There be Dragons out there: Sailing into the imaginal

Children have a special relationship with the imaginal and learn early on to edit their sharing of it with adults. You see, adults draw a hard distinction between what they think is real and the imaginal world of the child. The child plays with and explores the boundaries of real, keeping it flexible, while most adults have hardened those boundaries thus keeping what is contained within trapped and limited. But reality doesn’t care what you and I think of it and doesn’t conform to the ego boundaries that we set for it. 

Those who have decided what something is one way or the other have essentially killed any possible alternatives (note that the root for decide is “cide” i.e. to kill). This of course limits ones perspective and thus their options and resources. If we place too many conditions upon reality we eventually build a box of sorts around ourselves– a box born of many killings, many deaths.

When I reflect upon my dreams over the years one particular theme keeps showing up, nightmares of being trapped, contained, boxed in, held back, imprisoned and/or trying to escape. I’ve been trapped in ever constricting tunnels, struggled mightily to fly and stay air born, held down, kept from climbing a mountain, cornered, and lost within caves or endless hallways with no way out.

Something within me desperately wants to be expressed and keeps showing up in my dreams. But what is it? I honor the imaginal, some say to the extreme, but I too have a limit on this, artificially created so as to not look too crazy, or too over the top. After all I have a reputation to keep up and want to maintain the freedom to explore (the world tends to reign you in if you get too far out there).

But nothing new can be found if you remain within the safety of the box. To use another metaphor, no new worlds can be discovered if you’re not willing to sail off the “edge” of the world you’re on, just ask Columbus, Magellan, and Steve Jobs.

I’ve been inside many boxes in my life and what usually keeps me there is the fear of what is outside, I mean, there are Dragons out there! Many an ancient mariner wouldn’t stray too far from shore because of the unknown creatures that lurked many an uncharted sea. 

I also don’t like to let go of what I have until I know what’s out there to grab hold of. Using yet another metaphor that resonates for me, it would be like letting go of the trapeze while blindfolded and hoping there’s someone to catch me at the other end of the flight. But risk taking is…well, risky.

Growth and the discovery of new worlds is often like that in that you don’t know what’s out there, you just know that you can no longer stay cooped up in the box any more. Though there may be dragons lurking on the journey, they must be willingly faced for the glory and the wonder of new discoveries. Just think of the fabulous stories that would have been lost if Jason, Odysseus, or Neil Armstrong hadn’t ventured out beyond the safety of land.

For me it’s the imaginal world of my dreams that offers clues that there is something beyond my self and the culturally imposed boundaries and that I need to cast off into its unknowns so as to really see what’s possible.

It is a lonely journey, one because it is very personal and two because there’s little agreement from the rest of the world that the journey is worth it and there’s no guarantee that you’ll survive it. But remaining locked up in this damnable box, or tied to the safe harbored dock, is not what I want my life to be about i.e. there’s no journey if you’re tied to the dock.

“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too pleased with ourselves,

when our dreams have come true

because we dreamed too little,

when we arrived safely

because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when

with the abundance of things we possess

we have lost our thirst

for the waters of life;

Having fallen in love with life,

we have ceased to dream of eternity

and in our efforts to build a new earth,

we have allowed our vision

of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly to venture on wilder seas

where storms will show your mastery;

Where losing sight of land,

we shall find the stars.

We ask you to push backthe horizons of our hopes;And to push back the futureIn strength, courage, hope, and love.”

–Sir Francis Drake

“It’s just her imagination, she lives in a fantasy world.”

 

unnamed.jpg
Illustration of the fantasy story The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum’ (So much of the story was a projection of Dorothy’s real life concerns symbolized in her dream).

How often I’ve heard those discounting accusations leveled at children as though the creative imagination were something less real, therefore less important than what hard thinking adults have. The imagination often gets a bad rap, especially from mechanical-thinking, or concrete–thinking personalities. It’s often assigned the same low respectability as fantasy. Dreams and their meaning have also been folded into this heap of what many consider to be unimportant and distracting ephemera and yet…

Yet, all children interact with and learn about the so-called shared reality through exercising their imagination and fantasy. The pretend play, or narratives of children are their practices for being a healthy functioning adult. It is said that we all use the imagery of fantasy and imagination to create our own individual myth, or world-view. And many psychologists say that imagination and fantasy help to unite our “real world” experiences into an interconnected whole.

Some say that the senses present the “real” world while the imagination presents only a facsimile (read as unreal). Though an imaginary experience is indeed a facsimile, it may not be any the less real than that of the cognitive projections of our biased minds (read as beliefs).

Imagination can be defined as the ability to “see” what the senses cannot see e.g. to see all sides of a three-dimensional cube. It’s what the “cubists” were trying to do in their art i.e. depict all sides of something simultaneously.

Imagination is not limited by physical rules i.e. it can stop a Nova, enter a black hole, or go faster than the speed of light. Einstein used imagination to see into the secrets of the relative universe. Often the imagination serves as proof of what the senses tell us, or uncover what the senses cannot.

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

_Albert Einstein

 

Aristotle thought that imagination existed within a specific place in the mind, and in fact 2300 years later there is MRI research evidence that memory and imagination travel identical blood routes and are linked to the neocortex and Thalamus.

Deductive reasoning requires the imagination in order to see all sides of an issue so as to deduce a solution.

Without the imagination there would be no awareness of the possibilities of higher truths, or even higher order thinking. Without imagination man would not explore the seas, search for other lands, wonder how to communicate across vast distances, harness the power of the wind, or sun, discover how the body works, or explore the vastness of space. Without imagination, man would not know about himself.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

-Antoine de Saint Exupery

 

Without fantasy we cannot imagine what can be and thus have no dreams to aspire to. Without imagination and fantasy we become prey to the dictator, the theocrat, the oligarch, the tyrant.

 

“Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels.

-Francisco Goya

Without imagination there would be boredom. Imagination provides meaning, interest and magic. It is the main ingredient to creativity and invention.

Without imagination there would be no United States of America, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, no industry, no agriculture, no wheel, no clothing. Can anything be named that wasn’t originally the dream, an imagining by someone? Even God dreamed of the world before he commanded its formation.

“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”

-Thomas Edison

Imagination allows the individual mind to stretch out and enfold all the rest of reality. We would be trapped in the dark emptiness of our minds without it. Without imagination we could not look into the infinite, and be forever trapped in the finite. We could not see into a heaven for it would not exist for us.

“To see a world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour.”

–William Blake

A dream becomes so much more when you can embody it through the active imagination. It becomes something more real that can be interacted with so as to reveal so much more information about you in your world than a cold forensic application of a traditional interpretation.

“Dreams connect me to an intelligence that is beyond anything I learned in school. The dream images themselves come with an “intelligence” that opens us to insights and perspectives that are often outside the box.”

–Steven Aizenstat

So what is imagination and fantasy, but maybe the very spark for the meaning of our lives? Are we even human without it? It seems to me that it stimulates faith and understanding, discovery and ambition, knowledge and learning, love and romance, possibilities and options, even reading and storytelling. We should be doing whatever it takes to cultivate it, not depreciate it.

“Without the playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable…All the works of man have their origin in creative fantasy. What right have we then to depreciate imagination?”

–Carl Jung

 

Even when the use of fantasy and imagination is used as an escape from the stress of shared reality of the world you live in and assuming you have conscious control regarding when and how often you enter it, fantasy and imagination serves ones health and well being.

 

“Imagination is the eye of the soul.”

–Joseph Joubert

 

“The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.”

–Henry Ward Beecher

 

Finally, I’ve presented an overview of the imagination in support of its usefulness, but I’ve only alluded to where the images of our imagination come from i.e. what is the source of these images? Ahh, you might say that they are rooted in the images of our senses and you’d be right, partially, mechanistically, but it’s what we do with these source images–their processing that makes the difference.

However, are there not some images that seem to come from something, or somewhere, or even somewhen else? What’s that all about? It’s part of the mystery that is life. Part of the mystery that we all must regain and explore in our lives.

That’s the fodder of the mystics, the shaman, prophets, or the Depth Psychologist but also for us and that’s for a future discussion.

A cultural myth of redemption found in a popular fantasy story

image.jpg
From the 100th anniversary edition

Realized or not or intentional or not authors project themselves into their stories. Successful stories depend on good writing but they also draw on archetypal aspects that at an unconscious level resonate with most human beings.

Earlier someone shared part of a dream that included the image of the Tin Man from the Wonderful Wizard of OZ (1900). This got me to thinking about the other characters and aspects of L.Frank Baum’s story and who or what they might represent symbolically. However, my projected meanings are in no way intended to convey the meanings that Baum had for them these are just possible meanings that one might entertain should they show up in their dreams.

 Tinman: a Tin Man may be someone with no heart but deep down a heart as big as it gets. It can represent someone acting without compassion or being unsympathetic, or be someone unforgiving or unkind. When oiled e.g. given some kind, caring attention he/she becomes less rigid and stuck in their position. Do you know someone like this?

Cowardly lion: a person who acts tough but misses a golden opportunity out of fear. Are you feeling inadequate? Do you need to face your fears? Are you or someone you know wearing the mask of the tough guy thus keeping people at bay? Often this is the definition for someone who bullies. Are you limiting yourself by adhering to an inner dialog that has you feeling less-than?

Scarecrow: someone who looks scary but is using it as a cover-up so as to protect a vulnerable interior. Do you think of your self as being inferior? Is your exterior not matching your interior? Has your self-presentation been tattered?

Wicked witch: the negative feminine, in this case her insensitivity, and lack of focus except inwardly thus creating self-involvement, and being socially rejecting thus separating herself from others. She is the witch of the west and symbolic of darkness and endings that which needed to be faced in order to bring back the light and a new beginning.

Consider also that a witch can represent ones mother and the magical effect she has on you i.e. she is both nurturer and punisher.

Wizard: your inner wisdom and hidden power. This wizard also played the role of the trickster and was symbolically he who helps us to transcend our conditioning e.g. our learned behaviors, the behaviors and attitudes that limit us in life.

Glinda the good witch: she is the antithesis of the wicked witch, a goddess figure and the divine mother symbolizing feminine power, nurturing, and the coming of age for a young girl on the cusp of becoming a woman. She is the witch of the south that is symbolic of new beginnings, vulnerability and emotions.

Note that each of these characters is representative of Dorothy herself. Feeling unloved, unimportant, disconnected from her real power, with low self-esteem, lost and feeling as though she doesn’t belong, she dreams of a place where she can regain her self by returning home to herself. All aspects of her show up in the dream so as to help her heal and come back to her core being.

The psycho-emotional healing in most stories seems to center around the need to bring resolution to separateness and to unify the disparate aspects of the story i.e. to bring things back into balance. When we get out of balance catastrophic things can happen to help us find our way back home. This goes for societies and countries as well.

This I think is the function of our nightmares (individual or collective), which surly were depicted in Dorothy’s feverish dream i.e. to shake us up a little so as to point out the wrong road we’re on and head us toward the better road, the yellow brick road of hopefulness that leads to a place of healing and personal growth i.e. the green city of OZ while along the way we reconnect and make friends with the rejected parts of ourselves. The monster in the nightmare is not the hero save that they point to the fact that something isn’t working in the individual or societal psyche. As with Dorothy it’s only when we face our nightmarish bully that we can find our way home.

A walk into the woods– a waking dream

 

 

I presented a workshop yesterday noon to a half circle of seekers willing to dive deep into their souls in search of the one spring from which all souls flow.

I spoke of the other times we had gotten together and as an after thought I happened to mention those times that I have presented this same workshop to the denizens of the forest where I entered the ancient green light of the woods and sang the songs that bring forth the soul of souls. No sooner spoken and beginning our chanting journey it was as if conjured through magic that the forest seemed to fill the room and began to sing its own song. I could hear the sound of the wind through its many branches, the crack and skitter of all kinds of four-legged players punctuated by an occasional chirp and squawk that all joined together creating a descant of harmonies singing to the spirits of the woodland thicket.

It was the perfect place to search for the spring of the soul of souls.

Soon enough the chanting of others started to rise above my own as they began to own the song. In a breath or two my voice no longer led them deeper into the copse for they were marching on their own path. They continued to sing the spirit into being and I was left to walk with them as they marched ever deeper into the wood. No longer needing a leader I took another trail, searching for my own soul but that would eventually lead me back to the main party just in time to invite them back to the room we had left behind.

As we sat around our spiritual campfire stories of individual journeys were shared until the time had come for us to leave.

All in all a good trek through our collective mystical forest I thought.

An unabashed promotion: But still worth your while

 

Apparition_by_Naphula.jpg

 

“He who Khronos does enthrall,

I bid thee answer your bretheren’s call.”

 

“An apparition of indeterminate gender floated high above us, then drifted gently down into the circle of light, barely touching the floor as it landed. It was a ghostly apparition in a form that never seemed really present in the here and now. It was as though I was seeing it in the past, present, and future simultaneously, but not quite solidly in any of those frames… A cold breeze worked its way up my back, and I consciously forced it back to wherever it had crawled out from…”

“I see discontinuity (it said). I see a place where both aspects of being and spirit are not sharing. I see a rift forming where this Being lost the vision given by the Is. I see this Being made up for its loss by creating its own reality in the name of the Is, but not of the Is. I see “ a vision of oneness, the light and the dark in harmony, aspects seemingly in conflict operating as a whole. The vision of the Is includes everything with nothing left out. The yin struggles in your world to be heard, the yang having actively suppressed it out of fear, greed, and ignorance and then codified it as though it were the word of the Is. But the Is becomes aware through the Being. It needs the Being to manifest all of itself, and when the Being becomes unbalanced through the expression of only half of itself, the expression of the Is also becomes unbalanced.”

This was part of an otherworldly conversation between myself and an apparition met one summer evening some thirty-three years ago on the other side of reality. It was an experience of painful awareness that threatened the very fabric of my life as I knew it. But this was not exclusively a story about me but of all of us and the rabbit hole we’re all falling down.

The conversation was an excerpt from the story of a journey I took one dark and rainy night that dragged me beyond the reality I knew and into a world of chaos that was vaguely familiar. This was a story of a desperate need for healing for myself and for the very fabric into which we all are woven. It’s a story that continues into this day and has now pulled all of us into its torn and fragmented web.

Take a peek beyond the veil and into a world beyond this world and come with me on my journey to visit the Dream Healer on the Archipelago of Dreams.

 

The Never-Never

 

“The second star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning.”

 

flying-dream.jpg
A metaphor for our Unconscious Mind?

In several blog articles I’ve explored how myth reflects the workings of the human psyche. Though not myths in and of themselves there are also popular fantasy stories that have added to our cultural mythology that themselves are allegories to the workings of the psyche. I’ve looked at such stories and poems as Shakespeare’s Mid Summer Nights Dream, Louis Carroll’s’ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Today I thought I’d tackle yet another of the English-speaking world’s favorite fantasy stories, Peter Pan.

“The second star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning.

But, Peter, how do we get to Never Land?

Fly, of course.

Fly?

It’s easy! All you have to do is to… is to… is to… Ha! That’s funny.

What’s the matter? Don’t you know?

Oh, sure. It’s… It’s just that I never thought about it before. Say, that’s it! You think of a wonderful thought. “

 

th.jpg
From Disney movie Peter Pan

And thus began one of fantasy’s most incredible magical journeys, Peter Pan by J.M Barrie.

What is this Never Land of which he spoke?

Barrie thought of this land as a place found in the minds of children. Each land is as different as each child, though there are some basic similarities as it is between children as well. This seems not unlike the archetypal images of which Jung spoke which would make Never Land an archetype for the psyche’s imaginal realm.

In this way Never Land might be likened to the dream world with the “mainland” of Wendy, John and Michael Darling representing the waking world.

Barrie’s Never Land was probably a reference to the popular name for the Australian Outback i.e. The “Never-Never” that was to be found in the deserts of the Northern Territory. This wouldn’t be too far fetched when one thinks of the Australs as the southern most land mass on the planet and thus analogous to the unconscious mind from whence all dreams are born.

fixedw_large_4x.jpg
Never-Never National Park

Neverland can only be reached by flying and in the dream world, flying is a metaphor for freedom and independence, it’s also a central theme in Peter Pan’s world.

The star in the beginning of the story serves as a guide or map to the place of their desire; where they aspire to be i.e. Never Land. In dreams stars also relate to ones aspirations and desires. There’s also an aspect of fate or luck in the story because you’re encouraged to believe that you just have to follow “the 2nd star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning”, a star in ones dreams also symbolizes this same aspect of luck.

In the book The Archipelago of Dreams Robert also followed a star that drew him into the Spirit World of his deeper self where he also tempted fate.

Growing up in some way is also an aspect of many stories both in the desire and the resistance to it. We all want the seeming independence of being grown up and in charge of our fate, but how many times have we all, when overwhelmed with the responsibilities of our grown-up status, wished for the simpler days of our childhood? In our dreams this often shows up in images of our childhood home, friends, events, or family.

You see, our fantasy stories as well as our myths come from the same place as our dreams– they are projections of our deeper, and all too hidden, nature.

 

first-lucid-dream.jpg

Archetypal memes in our stories and our dreams

178943.jpg

For several years now I’ve been slowly adding to my personal encyclopedia of dream images. After a particularly numinous dream the other day I thumbed through my collection to the archetype section and found what I was looking for. It was a comment on the archetypal images that often show up in fictional and fantasy stories.

Stories thrive on archetypal characters. There are the heroes such as Odysseus of Homer’s work, or Hercules in Greek mythology. Characters like Puck and Lady Macbeth, Othello and King Lear along with a whole host of others in the works of Shakespeare are also archetypal memes.

The White Rabbit and the Cheshire cat lead us into our inner realm, as do all animals in our dreams and music such as Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker shows evidence of characters like the trickster and shadow. The psychic archetypes portrayed within this work show up in the form of the Trickster-magician Drosselmeyer, the Shadow creature portrayed by the Mouse King and his minions and the various goddess images envisioned as the Sugar Plum and Snow fairies.

The Nutcracker itself transforms from one state of being to another, becoming human in the process, a nice metaphor for Carl Jung’s Individuation Process and not unlike the transformative performance experienced by Pinocchio who morphed from being a puppet to a real boy. Both represent the magic-like development of the human psyche as it transmutes toward wholeness and realness.

As with anything in the imaginal world of the psychic archetypes, they are more metaphor than actual. We can’t touch them, only point toward their attributes. They represent the patterns of the psychic function.

The Depth Psychologist James Hillman said that they were the root of the soul. He went on to say that because of this imaginal description of archetype we are lead “to envision the basic nature and structure of the soul in an imaginative way and to approach the basic questions of psychology first of all by means of the imagination.” (Hillman, J., A Blue Fire, Harper Perennial, 1989, pg.23)

Imagination is the faculty of imagining, or of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses. A Psychologist might say that it is the power of reproducing images stored in the memory under the suggestion of associated images or of recombining former experiences in the creation of new images that aid in the solution of problems or that are directed at a specific goal.

The archetypal imagination of our soul has the ability to create unreal or whimsical imagery and the decorative detail that we experience in our poetry, dramas, stories and art.

On occasion an archetypal image will visit a dream and deliver a luminous or what has been dubbed a numinous (i.e. holy or sacred) quality to the dream that can stimulate an emotional state that brings transformational meaning and purpose to ones life.

The emotion can be of deep sweetness, ecstasy or of terror and dread but definitely a wholly other experience of astonishment and wonder.

Whether the experience is “real” or not in terms of whether one has been visited by some spirit isn’t all that important because it’s the effect that it has on ones psyche and resulting behavior that is of consequence.

 

Sometimes a fairy tale can lead us home

photo-24 copy 2.JPG

Early one morning as the sun was still climbing above the tops of the faraway mountains, I threw on my jacket as insurance against the lingering cold from the night just passing and headed down the street to the old river trail. As I descended from road to trail a cold wind skipped playfully about me and I zipped the jacket tighter.

It was a gorgeous morning full of promise, birds calling to one another, a croaking frog and the buzzing of bees busily working the pollen of the flowers along the water’s edge.

I decided to head toward the little town off to the west and was sure that the path I was on was the true path toward that destiny. But somehow I got lost. “Funny”, I thought “This was always the way before!”

A little further down the path the ground became rocky with pools of muddy water and broken branches making the going much tougher than I remembered. I should have turned around, but I was convinced that this had always been the way to town and that I needed to persevere.

The sky became grey and ominous, threatening to pour down and a stiff wind snaked down the gully pushing me back against the way of travel. What had started off in beauty had quickly changed into darkening struggle, but I soldiered on. Debris began to build up against my forward progress and the rain had become so forceful it actually blew horizontal to the path and every step became painful. The sun had become so covered that the sky was nearly black and I could no longer see either my way forward or my way back.

I was cold, wet and lost and rapidly losing all hope, and to make it worse, the river was rising and lapping at the edge of the trail as it crumbled and began to disappear. A stepped back against a soggy berm so as to not be pulled into the chaotic waters but soon found I had no place to stand and the thoroughly drenched hillside offered no safety even if I could have climbed its muddy flank.

It was then that an old woman came out of the thicket and beckoned me to follow. At first I resisted, who knew what this old hag was up to and what dangers she would lead me into? But after several waves to me I decided that it couldn’t get any worse should I follow her and it was a sure bet that the way I was going wasn’t going to get me home so I let go my pride and followed her into the dense forest she had come from.

The going was tough, but the deeper I went into these woods the quieter the storm became until eventually we came to the edge of a great meadow ringed with tall redwoods. A grove of fruit trees stood to the east of us and it was there that the woman led me. Crossing the meadow the sun began to dry my clothes and warm the deadening cold that had gripped my soul earlier.

Somehow the world had changed, new vistas revealed themselves and just beyond the grove sat the sweetest log cabin I’d ever seen. As she stood at the door the woman beckoned to me to enter and because I had learned to follow her lead I walked inside. It was all I could have imagined it to be, I was home.

The patriarchal society that I grew up in had always told me that I should know where I was going and how I was to get there, but the road it lead me down was never-ending and never ever felt like home– I never felt as though I’d made it.

It wasn’t until I began to trust my inner feminine nature, that part of all of us that teaches us to open to our true Self, the wholeness that we are through our connectedness with everything, that I was able to see the real path for my life.

When we let go of our fantasy of what life is and follow our destiny even though it may not seem like the rational path we’ve been taught was the only true path, when we leave our preconceived goals and ideas and carefully conceived plans, then can we follow a path toward authenticity.

Sometimes the path has to be shattered and all seem lost before we can be open to the outstretched hand that offers us something new. Sometimes we need to let go our stubborn resolve of what is supposed to be in order to create a better way.

The world down the rabbit hole

 

falling.jpg

Every time I Google “Spirit Guide” I come up with thousands of mystical references to actual entities– animal, deity, or ancestral. It is not these that I refer to when I speak of my own Spirit Guide. I am referring to an inner voice that whispers direction when I silence my mind enough to hear it. This Spirit Guide is also real, as I am real for it is a part of me and not of some disembodied spirit coming in from somewhere outside myself. But when in my ego-self I sometimes have to imagine into being a guide that appears to be separate in order to interact with it.

It may be ancestral in that it often reflects the ancient archetypes present in all humans, it may even be a spirit in that it reflects the God that is in all of us, and my animal nature also has something to offer when I can approach it dispassionately, but what it is not is something outside myself. The Spirit travels with me wherever I go; it walks the path with me. But it is an oddly twisting path often turning back on itself with each twist a function of who I am at the moment of my arrival.

Because the road is uniquely yours, the Spirit will only give you enough direction to guide, but not enough for you to see where you’re going until you’ve added some directions of your own. This is difficult because as many of you have experienced, the directions don’t remain the same–they keep mysteriously changing! Just when you think you’ve seen the path and where it’s headed, it disappears! Why is this?

Perhaps it’s because it’s not really there! Oddly enough it could be that the path you’re following is only a projection and to complicate that even more, it may be a projection not only from you, but your family, friends, and culture. It may be that we cannot see the path we’re on except perhaps in retrospect, but even there the act of looking back changes what is seen.

Hindsight is like a book on a shelf of memories that when taken down and opened changes not only in meaning, but in style and word as well. Every remembrance alters itself. You could almost say that each review obliterates the previous review.

I wonder if the road we travel in our life is like the Cheshire Cat in the Alice in Wonderland story that keeps appearing and disappearing? And why is it always smiling? Perhaps it is because it knows that what is thought to be seen isn’t really what’s there at all?

Isn’t it odd how fantasy, and religion often reflect reality, albeit a strange reality, and stranger still there’s a reality at the infinitesimally small world that physicists call the “quantum”? When in the quantum world, matter keeps appearing then vanishing like the Cheshire Cat and all the characters that make up the matter of the real world keep changing–creating and annihilating like the Hindu god Shiva.

This path I’ve been following seems to have no end of strangeness to it. For example, many have written me with dreams that they thought might be precognitive. I’ve often responded skeptically, but readings of such physicists as Fred Alan Wolf suggest that at the quantum level the present makes the past. Eh? Really, some physicists suggest that present choices can effect what happens in the past–the past’s future (our present) can affect what happens e.g. a future cause can affect a past cause–an effect can thus come before a cause. As Wolf queries, “can we [then] reasonably affirm that choices made in the future affect our present?” My skepticism regarding the reality of precognizance may be a little too strident.

“Curiouser and curiouser” Alice was known to have muttered in her confusion over the reality of the world she found at the end of the rabbit hole. Sometimes it seems to me that Lewis Carroll was describing a reality we actually live in rather than the one we define in our consciousness. It’s curious how he presages the world of quantum physics before Einstein was even born.

So what to do when on the road of the Spirit? Take it where it leads? Be where you are when you’re there? Where is there? And why take the road in the first place? Is it all to find out who and why we are?

 

“The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.

 ‘Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar.

 This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’

 ‘What do you mean by that?’ said the Caterpillar sternly. ‘Explain yourself!’

 ‘I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir’ said Alice, ‘because I’m not myself, you see.’ “

                                      –Lewis Carroll (Alice ‘s Adventures in Wonderland)

 

This is the fun of taking this road less traveled, this Spirit-road, it’s an exciting mystery, and confusion is part of it, for in this world, “knowing” is the booby prize.

The Boy on the mountain

 

th.jpg

 

I met the boy on the mountain

There with his drum

Tapping out the rhythms of his soul.

 

Hello, said I

Having forgotten his name

And he looked up and he smiled.

 

Then he fixed me with his gaze

And pulled me into the source.

I know the secret, he said.

 

The secret? said I.

The secret to life, he said

And turned back to his drum

 

Will you tell me? I asked.

You already know, he said

You already know

 

But I’ve forgotten, I pleaded.

We all forget, he said

Then we remember all over again,

 

Again and again,

Again and again,

And again, each time new.

 

It’s funny that way

The forgetting and remembering,

But that’s the way He wants it.

 

RJC ’14