Chapter 3 Hodie
Many things we do naturally become difficult only when we try to make them intellectual subjects. It is possible to know so much about a subject that you become totally ignorant.
-Mentat Text Two (dicto)
Frank Herbert “Chapter House Dune “, Gollancz,
The Orion Publishing Group, London.
Page 107 ISBN 0 575 07518 X
I had planned to talk today of the darkness within and my exploration of the feelings behind it, somehow it needs a storm to do this for I can then tune into the wildness of nature and revisit those very, very strange days. The beginning of this descent had its roots in the realisation of my own ignorance so eloquently paraphrased above. But Eric says we will sketch over it for now, because today feels like it is a good time to talk about today, though the resonances to 1995 are clear and the merry-go-round of hospital and doctors appointments is the same. This time though I am not seeking death rather, life.
Eric remembers when he first went into the office and said to Dr Depardieu that he was unwell. He remembers the questions about sleep, sex, food and alcohol. He remembers telling him about his plan to get a large amount of heroin and some syringes from work. He remembers telling him that he knew where he could get this and how he felt that this would be the best way. By touching the ephemera of the memory a tinge of sadness creeps into him. How forlorn and lost he felt then and how the temptation to end it all had been playing like a movie re-run in his mind, flickering black and white on the screen; waiting for the final credits to roll, how there was no Technicolor only black and white. He remembers sitting on that tube train and the veins in his arm screaming at him to go and do it. He knows that he has never really said this to anyone before so he is a little nervous. Dr Depardieu gave him some nice green and white pills and these helped him for a while, they bought him some time. The shame of it was a little hard to bear, he had to tell his university that he was ill and the nature of his illness, bringing in those doctors notes every couple of weeks. He felt then the margins of existence, the twilight of the deranged and the futility of the castrated man. Everything he had tried had failed and he began to cling; it was not pretty.
Enough of this then, we will return to the darkness soon, for there is much in there that is lighter than you can imagine and it needs out too. Today, he went to the hospital on his bike; to check for parking spaces and a place to lock it up. For tomorrow he visits the neurologist, later an MRI scan of his neck and brain and then the orthopaedic surgeons will look at the images of the cervical discs pressing on his spinal column. Eric is pleased with his bike, he has ridden it three times now and some of the confidence in him comes back, twenty years is a long time. He guesses it must be true; the idiom about it being just like riding a bike. He is not allowed to drive any more because he lost consciousness a week or so ago. In a strange way cycling takes him back to the carefree days of his late teen years, when he used the bike to escape the noise, to ride for miles and miles around the North Kent countryside. He knows that the medics don’t yet know what is wrong and that they are investigating; they have mentioned stroke and epilepsy. They haven’t mentioned tumour yet and he wonders if he should tell the neurologist about his dream that said he had cervical spine cancer or wait until the images are back. It is difficult to block out these thoughts as there isn’t enough data yet. He wonders if he should mention all the things that he sees and how he understands the nature of consciousness to be. He remembers that these specialists are trained in the church of reason so it might be better not to mention prescience and lucid dreaming.
Today though is fine. The heavy rains of the last few days have passed and the sun shines on the garden. All is well for now and Eric remembers the entreaty to consider every path carefully and to ask yourself only one question; is this for you a path with heart? For if there is no heart then the path will drag you down and suck away your vitality. And he remembers how many times he has asked that question and how many times he has walked away.
It brings him back to one of the things he wanted to talk about, energy. He doesn’t like that word because it has connotations, co-note-tations elsewhere and the use of it hinders. Eric prefers the word vitality. He says that as the power within grows and develops by acquiring knowledge it imbues both upon itself and the form it inhabits, a vitality and vivaciousness. It lends capacity to the form to operate in ways that it never expected and with an awareness that is sharper than before. This vitality gives a sense of time to things that differs. When beings have this, they can choose the speed at which they perceive things, they can literally speed up or slow down the perception and hence time. This speed then is under their control, it gives intensity and focus. People hunt for this vitality, perhaps the elixir of youthfulness, though it is not that. When the power within has it the eyes of the form glow with an iridescence that can be seen by some, or simply as a sparkle of joie de vivre by others. This sense of vitality is a currency for human interactions.
We can build it up in ourselves and others or we can deplete ourselves and others. People try to steal this thing from each other mistakenly thinking they can and that if they have power over another; they have real power. Whereas this vitality is true power, it is limitless and without bound, it grows as we flow in synchronicity with the universe and our fate. In a very real sense it is more extant than the illusions borne of the form and the mind. It comes from life itself and the vis viva expressing outwards from the void.
Eric says that this thing which he calls forceful manipulation is the very bane of humanity and the basis through which the construct of the world is maintained. He says that because most people live in the realms of the hungry ghosts they cannot yet see the impact of this on both themselves and the world. Ultimately this forceful manipulation is based on some form of insecurity or perception of inadequacy whether expressed through self pity or self importance. It is seen in some quarters as standing up for your rights or skill-full negotiation, yet in many of its guises it is actually quite a lot nastier than that. It is linked to dominion and dominance, man in control of his surroundings and his fate. Its detrimental effects can be seem almost everywhere and perhaps it stems from a deep, deep sense of there never being enough, if you like a hole in being-ness that pervades because mankind has in many cases lost touch with his sense of purpose.
Eric seems to remember that a number of years ago now he wrote poetry feverishly doing some three hundred poems in a couple of years. He burned them all along with all his copious note books. He deleted all his emails and all his notes on esoterica in one ceremony of cleansing the past. There was plenty of that force in him back then, he had learned well at the arcane school. He says that he no longer feels the near religious ecstasy that had driven him then. That it was all gone and it had all been folly and that he must dream now.
He has just come back from his afternoon sleep. Since he began doing dreaming practice over eight years ago now, he has practised dreaming, he describes it as a meditative technique used to open up the doorway to the power within, if you like a channel of communication with his inner being. He learned to let this guide him as it appeared there was purpose to this, it seemed to know what it was doing even if it did make for a somewhat non-linear approach to life.
He tells me before he did this formally; he did martial arts as a sort of walking meditation and is reminded how, when he used to run, timing the slip-slap-slip of his running to his breath was a way of bringing the form more consciously under his control. The martial arts opened something else in him and his body began to behave in a way that was much more economical. Later he developed listening to music as a way of doing meditation, he doesn’t know how he knew how to do it, yet he says if you listen very carefully to music and concentrate only on that; it stills the mind. Further if you open your heart to the music it guides you. When he was recovering from the darkness he let the emotions present in music take him to places he had never thought he could go; making it experiential in ways that were quite special.
He first discovered that he really knew how to dream but only in retrospect after he had stumbled across North American Indian shamanism in a school in Hertfordshire of all places. The cynic in him found some considerable hilarity that a bunch of white people would gather, drum and go on shamanic journeys in search of guidance for their lives. He reckoned they were all making it up. He loved the drumming and to drum, the hypnotic rhythm of the drum beat running with the ebb and flow of his inner tuition taking him deeper and away from the noise and clatter of the mind. Being a bit of a rebel though, he didn’t quite do what he was supposed to do. Rather, he sank into the colour which exists in states of pure calm. He let the colour emerge from the black and the formless, taking shape first as a Rorschach ink blot of colour then slowly filling the whole dreamscape. Out of the colour, images would appear and he would follow them and let them unfold, making notes of what he saw there. He learned he could heal, clear spaces and that ritual was a very power full way of focusing intent.
Later he learned to dream by using yellow roses to focus intention before the dreamscape came. Soon all he needed was a few seconds to enter the colour and hold it firm. What came then was dream after dream after dream. This was new and exciting to him he wanted to share these dreams because that is what it seemed he was meant to do. The people around him chastised him for this. He learned to state the intent of dreaming appropriate for his dreaming class. Then somehow many years later he no longer felt that this intent was right and chose another one.
Last year he went again to a dojo, to try his hand at some judo and perhaps regain some fitness. There was something quite strange about the dojo, it was a sports dojo and had none of the reverence and atmosphere of mutual support he had found at the true dojos of his past. On his second visit they practised ippon seonage his favourite throw and perhaps the most effective of all at giving someone a good whack. Something happened to him and he drove home in a haze of dreaming colour knowing that he had changed. He found that he had herniated discs in his cervical spine; there the discs pressed down on the nerves to the left hand side of his body and directly on the spinal column itself. He could see it in the MRI scans himself. His muscles wasted and it took many months to rebuild them and regain function there.
After that his dreaming took another turn. Instead of controlling the entrance into the colour, he shifted very rapidly into another level of trance. His waking dreams had changed. Now again these last few days something has shifted, he experiences a shimmer of consciousness before entering trance. His pulse rate and metabolism slow and within a matter of a few seconds he is dreaming. Now though, the level of lucidity and awareness that he is dreaming is much less detached, the experience is somehow much deeper. His sleep dreams seem much the same as ever.
Which brings us back to paths and there are many of these and it is these that we dream in for ourselves. As ever it brings us back to the heart and the people we share our lives with. It brings us back sharply to the journey and not the destination, there to flow and to do what our inner tuition guides, there not to try to force things unwelcome on the world.
A little under two years ago I wrote that letter in which I resigned from my post as a senior lecturer at a top university. There I was responsible for the pastoral care of the students and there I had given it my all. In this university and the students there I saw many of the worst excesses of man’s impact upon others, there in a moment of clarity I realised that I was in effect cleaning up other people’s messes and putting a sticking plaster on something which was really quite badly damaged. These fine young minds were studying at the church of reason learning the arcane language and practice of concrete science. They invested all their effort towards good grades and the elusive happiness wrapped up and beckoning in the sort of career that a graduate from there might expect. In so doing perhaps attempting to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of “tennis coach” parents trying to live their lives through their children. How strange that self worth for so many was so directly linked to their apparent capacity to achieve recognition through the exam results at this arcane school. I wonder for many of them if this is a path with heart.
For many, previously at the top of the pecking order in their respective schools, it was an epiphany; now the competition was fierce and the curriculum intense, from the old school of we had it tough, so should they. It was there that many lives are to be sacrificed on the altar of academic success and “we must publish first”, so that we can be top of the premier league. There, where the techniques of politics and manipulation coupled with the weight of a famous institution ensured a good slice of research funding to maintain this status quo. Some people were quite nice but I had begun to realise over many a lunch time conversation that I no longer cared which person was getting whatever chair at which university, or who had done the best work on electro-chromism and got that big adventurous chemistry grant. Despite all the wonderful young people many of my colleagues had become to me cardboard cut outs of people playing a stereotypical game called academia, a game of the mind and most definitely not of the heart. It is however hard to imagine just how difficult it is to let something like this go. All of my adult life I had strived to get the position and now to realise it was hollow was quite a blow. The impact on me the day I sent the letter was immense. I knew in that act I was changing my whole world and irrevocably so.
I resigned, with no job to go to, put my flat on the market and looked on the internet for somewhere to live. I had asked myself when was I most happy and it was simple, those days in the Peak District before I met my first wife, before it all got so very complicated and so messy, before once again I let myself be swayed by someone else and caught up in their drama. As luck would have it this beautiful listed cottage was on the market and, as if it was intended, I am now here, in the bucolic shire writing these words. I can step out of my door and into the countryside once more.
Eric still makes me read Physics World from time to time just to keep in touch and he reminds me that the Warrior’s path is not like any other path; that everything along the way has a purpose and a meaning if only we take the care and the time to look for it. He reminds me not to squander anything I have learned; to be like that blotting paper absorbing the ink of life, for each drop of it inscribes the character and adds to the power within.
Here I am then with doubts about my health and ready to embark upon a new marriage with a woman whom I care for more than I could ever have imagined possible. I have no job. I have some money in the bank and I have this Chautauqua that presses and strains to write. I am conscious that I haven’t really let it rip yet and am warming up. I am perhaps adrift in the sea of life, I most certainly am not lost. I know that everything has a purpose. I am waiting for the power within to show the next step, unhurried, secure and ready to respond in whatever way is needed. Tomorrow is another day.
Chapter 4 A Path with Heart
No diagnosis then from Friday’s visit to the hospital, there are a lot of things that have been ruled out and I am feeling a little reassured. This gives me some quiet time to start to elaborate on what I mean by a path with heart. In a sense any path, although we might see it as achieving a goal or ambition, ultimately leads no where, for we all must die and that part of incarnate awareness which is the totality of us, in the words of the Bard, shuffles off the mortal coil. Our form disintegrates or is burned and the atoms of our vehicle are re-cycled and used by the universe for another purpose, our bits might one day end up being a plastic Tesco’s bag; who knows. In any case once the power within has left, it is not that important. The form then becomes the formless. The formless is then reorganised into something else. It is the vis viva that takes the clay of a human being and through the magic of life re-organises it into something else. If the atoms are incorporated in an organic sense then some other consciousness uses them, eventually.
What then is a path with heart? Eric says that this differs for each of us, yet deep down we all know when we are treading a path with heart and when we are not. That is the simplicity of it all. The trouble is that most people lack the honesty and live lives of denial, because they are fearful of change. It takes a great deal of courage and some considerable measure of practice to learn to listen to the heart. The heart is not all fluffy and warm, roses and sentiment. When operating fully it is powerful beyond imagination and can be quite a demanding master. For in one sense the heart, that is an expression of true feeling, is that part of the total being which is most in sync with what the power within has set us up for. In this context the heart is not the muscle which pumps our blood. It is pure feeling.
Eric says that most people get hooked on romance and idealism and use the mind to try to force this romance on the being, to an extent where after compromising the emanations of the heart for so long, it controls. The mind is the master of what he calls the first ring of power whereas the heart transcends this; it operates on the level where true inner tuition takes place. That tuition of the inner being, whether a work in progress or truly listened to, leads one on the path with heart.
Many paths first appear to be a path with heart, the mind hoping above all hope that a given direction in life will be a path with heart. The being then invests a great deal of effort in following these paths, to the point where it will vigorously defend the “fact” that this is a path with heart. Deep down though, everyone knows when they are bullshitting themselves and even those around them. When such a point is finally admitted the reluctance to change can cause all sorts of problems. The heart never lies. It is a shame that human beings do. In a sense many of us get caught up in a trap of our own making.
Consider each path very carefully and ask yourself only this. Is this for me a path with heart? This is really the only question and it is the 64 million dollar one. Everything else is just so much intellectual masturbation. For opening your heart and listening to it renders all else mundane. Eric says that this then is the bottom line. For as we traverse this, the sea of life, whenever we are faced with what appears to be a dilemma, asking this and answering honestly will enable one to gain sufficient clarity to work out what are the next steps that need to be taken.
Like all paths, it leads exactly no where, what it does though is to provide a journey of quite stupendous novelty, variety and excitement. Esoterically the path with heart is linked to the cabalistic glyph of Tiphareth and is associated with choosing between the old and the new. Every day is nascent at dawn, lived to the maximum, dies at the sunset, rests overnight and life starts the next day, fresh. Knowing full well that each day brings change and the being walking the path with heart will not be the same being on the following day. It takes guts to walk such a path.
Eric says that it might be wise to put in another quotation here.
This one is from M.F. Powers
One night I dreamed a dream. I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Lord.
When the last scene of my life shot before me I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that at times along the path there was only one set of footprints. I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of my life. This always bothered me and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma.
“Lord, you told me that once I decided to follow You, You would walk with me all the way but I noticed that during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, when I needed You most, You would leave me.”
“ My precious child, I love you and would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you see only one set of footprints it was then that I carried you. “
This then re-presents a journey through life and in choosing a path with heart, there will be times when the challenges such a choice calls forth can make one feel completely lost and abandoned. If one sticks with it, the power within guides and in a sense carries us, even when the rational mind has packed up, run away and felt very sorry for itself. The power within, leads us to do things which we might not always have the emotional wherewithal to do and makes sure that we make it through to the other side. In doing this it causes us to grow and change. At times we all feel sorry for ourselves and play the martyr.
If we choose to look at our lives for what they really are, hopefully before the last days of our sojourn here, we can always find a purpose for what has happened and if we are lucky the meaning inherent in that purpose. For it is really us, our own power within, which sets up the circumstance for us to learn, blaming others is just stupid and disempowering for everyone concerned.
If we do not take responsibility for ourselves who is going to? Is change then a path with heart?
“Be the change you wish to see in the World.”
As far as I can tell most people want some form of change in their lives, yet direct the intention and responsibility for that change towards external sources, hoping that if he (or she) changes, then it would make my life better.
It is a wistful hope that is often forgotten as quickly as it arises, and then so, back to the day to day business of living. Very few people are willing to take responsibility for changing themselves, hoping that someone else will do “it” for them. The changes which they think they seek are perhaps just a tinkering around the edges of life, maybe a better holiday would do the trick…? So here is a question for you are you going to walk this most difficult of paths and see if you can find the extent and wonder of your being-ness by listening to the power within?
True change is not for the fainthearted. It is a matter of bringing the inside out, letting the spirit surface and breathe. The outer form can only present an image of the state of the inner being and true change begins inside. Once a process of change has been initiated it can come at one like a relentless tide, where the sea of change washes before it all that one once held as true.
True change is seldom welcomed with open arms, rather it often comes about because of a moment of clarity when one knows without any doubt that a way of thinking and of being is no longer tenable; that living as one has been, has in some strange way ceased to be an affair of the heart. Such moments can be initiatory of change or alternatively spark a journey of denial in an over expressed need to be right. That over expression of just how great the form side of life is must constantly be verbalised and re-enforced by others to mask the flight which the inner person much deeper down, knows that they are doing. This has consequences.
True change starts slowly as a way of being and behaving is gradually and sometimes painfully eroded. Then the shape and the constituents of a life, are stripped away, allowing a space for a new person to emerge from the chrysalis. What that being is, may bear little or no resemblance to the caterpillar it once thought it was, avariciously feeding on the substance of life and taking from all around.
True change can be said to be transmutative, transformative and perhaps transfigurational. The expense of change is a former life, the gift, a new one, heralding untold wonders of what it is to be alive; bringing with it a new found sense of purpose and meaning. Somehow, setting one apart from the crowd, who may look at you blankly because such a change is beyond the scope of their experience and as such, so very much a part of the unknown and perhaps, because of an unwillingness to change, the unknowable.
In this respect if one really does change, no one may ever notice. Because of the 99% rule which says that 99% of people think only of themselves 99% of the time, many will miss what has been an act of magic, worked at over a great many years.
Eric says that there is only one way to go and that is to walk as gently on the earth as possible, trying to not impose petty wants and desires upon others and taking from the world only what it is that is truly needed. And that life is a journey of learning and of approaching, leaving as few footprints as possible on the rice-paper world whilst having the best impact one can.
This then is a path with a heart, we do not own the world; we can celebrate our incarnation by making our lives an expression of the emanations of our hearts as we dance the pattern of our existence, hand in hand with the power within.