith in something, if only in the integrity of the universe, or in justice, or goodness. It need not extend to belief that the way one understands the universe is correct. That is, it need not be a credo in the sense that organized religions use it. It may, if that helps you, if it matches your disposition and meets your needs; but it need not.

Non-Muslims are not aided by the fact that Muslims believe certain things to be true; neither are they themselves harmed by the fact that they [themselves] do not, or do not in the same manner. Similarly, non-Christians are no more affected by their own non-belief in the Apostle’s Creed, say, than Protestants and Catholics are affected by their own inability to believe their opposite numbers’ specific creeds.

In short, faith has nothing to do with being right. It has nothing to do with anything that can be “scientifically” proved. Faith is not opinion.

This, despite the fact that opinion, and supposed fact, and correctness (i.e. the assumption that one is correct) will shelter behind the word. The fact remains, faith is not a matter of fact or opinion in the sense in which the word is so often misused to support.

Faith is – what you know it to be, from experience. It is a steadfast unreasoning and perhaps unreasonable belief that something is true, that motivates your action (or perhaps your in-action, sometimes) against all contrary evidence.

As I was writing that, I thought of Shackleton’s men, stranded in the Antarctic, waiting for months for rescue, forming up every day because “this may be the day he returns.” Amazing story, and on the one hand it shows his remarkable character that inspired such faith, and of course on the other, shows the remarkable character of his men who refused to consider that he might be unable to fulfill his word.

Plenty of examples throughout history, if you care to set them out.

But not here. To be sure, there are. I don’t know why that particular example came to mind, unless it was because their faith was so unreasoning, even though they knew the perils that might easily have destroyed their leader in his attempt to bring them their salvation.

Even if he had failed, and the men had all died, the fact of their faith throughout their long vigil would have remained, even though the world never heard of it. The second-tier experience would have returned them full dividends quite regardless of first-tier results.

In a sense, faith is following guidance, an unseen presence that is trustworthy, benevolent, and personal. It manifests in convictions that you do not doubt, that lead you safely through fog and darkness past unsuspected dangers. It doesn’t preserve you from life – it isn’t a magic carpet or a cloak of invisibility or an assurance of invulnerability – but it preserves you throughout life, if you allow it to.

Can you make clear the difference between faith and what I call Psychic’s Disease? [That is, the certainty that because I strongly feel something is true, therefore it is true.]

It’s easy. Psychic’s Disease usually boils down to opinion. Faith is more about qualities.

I think I sort of see that, and it is a remarkable clarification. But, a little more?

That which you believe in faith, you are (in a sense, only) forced to believe. It is an overwhelming presence in your psyche. You may choose to disbelieve; you may, one might say, choose to go with doubt over faith, but it is there if you are willing to know it is. Faith is not a matter of opinion, though it may look like it superficially. Shackleton’s men were not of the opinion that he would return for them; they knew he would, even though reason would have thrown up so many reasons why he might have been prevented from doing so. Six hundred miles of open sea [800, actually] would have provided reason enough for doubt.

In their case, opinion would have been, “He’ll be here in three more weeks; he’ll get here on a Tuesday,” something like that.

In the case of Psychic’s Disease, that’s closer to your seizing on to some idea or conviction that comes floating within range and deciding that, because you grasped it, it is truth. And this is slightly more complicated than may appear.

I see. Timelines change.

Correct. So, a certainty may stem from accurate vision that refuses to take into account one’s inability to out-wrestle the universe.

Which “you.”

As always. But we are moving a little faster than our words, so let’s drop back a bit and reconstruct the chain of realizations that have brought you here.

It is a fine line, sometimes, between faith and cocksureness. The way to distinguish between them – for yourself – is to distinguish how far desire has mingled with perception. Now, we just said it is a fine line. Shackleton’s men certainly desired that he would return bringing rescue, but it was not desire, in their case, that brought certainty. It was their shared faith in him and his leadership and ability and call it his luck, though perhaps neither he nor they would have used the word.

But supposing – to make a slightly absurd example – that among themselves they had been conducting a pool as to which day of the week he would arrive. In such case, any certainty would have been perilous (that is, untrustworthy) because no matter how certain one might be, no matter how accurate one’s non-sensory knowledge might be – in actual fact, one might wind up following some other timeline, thus falsifying the knowing.

You see? Very difficult to tell true intuition leading to foreknowledge from true intuition leading to what we might call mistaken foreknowledge. If one judges results by where one lands, that kind of thing happens all the time. It is why prophets are not inerrant. So, faith must be in things other than timeline-delineated things.

I have the concept, pretty clearly now, but I feel we haven’t really said some one thing that would make it clear.

It can be a cloudy concept, because it is a cloudy relationship. Let’s leave it at this. You can live in faith in all humility, but you can’t live in Psychic’s Disease that way. Remember always that you, yourself, are not uniquely guided in the world, and it will be easier to remember that guidance is not certainty, but always requires and repays doubt.

“Doubt”? Did I get the wrong word? That seems contradictory. Shackleton’s men never seem to have doubted that he would successfully return.

There is a fine shade of difference, concealed by language. They did not doubt his ability, his loyalty, his courage and resourcefulness. This is the basis for their faith. They knew him. But that did not blind them to the possibility that the forces of nature might overwhelm him as they had overwhelmed the expedition’s ship and its intent. They knew he might fail, but there was no percentage in pulling that future toward them (or pulling themselves toward it, however you wish to see it). Instead, they clung to their faith in their leader’s character and ability as they knew it from long experiences, and we might say used that faith to pull themselves to a future in which they were rescued.

You see the fine line? They didn’t suppress their knowledge of possibilities, they merely rested on what they knew, and lived as if it would work out, as it did.

Well, as you say, it’s a fine line, and maybe we’ll meet questions that bring us to review the subject. Meanwhile, that’s our hour. Till next time, then.

& & &

NOTE: For those interested in the remarkable story of Ernest Shackleton and his three voyages, I went poking around and found these: (“The Exhibition, which was on view from April 10 – October 11, 1999 at the American Museum of Natural History, documented one of the greatest tales of survival in expedition history: Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 voyage to the Antarctic. Just one day’s sail from the continent, the ship Endurance became trapped in sea ice. Frozen fast for ten months, the ship was crushed and destroyed by ice pressure, and the crew was forced to abandon ship. After camping on the ice for five months, Shackleton made two open boat journeys, one of which–a treacherous 800-mile ocean crossing to South Georgia Island–is now considered one of the greatest boat journeys in history. Trekking across the mountains of South Georgia, Shackleton reached the island’s remote whaling station, organized a rescue team, and saved all of the men he had left behind.”)


Nathaniel on guidance and conscience

Nathaniel on guidance and conscience

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

6:50 a.m. I’m tired this morning. But – faith hope and charity? Or, something else?

Remember, there isn’t any “must” about this. When you don’t feel like doing it, you need not.

I haven’t had enough experience of long-term responsibility to be able to say confidently that what I want at any given moment is the best thing, for me, for anything larger than myself. A lack of external rules means leaning on nothing.

Still, it is an option. Any way of living is an option, and it is for you to judge how it suits you. Only – things like delineating seven prime errors are designed to help you avoid pitfalls that living has made obvious to your predecessors. They can save you from traveling many a wrong road, like street signs saying this road leads to here, not there.

Which is all well and good if you trust the authority that put up the signs, and if anybody ever takes the time to explain to you why this road brings you here and that one, there. Instead we get, “Don’t go down that road, because it’s wrong. And it’s wrong because we (or some others) say so.” It becomes a matter of feeling pushed around, especially when a part of us very much wants to see what’s down that road. Maybe feels a need to go down that road.

Understand that here you are talking about yourself in particular, because not everybody is puzzled or at sea until the “why” of things is explained to them. But, that said, neither are you the only one.

I take it, then, that some personalities or psychological structures, call them what you will, benefit from, prefer, hard and fast rules on an understood (i.e. taken for granted) absolute authority. And of course, writing that, I see I do [know]. My own fundamentalist son gives me the example.

What suits some is hell for others. But rules tend to be made by those who benefit from rules (that is, by those who require that rules exist to guide them; we don’t mean “benefit from rules” in any corrupt or dictatorial sense, though that can enter into it, as well).

I have long known that churches may be founded by mystics, but they are carried on by organizers. It’s the same process that may be seen in business, I suppose: The traits that lead to initiating a thing are not those required to maintain it. Nevil Shute Norway, who had the experience of it, wrote as much.

Well, you see, that is one of the things we are doing here, building bridges of understanding between two ways of seeing. Your mystics (though that isn’t really the right word here) want to know “why” before they follow rules. Your organizers want to know “on whose authority.” At first this is not a sharp conflict, because at the onset of any new understanding, the non-3D source of the understanding will be felt rather than only heard about. It is only later that it may become a matter of experience or submission to authority, which quickly becomes submission to authorities – that is, to human representatives of an institution organized around those original experiences and understandings that are no longer universally shared by those who are nevertheless willing to believe.

Yes. I’ve understood that for some while now. Inspiration translated into social action seems to have a limited shelf-life.

That’s no way to look at it. That is saying, “My way of apprehending reality is the only solid way,” which it certainly is not. What would you do with the great mass of people to whom these understandings [being given here] are impossible to grasp? You can give them rules of thumb, knowing that their natures will lead them to codify and calcify them, or you can give them nothing at all, knowing that what you will not provide, others with different measures and visions will. It really isn’t as simple as saying, “My way is right and theirs is wrong,” and it never is. Your way will be right for you – best case! And it will be no way at all, or will be a dangerous or even harmful way, for others.

Don’t they have their own non-3D guidance to lead them?

What do you think is leading them to be so certain they must follow rules?

You are saying, those of a certain nature will be so because their guidance leads them to be that way, not despite their own guidance.

Why should you expect it to be any different? People tend to downplay or even fear the tendencies opposite their own, but it is only prejudice, or, to be charitable, it is only preference. You who walk in places without paths may scorn those who stay carefully to whatever path they find, and vice-versa. You’re both acting naturally and you’re neither acting your best selves, in your scorn. It isn’t necessary, in order to follow your own bent, to condemn those whose bent lies in another direction, even a contradictory direction. It isn’t necessary; it is a great perpetual temptation.

All right, I see all that. The difficulty, though, is that believers in rigid rules always want the rest of us to adhere to them, and would enforce our consciences if they could, for our own good.

And there you have the Protestant position as it evolved five centuries ago. You in your loyalty to your [Catholic] heritage under assault from mistaken directions have tended to underestimate the degree to which right was on the side of those who rebelled in the name of freedom of conscience.

I suppose that’s so. Most of the Protestant criticisms of the Catholic church that I have seen in my time don’t –

Oh, that’s interesting! Of course! They aren’t well aimed because they are aimed against a church that relies on temporal power to enforce its views – and that view of the church is centuries out of date.

But when it was not out of date, it was not inaccurate, and if you in your present configuration had been involved in religious struggles then, you would have been firmly on the side of individual guidance –conscience – and hence would have been either a Protestant or at least an Erasmian. [That is, a follower of Erasmus. I had to look him up. Try]

Very interesting! Of course I would have been. And the reason I am not, today, is because the flaws in the argument are so obvious to me. The need for an institution to avoid the wild excesses caused by individual eccentricity is evident to me, as is the need for individual freedom from such institutions. It’s a balance – an impossible tension of opposites – and I don’t like fanatics who take only one side and refuse to see the merits and necessities of the other.

So maybe you have learned something.

Maybe so. Though, I knew all this. I hadn’t put it together in just this way.

Remember, you are a long way from living in a civilization with a common, coherent, accommodative point of view. You will never see it. Your job – all of you alive now and for some time to come – is to explore possibilities, to find truths and not “the truth.”

I got the strongest impression – very nearly a visual image – of someone in ecclesiastical robes, and thought of Bishop Sheen, who used to teach on network television in the 1950s. What’s that about?

Although he was teaching doctrine, was he not attempting to explain, to set out, to reach individual minds that he could never meet, let alone have any authority over? That is the proper procedure for this period of history, only with the emphasis on the provisional nature of knowledge (even of conscience) rather than emphasis on the reliable nature of the source. It is always going to be a tension of opposites – the message as its own authority, the message as endorsed by someone or some body of persons conferring that authority.

You may choose to (or your own psychological makeup may all but force you to) choose one or the other of the two, but best if you can preserve the knowing that both halves of any duality have legitimacy. You’ll be less of a fanatic, less unbalanced, the more you remember that.

Well, I’ve always said that the reason The Monroe Institute suited me was that you didn’t have to profess any belief – even a tentative belief – to get in the door and proceed to have experience. Clearly the trainers knew things, but there was no attempted indoctrination. In fact, there was an on-going resistance to people generalizing from their experience to form rules. It suited my disposition.

Yes, very Protestant of you.

All right, I’m smiling too. Well, we never got to faith hope and charity, but very interesting as usual. Till next time.


Chasing Smallwood — .32. The physical and the non-physical

[A book with four interlocking themes:

  • how to communicate with the dead;
  • the life of a 19th-century American;
  • the massive task facing us today, and
  • the physical world’s place in the scheme of things.]

[7 a.m. Thursday, February 16, 2006]

(11 a.m.) All right. Typed that up and sent it out. Continue?

Your second questions was, do we communicate up here, and – to throw ‘em both in together – if what you do there affects what I can do here.

Sure we communicate! We do nothing but communicate. But it ain’t exactly like conveying information; more like communicating states of being. This won’t be all that easy for you to get, and maybe we’ll have to call in somebody else, but let’s try. What you learn today, what happens to you inside and outside, changes you, a little or a lot. In your bodies, you don’t notice these changes so much, or so quickly. So what you regard as communicating, we think of as smoke signals! That is, you ain’t communicating very much! You’re hinting.

Us, it’s different. If something changes me, it changes me all the way through, and anybody touching onto me knows it, and that changes them too. And the people they touch feel their change, and change in turn. You see how volatile it all is?

So what do you think? You think it makes any difference to the other side what you do, when everything you do or think or feel – or choose, in short – affects us and has to affect us and can’t help affecting us?

You see? Sometimes you think what happens in physical world isn’t important. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Your choices continually affect us, as we affect you. Does this speak of our interest in your life? Does it speak to the feeling that you have that what you are – what you choose to become – somehow matters?

You see? What is this but the feeling that (on the one hand) God loves and cares for you and (on the other hand) you have a responsibility. It is true that religions put rules around it all, and it is true that every vision includes distortion, and so you get the vindictive God, the angry God, the judgmental God, the capricious and arbitrary God. This can’t be helped much, because it is human nature to conceive its God in the only model it knows: itself. “God is created in the image of man.”

It is a new day; it demands new images of God. Your present natures will not content themselves with older containers, for they do not fit you. What relationship do you have with an image of God molded from the monarchs of Assyria? Yet the underlying reality does not change. This is why version after version of an image of God appears: You need to have some recognizable model of reality, yet your perception of reality changes, and therefore reality appears to change, and the model must change. You will make better models if you study the older ones and try to see what the older model-makers were seeing, than to start continually from scratch. There can be an advantage sometimes to starting from scratch, but not continually.

(1 p.m. So – last question for the moment – what is your life there?

That is not the easiest question you have ever asked. If it could really be told, it would be told, of course. But translation errors overwhelm. Here is a thought experiment:

If your life and motivations and surroundings were exactly the same except that you knew and experienced at all times that all is connected, and if consequences were not delayed, and if you could range where you wanted to in time and space – but could not be fixed in one time-space and could not experience delayed consequences – what would your life be?

And if, at the same time you were in this condition of freedom-of-time-and-place and immediate consequences and total connection, one part of you was connected to just those opposing conditions –what would your life be?

That is our situation; and given that you are part of us, it is your situation as well. You identify with one end of the continuum, we with the other – for the moment. That is the biggest difference.

3:30. Well, friends, you heard my brother ask [in an email] what is the ultimate crisis, the root of so much that is wrong. (You also heard him suspect that you’re just teasing us, wanting to be begged for information. Did you hear me defending you? )

You know our methods, and expressed them very well. We approach a subject by circling around it, as the context in which something is seen determines how it looks. Another way to say that is, the context one sees from determines what can be seen. That is a major theme here, of course.

It is also true that we are attempting to monitor your energy usage. It would not do to make you an example of what can go wrong, when we’re busy making you an example of what can go easily and well. So this limits our sessions somewhat. Also, given that this is being distributed in email, and not everyone prints out their email, the shorter the session the greater chance that it will actually be read. We might even recommend sending them in pieces, as you used to send your black-box transcriptions.

We don’t want to say more at this time. You did get some exercise, and that is very good. Get some rest too. Perhaps after supper, depending on how you feel.



John Anthony West and the Sphinx

John is a little older than I thought, born apparently in 1932. This photo from his website,

Someone joked that when Emerson visited Egypt in his old age, the Sphinx said, “You’re another.”