Warm Treacle

Imagine something like warm treacle flowing through you.  That’s what deeper trance energy felt like to me.   Different activities involve different energies.  Whereas inspiration can be sparkling and light and healing energies glow deep inside like a heartwarming, fuzzy candle, trance is somehow thicker, deeper.

Those energies can feel glorious and I can yearn for them.  It’s like a drug without a drug.  Sitting in spiritual energy really does feel physical and my body often hungers for it.  I may feel incomplete without that sensation of calm, peace and well being in my life.  It’s like the shift that happens when you live close to water.  I remember the first time I moved to the beach it was like the environment outside of me matched something inside of me and at last I felt complete.  Spiritual energy is like that.  It’s not liquid, but it flows.

I always know when spiritual energy is about because I start to yawn deeply, as if I’m gasping for air for at least a minute whilst I settle in to it.

sleep-375345_640

Although spiritual energy is lighter than air – and can lift you high off the ground if you’re not careful – it can also be enervating. You need to safeguard your health otherwise mediumship can leave you feeling exhausted, like the muscle is fading out of you.  As they sensitize some mediums choose to have regular vitamin B shots just to compensate.  I don’t exactly know why mediumship can be so draining – a google search revealed a few explanations that I can’t personally verify, yet seem to fit with my own experiences: dehydration, energy blocks and the demands of others (see http://astateofmind.eu/2011/06/03/side-effects-psychic-energy/) who dump negativity and drain the supports around them (see http://www.rescuemediums.com/grounding-and-protection.php ), particularly if we leave ourselves too open to all-comers (see http://www.paranormalsocieties.com/articles/shielding-for-mediums.cfm).  I also get the impression that spiritual realms simply have different energies, so if you’re there too long, or acclimatize too much then you join the general orientation towards extended vision and low energy.

My previous two posts (scroll down to read more) document my own experience of trance mediumship: the joys, challenges and sensations of diving deep in to that flow of warm treacle.

What mediumship feels like (part 2)

This post reflects upon the year that I started to develop mediumship abilities.  It is a reminiscent post.  Sadly, as my academic career has progressed my mediumship abilities have lessened.  My ‘shutting down’ (not my conscious decision) has been explained to me as my need to be present, to think quickly and critically.  Whereas living in two worlds takes you elsewhere, makes you dreamy.  Sometimes, if you’re not careful you can become ungrounded doing spiritual work; without realising it you lack focus.  This is not an absolute side effect of mediumship, but it’s not uncommon either.  Perhaps it’s best to illustrate this difference by comparing dreaming with critiquing.  Whereas one state of mind is open, imaginative and flowing, the other is piercing, consciously cynical and full of questions.

winter-1415947_640

Both are valuable skills.  Neither is easy.

I’d been attending development classes a few year before I started to trance.  This is common.  People will often start by developing their intuition and visualisation skills first before moving to other skills like hands on healing, inspiration, or trance.  They might need to smooth out their own kinks first in the healing energies of spirit.  Or, like me, they might also need time to trust these processes enough to let go to them.  It’s not always that way.  I’ve seen newbies come in and start doing deep, physical mediumship within six months.   When this happens I’m told that they’ve been prepared for some time (in their dreams) before coming to class and are really just here to let it all unfold.  As I say, however, it wasn’t like that for me, or for most of the other mediums I know.   Mediumship demands surrender and you have to be ready to do that.   You surrender part of your aloneness to others who come in and share it in order to speak through you.

figure-552115_640

I felt like I had flu for almost a year.

I felt vulnerable, hypersensitive, exhausted and often teary.  This is because mediumship is an emotional journey.  Spirits use our imaginations and emotions to connect with us (I’m sure there are books available that explain this in more detail….in this post my focus is to share with you what that feels like).  It can also be ennervating, something about being with non-physical energies can dampen your own.  In order to make it possible for spirits to speak with us a lot of work is done energetically to open up the voice box.  My throat felt sore and bloated much of the time, like something was pushing out beyond my larynx.  Eventually this all settled down as my body adjusted and got used to these new energies, but that first year was often tough.

What got me through that was the thrill of discovery.  Each week when I attended development class something new happened.  I didn’t always recognize if I had company.  The first I knew was when mediums would stand in front of me, welcome these visitors to the circle as friends and invite me to speak.  Over time I started to recognize the slight tingles on my face when company arrived.  I started to feel their different energies, sense the different personalities and hear them speak in my mind. When I did start to let them speak out loud I was convinced it had to be me doing the talking.  I was very hesitant to talk at first because I was still conscious, surely I would disappear and let somebody else take over the reins, but it wasn’t like that me.  Mediumship was about gaining trust, developing the ability to trust and let go.  In time I would talk in other languages and even speak the words of entities other than humans – but that was later once my hesitation had eased.

More experienced mediums often don’t need to know what’s about to be said prior to trance, they’re good to go.  Some go so deep they’re not even aware of the conversation and don’t remember it afterwards.  There’s little movement.  Sometimes on TV you see mediums  jumping about.  I rarely saw that in my development circles.  In fact, in physical mediumship which is the type of mediumship which brings through energies that can cause physical phenomena, like things moving, or the appearance of ectoplasm, movement is actively denied as it can cause hemorrhage and risk the life of the medium.   I don’t doubt that movement is an important part of other traditions however.  Some use physical exertion as a trigger for trance.  For us, the trigger was more likely to be the safety, stability and peace of a familiar and regular gathering of spiritualists.

In the early stages of my trance work I was often unsure of my unseen visitors, so it was often important for me to know before hand what they would say. As I sat with my eyes closed I received messages, new understandings, inspiration and awareness.  By the time I spoke I already knew what was coming. That tension eased off over time.

Slowly, slowly I trusted.  Slowly I learned.

I have never channeled an alien, but I’ve seen spirits who do.  Some hate it.  They say that the energies can make them sick, but the insights are worth it.  I used to get a lot of nature spirits in the early days when I was writing a speculative fiction novel, which was my delight.  Once the writing was finished they came less often which made me sad. I missed them.

Most of the messages I received after that concerned the changes to come: an angry earth and necessary rebalance, a reawakening to the value of the earth and a reconciliation, a coming together of mother and father traditions, an embrace of connectivity, a rejection of chaos, an embrace of simplicity backed up by a greater awareness of complexity…sounds exciting huh!  I’ll talk more about that in other posts.

 

 

What mediumship feels like [part 1]

I think it’s time to talk about the physical, mental and emotional experience of medium-ship.

Different Energies:

Sometimes in my development circles the group facilitator would start the weekly two hour meditation circle by asking everybody to feel the energies coming in and use those feelings to judge what the focus of that week’s circle would be.  Over time circle members developed the ability to distinguish the feeling of (warm and soft) healing energies from (lighter) inspiration and (deeper) trance.  To my knowledge the facilitator never planned the night’s proceedings, but took spirit’s lead, acting as a conduit for the energies that varied each week.  These energies indicated the sorts of developmental tasks required.  Whether practising healing, clairvoyancy, trance or physical mediumship the circle leaders would channel those tasks accordingly.

I was never an expert at these discerning exercises, but I did acquire some familiarity over time.  With that in mind I want to share with you some of the experience of developing mediumship skill.

I actually never wanted to be a medium.  I only started going to development classes because in my everyday experience it felt like I was always aware of something more than surface reality and I wanted to explore  that additional sense. Discovering how much I enjoyed mediumship was an eye opener for me, an unexpected bonus – but it wasn’t always easy.

The range of additional activities that I encountered in those classes was a mystery at first.  For example, the ‘rescue’ of lost souls (which is what spiritualists call house/ghost clearings) was an occasional class activity that I watched with some bemusement and eventually, clunkily engaged in.

boo-1295226_640

Rescues: 

It seems that the transition from life to after life is not always smooth.  From what spiritualists have observed a traumatic death can disorient people, tie them up in emotional wounds, rage and grief that they can’t seem to move beyond.  As a result they get stuck, feeling malevolant, or lost.  Hauntings are not like anything you see in a Hollywood film however: Physical items rarely move.

ghost-1124534_640

Hauntings instead tend to influence emotions and thoughts.

Lost Souls:

The dead are not monsters.  They are lost, messy and need help.   If a lost soul is about it is likely that you will start to feel emotionally loaded, or drained.  When we start to open up psychically and develop mediumship skills this is something we have to be especially careful of apparently, because we become like beacons, lights that call out to these lost souls and draw them towards us.   The affect can be subtle.   You may not realise that you’re haunted, just sad, or teary, or anxious, or reckless…etc.  Early on in my development it would generally take me a long time to realise that I might be ‘haunted’.   To this day I find it much easier to identify if my husband has picked something up: Out of the blue my gorgeous husband may suddenly become emotionally haywire, it’s almost like he’s come home and there is a repulsive smell on his clothes.

From my own experiences being ‘haunted’ I have learned that an unwanted visitor, or attachment will generally bring with it an overwhelming sense of emotion that I can’t quite link to my own life circumstances.   I might start crying, but have no idea why.  The first time it happened I had become very sensitive and teary for a few weeks and this didn’t lift until my healing group conducted a massive hands on healing on me and told me that they’d found (and exited, thankfully) an orphaned child who’d been hiding in the folds of my aura.  Yes, apparently lost souls hide away from sight, because they know that otherwise the more advanced mediums would spot them straight away and oust them forthwith.

An important mission, but only for some:

To this day I don’t like doing rescues.  They disturb me.  If I’m going to get a rescue in a circle that night I might start crying for no reason the afternoon before, or even the day before.   One time I remember feeling furious for no reason the instant I picked up my car keys to drive to class.  I’m generally quite reserved with my emotions so this sort of experience makes me anxious. I find the whole rescue process draining and disturbing – and have asked spirit not to expect too much of me in this department.   Thankfully they seem to have heard and my involvement in this task is intermittent at best.  I say that knowing that I still have a responsibility to help.  These are fellow human beings who are lost and in pain; we can’t simply abandon them.  Thankfully too there are hardier mediums than me who seem to be emotionally equipped to be able to handle this work, just as there are hardier people than me who counsel and serve lost, lonely, messy, wounded people in real life.

NEXT POST: THE YEAR I STARTED TO TRANCE

 

 

The Power Of The Mind

I’m intrigued by this term: “the power of the mind”.   Skeptics often use it to explain things that seem to have no logical explanation, or physical evidence, equating everything to a sort of placebo status.

Without wanting to underestimate the value of placebo cures (which, by the way, reflect the importance of essential health services such as good doctor/patient relationships), I also think it is useful to probe the  notion of a powerful mind a little closer.

It is true that the mind holds a mysterious power.  Numerous miracles can be explained through the power of the mind:

  1. Some cancers can be cured by a mix of meditation and diet.
  2. Systems of belief, like astrology, become meaningful methods of psychological interpretation, as well as accurate predictors over hundreds of years of cultural application (For examples of this see tests conducted by the once scientist, now professional astrologer Bernadette Brady).
  3. The power of love can change history.  The famous choral tune ‘Amazing Grace’, for example, stands as testimony for the transformative power of loving thought.
  4. For professional athletes, mental focus is often just as important as physical practice.
  5. For would be managers, acting as if they are already responsible and powerful inspires others to see them that way and react accordingly.
  6. Knowing that we are likely to only do what we can already imagine drives many educators to plant dreams as much as build capacity.

If the mind really is powerful enough to heal the sick, transform the present and influence the future – as indeed it can be – then surely this is a key concern for all people.

This does not mean that the mind is without limits:

  1. Few of us can equal the capacity to transcend physical limitations demonstrated by yogi masters.  It is likely, therefore, that for most of us the mind is not powerful enough to cause death on demand.  Just as numerous patients live longer than predicted by their doctors, so it is unlikely that every indigenous person sentenced to death according to traditional law will die simply as a result of that expectation.  When indigenous Australians, for example, talk about being given sacred law, they are talking about being given the power, as much as the responsibility to discipline their community even to the point of death in a world without physical jails. Law men sentence law breakers to death by pointing the bone at them and to my knowledge that sentence is administered through shamanic practice, not physical injury.  Surely if traditional law breakers are renegade enough to deserve such a sentence then they would also be rebellious enough to seek to challenge such pronouncements.  The power of the mind does not adequately explain their death.
  2. The mind can be a trickster.  We can become completely immersed in our own stories (of grandeur, or worthlessness) that we never see beyond them.  Both delusions foster mistakes, even tragedies, but they do not define reality for everybody.  Minds are multifaceted and changeable.  There is something greater than any one individual mind at play in any moment.  You could call it the collective mind, or the hive mind, or even mob rule – but it is also more than this again because there is also the collective unconscious (a term coined by Carl Jung to refer to a realm of dream and inspiration that seems to exist in mythic, rather than personal realities).  For example, what is happening when hundreds of people dream of an upcoming event, or two people share the same dream, or when every culture around the world celebrates a similar individuation myth?  Is ‘the power of the mind’ even adequate to describe these mysteries.
  3. Still, something powerful separates people from robots.  It’s not simply the mind.  It’s the dream, the wish, the feeling, the sadness, the regret, the compassion, the sense of family, of desire and all the rest.   The power of the mind is an ultimately limited term to describe humanity, let alone the forces that shape our lives.

 

In sum, the power of the mind is not a throwaway term.  It is complex, multi-faceted and often mysterious prospect.  When you next hear somebody use this term as a strategy to explain something that they don’t entirely understand themselves then I recommend you respond by asking lots of questions.  What do they mean?  But, have they thought……..?

What’s normal?

I have no idea where this photo was taken.

20140622_160949

Like all photos I embed in these pages it is copyright free, sourced from a favourite free to use photo library like morguefile.com, or pixabay.com.  These ruins are now like trace images shared like surface souvenirs, their secrets crumbled to dust along with the cultures that built them.  That is what struck me when I visited the ruins of Ephesus in Turkey.  This was a whole city: A world.  People used to live there, visit the baths, pray to the Goddess.  It was life as it always was, same as it ever was….but is no longer, all gone.  Life moves on and memories fade.  So much forgotten now.  I have no idea.

Contemporary Western cultures so often approach mediumship as an oddity, a dubious, low-brow exhibit to be discussed in spooky, echoing voices on some freak show like “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not”.  I used to love that TV series as a child I have to admit, but would cringe to ever be compared to it.  This is another reason why I’m anonymous on these pages.  I simply don’t identify with the way Western cultures generally frame something that seems to me quite natural.

And what western cultures often forget is that theirs is not always, or necessarily a majority view.  The majority of the world does not share the western healing paradigm, for example.

So, for this week, in honour of worlds long forgotten here is a list of regions where mediumship, shamanism, or some other, similar variation of this practice has been part of everyday life:

Mongolia, Siberia, Korea, Japan, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, Russia, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Tibet, Lapland, North America, South America, Indonesia, Scandanavia, Pacific Islands, Rome, Greece, Papua New Guinea, Central Asia, North Asia, Czechoslovakia, the Andaman Islands….to name a few.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiration

I once heard a songwriter explain his art as a gift. That is, the song appears in his head.  It is as if it already exists in the ether and is fed to him through his imagination. He is simply the person given the task of playing the notes out loud.

starry-night-1149815_1920

Inspiration is like that. The challenge is not so much to create something out of thin air but to receive a vision, see and hear it clearly.  Ideally once the vision is seen it can also be shared.  This requires more worldly skills.

Inspiration is different to trance.  Trance states can be so deep that spoken trance messages avoid the conscious mind of the channel. It is as if the trance medium goes away for a while in order to lend their body and voice to whatever spirit wishes to say. Within the spiritualist tradition, this talent is generally only cultivated when the medium is in a controlled, safe environment.

Apparently in deep trance situations, such as those involving unexplained sounds, moving objects or the appearance of ectoplasm (a type of mediumship is known as physical mediumship), everybody in the room must be extremely disciplined because sudden movements can endanger the medium by causing internal bleeding, or some kind of physical rupture.

I am not a physical medium, but I have worked with both trance energies and inspiration. I tend to work with inspiration when I write, perhaps not surprisingly as writing is a conscious act. I have been writing an inspired fiction novel for a number of years, so what follows are some of my experiences working with inspiration.

milky-way-916523_1280

I would love to be one of those writers who could channel a text whole, with no need for further redrafts. Although that would make my writing tasks a lot easier, sadly I am not.   When I write it feels like I have two mental states: inspired dreaming versus sharp, analytical editing. I hope these two states of mind integrate better over time, but thus far I have found that they are so variable that I generally have to keep them separate. My method of fiction writing is close to lucid dreaming. The skill of this method is to connect with spirit, be open to inspiration and let go i.e. let the words flow as freely as possible. That means I must see clearly and express appropriately. When I was writing the first draft of my novel I withdrew from worldly distractions and spent a lot of time writing in bed surrounded by otherworldly visions and magical creatures.   By contrast, when I write academic papers I need to ground, to be present and keep sharp. The difference between the two is so pronounced that when I was studying my Ph.D. I had to stop fiction writing altogether as it made me too fuzzy headed.

As I slowly came back to the real world (helped in great part by my studies), I started to realise that my fantasy novel draft required a lot more work.   For sure I had the inspiration, but what I didn’t have as yet was the skill. Since that time I have had to learn the art of novel writing: character development, plot structure, pacing etc. etc. etc. I am still redrafting that novel now. Happily it is a labour of love, but a labour nevertheless.   When it is finally released I may well be able to describe it as inspired, but not channelled.

Inspiration is the star in the sky.  It is a light that shines to show the way.  It is the vision that fires; the promise that keeps you going through the hard work of realisation.

delicate-arch-960279_640

Personal Responsibility

Personal responsibility is one of the tenets of spiritualism.  It is also at the core of teachings about karma and reincarnation: the idea that that every action creates a counterpoint reaction that shapes our destiny over a number of lifetimes, beyond life and death.   A lot has already been written about this possibility elsewhere.  Some say it’s logical, others call it cruel because they see karma as punishment.   Here I want to consider what the notion of personal responsibility might offer to those of us seeking peace and happiness.

Children can be very reactive.  They’re rarely as socialized, or conditioned as the rest of us so that they tend to react as they will, without restraint.  As a result, it’s often very clear in child care centres, for example, that child care workers can interact in similar sorts of behavioural situations, with vastly different results.  It’s not so much what they do.  The children might just as often be reacting to the child worker’s attitude.  Each carer’s unique, individual energy transforms the context at hand and remakes that situation accordingly.

Knowing that, consider for a moment one of the great evils of the world: Corruption

Imagine: You are a policeman in a poor country. Police work is lucrative. You know that. People pay a lot of money to score a position like this. Yes, they pay because this is the way it works. Policemen are considered lucky because they can force tips – and they need to. This is not the country where people make money simply by working hard. That’s the other country; you know that country. You’ve seen those people here too often: the arrogant ones, the ones who are loud, obnoxious, drunk, soul-less. They have the money and they’ll make you serve them and no, it’s not fair. They got their money ripping every other country in the world off. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it always will be. Here, it’s the poorest people who work the hardest.   If you’re not the one ripping people off you better believe that you’re the one they’re all stomping on. Why should you be the poor policeman? Why shouldn’t they pay?

It doesn’t take long to realise that evil is rarely if ever self-acknowledged, let alone easy to define. In a world where every act is just as likely to be a reaction, morality is never as simple as it seems. Personal responsibility is hard – because we are all part of an ecology, a society and culture that is more than any single individual. Our lives unfold in cycles driven by love and fellowship as much as injustice, rage, exploitation and despair. Rich, or poor, cruelty and pain can inflict all of us. There can always be a reason, a justification to behave in ways we wish we didn’t.

But, back to the child care centre…

Personal responsibility is the ability to rise above an ecology and live according to our own truth – to be the loving, firm and transforming energy in the playground.  We might decide to refuse bribes….or, in completely different circumstances might decide that gender and sexuality are more fluid than stereotypically perceived.  We might decide to love ageing and post a gallery of wrinkles on Instagram.  We might decide to be vegetarian, or not, or to fast during certain times of the year, or not…Surely we have the right to be true to ourselves regardless of what society says.

But what if our truth takes something from another? Isn’t personal responsibility about doing unto others as we would have done unto ourselves? Treating others as subjects, not objects.  That’s a question I always seek to keep in mind, but the answer is not always easy to know.

What if doing the right thing puts us behind in a world where it’s dog eat dog?

Even so…

Isn’t personal responsibility about remaking our world – through our actions as much as our aims?

What if the world is so overwhelming, so corrupt and the powerful are so entrenched that there is no fighting back through any other way?

Sometimes all we can do is leave the fight behind and turn our attention towards making a safe alternative.  Personal responsibility is about remaking the world – by loving it, loving life, safety and survival, even if that means we have to leave a country behind.

I’ve heard people use the idea of personal responsibility as a reason to think less of the meek. “They lack confidence”, they say. “that’s why their life is like that.” Success may indeed require charisma, or confidence, or sociability, but lacking any of these does not make anybody a lesser person.   Personal responsibility implies an understanding that life is a process. Even the wisest, the most charismatic and confident may decide to reincarnate as the disempowered and impoverished in order to gain compassion – or give others the opportunity to be more compassionate!   In every sinner there is a saint. In every saint there is a sinner.

I’ve also heard this.  “They’ll get theirs!”  This idea of a judgement, a retribution, a rebalance of the scales can give solace to the victims, but in truth it seems to me that the  cycle of life is not about judgement.  It is about healing.

The beauty of personal responsibility is that it offers a gift – and a challenge. Do we kill, or be killed? I do not have the right to prescribe an answer to that question, because it is a human dilemma that all of us face at some point. But when we face it, when we are neglected, exploited, raped and our loved ones are killed do we allow ourselves to become vengeful, hard, bitter? Do we give up and stop trying to heal? Do we believe that we are no good? Do we run, rather than right our past mistakes?  Do we never try again? Do we never trust again? Can we stop blaming everything and everybody else and instead turn our attention towards ourselves?

Personal responsibility, it seems to me, is rising to the challenge of healing and living within the reality of universal, unconditional love.  Yes, it is a challenge, but also perhaps more than that.  Ultimately, personal responsibility could be our greatest reward.

Enlightenment

 

I’m going to quote Wikipedia here:

Enlightenment refers to the “full comprehension of a situation”.[web 1] It is commonly used to denote the Age of Enlightenment,[note 1] but is also used in Western cultures in a religious context. It translates several Buddhist terms and concepts, most notably bodhi,[note 2] kensho and satori. Related terms from Asian religions are moksha (liberation) in Hinduism, Kevala Jnana in Jainism ushta in Zoroastrianism

Every good researcher knows that you should never quote Wikipedia because its collaborative editorial policy means that any page can be incomplete, or simply wrong until it’s corrected.  However, in this instance I think it’s apt, because just as Wikipedia’s publications state:

“Perfection is not required: Wikipedia is a work in progress. “

So enlightenment is also a work in progress, a hodgepodge, woolly concept – and that’s OK,  because the sort of enlightenment that I want to talk about embraces imperfection.

Speaking of which, when I was a teenager I was convinced that I would be enlightened by the time I was thirty – and for the life of me I couldn’t work out what else was left after that. Hah!

Now firmly established in my mature years I can happily say that I have no direct experience of enlightenment…well, that’s not quite true, I do have some experience.  I have experienced moments of completeness: the true peace of deep meditation, the total love of  relationship, the utter bliss of self delusion.  Yes, even in my deluded moments (that ironically flooded my world around the time that I turned thirty) I  experienced a loving intervention that dragged me back to solid ground….a rescue effort for which I am grateful and will talk about at length at some point no doubt.

What insights does that give?

Trance messages channeled by myself and others describe enlightenment as the marriage of spirit and ego.  This is a true marriage born of love, not simply mastery.

You may have heard of efforts to tame the ego.  They’re popular with spiritual seekers who might have previously imagined themselves the center of the universe, the master of others, or even the master of spirit.  The ego, after all, can drive many regrets such as the tendency to abuse power, indulge in  privilege, believe one kind of person more, or less valuable than others, etc.  Learning to tame the ego can be a useful task.  If you believe in reincarnation you might seek solace in the fact that lifetimes of abuse can also teach compassion – or you might simply appreciate the value of gaining a deep sense of connection and compassion in the first place.

I have no doubt that the ego can be tamed, but like a wild horse I imagine it is best if the ego is tamed with love, as much as discipline.  The ego is a strength as much as a weakness.  It drives invention, effort and healing.  It intensifies experience.  It creates a sense of identity.  It nurtures personal strength.  Don’t most teenagers party hard, obsess about image and chase worldly ambitions?  I still appreciate the odd immature indulgence to this day.  How can we hope to know the limits of a path if we never walk upon it?  This is not to say that people should willfully indulge their own arrogance and ignore the world around them.  It is just to say that mistakes may not be all that they seem – and when we come to realise that we can experience more internal peace.

All is healing I’ve heard it said.  All is insight.

I’ve been told that Rajneesh Osho experienced enlightenment after the split with his off-sider Sheela.  An outspoken woman who rose in the ranks of that religious movement, Sheela eventually fled under a cloud, accused of all sorts of shady dealings. Apparently evidence was brought forward to say that Osho was just as corrupt, so who knows what led to that moment of insight…I was not there to judge, but I do remember being struck by a televised press conference when he and his disciples were in hysterics as he laughed and laughed and said something like  “I did it to show that religion doesn’t work, will never work.”  I don’t expect that he was referring to a conscious plan.

What does that mean – all is healing, all is insight?

This is a challenging concept and I’ll talk about it more again because I’ve heard it interpreted to mean that trauma is a lesson we need – but is it appropriate, for example, to tell a parent who’s lost a child that this is a lesson for them?   One spirit (which an accomplished medium channeled) begged us to never do that.  Trauma is real, tragic.  We can make the best of it in terms of our response – but let us not belittle the pain.

Aversion to death and destruction is a natural survival mechanism – pro life.  I firmly believe that enlightenment must be pro life too (and no, I’m not talking about abortion).  I’m talking about the big picture perspective, which I suspect is only part of the pro-life story.  The big picture paints life as a kind of film, so that the more dramatic the life, the richer the wisdom that results.  This seems logical.  Yet I have been told that enlightenment is connected with two aspects at once: detachment from the personal AND yet also love, the heart.  Here again is the dualism that riddles our lives – yet it is in just this sort of riddle that I believe the more complete version of enlightenment can be found.  Enlightenment is both intensely humanist and yet at the same time reaches way beyond the human.   Surely enlightened beings see beyond surface appearances to love and respect all unconditionally, regardless of their behaviour (or the understandable inclination to discipline those behaviours)?  Surely they see them for who they really are?

All is healing.   All is insight they say.

In Siddharta, a novel by Herman Hesse a ferryman meets Buddha on the road, but decides to go his own way and live like a hermit in the country side, ferrying people to and fro across the river.  Over time he grows to appreciate all of these people, his face reflects all their stories, his wisdom grows to accommodate all of their insights.  No longer at war with the world he grows calm.  He finds peace.

All is healing.  All is insight.

I applaud spiritual seekers and understand that for some, the time is right to commit to a spiritual discipline.  For me, for now, my enlightenment means knowing that I don’t need to strive for spiritual development.  My enlightenment is trusting that over time I too am drifting towards peace.  For now, for me, that is enough…a work in progress.

 

 

 

 

Faith

Does God exist? Of course

Does Allah exist? Of course

Does Krisna exist? Of course

 

file0001803477189Every deity from every tradition exists as a figure of worship and each is especially meaningful for many people.

 

It’s only when somebody tries to assert that their tradition is the one and only truth that I would say that they are getting their subjective and objective mixed up. (Where subjective realities reflect personal experience, or perspectives, and objective realities reflect broader, shared perspectives of concrete measures such as the rules of time and space on earth).

 

This world is but a small speck of all there is, so if spirit can be likened to an ‘all’ (as I believe it can be), then it is much more expansive than any of us. This is true regardless of whether we consider ourselves to be the centre of our own universe, or not.

 

All religions create a bridge between body, mind and spirit. We can never really know something so expansive as an “all” when it is much more than any one individual can comprehend. Regardless of the great unknown that can never even be understood, still so many want to know it, to merge with it. This is why for many people the specific cultural and social character of religion is a welcome part of any bridge between worlds. It gives people something familiar, a foundation to stand upon. In spiritualism, for example, most messages from ‘spirit’ come via deceased relatives and close friends because that CONNECTION is important. Welcome familiarity is much more likely to help make and keep a sense of connection between the self and spirit strong.

 

Cultures are like relatives. They’re our familiars.   Cultural identities help to keep that spiritual connection alive. In England you can visit what were once sacred structures: stone circles, standing stones and the like that are awe inspiring, but mysterious. So little is known about them now that they stand there silently, their secrets forgotten. They are not complete ruins. They still stand, but what do they stand for? There are few clear answers to that question.

 

I would say that religions have a purpose largely because they are social institutions. As such they are humanist and ultimately flawed. They offer community and inspire sociability. They can also tie people down in dogma. Just as cultures give religion meaning, they also make them fallible to human error – and open to question.

 

This is where faith comes in, because for all their flaws religions are also bridge-ways to spirit. They provide meaningful contexts for a connection with ‘all’ that can be as inspiring as it is sustaining. In turn, I like to think that spirit respects all shapes and sizes, appreciates all bridges, just as it is part of all cultures.

 

Faith is complex. On the one hand it is social and sustaining, but questionable, just as every social and cultural institution is ultimately questionable. On the other hand it is about something beyond culture, an ultimate mystery loaded with questions that can nevertheless be felt internally, experienced personally (please see my other post about evidence).

 

For this reason I suspect that faith is the ability to embrace our flaws as much as our strengths.  If we accept that religions are and always will be ultimately flawed then we can at least put in place procedures, or even rituals to help keep those social structures as relevant and meaningful as possible.  I have been told that new religions generally form every 2000 years, or so for this very reason. I can’t say whether, or not this is true, but it seems logical.

file0001424564239

Tradition offers stability, but faith is about keeping the bridge-way sound, as much by checks and maintenance as by usage.

 

 

Evidence?

One of the hallmarks of the scientific method is evidence based on observation. This observation is confirmed when numerous scientists can conduct the same experiment and achieve the same results.  Doing so assures rigorous standards that ideally, help to distinguish belief from reality.

In a spiritual context, however, it appears that people experience the same event differently. To illustrate, I once went to a hands on healing session with a friend.   The healers circled the room to administer reiki (A warm, healing like energy delivered through the laying on of hands i.e. similar to the sorts of hands on healing that Jesus is supposed to have administered according to accounts in the bible).  When the healers laid their hands on my shoulders I was blown away by the strength of the reiki energy I received. The energy hit me like steaming hot chocolate that flowed through my body and almost put me to sleep. Afterwards, when I shared that experience with my companion who attended the event with me they confessed that they hadn’t felt a thing. The inference I take from this is that spiritual energies, like the subtle tones of music, or shades of art, require a trained eye to experience, hear, or see.

Some of us are more sensitive than others – and this is a matter of training (just as Picasso says, it can take a lifetime to respond as a child). That doesn’t mean that we are more spiritual than others. The friend with me that night was and is a doctor with a caring manner and clear vision. He was open minded enough to come out with me to a hands on healing event, but his daily work has always been firmly directed towards healing through other means. He has trained to help people using scientific western healing modalities and he does so with passion and vision – all things I take as indicative of a spiritual person.

I, on the other hand, had spent a number of years training as a medium. I did this by attending a development circle with a spiritualist church. I started development training because I wanted to explore a nagging feeling that there was more to life than at first appeared…and I didn’t feel comfortable going to parapsychological society meetings. Spiritualist churches seemed like a safe alternative.  They are generally full of kindly people who (mostly) look much like your grandmother, or your neighbour. In general the attendants appear to be ordinary people with few pretensions.

In practice, the main difference between a spiritualist service and an ordinary Christian service as far as I can tell is the inclusion of mediumship clairvoyance and energetic healing at the spiritualist version. I didn’t attend many services myself. The songs were often terrible and out of tune.  The churchy mood was palpable and whilst that could be a good thing at times, I generally preferred the meditation circles.  For two hours every week a group of like-minded people would gather to develop visionary skills like clairvoyancy, or mediumship through a practice somewhat like imagining other worlds. I say somewhat like, because in altered states such as these the borders between imagination and reality are not always clear.

I’ll talk more about my experience as a spiritualist and trance medium in other posts, but first I want to talk about spiritual evidence. In spiritualist services they call this survival. That is when the medium ‘imagines’ hearing a dead relative of somebody in the congregation tell them things that nobody alive could know. Again, I say ‘imagine’ loosely because the communications that result can be disarming (see another upcoming post called down the rabbit hole).

The evidence I have personally experienced includes:

  • Being shocked by predictions that seemed ridiculous at the time and later came true.
  • Mediums describing the sorts of characters I trance channeled before I explained them out loud myself.
  • Also during trance I have personally spoken in languages that I do not know e.g. Greek, or referred to the name of an African God that I later discovered did in fact exist.

But these are traces, remnants at best of a subjective experience that has little to do with the scientific method. None of this is new, of course. Let’s not forget that one of the hallmarks of the Koran is that it was channelled by Muhammad who was illiterate. Apparently the Koran records the words of an angel.

I do not mention such names to associate myself with these masters. I am happily unenlightened now and imagine that I will remain so all my life. The reason I mention these traditions is because you are already familiar with them and I want to remind you what has always been present.

Evidence is a multi-faceted challenge:

  • If it is true that there is a spiritual dimension in this world then…yes, that is the implication. This does not presume any particular tradition, but it does open a Pandora’s Box. Perhaps that is why the prospect can upset people so much, and why they so vehemently wish to disprove it.
  • Focusing purely on ‘evidence’ can be frustrating, because it ignores the beauty of the partnership on offer: The Bible, the Koran amongst others, spiritual sustenance, inspiration and comfort. These benefits are not measured on a ruler, nor do I imagine that they will ever be performed on demand in a laboratory.
  • Even more frustrating, as a spiritualist it is difficult to publicly talk about my own experiences because people either assume that I’m misguided (I’ll talk about ‘power of the mind’ in another post), or some religion has branded it evil, or the implications mean that I’m not just talking about an embodied experience anymore, but something much bigger.

This seems to be the real problem with spiritual evidence.   My experiences stray in to the realm of faith because only certain people share them. This does not mean they are not real.