So much into my head

 

3336650116a4470024486b678380162l.jpgWhile walking along a river in the North Country I came upon a frail looking old man with long white beard and flowing grey robe leaning on a staff and gazing at the water rushing by. “Good morning” I said.

He smiled and asked, “How long you been on the trail?”

“Oh about an hour I guess.”

“Is that all? Are you sure?” He added.

“Well, how long have you?” I asked challengingly.

“All my life” he grinned.

Great, I thought, some kind of guru! I was not really in the mood to go deep this morning. I was much more interested in chewing on my private thoughts and worrying all the worries I’d collected over the week.

“You seem to be somewhere other than on a walk,” he added.

“Well I was just taking a walk to ease my mind. Then you showed up.” I said with just a little petulance.

“I haven’t really showed up yet.”

“Uh, what?” I blurted. Is this guy crazy? I wondered.

“You’re so much into your head that I’m not really here for you yet.”

“Explain,” I said becoming a little interested where he was coming from.

“You’re so much in your mind right now that you’re not meeting me, you’re meeting only your mind.”

“Ahh mindfulness, I know about that!”

“Then why aren’t you there?”

“I was trying to until I ran into you.”

“No you weren’t. You were busy listening to your own mind!”

“I was being with my thoughts, being mindful of them.” I said in defense.

“You believe that don’t you?”

“Yes!”

“Don’t believe everything you think. You know, mindfulness isn’t about making up what you want to be mindful to. It’s being with whatever is there. You were caught up in and believing what your mind was telling you. You know all that stuff in your head is bullshit don’t you?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“The events in your life aren’t causing you pain it’s your mind chatter that is causing you to suffer. Your beliefs about the way things should be rather than being mindful of the way they are is causing you pain that you then devaluate and that takes you even further out of the moment.”

“I know this!” I interrupted angrily.

“No you don’t! Knowing is paying attention and you are not paying attention! You can’t see the world that’s in front of you because you aren’t looking at it you’re looking at what’s inside your head. You reject what is and because of this you find yourself not at peace. To be at peace you need to cooperate with how things are, then you can see how things need to be.”

“How do you know this?” I asked growing more interested.

“Simply by paying attention.”

“But what about my problems?”

“Most of your problems are but a side effect of not having a clear relationship with reality.”

“But I need to figure out how to make something happen. I need to solve these problems I’m thinking about.” I pleaded.

“You’ve allowed yourself to be conned into thinking that you have control of anything. Stop that. Don’t make things happen, let them happen, you can’t force life into submission. Give yourself permission to be where you’re at.”

“Somehow that feels right.” I said and he smiled and then vanished. I could hear the water washing over the rocks, the wind singing through the trees , the rustle of leaves, and birds calling to one another. It was so peaceful.

Peace be with you.

 

 

 

Curator of lost dreams

 

My wife and I have often traveled the Pacific Northwest and one time pulled into a little town lined with antique stores, old fashioned news stands and funky little restaurants catering to the meat and potato crowd–sushi, are you kidding? After nosing around the town for a few hours the following missive came to me the next morning on the veranda of our lodgings:

Driving through town I pass beneath an ancient steel archway, a portal marker for a city hanging on to its past. Traffic is sparse and all moving in a single direction, much like, I imagine, most of the denizens of this little outpost bordering America’s past and future–pretty much all aligned in belief and values.

I parked along the curb across from a local antiquarian–a dealer in “the lost dreams of the dead” as the proprietor described himself to me before I wandered toward the back of his shop piled high with the bones of these dreams. I wandered narrow aisles displaying the technological wonders of a golden age where art and function united to create objects of magical beauty whose purpose have been lost to antiquity anticipating a Magus to caste just the right spell to animate them once again.

 

th-2.jpgI wandered past objects in fine wooden cases, or Bakelite boxes, some with oddly shaped glass tubes–the instruments of a former alchemist’s dreams–ready to spring to life once more.

And there it was, center stage in a locked glass cabinet, the object of my quest, a century old device once used by student wizards to peer into a Lilliputian universe. It had a golden tube that seemed to glow with a fire of it’s own. It was to the rational mind a brass microscope, a beautifully machined tool of exploration and wonder. Excitedly I called to my wife who also marveled at the find and immediately offered to purchase it as a birthday gift.

As the proprietor dismantled the lenses from the scope and wrapped them in tissue and butcher paper for their protection, he shared some of his own past. As an engineer by training and vocation he spent a lifetime wielding the modern instruments of his trade and watched in despair as the world became more and more functional and plastic and losing it’s beauty to practicality. “Something had to be done.” He said almost pleadingly. “So today I’m here as a curator of the past, a preserver of history, if you will” he added with a look of hopefulness that I would understand and honor his purpose.

“Many who enter here don’t understand, they see pretty things that briefly hold interest, just as with anything else in this world of small attention spans and equally small ambitions. Some come here to steal so as to feed their habits, or their addiction to excitement. Others come to sell and bury their loved ones in a place they know will honor their memory.”

So, like the oarsman who ferried the dead across the river Styx, this man tends to the ghosts of human ingenuity, preserving and honoring their former meaning and the dreams they once represented. “There seems to be a soul attached to these things. The souls of their former owners I think.” He says as he ties the last string around the larger package. “Or perhaps the souls of their inventor, or maker.” I suggest while hefting the package that somehow seemed heavier. It was as though the item were emphasizing the new import of the dream I now took as my own. “Perhaps.” He said his eyes glistening as he carefully handed me the smaller package of lenses.

I thanked him, turned to go, and as I did so he rounded the counter so as to escort me through the door. “Thanks for caring.” He said and I walked out of the shop of wondrous visions and onto the streets of empty eyes–the unseeing eyes blinded to the magic all around, to the dream we are all living, and to the past that informs it’s future through the world of our present.

The Chaos Dark: A Waking Dream alchemy of the deeper psyche

 

depositphotos_73838777-stock-photo-door-with-many-rusty-locks.jpg
The gate with many locks

On my walk I met an old man sitting cross-legged in his stall and stirring some concoction in an iron pot.

“What ho?” I inquired but he did not answer and continued to stir.

“Can I see what is in your pot?” I asked as he continued to stir.

Not waiting for an answer I leaned forward to gain a glimpse of what was stirring and all went black. Indiscriminate images whirled and whorled about taking and losing form as I tried to focus upon them. All moved like thickened liquid and climbed the sides of the pot only to be pulled back into its muck.

“What is this place so dark and of undefined form?” I moaned as I was being drawn into its depths.

It was then that the old man spoke. “It is of thee, the hidden thee, the thee of many generations and many worlds.”

“Why do you speak in riddles old man?” I gasped.

“Because your kind cannot understand when confronted directly with the truth.” He said bluntly. “You seek an answer to a question you have not fully understood. Because of this its answer will sit in secret at your core until you are ready to open the gate with its many locks. Meanwhile the secret lies within the chaos dark. Understand your question and the key that will open all the locks will reveal itself to you and of the chaos you will know and the darkness will be no more.”

“Tell me Alchemist about this key of which you speak.” I demanded gently.

“Learn the true secret of the three that are one and dispel the myth of the priests who know not any secrets and the key will be revealed.” Intoned the old man as he very deliberately kept stirring the pot.

“But once I have it how will I know which lock it fits for it cannot fit all of them can it?”

“There is but one lock for all. It is for you to look truly and it will reveal. You cannot distill what is needed while you live in the above ground. You must enter the chaos of the darkness to do that. The answer is not to be found in the nonsense of your wakened state for it only comes in the dark to be then congealed and carried into the light. You must dissolve the hardness of the waking mind through the softness of the darkness only then will the question become clear enough for you to see the key and the lock it opens. Only then can you pass through the gate and find the stone of eternity promised by the divine philosophers.”

My mind began to swim like the stirring liquid of his pot and I swam desperately for its surface. Breaking free of his spell I stood wetted and dripping there before him and his pot but before I could yet speak he smiled and dissolved before me and I awoke. Had I been sleeping? I had not been in my bed for I was sure that I had been walking and yet my eyes seemed opened to something new and I could see then that I needed to find and enter this chaos dark with the question, “What is in there that is for me to find?”

_____________________________

The phrase”Chaos Dark” comes from the 1652 book by Elias Ashmole, Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum. My copy is in the original Middle English and was published by Ouroboros Press in 2011. It’s definition of the phrase was found between pages 318 and 341 and was an apt description for the Unconscious Mind and generated this waking dream.