It all began as the result of two events in late August. Firstly; a conversation between me and my not-yet-five year old grandson on a sunny August afternoon by the sea in Norfolk. He referred to a time long ago, so long ago that it was even before he “was in his mummy’s tummy”. I interrupted his flow and asked “where were you then, before you were in mummy’s tummy?”. Secondly; we had learned, only the day before, of the loss of a very dear friend, one whom we had known and loved dearly for over 40 years. These events together have been responsible for an extraordinary progression of thoughts, which I have organised as follows:
In 1980 David Bohm (British quantum physicist 1917-1992) published Wholeness and the Implicate Order. In it he proposes a radically different cosmological order, which he expresses as a distinction between what he describes as the implicate and explicate orders. He sees the implicate order as the universe, in which is enfolded all the potentialities of existence. This higher order, so to speak, unfolds into the manifest order, the world in which we have our being, and which Bohm calls the "explicate order." Seen subjectively, it is the unconscious that unfolds, beginning with birth (conception?), expanding as consciousness throughout life in this explicate order until, in old age, begins the process of folding up again. At death, consciousness is again enfolded into the implicate order. In this enfolded or implicate order, space and time are no longer the factors determining the relationships of dependence or independence of different elements. An entirely different sort of basic connection of elements becomes possible, from which ordinary notions of space and time, along with those of separately existent material particles, become abstract forms derived from the deeper order.
For William Blake there is an archway dividing this world from that mysterious one, and above the archway has been written: There is a Void outside of existence, which if enter'd into Englobes itself and becomes a Womb . . . The beauty of Blake's work derives not only from the fact that he wrote about the contents of the collective unconsciousness, but that he experienced them as well. He conveyed his eidetic images to paper, both in words and pictures. Blake's avowed purpose was to penetrate the walls of ancient traditions, built with the stones of dogma. It acknowledges one Source behind the universe, giving rise to all the gods in this manifest world who, despite their grandeur and majesty, their angers and jealousies, are but fragments of the invisible Whole.
And for C G Jung: Life had always seemed to him like a plant that lives on its rhizome.
Its true self is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away, an ephemeral apparition. When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilizations, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost a sense of something that lives and endures underneath the central flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains.
Between 1999-2005 Alan Moore (English multi-genre novelist 1953- ) wrote Promethea, a graphic metafictional novel with a super-heroine explicitly drawn from the realms of the imagination, where Moore explored ideas about consciousness, philososophy and mysticism. In chapter 5 Margaret, the passing Promethea is explaining to her successor, Sophie (Sofia?):
Sophie ‘Listen, I am sitting here imagining this conversation, right?’
Margaret ‘Well, yes. Your body is sitting in a physical location, and this is all in the imagination, not your imagination, though. The Imagination.’
‘The Imagination? You make it sound like there’s only one of them.’
‘There is. There is a material world and there’s an immaterial world. Both worlds exist, but in different ways. For example, chairs exist. So does the idea of chairs.’
‘Well, yeah, but I mean, everybody’s imagination are separate aren’t they? I mean, everyone has their own private mental space…’
‘Of course they do. Just as their house is their own private physical space, the territory outdoors belongs to everyone.’
‘But if your mind behaved like a place… I mean, every time anyone followed a trail of thought…’
‘…They’d be walking a pathway in the Immateria. Humans are amphibious, Sophie. That means they live in two worlds at once: matter and mind.’
‘Yet many people only notice the solid world that they have been conditioned to think of as real… while all about them diamond glaciers creak and volcanoes thunder.’
‘But what about ideas? Why do some people have better ideas than others?’
‘Ideas grow like flowers here. Some are common ideas, found everywhere, but if you want the rarer ideas, the more exotic blossoms, you have to travel further. Artists, scientists, philosophers… they’re the pioneers of these territories.’
‘But are you saying anybody could explore this place if they wanted to?’
‘Yes. That is why Promethea’s enemies find her so threatening. It’s what she represents.’
‘I heard that Promethea was intended to end the World.’
‘In a way that was right. Promethea makes people aware of the vast immaterial realm – and maybe tempts them to explore it. But imagine if too many people followed where she led? It would be like the great Devonian leap – from sea to land. Humanity slithering up the beach, from one element to another, from matter to mind. We have many names for this event. We call it “The Rapture”. We call it the “Awakening”, or the “Revelation”, or the “Apocalypse”. But “End of the World” will do.’
‘Uhh, but “The End of the World”. That’s a bad thing, right?’
‘Is it? “The World” isn’t the planet, or the life and people on it. “The World” is our systems, our politics, our economics… our ideas of “The World”. It’s our flags, and our banknotes, and our wars. Promethea is imagination and all war and conflict is naught but the failure of imagination. The Four Horsemen don’t cause the Apocalypse, after all, they’ve been riding for centuries, hanging over our heads. They merely symbolize what life on earth is already like. They show us why we need an Apocalypse. Mankind must imagine a way to rise above the perilous material situation that it has created. That is why Promethea is necessary.’
On 7 September Tim Freke’s book How Long is Now? was released in the UK:
Once upon a timeless now, there existed the mysterious source of all that is. The source was an infinite nothing, pregnant with the possibility for everything . . . the possibility of quarks and galaxies, inanimate matter and sentient life, unconscious nature and conscious reflection . . . the possibility of seeing and feeling, of fearing and hoping, of thinking and loving . . . the possibility of beautiful art and terrible cruelty, of justice and genocide, of lies and wisdom . . . the possibility for you and me ... the possibility for this moment right now. Before the beginning, there was a primal imagination with the power to imagine everything ... so that's exactly what it did. Everything is a lot to imagine, so it started with some basics and worked its way up to more complex things. First up was the idea of "time," because it takes time to imagine everything. And with "time" came the idea of "space," because if you want stuff you've got to have somewhere to put it all. There was also energy and light. And tiny particles that combined to form swirling constellations of stars. And self-organizing cells that cooperated to become flora and fauna. Like any innovative process, this was a continual dialectic between creating and criticizing, bold experimenting and ruthless editing, stupendous successes and disappointing dead ends.
And so back to my Grandson and his reply to my question as to where he was before he was in mummy’s tummy. His reply, without a moment’s hesitation was “in the magic tummy”. This revelation seems to me just as valid as Bohm’s Implicate Order, as Blake’s Void Outside of Existence, as Jung’s Rhizome, as Moore’s Immateria and as Freke’s Infinite Nothing, pregnant with the possibility for everything. In fact it is probably more acceptable to many than implicate orders, voids, rhizomes, immateria and an infinite nothing. I use the description ‘revelation’ deliberately for that it exactly what it was to me. The calmly confident certainty of an under-five that HE IS demonstrates two things: he has not been influenced – and hopefully never will - by fundamentalist dogma, whether it be of a religious, secular, social or political nature. And for me it has been my first personal experience of a manifestation of the collective unconscious. Some holiday!
As for the future: he will lose, as we all lose, this clarity of understanding, this perception, this certainty. It will be lost in a maelstrom of received information of which much will be covered by the cloak of so-called wisdom spouted by self-proclaimed experts. All we can do is encourage him always to keep his critical faculties alert and to trust his innate intuitive beliefs. In this way he will discover, as so many of us have, the truth in T S Eliot’s words:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, alwaysó
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
Four Quartets, Little Gidding 1942
RWP August 2009
If the I AM can find a place for me
That is resting at the side
Some distant sweet abode
Where the me within abides
The I can call out, projecting forth in action
And the Inner Voice is always heard
This is the greatest faction
Projecting I AM is my goal
Losing self or me
The me is ever searching for
When the me is lost
Then the It Is Life
Projected without fear
The Now Is Truth, Eternal Youth
And God IS Forever Here
Maybe this is why
The Balance Is
And I AM Always I.
Ruthann Herring - from her book, a VIEW FROM THE HEART (1979)
I finally saw the Gospel of the Second Coming in a New Zealand bookstore the other day and got to see my name in the acknowledgement. Thank you very much - I do hope one day we'll see Tim's work on South Park or something even better.
I'm currently travelling in Colombia where I went to a Muisca village. These people were the original inhabitants of much of Colombia before the Spanish came in and destroyed their culture, religion and language 500 years ago.
The reason I'm telling you is that I saw this plaque and immediately thought of you. These people had no connection with Europe or the Gnostics you write about and yet on the other side of the world, for hundreds of years, they believed in awakening and the 'dream' in which we live.
“Life has its origin in thought, over and above everything else.
For that reason we must be careful of our thoughts. If we think
Lovingly, we shall be the creators of a realistic dream that can be
Integrated into the creative force that rules this world.
Do you really have control over your thoughts?”
I was thinking about renting the movie “The Duchess”, and it got me to thinking about how patterns can repeat themselves if they aren’t resolved. For those of you who don’t know, “The Duchess” documents the marriage of an ancestor of Princess Diana, a marriage that was as dysfunctional & triangular as Diana's own. God, I am worried this makes me sound like a royalist, and I am tempted to tie this piece into my “Twilight” fixation instead, and that impulse itself is quite useful for this piece as I hope will become apparent.
Anyway, while I was thinking about the idea that if you don’t resolve something it keeps coming up for you and others around you, I realised that this is the key to deserting fate and embracing free will.
We all have roles and characters that are handed to us by those around us. As we are growing up, those around us respond to us as if we were a particular character and we take their assumptions, feeds and rewards and fashion them into an idea of who we think we are supposed to be, and call it “I”. All the while suspecting there is something more to who we are.
This character is bound by fate in that it is programmed to believe and want certain things and to react in a particular way. If left to its own devices it will shamble through life living out the specific and individual consequences defined by all the inputs that made it what it is. This is the violence in the criminal who knew nothing else as a child. This is the neediness in the bunny boiler who was rejected by her father. Of course the energies we experience are more complex and subtle and individual than these unsophisticated examples, but you get the idea.
Anyway, we can escape the fate of character, simply by stepping out of the programme and deciding how we want to react, rather than just reacting. By choosing what we want to see when we look at something, rather than allowing our initial judgement to reign, and by thinking about what is driving our feelings rather than letting them take us over. This is when we engage with free will and this is when we can leave the fate of our programming behind.
Someone ought to tell the Spencer family…………….
Oh and how does this tie in with my fear of sounding like a royalist? Well, I was brought up in a socialist working class household where it would be seen as more desirable to stab your own eyes out with a fork, than to vote Tory (a sentiment that still meets with my approval). Anyway, being a class traitor is not allowed, whereas liking subversive anti-authoritarian vampires is (Twilight is filled with non conformist vampires). Of course if I had a different character, perhaps if my mother had been one of those strident impressive seventies feminists then I might have had different concerns. If that were the case I might be worried about liking Twilight and coming across as a sappy obsessed half wit, too old for teen stories and lacking the intelligence to see through the poorly constructed devices which play on sentimentality. As it is, this doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
So, the discussion between my programming and my consciousness over the first paragraph of this piece has gone something like this:
Programming (fate): “ditch the royal reference”
Consciousness (free will): “no. stop being such a slave to your prejudices”
Programming: “ok, but can we explain it, so people realise I am not a royal loving half wit?”
Consciousness: “I suppose so, though it is a compromise, and is actually just a more sophisticated form of reactive-ness, but I will allow it as it serves as quite a useful device to illustrate the main point of this piece”
Programming: “I suppose at this point you want me to ask what that is? Im good at that you know, responding to what it is I think other people want from me”
Consciousness: “Yes, well I suppose it has its uses. And the answer is the dance – the dance between programming and consciousness. Sometimes youre doing it and sometimes I am doing it and sometimes, who knows”
Programming: “Indeed, who knows, though I like to pretend that I do”
Consciousness: “Yes, I noticed”
Programming: “I wish you would let me do it more often”
Consciousness: “If I have my way you will get to do it less and less often”
Reader: “Stop it, this is getting boring now. Its meant to be a dance, not a bickering match!”
Joanne Strong UK
Joanne Strong UK
I recently read a kids’ book called “The Girl Who Could Fly”, which is about being different and the pressure to conform.
The scenarios are much more clearly painted than the subtleties of reality, making its commentary on the pitfalls of the way society works very apparent.
It is a sweet book, in fact saccharine, and it makes no apologies for that. Stephanie Meyer has described this book as “little house on the prairie meets X-men”. I didn’t get to the X-men bit – she must have a different edition.
Anyway, I’m not reviewing this book, nor am I going to pull out all the analogies and symbolism for analysis. What I want to tell you about is its central epiphany, because it made me stop and think and maybe it will do the same for you.
Two key characters are drawn in opposition, though they act for some of the book in alliance. Conrad is a child genius who knows or can derive just about everything, and his head is clearly concerned with the material world. Piper has never been to school and her greatest pleasure is flying, which she learnt to do as she never learned that she couldn’t.
Anyway, during the path of the story, Conrad realises that his knowledge is just information and that having lots of information doesn’t give him any ideas about what he should actually do. He lacks intuition specifically because he is obsessed with knowledge. He has no space for knowingness and intuitive guidance to come through.
“How was it that I failed? I thought of everything. I weighed every option, considered every aspect, I made all the right choices and still I didn’t come to the right answer. How is that possible? Finally it came to him. His mind – all powerful, brilliantly calculating, analyzing, processing – didn’t have the answers. His mind, Conrad realised all at once in a luminous flash of understanding, had information not answers. The answers, Conrad suddenly knew, came from somewhere else entirely” Victoria Forester
Piper on the other hand always knows the right thing to do, even if she doesn’t know how it is going to happen.
“So how was he to find the answers if they weren’t in his mind? Where were they hiding? How could he get to them? Piper had known. Something in her had just known what to do and she wasn’t even that smart” Victoria Forester
This reveals to us how we live and what we cut ourselves off from in our pursuit of knowledge. We stuff our heads with information and we don’t know what direction we should be taking. It’s a modern sickness and it’s getting worse. Overwhelming choice, and no ability to choose. Information becomes like an opiate. We consume more and more to distract us from the fact that we aren’t doing what we want to do. We would of course do what we want to do, if we weren’t scared, and if only we knew what it was that we really wanted to do……………
Meditation and mindfulness are ways of releasing ourselves from this overload, and offer lifelines to those whose heads are bursting with knowledge, but don’t know what they should do. Making space allows the answers to arise from the deepest part of our being and bubble into consciousness.
That’s not to say, knowledge isn’t useful. The mind is an excellent tool if it’s applied at the right time for the right task. The modern mind is suffering from scope creep – its job is getting bigger and bigger and moving into areas where it has the wrong skills for the job!
Like team Conrad & Piper, the ability to combine intuition with the planned action made possible by our knowledge base can help bring us to a balanced existence of freedom, love and connectedness.
Funnily enough, I recently sat down to think of three words which summed up the ALL for me, and “freedom, love and connectedness” were the three I came up with………..does this mean the ALL is balanced between accessing intuition and applying our knowledge in the interests of making life better? Yes, I think it does, and that’s probably why I like it so much.
Joanne Strong (UK)
The only way that I can bring some semblance of order to the doubts and chaos forever churning around my mind is the discipline of setting my thoughts out in writing for the benefit of an imaginary reader. I wrote the following after the ALL get-together at the Chalice Well Garden last May. Hopefully, it might be of interest.
A myth, to quote Joseph Campbell, is a Mask of God; a metaphor for what lies behind the visible world. However the many mystic traditions may differ, he said, they are all in accord in calling us to a deeper awareness of the very act of living itself. I feel like a figure from classical mythology – Theseus – following a ball of thread that leads me through a labyrinth of doubt and chaos to an unknown destination.
Theseus volunteered to slay the Minotaur who lived in the labyrinth created by Daedulus. Ariadne gave Theseus a ball of thread so that he could unravel it on his way into the labyrinth and thereafter follow it to find his way out after slaying the Minotaur – all of which he successfully achieved. The English word ‘clew’ means the ‘ball of thread’ and has evolved into the word ‘clue’ – literally to find an answer by following a thread. Interestingly, the original ‘clue’ was Theseus flowing his thread that allowed him to escape from the labyrinth (fear, darkness) into the safe outside world (freedom, light). I cannot think of a more fitting or precise allegory of the aims and objectives of the ALL.
According to the Gospel of Thomas (2) ‘Let him who seeks not cease from seeking until he finds and when he finds he shall be troubled; and having been troubled he shall marvel, and he shall reign over the totality and find repose’. But why after ‘finding’ should we be ‘troubled’? Like Theseus, having found the Minotaur, we are having to slay ‘it’ – our individual ego, the bit of us that is only conscious of ‘me’, ‘me’, ‘me’ … When we have understood that we are consciousness that is sometimes conscious of a body then the real journey to ultimate awareness can start and we can begin to ‘marvel and reign over the totality’.
An allegory which I presently find useful: consider that there may be nested levels of consciousness like a set of Russian dolls, our normal day-to-day consciousness being represented by an intermediate doll within the set; there being other dolls both containing this doll and contained within it.
We are conscious, as all living animals, of the world around us as a result of the stimuli received by our senses. Human beings are, however, particular in one respect not shared, so far as we are aware, by any other living creature: the consciousness of being conscious. Further, human beings are also conscious of having a sub-conscious that, whilst difficult to explore directly, cannot be denied – and makes its existence clear in dreams.
Now these are three levels of consciousness effectively nesting one within another like the Russian dolls. A manifestation of this could be ‘lucid dreaming’ (where the dreamer is aware that he/she is dreaming) which in effect gives us two conditions of consciousness simultaneously: the waking state being aware of another state within it. Whilst lucid dreaming appears to be the only manifestation of this condition, who can say that there are no parallel conditions? Why not consider the possibility that there could be further levels both within and without the middle doll? We suggest that lucid dreaming is contained within ‘lucid living’. Could our everyday experiences be the product of another consciousness, which we cannot be directly conscious of – the subject of a dream cannot be aware of the dreamer. Or could we? When passing through the immortal portal, perhaps? Just follow the clew! ‘…For to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour’.
This has been used as the basis of a great many works of fiction. One of the more powerful - for me anyway - is Promethea. More on this later…
I have been with the Alliance for Lucid Living for a few years now and recently found myself pondering why I am involved, why it matters to me.
This is a particularly pertinent question in my case as I am not a natural "joiner" of things. I am introvert by nature and tend towards a solitary path.
Of course, nothing is simple and I am sure that there are a number of factors at work deep within the mind that draw me to to the ALL. Being with people of like mind and enjoying the friendships that have developed are undoubtedly an important part of this.
But as I took the question into stillness, something else emerged as being of great significance.
I want to make the world a better place.
This sounds like a bit of a cliche, the kind of thing a contestant on Miss World would come out with. But it is true, nonetheless. It is most definitely not a cliche in my case, because I first became a spiritual seeker because I wanted release from the world. I found it to be a place of pain and suffering, both on a collective and personal level. When I came across something called "enlightenment" it seemed to offer escape into a reality beyond this mortal coil, into bliss. I wanted it for myself, because there were many days when I couldn't think of a good reason to get out of bed every morning.
I was blessed in that over time I began to taste in an increasingly sustained way what "enlightenment"/"Lucid Living" refers to (something very different to what I imagined). Life now has a very different texture. I continue to follow the path into its fathomless depths.
But now a personal experience isn't enough. There is still horror on my TV every night and personal suffering all around as I walk through the world.
I want to do what I can to bring healing and have no doubt that only the widespread dawning of awakened consciousness can truly bring this about. Einstein once said something along the lines of, " a consciousness that has created a problem cannot solve it". Action in the world to bring relief and support is a wonderful thing and remains essential - I have done much work of this kind myself (and still do) - but it only fights the symptoms of a deeper disease. The real cause of the suffering of the world lies in the mind of human beings and only a shift to a deeper state of consciousness, where the oneness of all things is seen, can bring real movement.
This was brought home to me some years ago when I worked in a very deprived area. Since the seventeenth century the Church, charities and goverment had poured enormous resources into the community. And this is a great thing and must continue. But as I visited homes and met people, it slowly dawned on me that nothing fundamental had changed. If someone from the 1600's were to be transported forward four hundred years, once they got beyond the magical technology, they would have felt very much at ease. The same social problems - the drinking, casual violence, neglect of children, etc etc - were just as rife. The fundamental problem wasn't one of resources, but of consciousness.
The ALL is a way that we can make a small contribution to this endevour. I have no idea whether it will change anything, but think it is important to try.
I was once very inspired by something a friend told me. He lived in a house that was surrounded by a beautiful arboretum. He told me how humbled he was when he remembered that his forbears had planted the seeds for the trees 150 years earlier for the benefit of others, knowing that they would never enjoy the trees themselves.
This is the spirit that I try to bring to the ALL.
Simon Small (UK)