Long, long ago…

Fantasy, Castle, Cloud, Sky, TowerI’ve had this theory, for quite a long time now, that my life is based around a fairy tale… and just maybe everyone’s is.

Let me try to explain.

Imagine that, at the very start of becoming human and beginning this great adventure of playing at being physical creatures in a three dimensional world, our greater, non-physical, soul selves created a sort of master plan for human life to play out in.  Let’s imagine they (we) came up with a set of archetypal storylines, each involving a journey – an adventure of some sort with heroes and villains, difficult choices and wise ones who just happen to appear at the right moment.

Now imagine that, no matter what else we forgot about our origins and our true purpose, however muddled and confused we became by religions and sciences and politics and cultures, our greater selves would find a way to ensure that these vital blueprints for living out physical life could not be forgotten.  They would be hardwired into us.  Every generation would feel an innate urge to share them and pass them on to the next.  We would not be able to lose them.  Is that possible?

Heroesjourney.svg

Diagram from Wikipedia

Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell and many others have written about the mono-myth, the hero’s journey or whatever they chose to call it.

Here it is at it’s most basic.

I suspect, though, that there are several variations – a collection of mythic journeys – and that, maybe in our pre-birth planning stage, we selected one to work with, in just the way you might select a video to watch, a book to read or a game to play.

Here in the West, the remnants of these blueprints are gathered in the collections of Hans Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and (in the USA) Mother Goose.  The same storylines, though, exist all over the planet.  They are in folk tales, soaps, Hollywood movies and Shakespearean dramas.  There’s always a twist in the tale, an unexpected choice, a reversal we weren’t expecting, to keep us interested, but the themes remain, because we need them to.

I won’t tell you which story is mine.  It’s a bit too personal.  You see, you know the story too well, and if I were to reveal its name, you’d know my life.  My character is on a long journey, seeking for something.  Various other characters and situations appear and distract me, lull me into a false sense of security.  Then, all of a sudden something happens to remind me of my quest, and I feel angry at the wasted time and set off again to continue my search.  There’s nothing trite or trivial about this journey.  It’s not even just a matter of life and death; it’s more than that.  It’s my soul/sole purpose and I need to get on and complete it.

I wrote about this theory at greater length, although probably not particularly well, in Life: A Player’s Guide, because I knew then – back in 2012 – how important it was.

Since then I’d forgotten.

But something happened this week to bring me back to it, so on I’ll go, hoping that now I finally have all the gifts, all the helpers and mentors and all the luck to complete my quest and reach a happy ending.

 

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The Illusion of Ordinary Life

Audience, Chairs, Show, Hall, AuditoriumI wanted to tell you about my weekend.

That simple intention has taken me on a brief but fascinating journey this morning, so I’ll probably end up telling you about that, too.

Let me start by saying that both the weekend and this morning’s journey have involved little more than sitting in a chair.  As we all know, huge and wondrous journeys can be experienced that way.  We sit in chairs and watch screens, read books, listen to speakers, and new worlds open up.  Then – for the majority of us, at least – the desire to move beyond this vicarious existence kicks in, and we feel the need to head away from the chair and to once again immerse ourselves in ‘ordinary life’.

Ancient, Art, Cemetery, EnglandI’ve spent two solid days sitting in a darkened hall at a conference, listening to a glittering array of speakers – academics, field archaeologists, explorers and the odd metaphysician, all immersed in the study of ancient megalithic sites.  They had devoted huge portions of their lives to the meticulous observation and measurement of structures, carvings and rows of standing stones and now they had gathered to share their discoveries with us.

Flower Of Life, Spiritual, TrippyAgain and again we watched aerial images upon which intricate patterns of geometry had been superimposed.  The golden mean, perfectly dissected circles and squares, Pythagorean triangles and Platonic solids hung ethereally above and within structures created – who knows how? – in times at least as far distant from Pythagoras and Plato as those gentlemen are from us.  We were shown how only by building at that exact latitude could this or that angle exactly mirror the one created by the sun, the moon or some other significant heavenly body with the Earth at a given time.  We marvelled at the accuracy, the deliberation, the sheer effort made by our ancestors to achieve this perfection, only now clear to us thanks to the devotion and vision of the researchers, aided by Google Earth, drones and sophisticated software programs.

I was hunting for a title for this post, and found it in the name of a fine art card I’d purchased at the conference – a sublime piece of artwork by one of the speakers, Nicholas Cope RCA.  I’d love to reproduce it here, but didn’t gain permission, so please momentarily click on The artwork to take a look.

This beautiful image sums up the content of the conference I’ve been discussing here rather well.  However it was the title which intrigued me even more.  It encompassed an idea that had been tugging at my consciousness – just beyond reach of words – throughout the weekend.  ‘Where does the idea come from?’ I asked myself.  That led to this morning’s journey.

Image result for rene guenonI typed ‘The Illusion of Ordinary Life’ into the search engine and found myself reading an article by V Susan Ferguson, based on the work of one René Guénon.

Yes!

I’d never heard of him until today, yet here was this French Catholic, turned Sufi, metaphysical intellectual, writing back in the 1940s and encapsulating the very idea that had been nagging at me:

We are devoted to measuring the endless surfaces of what we imagine to be solid matter.

The full article (well worth reading) can be found here.  I suspect I’ll be getting better acquainted with Monsieur Guénon over the coming weeks.

You see there were hints – tiny subtle numinous ones – throughout the weekend nudging me towards that utterly obvious idea.

There was the speaker who marvelled that many of his measurements of an ancient artefact came out at an exact, and significant, number of centimetres. (Did the ancients use centimetres??)  There was the story recounted by one of my companions of a sarcophagus in Egypt which – she’d been there and experienced it – despite being solid granite was an exact fit for everyone in their party who lay inside it, from a guy 6ft 5 tall to a lady of barely 5ft and all in between.  There was a symbologist who  showed a dizzying array of connections between words and symbols from widely different cultures and time-frames which could be meshed together to create a perfect whole, with each element adding greatly to the gestalt so formed.
“What’s real,” this lady told the audience, with a knowing smile, “is the space between the forms.”

Cpu, Processor, Electronics, ComputerSo, if I can tear myself away from the magical information technology that seamlessly brings me together with concepts, images and ideas from other times and places via electromagnetic waves in the aether, I’ll head off to the garden, to ground myself in the ‘ordinary world’ – the sensory feedback that is integral to my physical experience.  As I do so, though, I won’t fall into the trap of pondering the wonders I’ve been shown in the past two days in terms of physicality alone.

We have far more gnosis available to us, far more ways of connecting to the Ancients and their megaliths than with software, tape measure and protractor.  Just as the archaeologist’s meticulous drawing of a ground plan gives us only a limited idea of the 3D structure, so that physical structure, as we perceive it in terms of length, width and height, gives only the smallest hint of its full conception and significance.  For that we have to relinquish our addiction to the illusion of the physical and move into realms that are not governed by time and space; move into realms more like the ones we connect with on our computers, yet very different.

Trying to Re-Member

There’s a group I attend from time to time here in my town.  Each week they provide cups of every kind of herbal tea you can imagine, biscuits or cake, and a speaker.  The talks range over many areas and subjects, but they must always be positive.  That seems to be the only rule.

Abstract, Background, Pattern, ArtisticI’d never heard of that night’s speaker, but his subject was ‘The Eight Elements’ and partly because I’d been pondering on elements for quite a while and partly because he was speaking as a follower of Krishna – a Truth quite new to me – I decided to go along.

The gentleman stood calmly before us, looked around the room at the sea of faces and announced, with total certainty, “I’m not the only person in this room who has been to the breaking point.  I’m not alone in having reached a point in my life where everything I lived for, everything I believed, everything I cared about was swept away, leaving me lost, broken and utterly alone.”

All around the room, heads nodded slowly, solemnly, mine included.

The talk was excellent.  Krishna’s take on the elements was oddly familiar and linked in well with the Egyptian, Greek, Shamanic, Medieval and alchemical ideas I’d been reading and thinking about.  What I was left with above all, though, was that idea of the breaking point – the need to go through what feels at the time to be a crisis, a disaster, a destruction of all you’ve held dear.  It is the tower card in the tarot – the card I used to fear above all others, back in the days when my life was settled and sorted (although very far from perfect).

I thought of the many friends and family members I’ve seen hit that point, whether through a sudden incapacitating illness, a financial meltdown, a job loss, a relationship breakup or what’s commonly called a nervous breakdown.  Often – as in my own case – it’s a mixture of several of these.  Like the body of Osiris, we are broken up, hacked into pieces and scattered in the waters of Life.

Shell, Broken, Empty, Close, LeaveThere follows a time of the most awe-ful emptiness.  We shut down.  We exist from moment to moment, day to day, with no clear idea of how or why we are still functioning.  This is the time we need to hide away, to withdraw from everyone and everything, knowing at some instinctive level that we require peace, and that healing will eventually flow from this.

Despite the kindness and ministrations of others, there’s ultimately only one place that healing can come from.  It comes from within.  It comes from our soul-selves – the part of us that is, and has always been, whole and complete.  Slowly and painfully, we begin to re-member ourselves – to put ourselves back together.  This time, though, we will be different.  We will have shed the limiting beliefs that we are not complete without money/ health/ family/ possessions/ career/ home/ friends or whatever we relied upon for stability and identity in the past.  That’s not to say we won’t regain or rediscover some of these, but they will no longer take centre stage.

Now we will have re-membered who we truly are.  We will recognise that we are whole and complete in ourselves.  We are not – primarily – parent or employee, partner or owner.  We are infinite aspects of the great I AM and as such, we have no limits.

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore, trust the physician and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.”

Kahlil Gibran: The Prophet