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, found through

[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.


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.


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.


Nathaniel on vitalism and materialism

[Bob Friedman: I’ve been reading Rupert Sheldrake’s 2012 book Science Set Free, which is a fascinating study of the materialist versus what is called the “vitalist” philosophies. The vitalists believe in the separation of mind and matter, mind being non-3D. But the vitalists cannot explain how the non-3D mind can attach to the 3D body. The materialists cannot explain the origin, nature, and composition of consciousness either. I wonder if Nathaniel can address this apparent dilemma.]

Saturday, November 11, 2017

3:35 a.m. I know it’s Saturday and you like me to take a rest once a week, but maybe a short session? Answering Bob’s question shouldn’t be all that complicated, should it?

Most things can be answered in a few words, but then explaining and hedging the words takes a little more, and perhaps the basis of the explanations needs more, and you go ever-deeper into the swamp. But we can begin, and we shall see. Maybe it won’t amount to much, as such explanations go.

The short explanation is that vitalism and materialism are two sides of the same mistaken coin, much as capitalism and communism were in the political / economic sphere. When you start off with a wrong premise – particularly an unnoticed one – many a logical antithesis amounts to pointing out the errors of the opposite position, not realizing that one’s own position is equally undermined, because not recognizing what the two have in common.

I felt that right away, when I saw Bob’s question. You can’t expect me to have been involved for going on 20 years of receiving explanations from the guys, and from various specific ex-3D individuals including Rita, and from you, and not learn anything. It has gotten to the point that I am almost perplexed that people can’t instinctively understand that there isn’t any material world, in any absolute sense, so there isn’t the basis for any such contradiction. Of course I realize I lay myself open to charges of being a philosophical idealist, but, given the company that puts me in with – the Transcendentalists first of all – there is worse company to be placed among.

Well, that is the nub of it, of course. In a universe formed out of consciousness, in which every atom and molecule partakes of consciousness, where is there room for what people call dead matter? Where is there room, even, for unconscious matter? There isn’t. What there is, is a world entirely composed of elements all of which are conscious, each form of consciousness different, according to the physical form’s possibilities and constraints, but all conscious. The fact that human 3D consciousness cannot communicate with that of plants or rocks does not mean that there is nothing to be communicated with – particularly given the fact that in some circumstances, people do communicate in such ways. You have experienced it yourself, Frank, in your various experiences. Many of your readers will have experienced it in what are called anomalous experiences, usually doubted because not resting firmly and comfortably in a theory.

Jeremy Narby took some hallucinogen – ayahuasca, maybe – and found himself communicating with DNA itself, if I remember correctly. I think it was he (and I think it was in response to that experience) who realized or anyway theorized that this is how indigenous peoples knew the pharmacological properties of plants: The plants told them.

The setting-aside of obstructive beliefs (no matter how “scientific” they are supposed to be) is sometimes enough in itself to allow one’s mind to realign things – seemingly spontaneously sometimes. Once remove (or see through) what had seemed to be solid divisions of nature,

I know I lost it there. Not “nature,” but – what? “The nature of things”?

What we meant was to say that ideas may divide reality into seemingly solid compartments, and once you see that the walls of the compartments are merely arbitrary and theoretical, new and more fundamental relationships become evident.

So, once realize that reality is not “mind” and “matter” – because there can be no matter divorced from mind, no matter not made out of consciousness – and you see that both vitalists and materialists are believers in the same mistake, only differing from each other in which pieces of data they wish to admit from the real world beyond their theories.

Short and sweet, as advertised.

And, as advertised, it could be expanded upon as one things leads to another.

“As we ramble into higher and higher grass,” as Thoreau put it.

It was undoubtedly a coincidence that led you to honeymoon in New England and visit Concord and Walden before you – as opposed to your bride – even knew who Thoreau was, other than knowing his name. Undoubtedly coincidence that your thesis supervisor suggested a topic that led you to Thoreau, and equally a coincidence that one moment’s acquaintance with his writings instantly and permanently captured you. Undoubtedly a coincidence that your wife – who was afraid of the kinds of mental exploration you would enter into – gave you as a gift the complete set of Thoreau’s journals in that same years of graduate school.

Yep, pretty coincidental life I lead.

It was only the co-inciding of the many strands of your life that led you where you are. And it was only your larger self’s guidance that repeatedly brought you into the orbit of this or that pole-star. Thoreau, Melville, Emerson, etc. No need to count them. The things you come to in “sinfully strolling from book to book,” as Emerson put it, are as much a part of your experience as anything that happens to your body. Where is there division between mind and matter, except in philosopher’s or scientist’s categories?

And that’s enough.

Well, thanks as always. As you know, I wouldn’t have been sleeping anyway, and I was getting tired of reading, so it isn’t like this is depleting anything – and as you know, it is a great quiet continuing joy.

Till next time.


Nathaniel on dealing with problems

Nathaniel on dealing with problems

Friday, November 10, 2017

2:10 a.m. Louisa Calio posts a query on my blog that amounts to, can you give us an interpretation of 3D events that will make sense of the stupidity we live among, or, really, some way of seeing it that will make us feel better about it.

Answering your rough paraphrase rather than her original, we probably should say, “No, we can’t.” But we can give you a few clues, to help you arrive there yourselves. We can suggest interpretations; how you react is always an individual reaction, a merging of new data with old patterns and assumed relationships.

Sure, we can see that. But, subject to that proviso—

Your ways of making sense of things often put the cart before the horse. But explaining how you are doing that isn’t always so easy, given that it involves looking at the same thing from a different point of view, rather than altering or adding to the thing being observed. So you will perhaps be tempted to say, “That’s just talking around it” when we show you how it looks from another perspective.

We’ll try not to do that.

Louisa says – quote it –

“…the nature and purpose of some of these extreme conflicts within the individual…”

It isn’t so much that the conflicts have a purpose as that they express a result.

I know that seems helpful to you, but to us, not so much. A little more explaining?

You come into 3D embodying conflicts, precipitating conflicts around you by what you have within you. That’s one thing that 3D is, an arena, a place and time in which conflicts – and harmony, but we’re talking about conflicts at the moment – come front and center to be transformed. You wouldn’t expect a football game to be tranquil and harmonious; you wouldn’t expect a piano concert to be cacophonous. You expect each event to express in its own way. The thing that makes it hard for you to see, sometimes, is that your football game and piano concert are taking place at the same time, along with drag racing, aerial acrobatic exhibitions, family feuds, three different melodramas being filmed, prolonged mattress testing, and half a million other events including the depths of non-social interactions with yourselves such as monasticism, intense study, illnesses, and other preoccupations. It can get a bit crowded.

Makes me tired just thinking about it.

Yes, but it’s intriguing. Remember how Bob Monroe said AA dived in, because he was fascinated by the raw energy of it all?

I do now that you remind me. Far Journeys, the best of his books.

Well, with all that going on, what could you say is “the point” of it?

Meaning, it won’t have just one point?

Meaning, too, that the purpose of a football game or a concert isn’t just for producing the cheers of the fans or the ovations of the audience.

Aha. Meaning, Loosh may be produced but that doesn’t mean it is more than a by-product.

At this point we advise people to re-read Far Journeys to refresh their memory of what Bob actually said. The Loosh analogy was not, by far, the end of the story, but the beginning of Bob’s deeper exploration.

I won’t quote it, but if I can find the place easily, I’ll indicate the relevant chapters.

Not necessary. Tell them, as you told Colin Wilson, to begin at Chapter 12.

Consider it done. Okay, so –

Bearing in mind this great assortment of activity taking place around you, remember that it is all taking place within you, too.

I know that isn’t the best way to say what I feel you’re moving to.

Possibly not. Then let’s say this, your own selective attention is a powerful tool to overcome the effects on you of cacophony. You can tune yourselves to live more harmonious lives, and those who prefer to live more on the edge can tune to do that, instead.

It isn’t exactly a matter of ignoring larger parts of the world’s events, but of deciding which events are going to be allowed in to fill our RAM [the available workspace in our metaphorical computer] at any given moment.

Not that you must tune certain things out – that doesn’t work very well, being like telling yourself you are not going to think about elephants or whatever, and in the process fixing your attention exactly there – but that you can tune other things in.

In a sense, that amounts to saying that the world’s miseries and problems mostly aren’t our concern and needn’t bother us.

Step carefully here. Any true statement may be made to seem uninviting or shallow or even silly. Look at it a little more slowly. Most of the world’s problems, conflicts, tragedies, perplexities, generation-long tangles, etc. are not everybody’s business, in toto. Nobody can be concerned with more than a small fraction of what goes on in the world, any more than one can be a professional in all fields, or a master of all sciences. Your lives make you specialists; one time, one place, one heredity, even if that heredity is complicated. You can’t be really – as opposed to superficially, at best – concerned with everything wrong in the world. Don’t count the cats in Zanzibar unless you happen to be called to do it, but even if you are, you may be sure that you can’t do that and tend to every other possible task in the world.

All right.

And if it isn’t up to you to do something you can’t do, why would it be up to you to suffer because you can’t? That suffering is not externally-mandated. It is, in a way, the product of a decision. You decide to suffer (and of course, as always the question arises: Which “you”?) or you decide not to. Or, easier than that, your own makeup prevents the conflict from arising in the first place.

Feeling for people, even feeling for the Earth – nothing wrong with it. But allowing yourself to feel guilty for not doing what was never within your power to do is a waste of energy and potential that could go elsewhere and produce something more satisfactory.

Now, we realize that  this argument has centered on what you call “world affairs” or “social problems,” and Louisa specifically used as example a situation very close to home, concerning her own family. That is the complement of the “social problem.” It is the very personal conflict that does deserve and even demand your engagement. But we wanted to trace the social aspect first, so as to gain perspective from the contrast between the two.

So – in cases closer to home?

There is still the same dynamic: Plenty of things are going on, and only a few of them will fill your RAM, the others automatically being swapped out. So – what do you want, what do you concentrate on?

I know you don’t mean to imply that we can choose only smooth events if we want them, but I can’t get what you do mean. (And we’re already an hour into this; again moving slowly apparently.)

If you come into 3D life embodying certain contradictions, it is for a reason, and those contradictions may express. They may not; you may choose to defer dealing with that particular karma (so to speak), but, they may. Anything that does express may be regarded as material presenting itself to be worked. Even if you can see no way to alter events, you still can choose your attitude toward them, like Viktor Frankl in the concentration camps.

You can always choose to see yourself as victim or can live in faith that it all makes sense, or you can alternate or even do both at the same time. But you will express an attitude toward the events of your life.

Now, a thought and we will end for now. Your external events in 3D won’t mean much to you once you have transcended those limits. Your internal events – the way you shaped yourself by how you reacted to external events – will remain with you, because they will be a part of you. Which do you think is going to be important, once you have dropped the 3D body?

And that’s enough for the day.

All right, our thanks, as always.


Nathaniel on ETs and us

Nathaniel on ETs and us

Thursday, November 9, 2017

2 a.m. Very interesting discussion, yesterday. So, let’s go again. Your topic, this time.

Let us return to the question of your place among others in the 3D universe, remembering that 3D is a subset of All-D, and not a world in itself.

That amounts to saying, remember that 3D is more than it seems to be.

That, and that not only are its limits larger and wider than may appear, but its apparent isolation from other parts of itself is only apparent and not actual.

Invisible connections, yes.

Between worlds, no less than between individuals. When you keep that fact front and center in your mind, many things look different. Once you realize that you are never alone, never isolated,

Am I not awake enough? I can’t seem to bring this through with any energy behind it. The thoughts seem draggy. I may have to defer this, though I thought I was ready.

3:15 a.m. Trying again.

You are never isolated, really, but 3D conditions lead you to define all situations in isolation. The very process of analysis consists of taking certain factors and considering them in isolation. When something is so universal, there is no point in bemoaning it or even in trying to avoid it. No point, and no need. Being aware of it as an influencing factor is enough. But, that awareness is necessary, or you’ll never be able to draw the connections that hold the world together.

By “world,” you don’t mean just Earth, I know, but 3D in general. Learned that years ago.

Some people concern themselves with what they think of as an “alien threat” to Earth, as if you were American Indians being invaded by Europeans.

Well, you have to admit, that is a discouraging analogy.

Perhaps a productive one, in fact. But for the moment we wish to stress interaction over isolation.

I’m getting [a sense of] what you want to get to, but you haven’t said it yet. More or less – we already aren’t alone, we already aren’t racially pure, so to speak, and even we already aren’t necessarily the original inhabitants. But I’m not sure I quite got that right.

You got the elements of it. An assumption of isolation assumes, either “we are alone” or “we were alone, and now we are threatened with newcomers.” It assumes “we are the human race, and they are alien.” It assumes, “Earth is our home and others are impinging on what was always ours.” But realize that no one enters the world alone.

Not quite what you mean.

No. No one enters the 3D world by his or her own efforts.

May I?

Go ahead.

We don’t give birth to ourselves. We don’t nurture ourselves, or feed and clothe and toilet-train ourselves. We come into this world into a family, into a society. Although we may become orphaned, still somebody takes care of us, at least for some years, or we cannot live.

That’s right. Life is interdependent. There really is no isolation, though often enough there is the appearance of isolation. So with the individual, so with the human race. An assumption of splendid isolation is mostly a comforting (or, perhaps, a chilly) illusion.

In a very real sense, humans are part of a cosmic family. You have other “species” in your personal family tree; you have lifetimes in other places in your personal history. The people in 3D Earth that you love and interact with also have the same extensive invisible links, which means – once again we come to it – that since you here are all one thing, therefore you are part of the overall “all one thing.” There is no separation in any absolute sense. We just have to keep coming back to this. In All-D, in non-3D, in 3D, you are part of all that is. There are no absolute divisions in reality.

I can imagine some people saying, “Yes, I get it, you don’t have to beat it to death, but what does this have to do with anything?”

If there are such, they should realize that any form of fear stems from a sense of isolation and difference. Apply that fact to the question of ETs and what do you see?

I think I begin to see what you are driving at. It is the labels that are causing fear (or even, shall we say, ungrounded anticipation).

That’s where we’re headed, correct. If you label people “Jews” in Nazi Germany, if you make them wear visible labels, if you distinguish them in ways that never distinguished them before, so that honored professional soldiers, doctors, scholars, whatever, were now seen as Jewish soldiers, etc., that is the first step toward segregating them from the rest of society. If that had been done, even in the absence of Nazi terror, still the damage would have been done in that they would no longer have been an accepted part of society, but a perceived “other.”

That’s the situation of blacks and Latinos in our society, of course, and of most immigrants from Europe at least until they learned the language and / or changed their names, and lived here for a generation or two.

There is a biological instinct to reject the other. A significantly different individual may be driven to the fringe of the herd, as you read in van der Post years ago; as you saw in the schoolyard years before that. As with any widespread phenomenon, there is no use railing against it, and there is sense in at least suspecting that the race is wiser than the individual. But on the other hand, it is the task of the individual to see things differently. The better s/he does this, the greater the gift s/he gives to the herd.

Now apply this to ETs, once again. Work on the assumption that they too are family. You can have little idea how close or distant the inner relationships may be, but consider, these are your family no less than your fellow Terrans.

That implies that they may have rights here that we don’t recognize.

Do you know if you have rights in the worlds of the Pleiades? Maybe everybody who is family has a right to share in the estate. Maybe a given world is inhabited by squabbling clan members. Maybe you, as individuals, are part of larger beings some of whose substance exists on other 3D worlds.

I am wary of our going off on some flight of fancy, as so often seems to happen on this subject.

Remember, words as sparks, not as law.

All right.

So, some people see flying saucers etc.

Want me to try that one? Or do you want to start it again?

You try.

When some people come to accept the possibility or reality of flying saucers etc. they naturally think in terms of invasion by “the other.” Some, facing the same possibility, are excited at the idea of a larger community. Some, generalizing from Earth history, view the prospect as a mixture of good and bad possibilities.

And – see yesterday’s discussion – none of these positions is “wrong” or “right.” They are alternative positions that one may be led to take – and what will lead you to take a position is your own composition and experience (which is saying the same thing twice, in a way). The evidence is always going to be ambiguous, just as it is in your normal interaction with other Terrans. Even if you stand there talking to an admitted ET, thus setting to rest the question of “do they exist” and of “are they here,” you still must decide, “who is this person? What is s/he? Can s/he be trusted? Can s/he even be understood?” (Motives, background, etc.)

And if we reconceptualize them as family – family in a biological sense, almost – everything is the same and everything changes.

In the first place, not “almost.” In the second place, it isn’t that externals change, but you change, which is part of the equation, therefore the equation changes. We know you know that, but it is just as well to state it clearly.

And, although you are counting pages to see if you have produced enough to justify the time spent, that’s good for now.

I get the sense this is a long subject, and a long way to go, though I don’t see where, yet. Okay, thanks as usual, and we’ll see you next time.


Implications of today’s earlier post


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

8 a.m. As I think about it, the implications of this morning’s material keep growing, and the actual change (in ideas) required is less. All it amounts to is seeing ideas differently, but that changes everything it touches, which means, our entire 3D existence. You gentlemen care to help me out on this, even if it involves a second session, or do I have to struggle through it alone?

You are never alone!

Very funny. Care to trace the logic?

It isn’t so much logic as it is relationship. If ideas are abstractly right or wrong according to some absolute standard, then anyone and everyone – not least, one’s own self – may safely be judged by how far their ideas diverge from the truth. But this is much the same as postulating an absolute standard of morality.

I certainly know what that is like! My own background and childhood (and therefore my unconscious thoughts to this day, probably) were formed within the Catholic Church (interesting that I started to write “Catholic Christ”) of the 1940s and 50s. There is no more absolute standard than that, maybe. With time I lost my resentment and came to see the advantages of such a background, but I never questioned the existence of an absolute standard of good and evil, only the human error involved in comprehending and applying it.

Meaning, you agreed with some Church doctrine and disagreed with other.

That’s what it amounted to, yes. I went my own way, trying to use my own thought and judgment (in practice, my own feelings), but I did not ever question that there was some such absolute. Even when I came to see that situational ethics were not only defensible but inevitable, I didn’t doubt that the issue was our adapting that inner code to specific 3D circumstances. In other words, who would want to adhere to the accepted code of Tudor England, or Ancient Greece or Rome, or Tsarist or Stalinist Russia? In socially accepted codes there could be no firm anchor. (I don’t think I’m putting this as well as you might, as I’m having to write and think at the same time.) Yet it seemed clear that in adapting our behavior to the time, we were still doing so in reference to an absolute that I would now say came out of the non-3D, or let’s say, simply, from our All-D awareness rather than our specifically 3D-bounded awareness.

And if there is no such absolute standard? Yet, how can that be?

I don’t know yet. I’m feeling my way toward an answer. That’s why I called you-all in.

If there is a universal, there are degrees of error in perceiving it, in living it, in attempting to comply with it (which, in short, quickly becomes attempting to enforce it). You can see this in the history of every society, every church, every association. Scientists are as prone to it as priests are, perhaps even more so in that they admit no mechanism for repentance and absolution.

It boils down to, this is the ultimate result of eating of the fruit of the tree of perceiving things as good or evil. In other words, 3D Theater, as I used to call it, is inherently partial, partisan, relatively intolerant, uneasy, even, in a sense, hysterical. (And I don’t mean funny!)

That may be stretching it a little. Yes, it may tend that way; it needn’t stay there. As you change perceptions, you change your reality, just as you have been told more than once.

We can undo the effects of the descent into perceived duality? Is that what you mean?

You can’t do it for others; you can perhaps do it for yourself and – as you would put it – leave a trail of bread crumbs for others. After all, think how many, many loaves of bread have been crumbled to bring you (plural) to this point. The work of realigning your perceptions won’t get done automatically; you need to work the problem that is your life. But it can be done; you have vast supportive forces of which you are usually unaware, some of which you will never be aware of. But it can be done. Only – don’t then judge those whose path leads in other directions! To judge them would be a demonstration that you haven’t yet changed directions yourselves.

This has moved a long way from my initial perception, which was that we can look at other people’s opinions as an indicator of where they are, rather than where they ought to be.

Not so far, just in a direction you didn’t expect. Now go do other things.

I shall. Thanks as ever for your able assistance.