Nathaniel — an inside / outside view

Friday, November 17, 2017

4:30 a.m. All right, my friends, what is on the agenda for this morning?

Talk a little about the incessant reading you are doing.

Re-reading the six Dion Fortune novels, Moon Magic being the last. Reading Henry Adams on the U.S. during Madison’s administrations, currently reading about the War of 1812. Dion Fortune’s The Magical Battle of Britain, again, though hardly begun. Still on The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events. Still on Awakening from the 3D World. Never finished Holy Ice, a book about crystals. Set aside Parkman for the moment. Read one short story in Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life, which arrived yesterday with Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem.

And what does all this amount to?

Avoidance? Habit? I don’t know.

Talk about your lungs.

Well, I haven’t been really well since asthma started up again, as usual, in the Fall. September wasn’t bad, but it got going pretty well last month and was tenacious enough that I realized, I was just holding my own, between nebulizer and inhaler. But then yesterday I sort of had it out with it. Or, no, it was as if I were saying goodbye to it, as a long-time companion. I remember thinking I’d miss it, in a way. Immediately I thought that, it changed. It didn’t exactly disappear, but the intensity lessened, and I do suspect it will be going. Not entirely sure what this is about. A bit I do, not all.

Talk about the alligator.

If I must. When I was working with Jane Mullen on the 30th, at one point she saw what she apologetically described as an alligator within me, very tough hide, great snapping teeth. We both took it to be a defense-mechanism instilled or installed or developed or however you want to describe it, at an early age. I could see that it had been needed. I could see that it was needed no more and in fact had caused me a lot of trouble, I not being aware of it. So I talked to it and we encouraged it to leave, which it did without struggle. I felt the difference immediately.

And finally, talk about your ambitions and your steps not taken to achieve them.

I take it you mean the things I’d like to tidy up by writing them, as I did Dark Fire, rather than leaving them in limbo.

That, and the ones not yet begun.

Those as well. Lots of work to be done, but instead other than these conversations and their accompanying labor of transcriptions, I don’t do the work, I read. I watch movies sometimes. I do email. But mostly I read. I take it you have a reason for having me trot this out? I’m not very discreet, but this seems unnecessary.

Few people know how they spend their days, and few accounts would be a recognizable summary. That is, few people would describe their lives in a way that would agree with the way others see them.

Natural enough, I’d think. The internal view – I mean, the view from inside – is always going to differ from the view from outside looking in.

Indeed it will. But the view from inside may be as different from “the truth” – meaning, a closer description of cause and effect – as the difference you sometimes cite between intent and effect.

Yes. I point out sometimes, we judge ourselves by our intent, and judge others by their actions (and, often enough, by the effect of their actions). So?

So here is our view, neither internal nor external, both internal and external. The middle two terms of four-place logic, you see. [Rather than either “identity” or “non-identity,” four-place logic includes “neither” and “both.”]

I’m not altogether sure I care for the idea. If I go to the trouble of writing it down, sooner or later I’ll send it out, and maybe it isn’t anybody’s business.

And maybe it isn’t discreditable and you don’t need to worry about it.

And maybe it isn’t anybody’s business anyway.

And maybe it is.

Well, that stopped me. It is?

From our point of view, one’s intent means more than one’s execution. That doesn’t mean, “We forgive you for not doing X; your heart was in the right place, anyway.” It means, what you really do and what you appear to be doing (appear, even to yourself) are not the same thing. Not now, not ever. And of course – though it won’t seem to you to be an “of course,” Frank – none of this is special to Frank, it is one life being used as an illustration of Life.

You having to find somebody willing to be dissected in public.

We wouldn’t have put it quite that way. But, all right, say it is so. It is a valuable contribution, that willingness.

Now, you don’t know which you’d rather hear less, praise or criticism. Of the two, you are better at dealing with the latter.

There is a saying I don’t really understand but that comes to mind: “Praise to the face is open disgrace.” As part of my payment for services rendered, you might explain that one. It’s sort of how I feel, but I don’t know why.

Oh certainly you do, you just haven’t connected it. Think of your reaction to literary criticism. One praising (or criticizing, but let’s stick to praising) another, in a sense assumes the right to do so; that is, assumes that s/he knows enough to have the right to judge.

I don’t think that’s quite fair. Mostly, when people say they like this or that, they are describing how it affected them.

Exactly.

And what’s wrong with that?

As a description of how it affected them, nothing at all. As you have pointed out often enough, appreciation of one’s work by others is an artist’s reward, second only to the work itself. But if the praise or criticism pretends to be an objective judgment, then the would-be judge had better have some credentials, or it is a bit of unconscious or conscious arrogance, and an implied ranking of the artist by an authority.

I see the argument, but it seems a little far-fetched.

To your conscious mind, yes. We suggest it is familiar enough to other levels of yourself! And how much less are you (is anybody!) willing to concede to another the right and ability to judge your life and your being?

People judge all the time, and are judged.

Yes, and what a world of good it does them!

I always smile when you get sarcastic, don’t know why. Anyway –

You have described your life as you see it, and although you don’t quite realize it, or didn’t until this moment, that was a description of doing, not of being. And we would venture to guess that anybody you would ask to describe their lives would similarly describe what they did, not how they were.

For one thing, doing is a lot easier to get a handle on than being. You’re asking the fish to describe the taste of water, when he’s lucky if he can describe the fishbowl!

Aren’t we willing to describe the taste of water for you? That was our point. And, as always not so much for you as through you. you as example for others, because everybody is naturally going to be concerned primarily with their own life that is their responsibility, and only indirectly with the life of others. What they can see done for someone else they can extrapolate for themselves.

A pitfall for biographers, I always say, is thinking they have the right and the ability to judge, just because they have a lot of facts; the portrait they wind up painting is a portrait of how those facts affected the biographer. My life of JFK whom I never met would be very different from those of others, even those who knew him well, because I would see or think I saw different things.

So, to describe you, we would do the same thing you just said, though you don’t quite see it. We would describe you as the interaction of your 3D and non-3D selves. That unseen element is what people guess at, be they biographers, family, friends, or spectators. And we, having a ringside seat, in describing you who are willing to drive the pen, can thereby help others see their own unknown territory.

Go ahead then. I can always cross it out or not transcribe it, if need be.

Don’t we know it! But you’ll find no need. Our judgment is not condemnation but discernment.

Here is how we see you being, as opposed to doing. You live a receptive life,

Stopped dead. But, try again.

If people respond, you respond to them. If you read, you respond to what you read and to what it suggests. If you

Gritting my teeth, in a way, not because of anything you’re saying, but for some reason this is hard.

The process – particularly when it involves a description of yourself – requires you to maintain a difficult and uncomfortable position, neither passively conveying nor actively shaping, neither comfortably objective nor comfortably subjective. The content has less to do with the discomfort than the position itself.

I see. So, just persevere and get used to it?

That is always one way.

But enough for now?

Let’s try one more short passage. It isn’t what you do on the 3D level that expresses your life, it is what that doing does to who and what you are – and that is an on-going process. The nurse who helps a succession of patients, the lawyer who treats a succession of clients, the theoretician who examines a succession of possibilities – the list could be made and added to endlessly – all of you do something that is easily and inaccurately defined, but that doing is not the whole story. What you want to be, what you work at becoming, what you hope against hope is a possibility, is your realer life, percolated through that maze of doing.

See, as an abstract statement it wasn’t hard. But the concrete example is what would let people anchor it.

Oh go ahead then. I’ll let it though if I can.

If you will hold in mind any aspirations you ever had, and look at them, you will see your life differently. You wanted to become a saint, as a boy. You wanted to be a statesman, a famous author. Three easy if not altogether compatible illustrations. But you wanted other things, in different parts of your mind. Soldier and war hero, for instance. Explorers, pioneer, adventurer, a la Daniel Boone. Cowboy, like so many boys of your time. Later you found other ideals.

None of this shows you, now, but they illustrate the fact that what you yourself remember of the life that shaped you isn’t much more accurate (that is, doesn’t include so much) as what others see. And of course we are leaving out what you would cross out anyway.

You, day to day, moment by moment, are an ever-moving combination of various ideals and daydreams, various responses to 3D and non-3D stimuli – that is, the books, and the thoughts and reactions the books stimulate – and a thousand unconsidered but very real everyday reactions as you go about your life.

This has gone on for nearly an hour and a half.

We won’t embarrass your further, and as usual we suggest that you take tomorrow off.

I can see I’ll need to. Very well, till next time.

 

Nathaniel : Time to be practical

Thursday, November 16, 2017

3:40 a.m. Yesterday may turn out to have been a big day. I’m thinking that my session with psychic / healer Jane Mullen is continuing to show results. That was October 30, and it seems to me it was a turning point. Certainly, a lot has happened, mostly but not entirely internal, in the two weeks since then. And, as we know, “internal” is probably a meaningless distinction from “external.”

And you, my friends, seem to have been an integral part of the process of change, or development, and I am grateful.

The theme at the moment, you will recall, is the practical application of so much investigation. Naturally, practice is going to result in change, or did you do so much work over so much time with the idea of manifesting no more than you already were?

We both know better than that. John Nelson pointed out in one of his novels that so many people want to “change without changing.” I know better than that. I feel better than that, let’s say. But of course change always involves moving into the unknown.

It does and it doesn’t. Let’s talk for a moment about the “doesn’t,” for in a time when sweeping comprehensive change is all about you (“you” plural, you understand), it is well that people be reassured that they are not being swept away by a tornado of unbound and unbounded forces. To change metaphor, they are not wandering, lost in the desert, or adrift on the sea. They are, and they aren’t, depending entirely upon their connection to their larger self which they experience.

It strikes me, that is what this whole long story is about, in a way. Muddy Tracks, first draft written in 1997-98, had as its theme my own stumbling efforts to conceptualize life as connection to what I was calling the larger being. Everything in the time since – and before, of course, given that I wasn’t writing theory but trying to make sense of experience – is variations on a theme. Connection, expansion, reorientation, exploration, consolidation – it has been going on a good long time now.

And finally you are at another culmination point. You as an individual, Frank, and you as a part of a small open-but-closed society, and you as a part of a civilization spanning the globe. These are times of gathering and manifestation. They aren’t the end; there is never a “the end,” but they are a pause for

I can’t find the right word. Not “consolidation,” not “reorientation.”

Call it rolling readjustment, maybe. Not the end of the line, not the end of movement. Not a pause, even. More a moment of recognition, a reorienting.

And, I know, not just me. I do know that.

So. for those who are ready to make such preoccupation practical, we have been providing the specific tools. For those who are not yet ready (including those who will never be ready in this lifetime), nothing wasted; no one can know what seed will germinate at what time, in what circumstance. And it takes many iterations, sometimes, for a given statement to suddenly (or gradually) penetrate layers of dullness or misinterpretation or resistance. But for those who are ready when they read this, or re-read it, or think about it later, our theme-song has been, “You are not alone, you are not lost, you are not damned, or forsaken, or stymied.” You have not foreclosed your future by your past action or inaction.

Some scripture says “though your sins be as scarlet,” you can be lifted above them not so much by divine grace (in the sense of an external agency that offers you a lift) as by your divine nature (in the sense of an innate part of yourself that you can at any time choose to identify with). Can’t remember if it is a Hindu or Buddhist or Sufi scripture. It doesn’t sound Christian on the face of it, although if we take “repentance” to be turning our face resolutely toward another path, I suppose it could be.

[To my surprise I find (courtesy of duckduckgo.com), it is neither Hindu nor Buddhist nor Sufi nor Christian, but is from Isaiah 1:18: “Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” I would have bet it was from the Upanishads. If I properly understand the sense of the chapter, Isaiah, who was a prophet, not a lawgiver, was saying, in effect, that God told him that God wasn’t interested in sacrifices or externals, but in repentance – that is, in voluntary individual reform.]

A difficulty of scripture is that it is words rather than someone’s presence; hence the words may be taken out of context; their meaning may be seen only one way; they may be used as law rather than as assistance. But remember, everyone who reads a book is directly connected to the author, hence to everyone else who ever reads it. This is as true of scripture as of any book else.

A two-edged sword, there, isn’t it? I can see why not only literalism but sheepitude are dangers there. the sense of being one of a huge number visible and invisible, living and departed, may convey a sense of certainty, and that sense (correct enough as far as it goes) may extend to a self-righteous exclusionary cult mentality.

You know full well that you cannot have a tool sharp enough to do your work without it being sharp enough to cut the unwary.

I used to tell my kids that.

Scripture is a very powerful tool, and therefore it gets misused and injures the unwary. Is that reason to discard it, or to post warnings for the unwary to have more care?

Not that they are likely to listen, being unwary.

(1) You never know. (2) The point is that you don’t want to deprive yourselves and others of that powerful assistance because the unwary may misuse it. And yet that is exactly what has happened among seekers who are intelligent, and independent, and sincere – often enough, desperate – yet so afraid of becoming sheep that they dare not take the food that will feed their life.

Not a new idea to me. Hard to apply, sometimes. I see it in my friends (or seem to; perhaps I misjudge them). If I mention God or cite scripture, it is as if I betray that I am childish or superstitious or, let’s say, had not overcome the difficulties of my childhood. I saw it in Colin Wilson, for one.

The touchstone always is a person’s sincerity and perseverance, not his conclusions or his walled-off areas. You yourself are not particularly open to scientific arguments that might tend to “prove” a meaningless or contingent universe. And, why should you be? That isn’t the “you” that it is your job and joy to express.

Yes, I know that. Obviously I am well aware of the value of Colin’s work in opening a space for seekers who are of a certain background and disposition – as I myself was.

Wouldn’t it be a reproach to a teacher if his students never went beyond his limits to their limits?

That’s a good way to think of it. I like that.

We return one last time (for now!) to the point. It is time to make all this dedication and inquiry and good intent and exploration and resolve practical. That is what we have been sketching out, not the way but anyway a way. This is not the time to leave your castles in the air.

A la Thoreau: “If you have built your castles in the air, your work need not be lost. Now put the foundations under them.”

Exactly. So, not two worlds but one world. Not spiritual or physical, but both human and divine. Not predestined or free, but both and neither. Not stuck and lost and hopeless, only thinking one is.

As a man thinks in his heart, so he is?

That’s one sense of it, surely.

And, like Daniel Boone, never been lost in the woods but once confused for three days?

Also true.

Very reinforcing and encouraging, as usual. Our thanks, also as usual.

 

An upwelling

(1) Bruce

Wednesday. November 15, 2017

6:50 a.m. Up again after maybe an hour and a half – not sleeping, exactly, but resting, anyway.

Very unsatisfactory session today. because no coffee? Because no idea where it would go? But either and both these conditions have been true in the past. Stage-fright lest Bruce come in?

7:15 a.m. This is the first time I am left with so unsatisfactory a feeling about it. It occurs to me, perhaps I am shirking.

Bruce, is it you, wanting to come through?

Of course.

Well, I don’t see that there’s any “of course” about it, necessarily. It has been a good while – years – since we met or even talked.

Not that that makes any difference.

No, maybe not. So – how are you doing? Surely you haven’t adjusted so quickly?

Why not? I wasn’t taken by surprise, and I had a firm idea of what was to come. Any surprises would be incidental; mostly I knew.

That’s reassuring.

If is as you have been told. The closer you establish the link while you are alive, the easier it is to change your base of operations.

I don’t suppose you will have completed your past-life review.

Again, why not? It takes place in an instant – it only takes a long time to describe if you have to string words together in sequence.

I trust you are satisfied with what you saw.

Anything can be improved on – could have been improved on, I mean. But, it could have been worse, too.

You did make a difference, Bruce. You came a long way from being a mechanical engineer who liked doing Lifelines.

I know that. It is very gratifying, but the strongest gratification is in the people I loved and who loved me. You’ll find it the same. Anybody will. Expressing and experiencing PUL [pure unconditional love] is a solid achievement. Other things are well and good, but they’re more transient, more tied to the moment.

Well, you always said so. I remember you telling me of how as a boy you were walking down the road and pulled the ability to feel and threw it away, because it hurt so much. We who knew you only as an adult watched you recover and develop it. It was very interesting.

Sometimes you have to lose something and get it back, before you can appreciate it.

Many, many people benefitted from your work on yourself, Bruce, even though only at second-hand.

You’ll find it is always that way.

So now you are with Bob Monroe and Ed Wilson and Dave Wallis and Ed Carter, with Laurie Monroe and with Rita presumably. Old Home Week?

Well –

How well I remember that, Bruce! I’d ask you a question – what is a capacitor and what does it do, I remember that one distinctly – and you would pause, take a drag on your cigarette, let the smoke out, look up and to your right, and start by saying, “Well –.”

See? Some things never change.

I don’t know, Edgar Cayce said once, “Where I am going, there are no cigarettes.”

Hasty conclusion. As to my friends, bear in mind that anybody may have mutual friends with somebody else, but the mutual friends are going to be only a small percentage of the number of friends and loved ones he has in all. Right at the moment, relatives I lost years ago are more front and center. But you know that is misleading. It isn’t quite that way, but that is one way to describe it. Anyway, the TMI portion of my life is one portion. There were many others, and what is important and productive and pleasurable and even urgent – I think we have urgent here too, although you might not think it – is going to change from moment to moment. Don’t forget, one realm, not two. We here and you there is a way of seeing things, but it isn’t really any more accurate than we here and you here, or we there and you there.

All one world. I know.

You know theoretically, but you will find yourself forgetting in practice.

No doubt. Okay, Bruce, any messages for your old friends?

Let’s say this is like having my manuscripts edited, all over again. I knew what I wanted to convey, and it came out in my words, but the editing process certainly changed the result.

I’m looking for the less obvious meaning of that, and I get that anybody you contact is going to in effect participate in editing your thoughts – if only by putting them into 3D sequential language – so we shouldn’t worry too much about consistency among various messages.

And you shouldn’t treat them as scripture, as you like to say. But there isn’t really any need for more at this point.

Give my regards to our friends as you encounter them, and congratulations on your new freedom.

I won’t go into it – ask your sources – but in the absence of 3D time, you are as “here” and as free as I am. But I know what you mean. Thanks.

See you another time, maybe. I’d say “be well,” but I guess that is no longer a concern.

Finally.

I know what you mean! Okay, till another time.

(2) Heads and tails

8:30 a.m. True or not, I do feel better [after receiving and sending it], which is a test in itself.

11:10. And it must have done me some good, as I slept till just now when the phone rang.

12:40 p.m. Okay, I finally got it. My reaction to being expected to post my conversation with Bruce is an example of the attitude I need to overcome.

Correct. Modesty, even humility, is a very good thing as opposed to egotism. But any good thing can be carried too far. As we said this morning, you have begun to express deeper levels of who you are. You want to, but your own self-contradiction is getting in your way. And here is the thing: No matter how much the world might want and even need a decision, no one has the right to overbear someone’s free will. In fact, it is more than a matter of right; it couldn’t be done anyway. How does one force another to make a free choice? And an unfree choice is no choice at all, so has no force.

I take it that, as usual, this is not just for my benefit.

No, not just; but it is for you to pay attention to. We most earnestly implore you to pay attention to your own soul’s longing.

Interesting. It is in this issue of appearances that I am affected by public opinion. I, who am always congratulating myself on not having to hide.

It hangs in the balance.

Presumably if heads-me declines to take the indicated path, tails-me will, so what’s the difference?

In a way, free will is an attempt to have heads and tails both come out in the same place, which tips the balance, you see.

No, I don’t see, actually.

A long time ago down the chain of decisions that is your life, the path not taken by you – by the version you are tracing today – led to mastery. If we can encourage tails-you to take decisions that lead to the same result that that very old heads-you chose, the entire weight of your total being will be moved.

I still can’t say that I see. Maybe somebody else will. But I don’t need to understand it. I know what my deepest wish in this life has been, only it seemed impossible of attainment, without teacher, without school, without a discipline to lean on.

Don’t you know that people’s deepest wishes are apt to be granted? And, does it occur to you that your deepest wish is rooted in your deepest nature?

Meaning we already are what we long to be?

In a sense, yes, or why would you long for it? What would bring you to recognize it?

I get that I am depending upon the inner knowing that has always sleepwalked me when necessary.

You are not alone. You may have heard that.

I see. Well, all I know to do is what Emerson said, “Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime.”

That’s all anybody could ask, and all you or anybody could need.

And I suppose the next step is to transcribe and send all this, and stand naked.

No one could or would force you to do so. It’s up to you.

Yes. All right.

(3) Typing

1:15 p.m. I suppose this is why you have had me reading Dion Fortune novels, which are all about people discovering their built-over selves. But this is no small thing you’re asking me to do. If I do this, I think surcease from asthma is not an unreasonable price to demand. But that isn’t the kind of payment in advance one can exact, I suppose.

2:05 p.m. If I type it up, I’m liable to send it. So – hesitating. No small thing, this; yet I suppose if I do not do it, it’s shallows and miseries for me. I just don’t know.

 

Nathaniel — expressing a deeper part of ourselves

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Each time I come to this, except when I know I will pose somebody’s question, I wonder, what today? So far there has always been something, and even when the result seems to me the most personal, I see that someone posts a comment saying that the session hit home with someone besides myself. Not that everyone draws the same conclusions I do, or interprets the information the same way, but – since I was given the notion that words are sparks rather than precision implements – I have ceased worrying about that. We’re all on our own, and we can only each do our best.

So, Bruce Moen died yesterday, apparently peacefully, after many months’ slow approach to his transition. I presume that he was as well prepared for it as anyone could be. My friends, any comment on that?

You are finding it more difficult, these conversations being neither private nor public, but a mixture of the two.

Indeed I am. I presume my difficulties are no greater than others may experience.

Each person’s experience will be slightly different from anyone else’s, as they [the individuals] are slightly different. Each will be similar, as you all have many things in common. This is so in all aspects of life, so of course here as well.

Very well. A sus ordenes, as always.

Well, not noticeably! That is, yes, you are very willing and cooperative; however, we should not care to predict the result if we were to try to give you orders.

It isn’t your place, after all, to give orders to 3D personalities. We may labor at some disadvantage vis a vis those not 3D bound, but we are no less immortal and self-sustaining (if you want to put it that way) as you. I know you know I know this; it is for the studio audience.

And, you see, part private, part public.

I don’t see what is to be done about it.

Who said anything is to be done about it? Be aware of it, make the adjustments as the need for them indicates. What else could you (anyone) do?

Very well. So, today’s theme? [Pause] Yes, I get that. I will center.

You must now learn to express a deeper part of yourself. This means letting it well up within you, thoroughly mixing with what it finds as it does so.

I get almost a visual metaphor, but I can’t quite find words for it. Quite simple words they will be, I suspect, when I find them. The image is of something boiling up through a liquid, roiling and mixing as it rises, sort of tumbling things in waves. Can’t find the words for it yet.

It is a good image, conveying process, steadiness, disruption becoming transformation, injection of additional energy, plasticity of form.

I keep thinking “ice cream” but that doesn’t have any of those characteristics. Strange. It is a fermenting, slow-boiling process that is just out of reach.

Not everything that may be perceived or conceptualized need be named. The important point is that they be followed. Fingers pointing to the moon, not the moon itself, not even the finger itself.

Yes, I get that. Life precedes understanding.

Well, sometimes. Like most such couplings, it is a reciprocating process, sometimes one leading, sometimes the other. But this is an example of the fact that the work can proceed even in the absence of clear understanding, certainly in the absence of precise description.

Another image that comes is of a river rapids. It’s all water; it is all water of the same salinity, chemical composition, etc. The difference is in what happens to any given part of the water as it is tumbled. Some gets aerated; gradually I suppose it all gets aerated.

Wild ride, sometimes; perhaps even [wild] for water.

We have now fooled around to not much effect for half an hour. If there is a theme here, I don’t see it. We have mentioned expressing a deeper part of ourselves, but the mention is all we’ve gotten to.

You are also painting a self-portrait as we go along, and all the better since it comes out in asides and unconscious allusions. It is well for anyone doing the work to remember it is not only okay to be a normal human being, it isn’t even avoidable. Only, normal doesn’t necessarily mean typical, and typical doesn’t necessarily mean anything at all except a vacuous abstraction.

Stirring is another image that comes to me. Stirring one element into another, producing a new homogenous liquid that is neither the one nor the other. I’d say it could be solids stirred, too, only there isn’t the sense of transformation that liquid has.

Stirring will do, so will boiling or churning. The general idea is more important than the specific clothing.

There is something I intended to ask or say, and it keeps almost appearing, then disappearing again. Presumably you know what it is.

We do because you do, on an equally non-3D level. But if you cannot receive it through your own internal channel, why would you expect to be able to receive it from an “external” channel still internally received? That may apply in cases where you have not been paying attention, but scarcely when you are.

Well, you tell us. That is a puzzling aspect of things, come to think of it. It applies to the whole process.

You must remember not to fall into the habit of thinking yourself in control of the process, merely because necessarily the material must come through your mind.

It is a temptation, that’s true. Sometimes it is obvious that I am interacting with a different intelligence; sometimes obvious that it is me; and sometimes not clear at all. Despite that, there is the unconscious tendency to over-reach, to think it is or ought to be under my own control, when of course, that is the last thing I’d want, and the last thing any genuine interaction could be. But. We’re all interconnected. You and my mind are at least temporarily linked, or we couldn’t be having the conversation. So why wouldn’t you be able to tell me things like what it is I am forgetting?

The question expresses a certain lack of clarity, if we may say so.

No doubt. Abstract reasoning is not my best thing. But I am presuming that you know how to bring more clarity to the question.

Not at the moment.

That’s puzzling in itself.

Never mind. You’ve been at this 50 minutes and there isn’t really time for more.

Nor much point in it, I guess. Well, I suppose not every session can be expected to be first-rate.

You do the best you can. Besides, remember always, you don’t know, nor need to know, who will get what from any of it.

True enough. Okay, then, I guess I’ll sign off. Thanks for being there.

We could say the same thing.

Till next time.

Till next time.

 

Nathaniel on self-observation

Nathaniel on self-observation

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

5:10 a.m. Last night I thought I would take a glass of wine to relax. To my great surprise, it made me dizzy when I tried to go to bed early. As dizzy as if I were drunk, dizzy as in, that whirling sickening feeling when my eyes were closed. It is sufficiently strange that I think to ask you, my friends, what is going on?

Good that you not only noticed – how could you not, though, in the circumstances – but remembered that things don’t just happen; they happen in a context.

Am I being told to stop drinking alcohol entirely? I’m not a very alcoholic person. It isn’t like I have a drink every day, or every week, or even every month.

But when you ask a question, stay for the answer.

Yes. Go on.

Usually in your life (everyone’s, we mean, not yours alone) it is a more productive question to ask what something is in aid of, than why it happened. They may seem like two ways to say the same thing, but they aren’t.

I see that, easily enough. The one is more map-reading, the other more analysis of where we’ve been. Similar activities, but a different orientation.

You will remember Thoreau saying that he had discovered that one could over-do anything, even drinking water.

I do.

He wasn’t blaming himself for having had too much water, obviously. He wasn’t gnashing his teeth, nor setting his teeth in grim resolution to reform. He was merely observing. He had done X; Y resulted. He would not do X again, as he didn’t want to de-tune himself.

He may have had a tendency to generalize rules for others from what was true for him.

Regardless if that is historically true, recognize that any observation you make (one makes) probably describes a tendency in yourself to be watched. That is, if you say it of others, look for it in yourself.

Biography as cautionary tales, eh?

Well –this could be a long discussion. Let’s at least take a step or two along the road. The fact of the matter is that mental experience is no less an education than social experience.

I take that to mean, we may learn from other people’s lives – from the story of other people’s lives – in the same way we can learn from actual observation of people we interact with in the flesh.

After all, in the last analysis (interesting phrase, that!), all experience is mental; which means, all experience is you, reacting; which means, all internal and external events are more or less the same in their effects. Or, not quite that. More like, your real life is your choosing your attitude toward what comes at you. Therefore it follows that, to the degree you are more attuned to the inner life, the greater its influence. No, not quite right, but you have it. You try, and we’ll correct if need be.

I think the nuance is, if one lives primarily “in one’s head,” like me, the majority of one’s important input will come from that world. If one is oriented primarily toward the objective, outside-world life, then that is where one will find the input. Interesting, this shouldn’t be hard to say; it is a simple concept, even an obvious one, but I am getting the sense that we still haven’t quite said it. Which tells me it isn’t as simple as I am inclined to think.

Well, the word “important,” for one thing. Is the air you breathe important? Yet it may not be noticeable.

You don’t need to tell that to an asthmatic!

No, but you see the point. “Important” is not the same thing as “noticeable,” for instance, nor is episodic the same as habitual or even constant, but you may not know the relative importance of any of them. In fact, that is a major point in itself: As we have said in other contexts, you never have the data that would be required to judge your life. But observation need not be tied to judgment, and in fact is more likely to be accurate when it is not connected to an attempt (one-time or continuing) to judge.

Whitman said something like, “I think I could live with the animals, they are so contented. They don’t weep for their sins,” something like that. Meaning, not that he did, but that he didn’t think it was healthful (let alone restful) to be among those who did. “There is not one that is respectable or discontented on the face of the earth.” Something like that. I’ll quote it if I can find it easily.

[From Whitman’s Song of Myself, courtesy of http://www.all-creatures.org/poetry, found through duckduckgo.com:

[I think I could turn and live with animals,
they are so placid and self-contain’d,
I stand and look at them long and long.

[They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.]

You see, the point that is half-eluding stating is that observation and rumination (speaking of cattle!) are key.

Are we back to Socrates, the unexamined life is not worth living?

Notice, he didn’t say, the unjudged life, the unrepented or un-rued life. Like Whitman, perhaps (though that may seem an odd pairing) he is saying, see your life as it passes; experience it. Analyze it, if that is to your taste, or don’t, if it is not, but notice. But notice what your life is, not what others say it is, or what they – or you – think it ought to be.

Yes, I get it. Saying “experience your life” is not the same thing as “Go out and collect experiences.” This idea of a bucket list – a list of thing you want to have accomplished before you kick the bucket – is easily trivialized. What’s wrong with your bucket list containing only one item, if you prefer, which is, “Don’t make a bucket list”?

Probably your life will not have been wasted even if you never learn to ski, never experience life as one of the rich or one of high society or one of whatever elite impresses you. Probably you may live your life fully and successfully even if you don’t (or do) drink heavily, smoke, carouse, fast, devote yourself to acts of charity, spend your days reading and your nights watching movies or taking long walks or playing cards with friends or strangers.

Why, to listen to you, you’d think we are here to be what we are and what we want to be.

Yes, imagine that. We, like you, are smiling. We, like you, are entirely serious. Your lives were given to you for you to express yourselves by continuous interaction between what you are and what comes to you. “What comes to you” will be people, or experiences, or —

No, that may be my mis-phrasing. I got what you meant: Our input may come from anywhere, objective or subjective; our task (and our entertainment, our artistic task, perhaps we should say) is to react to it, to interact with it, to continue to work with ourselves as a sculptor works with clay, to mold it to the shape, or anyway toward the shape that pleases us.

And don’t worry too much about what you bring to yourself. A little, fine; not too much. [Typing this, I see the meaning may not be clear: They meant, don’t worry too much about what input you choose to admit into your life.]

In other words, don’t over-steer.

You can second-guess yourselves right out of what you know is true and helpful.

It’s an odd feeling, this morning. I can seem to hear you saying some of these things specifically for people I don’t necessarily know who will be reading this.

That is always true, of every author and every reader, only there is no way (and no need) for those involved to be aware of it. Your 3D components are meant to relate to the world around you, which means the place and time you live in. That place and time includes records of the past and foreshadowings of the future, but it is still a definite orienting locus. So it is no surprise, and no malfunction, that a given writer or painter or artist does not know who any particular work is to have special significance for, and it is equally unimportant that any particular recipient be aware of a particular connection. Nonetheless it is there, and in a very real sense.

I was told once, and have never forgotten, that everyone who reads a book is directly connected to the author and thus to everyone else who ever reads it. And I suppose that goes for musicians and composers, for sculptors and painters, no less.

What about architects, builders, anyone who shapes the world in any way?

Meaning, the workers in factories? Farmers in their fields? Trash collectors, police, anyone?

Who do you suppose is unneeded in the world? Home economicus [“economic man,” as a theoretical construct] is only an abstraction, like homo ludens [“playing man,” I guess you’d say, or maybe “man as playful being”] or any other abstraction. You are all there, you all interact in ways known and unknown. The man who founds a publishing company, or a distribution company, or a book store virtual or physical – do they not all impact the world around them? The people who grow fruit, or package it, or ship it, or display and sell it – are they unnecessary, supernumerary, merely because you can do without them without ceasing to live?

None of these interactions need be obvious; that doesn’t make them any less important to the world. Important to the individual, important to those the individual affects.

Henry Adams certainly wasn’t thinking of me when he wrote his histories of the United States during Jefferson’s and Madison’s administrations, yet they are having their effect on me, 100 years later.

No one on earth – that is, no one’s 3D component – knows or can know the effect of his or her thoughts and actions 100 years hence. The fact that the interactions are invisible is not the same as saying they are non-existent.

Well, there’s our hour, but it seems a bit unshaped. Have we been merely rambling through the grass?

If the theme of “the importance of self-observation” be merely rambling though the grass, yes.

Smiling. Okay, till next time.

 

Nathaniel – Time and attention

Monday, November 13, 2017

5 a.m. All right, my friends. Your move. As so often, I’ve lost track of where we are going.

The over-arching theme is, what these concepts of how the world is have to do with your lives as you lead them, moment by moment. We are attempting to bring heaven to earth, you might say. That is, we intend to un-divorce daily life and eternal life. We want to help you bridge concepts in your lives that have been allowed to separate so far as to be mutually irrelevant. A life without framework is chaotic and meaningless. A framework without applicability to everyday life is theoretical and irrelevant. Every feature of your lives may be reduced to this statement: Life must be seen whole if you are to function at your best.

I see that. I’ve been preaching it for years, in fact.

You do and you don’t see it. As in every subject one could address, there are always more levels that can be seen into, more connections to be made, more self-transformation that may follow.

Obviously.

Actually, not all the obviously. But, a little more introspection at any time will usually pay rewards.

Ten minutes to cover one page. I can’t understand it. I realize the speed isn’t the point here, but I keep noticing that at least initially, things somehow take more time than seems reasonable, or rather than seems explicable. I didn’t pause, I didn’t write any more slowly as far as I noticed, yet in 1/6th of an hour, I filled not 1 and 1/2 pages, but only one, or a rate that would produce not 8, 9, or 10 pages, but only six.

Let us correct your phrasing, for a change. You are thinking this is unimportant but inexplicable. We are thinking it is important for reasons you do not yet suspect; it is a tiny thing, seemingly trivial, but sometimes trivial matters are clues to much larger things.

I’ll take your word for it, and wait for the larger meaning to emerge.

It is now 16 minutes, and not quite two pages, yet this would produce eight in an hour. You see no difference in pace; you still have not paused, yet the mathematics come out different.

Okay, I heard, between the lines, something like “the system of measurement isn’t exact.” Not in so many words, but that is the essence of it, vaguely.

And as we said, small things may serve to shed light on larger ones – not that you in 3D are well placed to differentiate between small and large, significant and insignificant, trivial and symbolic.

You think you measure out your lives in time units. After all, your civilization lives by clock and bell; intricate maneuverings of all sorts assure that you continue to live as if inside a watch. You remember Joseph’s observation.

I do. Joseph Smallwood – Joe Indian, for a good part of his life – said to me once that to him, a man of the 19th century, our 20th- and 21st-century lives looked like living inside clockwork, very little free, very little unregulated, next to his. He wasn’t talking about just government or social regulation, either, but our entire framework, clock-driven, intermeshed.

And people of your age – grandpop! – see clearly how much worse the trend is for those following you, whose childhoods are so regulated next to yours, whose amusements and day-to-day lives are so plugged-in, electronically, and, you fear, so unplugged from the natural world that they hardly experience.

Yes, but I do suspect that this may not be loss, but change. That is, what they lose may be well compensated for by what they gain. May be. We’ll see.

We’d say you may count on the fact that any phenomenon whatever will manifest largely to some, scarcely at all to others, and, as usual, in varying amounts to those between the extremes.

Well, sure. I take that for granted.

Which is a reason for us to state it explicitly. What is taken for granted may be thoroughly integrated so as to form a uniform background, or it may be manifest in certain phases of your mental and physical lives and invisible or non-existent in others. Hence the advantage of making it more conscious by stating it.

Half an hour, four pages. Same pace, so far as I can tell. Part of the difference may be long paragraphs versus short, I suppose.

You can let that go now, except at the end. It has served its purpose to focus your mind on the theme we have not yet quite stated.

Time is not quite what we think it is.

Well, let’s say your progression through time isn’t as uniform as you tend to think it is, because

Internal v. external time. Depends on whether we measure by intuition or by sensory apparatus.

That’s closer. Remember, one of our recurring themes is, internal and external worlds are the same thing, experienced one by the intuition (that is, direct feed from the larger world) and the other by the senses (that is, coordinating with the circumambient sensory world).

There’s your favorite word again.

It is useful, preserving a sense of flow as well as structure.

Now, your body conforms to the sensory model, as far as you can tell, and your mind to the intuitive. Anybody can experience this. Your altered-state experiences in the black box [at The Monroe Institute] showed you that.

They did indeed. Skip [Atwater, monitoring the sessions] would say, sink into that for a moment, or I would tell him I would be gone for a while – and in fact when I came to listen to the tape, maybe I would be silent only for a minute or two. Alternatively, maybe I’d comes out of a session thinking it had been shorter than usual, only to find that it was ten or fifteen minutes longer than usual.

Anybody can experience the disconnect between internal experience and external elapsed measurement. It is mostly a matter of noticing.

It is a commonplace that when you’re doing what you love, you tend to lose track of time.

We’d say, not precisely “what you love” but “what most engages you.” The depth of engagement (if we may use a physical description that is in fact only a metaphor) determines what you experienced. You are not carried along by the stream of external time, though of course that is what your senses report. You are moved from moment to moment, and feel these moments variably, depending on your level of attention and engagement.

That isn’t really clear. Not to the readers (unless they’re more connected to it than I am) nor to me. I often have the sense of something before you put it into words, but here I am putting it into words and not really having the sense of it. “Carried along” and “moved” seem the same to me.

Yes, that’s a long subject, though it has been touched upon more than once. By TGU to Rita and you, by Rita after she changed perspective.

Bookmark it, for the moment?

Yes, although your bookmarks tend to be closer to permanent entombment.

Smiling. I feel the same way, for what it’s worth.

A little more system would remedy that. Anyway, the point is, your external lives may be regulated like (and by) clockworks. Your internal lives need not be, and aren’t, except in so far as you think they are, assume they are.

And, I hear, therein is our freedom.

That’s a little too glib. Let’s say, and therein is your possibility of choice. That may seem to be the same thing, but in fact isn’t, exactly. As we said, a little more introspection will pay rewards. We didn’t mean merely, looking deeper will mean living more richly (though this is true), but that living more carefully, more attentively, will change the quality of your moments by expanding them, ripening them.

“Ripening them” is suggestive but not clear.

Let’s leave it that way, for the moment.

Now, your accustomed hour is up, to the minute this time. How many pages have you covered?

About eight and a half.

Yet you did not consciously speed up; you did not particularly record smaller paragraphs with their attendant skipped lines between them. And you did draw your second mug of coffee. So what is the conclusion to be drawn?

Probably that you don’t mind embarrassing me by pointing out errors of observation or generalization.

Well, that too – and of course we are smiling too – but more, that seemingly precise or even seemingly reliable external measurement can tell you only where you are standing. It cannot measure the journey. On that cryptic note, we leave you for the moment.

Okay, thanks as always. (65 minutes, 9 and 1/4 pages.)

[Just for the interest of it: From the date to the first measurement, 10 minutes, 199 words. From there to 16 minutes, 144 words more. From there to half an hour (in other words, 14 minutes more), another 372 words. From date to signoff, 1471 words. So, first half hour, 715 words, second half hour 756 words, basically the same. Yet quite a different feel to the flow.]

 

Nathaniel on viewpoint and attitude

Nathaniel on viewpoint and attitude

Sunday, November 12, 2017

5:30 a.m. All right, ready if you are. We have had two sessions in which questions were the precipitators, but not today. So –

You have been thinking about Bruce Moen.

Yes indeed. He is dying or, for all I know, may be dead already. Naturally the news brings back memories.

And, perhaps, reminds you that the difference between “being used” and “gladly participating” is mostly a matter of the attitude one takes to it?

Sure, but I gather that you’re wanting to say something on the subject, and we’re all willing to be instructed.

So much in your lives depends less upon what happens than upon what you make of it. The prime decision you make at any given moment, in fact, is usually, “How do I see this thing that just happened?” The “thing” in question may be a physical event, or a memory, or anything that presents a choice of attitude. Forgiving may be a decision, or forgiving oneself. Taking heart, or ceasing to struggle. Putting another or oneself or an abstract cause first, may be another. The permutations are endless, but remember if you can, decisions look like decisions to do or not do some action, even if the action is to harbor or reject a thought or an accustomed idea. But really, decisions are you rebalancing the ballast, adjusting course. Most such adjustments are going to be minor, of course, but not all. And some that appear minor will in fact be seen later to have led to major consequences.

Viktor Frankl again.

Yes, because his experience and his testimony (by his life, not merely by his words) has weight. Has gravitas, as you like to say. Only, don’t thereby conclude that this is necessarily a grim aspect of reality. It can be, but mostly not. Most people don’t have to spend most of their time defying fate. But even for the happiest, most tranquil life, still it remains true that every moment presents a choice of attitude. One may be miserable in a palace, or contented, or ecstatically happy, and it is the same palace.

I seem to remember that it was the emperor / philosopher Marcus Aurelius who wrote – citing the advantages of his position, all that he had been blessed with, etc. – that he had counted the number of happy days he had had in his life and they amounted to five, or seven, or some such single-digit number. His conclusion was, don’t look for happiness on this Earth.

Our conclusion would be, don’t count your felicity by tallying external circumstances, nor consider yourself a neutral observer of your life.

Do you mean “neutral,” or “helpless”?

Actually, closer to powerless-to-affect-matters, however you would phrase that. The point is, he in his philosophic attitude toward his life was deciding the nature and meaning of the ups and downs of it. He may have been thinking he was applying philosophy to make the best of a bad situation – life! – or he may, more likely, have been saying, “Don’t expect life to be smooth and easy,” without any nuance of complaint. In a way, he was saying the same thing we are, that your attitude is the thing that is realest in your life.

But I’d make a small bet that he didn’t see it that way! What he was meaning.

Aren’t you glad, if in 2,000 years there is something new under the sun?

Yeah, smiling. And so?

The specific application we wish to make of this general truth is that in choosing one’s attitude one really, not metaphorically, not theoretically, not in a  wishful-thinking way, determines what one’s life is going to be, to mean, to feel like, to – well, everything.

Poor structure there at the end, but your point comes through.

The specific application, the illustration, may be the way you and Bruce Moen met; what he had experienced before the fact; the agency of Ed Carter, etc., etc. When you look at that smooth blending of energies in a way that neither Bruce nor Ed not you were aware of on a conscious 3D level, and when you trace backwards the events in all of your lives – and Bob Monroe’s life, and Ed Wilson’s – that were required in order to bring you together in that time and space, you can see the weaving of the web, and might easily conclude, “It was a set-up.” That is, you might draw the usual predestination argument, because you might say, “Given what you were, that’s what was going to happen.”

I’d be more inclined to say, “Given what we were, that’s what was enabled to happen if we played our parts right.”

And we would be inclined to say both, and also – more importantly – “That’s what was set up to happen, courtesy of your cooperation and the cooperation of so many others in your pasts, and it remained to be seen if you would all stay on script.” Only, improv doesn’t use scripts, it uses setups and sees what happens.

I get the strangest feeling, here. It’s that I sort of know what you’re driving at, and you are sort of saying it, but, in each case, not quite.

No, it’s slippery. Any time we attempt to bring in a fine nuance, it is actually harder than hitting you with your proverbial 2×4.

Harder because more slippery.

The recipient – you, and anyone who reads this – is likely to (mostly unconsciously) let the nuance slide into some already accustomed category. A radically new concept, you’ll have to accept or reject or at least ponder. A nuance may just keep sliding around.

So, trying again?

You choose how to receive what comes to you, easily seen when “what comes” seems to be external, less easily seen when it seems to be “merely” internal. You choose meaning. Some choose to see it as predestined, some as free-will, some as meaningless chance. Same event (physical or mental).

We still haven’t quite succeeded in expressing it.

How about, “You choose viewpoint”?

Better. You have the ideas now, you try to say it.

If we look back on our life as lived to date, our present attitude toward it will incline us to see it in a certain light. If we are able to change our attitude, the same look, the same life, will present an entirely different profile, perhaps. More likely, many different profiles.

That’s it. It is a matter of changing perspectives by changing viewing-points. Same objective reality (so to speak) but many different scenes, different landscapes.

Parallax.

Well, a shift in viewpoint, anyway. No need to extend the metaphor. The operative point is that how you choose to see the workings of your life determines the possibilities you create for yourself. If you look at so much orchestration and consider yourself to be the acted-upon (rather than also the actor), it is easy to slip into victim mode. From victim mode, you will find evidence enough to persuade you that nothing you do will free you from the spider’s web, and that at best your meaning in your life is that you are food for the cosmic spider, so to speak. Or, if you look at it all and conclude that you are as integral a part in the play as anybody else, even if you don’t know your lines or don’t have any lines, you may easily feel included, and important (that is, not contingent and without meaning), and that attitude may lead you to either overestimate your role (inflation) or to treat your life with a little more seriousness, a little bit more self-respect.

So, Bruce and Ed Carter just happen to take the same program. They just happen to share the same two-person table at a meal. Ed just happens to have bought into Hampton Roads and gotten a few business cards. Bruce just happens to tell Ed something of what he has experienced, and just happens to mention that for no reason he could think of, he just happened to bring an article he had written about a retrieval he had done. Ed just happens to call me and suggest that I join them for breakfast Friday morning, as there is a potential author he’d like me to meet. And so on and so forth, and none of us having any idea what we were helping to orchestrate.

And this could be sketched out for all of you – for anybody and everybody – for your entire lives. Life is always orchestration and the dance. That isn’t the meaning (assuming, or rather, pretending for the moment, that there is a “the” meaning) of your lives. That is the improv, but what of your training and rehearsals, and your learning about your characters? What of the living-out of your life for yourself as well as for the improv in general? To weigh life fairly, you need keep all these factors in mind, if you can. It isn’t easy; it’s a lot of geese to juggle. That’s one reason why people often choose one or another position and disregard the rest.

And I take it that’s it for the moment?

Like Rita, like any teacher, we have learned to keep our lectures to the allotted time. You’ve had your hour, and a bit more.

Thanks as always.