Today I’d like to share what I can only haltingly call a vision, and the synchronicities and trains of thought associated with it.
Let me give you some context: I had been in deep discussion with a couple of friends about my experiences as a teacher. I’ll diverge into a brief ‘then and now’ to give you a flavour of those times…
Around half a century ago, when I was training to become a teacher, a debate was raging in educational circles. Should children arriving in full-time education be seen as ‘vessels to be filled’ or ‘candles to be lit’? A report by Lady Plowden and her committee – the go-to document of the time – concluded the latter, and I embarked enthusiastically on my chosen career as a lighter of small candles.
Today, of course, any such discussion is rotting beneath some long forgotten carpet, where it was swept several decades ago. I quietly left the educational establishment and set up shop in an alternative teaching and mentoring setting when it became clear that the balance had settled firmly on the side of the empty vessels, to be crammed with as much junk knowledge as was deemed necessary to prevent troublesome teachers and students from having time to encourage or indulge in creativity, imagination and critical thinking.
Somewhere in the middle of all that, when the swing towards the ’empty vessels’ model was firmly in motion but before the quality of independent writing was judged by the number of similes, metaphors and examples of personification a child could cram into each paragraph, or obscure aspects of grammar guaranteed never to enhance or crop up in any aspect of life were stuffed into the minds of ten year olds, I found myself quite unexpectedly teaching in a specialist provision for children with speech and language difficulties. It was this time of my life I had been considering as I went to bed on Friday night.
I was in that hypnogogic state, poised between waking and dreaming, when the ‘vision’ (what else can I call it?) appeared. I saw containers – vases, perhaps or maybe orbs or bottles. Each was cracked in its own individual way. some had a maze of hairline cracks, others a single fault line. What fascinated me, though, was that through every fissure, a dazzling light was shining. The light was not visible through the solid parts of the containers, just through the places where the cracks allowed it to appear.
“Remember this!” someone or something was telling me. “It’s important! Don’t let the image drift away.”
I lay for some time, trying to commit what I had seen to memory, toying with the idea of turning on the bedside lamp and attempting to write or draw it, but the helpful something in my ear assured me that I’d get more clarity through dreaming about it, so that’s what I did.
By Saturday morning I had an idea of what the vision had been about. It was, as you may well have guessed, an image stemming from my sad thoughts about the ’empty vessels’ – the hapless children in our education system who day after day are ‘filled’ with largely pointless facts and knowledge, despite the sterling efforts of teachers to sugar the pill. The cracked vessels represented the youngsters with what are variously called ‘special needs’, ‘additional needs’ or those with otherwise non-standard perception and cognition.
My teaching career increasingly nudged me towards a fascination and delight in working with those judged to be on the autistic spectrum or with some form of communication difficulty in the written, spoken or receptive aspects of language.
The instructions passed down to teachers from our leaders were to patch up the cracks in those ‘faulty’ vessels, to enable them to resemble their ‘undamaged’ peers and then to allow the ‘filling’ to continue. That is what I was paid to do in the Speech and Language Unit – get them as close to normal communication skills as possible and return them to a cheaper, one-size-fits-all mainstream classroom. Fortunately, as the leaders and inspectors had no specialist knowledge or understanding of such children, I had far more leeway than my mainstream colleagues in the way those children were taught.
Those leaders didn’t see what I saw. They didn’t know that small children with no intelligible speech could communicate perfectly well with others via telepathy. They didn’t discover the deep, amazing and stunning twists and turns of the young autistic mind. They couldn’t glimpse the creativity of the dyslexic when freed from pen or laptop and allowed free rein in the realms of shape and space. I’d somehow slipped into a world where heightened senses and awareness way beyond common experience held sway. Those children discussed out of body experiences, viewing ‘funny lights around people and animals that change with their mood’, remote viewing and the like as if they were everyday events. For them, they were.
Perhaps those in charge of education didn’t want to be dazzled by the light shining through the cracks in the extraordinary ‘different’ children.
My vision and the dreams and ponderings that followed it left me with a conviction that the light shining in was vital to our world and badly needed to alleviate the darkness. I was reminded of one of my favourite books: The Crack in the Cosmic Egg by Joseph Chilton Pearce. Was this light appearing within those cracked vessels heralding a breaking of the eggs that hold in a deeper Gnosis or understanding of Cosmic Laws? Perhaps each of us is, at some level, a ‘vessel’ – but not an empty one. Perhaps we all hold within ourselves a brilliant light, but one we have hidden inside a container while we go about our humdrum daily tasks. Perhaps the youngsters I had met on my journey through education were, in a very real sense, the light-showers or shining ones…
…Or perhaps I was a semi-deranged old woman falling down yet another of my many rabbit holes…
On Saturday night I settled to enjoy my current bedtime book: Gayle Kimball’s The Mysteries of Reality: Dialogues with Visionary Scientists. I was reading an interview with Bernardo Kastrup PhD about contemporary idealism. He pointed out that if, as the materialist scientific paradigm suggests, all thought experiences occur within the human brain, any impairment of that brain should result in more limited experiences and thoughts. However, he explained, the reverse is true. The body of evidence showing enhanced mental experiences (such as those described above in relation to my students) in those with certain types of brain damage or impairment, due to such events as bullet wounds, hypoxia or chemical impairments, strongly suggests that in such cases the brain’s filter system becomes more porous, disrupting the boundary between the brain and greater levels of consciousness.
A synchronicity, perhaps?