I’ve just returned from three-and-a-half months in the shadow lands. (Sorry for the lack of blog posts, but my literary lights were dimmed.) At the beginning of September, after weeks of amazing emotional revelations ranging from euphoria to utter despair, I got physically sick and didn’t really recover until now, four days before Christmas 2012, and the very day that the Mayan calendar runs out — whatever that historic milestone may prove to imply. There were three or four days (and intensely dark, suffocating nights) in which I was convinced that my time on Earth was almost over, and that I had reached a humiliating and unexpectedly sudden demise. After three decades of daily yoga meditation I never get sick any more, but it seems I still had some deeper, traumatic issues to work out before the unprecedented personal and collective events of 2013.
In the ancient language of Sanskrit, Maya means illusion. Not only has mankind marched steadily into the most morally confused time of our evolution, but the point of highest spiritual opportunity as well. Somewhere behind all the mumbo-jumbo about cosmic cataclysm and last chances, there lies the simple truth that we have all been on a very long journey, and it’s high time to harvest the fruits of that struggle.
Not long ago there were two buddies who used to get together in a Cambridge pub once a week to discuss life and literature. One was a booming evangelist, the other a more soft-spoken Christian. It seems that they both had a subtle, inner connection to reality that expressed itself very differently through each. J.R.R. Tolkien considered the bible the greatest epic tale ever told, but chose to only hint at the image of Jesus Christ — archetype of the greatest of kings who fell and rose again in supreme benevolence — in his now classic novel series, The Lord of the Rings. C.S. Lewis on the other hand (often to Tolkien’s displeasure) would shout his admiration for the Son of God from the rooftops, especially after his kundalini suddenly rose up his spine while he rode a Cambridge public bus to work one morning, causing him to write Surprised by Joy. He also praised the Divine, albeit without naming names, in his (also now classic) children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia.
The other morning I woke up after hearing myself say, in a dream, “I wonder how well Narnian vegetables would sell in our local market”. (This was a few days after I woke up to a Voice that softly reassured me that, “His love for you is unlimited. It just flows,” which I understood to refer to Jesus … or Aslan?) C.S. Lewis had an uncanny knack of being able to accurately describe the attributes and effects of divinity and the shadowy lack of it, which we sometimes call evil. Bearing that in mind, I’ve come to pay special interest to the end of the adventures in Narnia, when paradise is overrun by destructive shadow, and a magical door appears in the midst of danger and chaos, leading to a new, somehow better, more colorful, wider, higher Narnia.
It was the unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed and then cried:
“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Come farther up, come farther in!”
… “The farther up and the farther in you go, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside.”
Lucy looked hard at the garden and saw that it was not really a garden at all but a whole world, with its own rivers and woods and sea and mountains. But they were not strange: she knew them all.
“I see,” she said. “This is still Narnia, and, more real and more beautiful than the Narnia down below, just as it was more real and more beautiful than the Narnia outside the Stable door! I see … world within world, Narnia within Narnia …”
“Yes,” said Mr. Tumnus, “like an onion: except that as you go in and in, each circle is larger than the last.”
And Lucy looked this way and that and soon found that a new and beautiful thing had happened to her. Whatever she looked at, however far away it might be, once she had fixed her eyes steadily on it, became quite clear and close as if she were looking through a telescope. She could see the whole southern desert and beyond it the great city of Tashbaan: to eastward she could see castle Cair Paravel on the edge of the sea and the very window of the room that had once been her own. And far out to sea she could discover the islands, island after island to the end of the world, and, beyond the end, the huge mountain which they had called Aslan’s country. But now she saw that it was part of a great chain of mountains which ringed round the whole world. In front of her it seemed to come quite close. Then she looked to her left and saw what she took to be a great bank of brightly-colored cloud, cut off from them by a gap. But she looked harder and saw that it was not a cloud at all but a real land. And when she had fixed her eyes on one particular spot of it, she at once cried out, “Peter! Edmund! Come and look! Come quickly.” And they came and looked, for their eyes also had become like hers.
“Why!” exclaimed Peter. “It’s England. And that’s the house itself — Professor Kirk’s old home in the country where all our adventures began!”
“I thought that house had been destroyed,” said Edmund.
“So it was,” said Tumnus the Faun. “But you are now looking at the England within England, the real England just as this is the real Narnia. And in that inner England no good thing is destroyed.” (The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis)
It has now been clinically proven that the state of alert mental silence produces an ideal equilibrium throughout the human organism. This state is so powerful that it can naturally correct any healable ailment in us, and remove causes such as anxiety. The effects on society are not yet documented, but it’s easy to foresee a harmonious collective environment free from the violence and suffering that has come to be synonymous with so-called civilization. Anyone who has clearly experienced this state may have noticed the light, soothing flow of energy (kundalini) that passes up the spine and out through the limbic area of the brain, referred to long ago in Sanskrit as the Sahasrara Chakra, or the thousand-petal portal to the Kingdom of Heaven. This integrating connection was called yoga, meaning union.
There’s a lot of talk at the moment about divine councils and portals and what-not, that tend to turn most of us off to the possibility that each of us is able to reach a transcendent state of deep peace and understanding about our existence. Actually, meditation is the least complicated of all things we can reach and benefit from, needing no explanation and thought-producing concepts. I would just like to express my feeling here that our jolly old Cambridge professor may have unconsciously been describing the transformation of human consciousness with his magical door to a better world — a liberating passageway that allows us to see and feel life as it really is: beautiful and fulfilling. A very real state that enables us to perpetually improve ourselves and our planet, instead of destroying them.
I took the liberty this morning of consulting the I Ching about the spiritual state of mankind in 2013. It said that examples should be set by those who are wise and brave, revealing the deepest spiritual connection (meditation) that can be shared by all:
‘Thus a hidden spiritual power emanates from them, influencing others without their being aware of how it happens.’
The hexagram Kuan represents an observation tower. Those who sit on top of it can see far and be seen by all. Amazingly, the individual line that was selected for detailed reference was the top one — that very position of highest perception:
‘Contemplation of his life. The superior man is without blame. Here in the highest place everything that is personal, related to the ego, is excluded. The picture is that of a sage who stands outside the affairs of the world. Liberated from his ego, he contemplates the laws of life and so realizes that knowing how to become free of blame is the highest good.’ ‘He has not yet forgotten the world and is therefore still concerned with its affairs.’
(It has been said that the ultimate time of Judgement is when every human being will have the clear inner perception to look within and judge — understand and correct — themselves.)
The I Ching then pointed out, with hexagram Pi / Holding Together, that just as water will always flow to a collective meeting place, human beings will gather with like human beings.
‘Holding together calls for a central figure around whom other persons may unite. To become a center of influence holding people together is a grave matter and fraught with great responsibility. It requires greatness of spirit, consistency and strength. Therefore let one who wishes to gather others together ask whether he/she is equal to the undertaking, for anyone attempting the task without a real calling for it only makes confusion worse than if no union at all had taken place. But when there is a real rallying point, those who at first are hesitant or uncertain gradually come in of their own accord. Late-comers must suffer the consequences, for in holding together the question of the right time is also important. Relationships are formed and firmly established according to definite inner laws. Common experience strengthen these ties, and one who comes too late to share in these basic (inner) experiences must suffer for it if, as a straggler, he/she finds the door locked. If one has recognized the necessity for union and does not feel strong enough to function as the center, it is one’s duty to become a member of some other organic fellowship.’ (I Ching ~ The Book of Changes, translated by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes)
This may sound quite black-and-white, but the inner evolution of each of us is determined simply by our desires. It’s not unimaginable that the nature of that stream of wishes will ultimately carry us toward the opportunity to attain a higher, lighter state of wellbeing; or into a meaningless dead-end. We’ve been blessed with freedom to choose our way and our destination. No one can be forced to strive for liberating collective consciousness.
May the delicious, enlightening vegetables and fruits of the new Narnia nourish us in the upcoming Harvest.
Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas and joyous New (kind of) Year,
In a mother’s belly there were two babies. One asks the other:
“Do you believe in life after birth?”
“Of course! Something must exist after birth. Maybe we are here because we need to prepare for what we will become later.”
“Ridiculous! There is no life after birth! How do you think this life would be?”
“I don’t know, but surely there will be more light than there is here. Maybe we will walk on our own two feet and we can feed ourselves through our mouths!”
“That is absurd! Walking is impossible. And eat through our mouths? How ridiculous! The umbilical chord is how we are fed. Let me tell you something: There can’t be life after birth. The umbilical chord is too short.”
“Well I believe there must be something. And it could be just a little bit different than what we are used to here.”
“But nobody has ever returned from the other side after birth. Birth is the end of life. All in all, life is nothing more than a stressful existence in the dark that does not lead to anything.”
“Well, I don’t know how it will exactly be after birth, but surely we will see Mother and she will take care of us.”
“Mother? You believe in Mother? And where do you think she is?”
“Where? All around us! We live inside her and through her. Without her this whole world would not exist!”
“Well I don’t believe it! I have never seen Mother so, logically, she does not exist.”
“Yes but sometimes when we are very silent, we can hear her singing or feel how she caresses our world. You know, I think there is a real life waiting for us, and that right now we are just preparing ourselves for it.”