The following is a draft section of a new book to be published later this year, “Morpheus speaks: The Book of Dreams” (RJ Cole, 2018).
Insight: Being possessed is an archetype itself (symbolic meaning that is found across all cultures). Many years ago people would employ priests or even lay mediums to exorcise an individual’s devil that has “possessed” them. But even now the old version of the primitive possessor demon lives within an unexplored psychic phenomena and acts out behaviors that are contrary to a person’s best interest. One only needs to look at how many so-called fearful “conservatives” will vote for the very issues and people who only mean them harm, directly or indirectly, to see the truth of that statement. All too often when we deny our complexes, our demons so to speak, we become possessed by them, we allow another force and energy to take over our lives.
When we fall asleep we enter a world of the unconscious where the personality, the ego-self, surrenders itself and the self-conscious barriers to reality dissolve into nothing. Suddenly we can walk through walls, traverse time in all directions and jump from one place to another without any external transportation.
Time and space seem irrelevant to this world and our individual self seems to all but disappear allowing us access to what seems to be a universal mind or the collective unconscious as Carl Jung described it.
In this world one does not have to be located in any particular place, we are neither here or there i.e. we are no longer dualistic in nature.
Here we can sift through incredible amounts of data to solve the unsolvable problems of our waking lives. We become particularly attuned to our inner body messages as well as the body messages of others we have seen, but have not been conscious of, during the day.
There is even some evidence that dreamers who are close or in some way genetically linked can meet each other in their dreams– the walls between us, what Alan Watts termed, “That skin encapsulated ego” that is us, seem to dissolve allowing for a connectivity beyond the body.
Dreams in fact seem to be a meeting place between the older archetypal self and the conscious personality. This older self is often seen as being eternal in nature with the younger self only being temporary. The conscious self seems to stop at the end of the finger tips while in a dream one can easily extend beyond this imagined or believed to be real body limit.
In our wakeful state we believe the body to have a limited range of sensory experience. This disappears when the boundaries of time and space fall away as they do in the dream state where we become transpersonal in nature. Here consciousness seems to transcend the limits of space/time. In the unconscious one seems to be nonlocal, being everywhere at the same time, a phenomenon thought to only exist in the quantum or atomic realm of reality.
There are some scientists who suggest, wonder, or imagine that consciousness itself exists in this nano-world of quantum physics and not in the body. Some suggest that our brains and bodies are more like radio receivers than transmitters. Perhaps our dreams are our link with our true nature?
If we are more than our bodies, might we then be more than that body’s limitations?
The other night I had a disturbing dream where I saw a child being abducted and carried away. My heart went out and I desperately tried to recapture or save her.
On the next night I was carrying two books, one was a large book with beautiful illustrations and embellishments and the other with the word “Hope” emblazoned on the dust jacket. As I carried them across a deck overlooking the water I dropped them and they sank to the bottom, I quickly reached for them and saved them from a watery demise.
The dreams followed a two day run of depression and negative self-talk.
While writing the dreams in my journal the fog of meaning started to clear and I jotted down the beginnings of my interpretation.
“Innocence: The phenomenon of seeing without judgment, notions, bias, or to see purely i.e. to take something in without changing it or “adulterating” it. I have lost this reality and want ever so badly to recapture it, to make it my own again. It made sense to me a sense that adulthood has never made.
The world of imagination (a child’s world) captures my heart and holds it with far more interest than anything the material world of the adult has to offer. The imaginal feeds, the material does not. The material leaves me empty no matter how much I have, unfulfilled, and un-nurtured.
This is also the message of the “Blue Fresco” dream a number of years ago where I first met a Spirit Guide, Sophia, who invited me to leave behind the adult world that is so very childish in its pursuits and follow a path of my own. Basically she gently admonished me to stop trying to get what will nurture from the material world. It cannot fulfill or nourish what is truly important in and to me.
I have been acting as though I am my thoughts rather than being that which thinks.
The dream where I drop the books into the water may also be an encouragement to stop looking to the material world for my satisfaction, soul, or sense of being.
The answer i.e. “Hope” for me is only to be found in the intuitive, imaginal, mystical, and spiritual realm. As with the “Blue Fresco” dream these dreams remind me to leave behind my childish search for acknowledgment in the material world because it’s not there.
The “Retrieval” aspect of both dreams seems to be speaking to a transformation of thinking metaphor suggesting a need to transform my current negative inner narrative in order to save me. I need to reach into the primal waters and pull myself out. The drowning book in the second dream may also represent the rigid intellect being drowned but allowing the creative to be saved. The inner self desires to be free. It may be my only “Hope”. By continually looking for rigid intellectual “consensus reality” I will always be drowning and stifled. I need to reach into the deep dark waters and save myself.”
I once used the term “the alchemist’s crucible.” I think this term came to me because at the time I had been reading Jung’s Memories, Dreams, and Reflections and was struck with how often he delved into the alchemical arts as a means of understanding the human psyche.
This got me to thinking about the symbolism inherent in alchemy. On the surface the alchemists seemed to be looking for a means of transmuting base metals into precious metals e.g. lead into gold. I think that they were trying, among other things, to make sense of this world of opposites and dichotomies by to find an underlying unity. Why? Well, part of the human condition seems to be that we are all separate from each other and the environment that we find ourselves in. This experience of separation breeds, as I’ve said before, various levels of fear ranging from discomfort to all-out panic. We want to protect ourselves from what is ‘not us’ whether that be on the personal or communal (meaning the tribe, state, nation) level. This of course is the basis for personal and social conflict. Finding a resolution to the conflict that arises from opposition has been key to the history of alchemy, and politics (which is a kind of alchemy itself).
The goal of trying to make sense of what-is by attempting to resolve the basic conflict caused by separation can be seen in all our mythologies where mankind is always trying to deal with its twin natures of the beast and the spirit e.g. note the invention of the Centaur (man’s torso and head on the body of a horse), or the Minotaur (a bull’s head on a man’s body) and the fact that all hero stories have a thematic conflict to resolve. A great deal of modern psychological therapy is to assist the individual with internal psychic conflicts e.g. the conflict between what you are and what you want to be.
I think that among the fundamental goals of all religions, philosophies, and sciences is to bring to consciousness the mysteries of the universe and to observe its fundamental unity.
I also maintain that this unity, this wholeness, already exists, but is generally beneath our awareness. Because of this the universe looks fragmented and dichotomous. This gives dream-work a whole new purpose in that it can bring ones unconscious psyche to consciousness so that we can experience a greater whole and thus a better understanding of what makes us tick. The more we understand of what it means to be human the better our understanding of where we’re standing. For example, to get to know a tree, one needs to stand under it, to ‘listen’ to it. To know another anything (person, place or thing) one needs to stand under it, to be within its context, or to stand in its shoes, and is thus the root meaning of ‘understanding.’
This reminds me of the teachings of G. Gurdjieff, a early 20th century Russian mystic and spiritual teacher who wrote that humanity lives its life in a “Waking Sleep” and thus only experiences reality subjectively. He suggested that the vast majority of humans live as automatons, but have the power to awaken and become something so much greater.
“Man lives his life in sleep, and in sleep he dies.”
As automatons we become susceptible to the manipulations of others (advertisers, politicians, radio talk show hosts, religious leaders and zealots, and the hysteria of the masses). The one sided development of our humanity that most of us experience is what passes for ‘life’ in the modern world. I believe that we need to develop all aspects of who we are in order to become a fully integrated (actualized) human being that is fully present to an expanded sense of reality instead of the limited reality we currently embrace. In my experience we mostly just argue our limits without trying to see beyond them.
“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they’re yours.”
– Richard Bach, Illusions
There again is that concept of ‘limiting’ being a root to perverted reality. For many of us we limit our personal development to one of four areas–physical, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual and for the rare few who might include more than one or even all, they limit the impact through narrow definition.
“The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”
What do I mean by expanded definition? This morning in a group discussion one of our group told the story of a young soldier who stepped on an IED (improvised explosive device) while patrolling in Afghanistan. He lost his foot and part of his leg. At first everyone, including the soldier, saw this as only a tragedy, but eventually it brought the family together in ways none of them could have imagined before the event. Everyone connected with the event began to see another more positive outcome, born from the very real tragedy, that would not have happened without it.
I think that the meaning of nearly every event in our lives can be used to expand our reality. Set aside your limited thinking and self-limiting thoughts and be open to reality. Learn to see beneath the meaning of your personal or collective definition to see what else may be there.
“And therefore as a stranger give it welcome. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Walking down the path and into the mist, large drops of water slid from the trees and splashed against his face running down his neck and into the fabric of a shirt now clinging fast to his body. He almost didn’t notice for his mind was taken up with other things, things like thoughts about something called “source” and “intention” and what if he weren’t ready to transform before the moon and sun conjoined?
Surely he could do this, after all he had a clever mind didn’t he? But his thoughts just spiraled into chaos and he couldn’t get them to settle and focus. Fear built up as he realized that he might have missed something important that the old man had given him, something that would mean either light and life or just darkness and death. If he couldn’t find it he could be trapped behind the eclipse forever.
Then he remembered that all too often the brain sends one in the wrong direction blowing like the wind through the trees and making one believe that something is real that actually was not. A thought whispered from below and though almost ignored by the all too busy mind it was barely caught and brought to consciousness, “Your cleverness only separates you from reality”. It said. Another thought intruded into the maelstrom, “This is not just about you”. It whispered. “Caring only about your own condition will lead only to doom– your doom and the doom of us all. That is the wrong direction to travel.”
The boy stopped walking and looked about him as though trying to find the source of the voice that had so successfully penetrated his fears. And the voice continued.
“Stop trying to be so clever. All your thinking, all your so-called knowledge will only lead you further astray. There is a Way, but it is not through your mind. There are no answers in the chaotic voice of your head. It knows only itself.
Your wisdom does not lay within the voice of this clever little fellow that you think is the real you. You must reason beyond this voice. You have the power to use this reason but like so many others you have lost your way because you have forgotten the Way. You had it once when you were very young but it was just too hard to hear over the din of the older ones and you soon forgot.
You cannot ‘do’ the Way, or think yourself through it. All that will do is confuse. The more ingenious you try to be the more strange things tend to happen. Be content that there is an order within the chaos but that you cannot find it by searching for it. Desire of any kind will hide all but the edges of reality.”
“But everything is so crazy around me. How can I do this?” Pleaded the young man.
“Be simple. Be empty. Be at one with the dust. Do not resist the end for it is just a beginning. To have only ‘mind’ is to suffer death, to be in touch with the mother, the source of us all, brings freedom from that. Seek not answers from outside the mother. Create while not claiming, be the Way.”
“What must I do?”
“Create while not claiming, be the Way. Give up your mind. Be not of one way or the other, but be it all. Let the conflict come to balance in you and you will have found your mother. Stop behaving as an adult for they know nothing but cleverness and knowledge. Let go of your adult knowing until you are empty of all you have learned. You cannot experience your mother through knowing. Stop doing and just be for a moment. Be small and your greatness will grow. See simplicity in the complex. And above all be last among all men.”
The rain had stopped and the clouds had begun to clear. Patches of blue peeked out from the grayness and the voice that had kept him company through the day and night was now gone. Sometime during the night he had let go of himself and now blended with the surrounding forest. Bewildered the boy looked about him. Craning his neck upward he saw the rising sun partially occluded by the full moon. The conjunction had begun.
The next morning after a breakfast of fresh fruit and steamed oats the young student and his mentor took their coffee mugs to the chairs that sat before the familiar fireplace at the other end of the flat and began their study. A light rain had moved into the city and the warmth of the drink, fire, and friendship brought them both great comfort and the energy to continue the difficult task from the day before.
“So what of your dreams?” Asked the older man and the younger shared a number of dreams about dark shadowy figures of people and animals that he was either running from or trying valiantly to kill.
“These are probably representative of your shadow self– the darker sides of your personality. Running from and trying to kill them off are two sides of the instinctual coin that runs us all. The first is an avoidance metaphor or what we call the “flight” instinct while the latter is the “fight” instinct– a means of ridding oneself from ones demons. Both are resistance symbols to what is and are representative of the ego-self, not the spirit self. This brings us to the eighth law of magic that says that one needs to ‘call out’ their shadows and demons, name them rather than suppress them. Just because you have negative aspects to your personality doesn’t mean that you are your negative aspects.”
“Tell me more.”
“Everything in the universe is energy in one form or another such as your thoughts, your body, your feelings, the environment around you. You’ll also notice that for every positive occurrence, circumstance, situation, feeling, thought there is an equal and opposite negative. The earth thrives in opposition; each gives energy to the other. Simply put ‘good’ only exists in contrast to ‘bad’ and vice versa. Resisting the ‘bad’ only gives it more than its equal share of energy. One needs to learn to bring both sides of themselves into balance. You do this by not resisting what is, by accepting both sides of yourself and working harmoniously with the energy of each.”
“The next, or ninth law, states that Magic cannot come from ‘thinking’. One needs to quiet the mind and stop ‘thinking’ things to death. Remember that In the tenth law it is stated that magic does not come from the rational. Live at least some of your life in the incomprehensible and trust your intuitive self. This ties in nicely with the ‘thinking’ law of the ninth law. Thinking is of the rational self. Necessary in very many ways, but it cannot be used to summon forth the power of magic. How are we doing so far?”
“Good, good, keep going” Said the young man as he motioned his mentor to continue and gently placed his cup down on the side table.
“The eleventh law states that Magic grows from the secret orderliness of chaos.” At this the student screwed up his face in confusion. “No really! Said the magus, “Allow yourself to be confused. Thinking that you know something about what is real can be very limiting to living what is real, to perceiving what is real, and to performing real magic. To think that you know something produces an expectation, the expectation that the universe will always support that knowledge, but that’s not how it really works is it? And when the universe lets you down you get upset, right?” The boy nodded and the magus went on. “This is because you think that you are in control when you’re not at all, never have been. I might also add that before you clear out the junk you’ve buried into your unconscious mind you’ve never been at choice with anything and that so-called ‘free-will’ of yours requires the ability to be at choice, that is real choice.”
“Yes, if you can’t say no and yes to everything then you are not really at choice. You have to be okay with either state of being. What you can then do is ‘choose’ what is best for the situation and circumstance you find yourself in– best for you and everyone and thing around you. You also can’t be consciously at choice if the material not dealt with in your unconscious mind, you know, all the stuff you’ve hidden there, and all the instinctual stuff, is actually running the show. Being clear about your hidden motivations is a prerequisite for free-will. Which is of course a requisite for magic.”
“In the twelfth law one is told that they must maintain their authority over expectations and standards by remaining at choice with their behaviors, thoughts, and self-expressions. In short, young man, be what you are, not what someone else wants you to be or think or believe, even if that someone else is me. If the laws don’t resonate, then don’t follow.”
“Eh? I don’t get it. Your negating all you said?”
“Yes, because if you take these laws and expect them to do the magic, then you will be sorely disappointed. The ‘laws’ are only a framework or matrix to live within. The real secret to magic can only be found within the source of your very being. It is only by surrendering what you think you are to that source that magic can come forth. All the rest is just a ‘do’ but the source is something and an immeasurable and indescribable nothing that you connect to in order to produce magic. Connect to the source and you’ll ‘be’ the magic. Live your life in the source and there is no end to what you are.”
“What is this source?” Pleaded the young man.
“This is what you have to wrestle with over the next day and a half. I suggest that you go be with yourself and take all that I’ve taught, all that I’ve said, and all that I’ve alluded to and meditate on it. You may even want to embody some of it that is to bring it to life and dialog with it as though it were alive, alive within you. Remember that it has to be done before the joining of the Moon and Sun two days from now. For if you don’t succeed you could be trapped between and behind them forever.”
At that the young man picked up his jacket and went out into the rain, heading almost aimlessly toward the city forest at the end of the street but with an air of what could only be called intention.
Come morning the young man staggered out of his room slowly and into the parlor. There, sitting serenely and staring into the fire’s enduring maw was his mentor. Barely able to stand upright he groaned, “I feel like hell. All night I dreamed of being split in two from head to foot while boiling water was poured over me scalding and searing my flesh. Try as I would I couldn’t force myself awake until I watched my head split open and a beautiful golden orb fly out. What horror is this and what does it mean?”
Slowly the old man placed the omnipresent pipe into the tray beside him and turned to face the boy. “It means that your transformation is not quite finished. Though you are not of your original substance, you have yet to release the nous within, the soul, actually what we call the Anima Mundi, the soul of the world. Until this is done you remain earth bound and subject to the ego. Go, take a shower and release the soul!” The old man commanded and the boy turned and walked back into the room where he had slept, disrobed, and climbed into the shower.
Turning on the shower he began his ritual bathing but before he could soap up the water became unbearably scalding, so hot that he felt his skin begin to slough. He opened his mouth to scream but only a yellow liquid came out and covered him all over. After a short time the pain stopped and he began to feel a warmth that seemed to wash away all the aches from the night before.
As he looked down at his half outstretched arms they seemed to glow with health. It felt as though every part of him had been reborn. And indeed it had, but no longer as the individual separate from all others but something more inclusive of the whole of the world. In short, he felt great, better than he had ever felt before and he stepped from the shower, got dressed in the clothing provided and walked out to the main room feeling refreshed and famished as in really hungry as though he had been fasting an eternity. “When do we eat?” He growled eagerly.
Together the magus and the young man prepared a small but adequate feast and after consuming most of it they sat down before the fire and sipped a cup of freshly brewed coffee to begin their talk about the day’s proceedings.
“I am going to present you with the 12 Lessons of Magic and give you an opportunity to practice each until you and I both are satisfied that you have mastered them. Are you up for that?” As the boy listened he nodded and noticed that the wizard had changed his tone in that he was now addressing him as an equal instead of the one-down relationship he earlier experienced. It felt good, he felt confidant, and cheerfully looked forward to what was next in his training.
“Now I must warn you, we don’t have much time, there’s a lot to be done and we are running out of it.” Said the old man.
“Running out? I don’t understand”
“We have spent the last few weeks calling forth the four spirits of water, fire, air and earth but now we must complete your development before the Slaying of the Dragon.” The old
man pointed toward a crest affixed to the hearth. On it was a carving of a dragon coiled in a circle and biting its own tail. That was odd thought the boy he hadn’t noticed that before.
“What does it mean? The coiled dragon that is.”
“He is slaying himself– a necessary condition for transformation. There’s an eclipse of the sun on the third day hence and upon its rise the Union of the Separates within you will come to pass. What was split asunder will come together again.”
“Once you have completed your education your conscious mind will be ready to absorb the contents of the unconscious wherein the magic lies. This absorption will be initiated by the coming together of the sun and the moon of the eclipse. But if your conscious mind is not ready to assimilate then the energy produced by the chaotic fragments in the unconscious will cause disorder and madness, even death. Once you started down this road you had no choice but to be ready for this event”
“Would have been nice to have known that ahead of time.” Muttered the young man half to himself. “Well no help for it now, we better get on with it then.”
“Right! These basic laws of magic are deceptively simple so do not be fooled by what may seem to be obvious. Are you ready?” The boy nodded.
“Well?” said the Wizard waiting patiently for him to speak.
“It has been a week of tears, of joy and sadness in almost equal measure. I’ve had insights that broadened my understanding and those that crushed my very being. I have touched the face of God and have been burned by unspeakable evils. I feel as though I am not what I was having transformed myself both now and into the future and deep into the past. I am profoundly grateful and resentful of what you have done to me and now feel lost in the world that was once my home. And what’s worse, I fear that I no longer care about your stupid magic.”
“A bit dramatic are we not? Now, listen to me well boy for I am about to reveal the rest of your curriculum that only now can you comprehend. You have entered a cleansing or dissolution stage of your transformation a transformation that is necessary in order for you to attain your true spiritual inheritance. Once entered you cannot turn back for to do so would leave you at best dead or worst dissolved and no longer able to function properly. Hear now what it is you need to do in order to reclaim your birthright. Are you ready?”
The boy stood there and despite some misgivings he was ready to absorb what the Wizard was sharing and nodded his assent then cleared his throat, “I’m listening, though my fear grows by the minute and even though I can set it aside and watch it grow without becoming it, I wonder for how long can this body endure?”
The boy was struggling to control himself and remain centered in the bigger self he had discovered during his practice of the week before. He wasn’t aware of it then but he would need all his strength to make it through the transmuting gauntlet he was about to experience. As the wizard invited him to sit in the chair next to him he sunk down then straightened and slid to the very edge of the seat barely in the chair at all and focused everything on the old man who sat before him.
“Your body, mind included for I am not of the popular notion that they are in any way separated, is an instrument of magic. But like any instrument it can become useless if you haven’t taken care of it. Over time you’ve gunked it up with so many ideas, rigid beliefs, illusions, fantastical expectations, thoughts and worthless and fake knowledge that it can barely fizzle let alone sizzle or sparkle and forget about using it to consciously create magic because the natural flow from the Source to the greater reality of the Self is impeded by all the accumulated crap you’ve attached to it. Do you understand?”
“So far, yes” said the boy as he encouraged the old man to continue.
“What we’ve been doing is to scrape off this crap so as to polish the tool once again and give it the purpose for which was designed. After that you’ll relearn the art of using it properly.” The old man paused and thought a moment before speaking again, then absently picked up his pipe and took a drag, tapping it against the bowl when he realized it had gone out. Pulling a match from a container next to the bowl he held it for a moment and the match flamed without being struck. He then put the flame to his pipe and relit it. Taking a couple of drags a faint glow emanated from the pipe bowl. After another drag he leisurely exhaled a puff of smoke that created a ring that floated above his head. Meanwhile the young man just sat patiently waiting for what was next.
Holding the pipe by the bowl the old man pointed it toward the boy and went on with his lecture. “Your body is the prima materia that needs to undergo a tormenting cleansing in order to be transformed. As it is now it is like lead– heavy and without luster. When you have completed this process, only part of which you have been practicing this past week, you will shine as gold and be whole once again. After that you will learn to transcend the body and no longer ‘be it’ but include it within your greater sphere.” He paused to see if the boy were still focused on what he was saying and after satisfying himself that he was, he continued.
“The body must be consumed by fire, dismembered and dissolved before it is re-enlivened and made whole again. Though the process of living can act as a crucible where one will burn in order to prepare for the transformation into a more brilliant being, the process takes too long. Sometimes many life times.”
As he paused and took another drag on his pipe, the young man couldn’t help himself and made a comment. “This sounds like the ravings of an Alchemist!”
“In that you are right, but their so-called ravings were in reality the process for transforming the leaden consciousness of humankind into the Golden Spirit that he or she was born to be. The truth for each of us is that within us is a Philosophers Stone but to forge it into reality requires a precise tormenting of the prima materia.”
Abruptly he stopped and became very serious in demeanor focusing his full attention on the boy. The boy squirmed in his seat at the discomfort of the old man’s penetrating gaze.
“Do you trust me, boy?”
The boy sat perfectly still and looked within to see if indeed he did trust the old man and when finding that he did declared, “Yes sir!”
“Good, then stand up, the time has come for the Torment.”
The Torment? The boy shuddered at what was next, but the old man hadn’t hurt him so far, in fact, his administrations had actually opened him to a world he didn’t even know existed– a world of exquisite emotion and revelation and he was anxious for more.
“Stand before the fire.” said the old man who then leaned forward and gently touched the boy’s forehead and the boy complied and stood.
“Let go of your thoughts and walk into it.” The young man trembled and knew that this would have been foolhardy on his own or with any one other than this particular old wizard, but for some reason he knew that this man had only his best interests at heart and he walked slowly toward and into the fire. It was warming, welcoming and felt like the right thing to do.
Suddenly his clothing caught the flames and before he knew what was happening the flames engulfed him, the heat became unbearable and pain grew rapidly beyond endurance. He felt his skin crackle, sluff, and begin to melt from his body. “Oh my God” he thought, I’m going to die! He screamed a most blood-curdling scream that ricocheted off the walls then trailed to a pitiful whimper as he passed out and fell headlong into the flames becoming a human torch that lit up the whole room. What was left collapsed and quickly turned to blackened ash. The sickening smell of burned flesh filled the room.
All had become quiet and the wizard returned to his chair casually picking up his pipe and relighting it with another match. He stretched and lay back into the softness of the chair. He had taken many a neophyte to this point in the process and knew that for some it ended here what with the purity of their essence having been too compromised to withstand the Dissolution and then not being able to master the Recombination. He would wait to see if the boy was one of those. He hoped not, he kind of liked him, but it was taking longer than usual.
It had been three days since he last left the old wizard. The sky was heavy with rain. Water rushed like a whitewater river down the street filling gutters like a dammed spillway washing all the flotsam and jetsam from the neighborhoods high on the hill toward the city center below. Here and there drains were filled with so much debris that small lakes formed around them obliterating the intersections. A wind blew down from the top of the hill with its full force channeled by the rows of houses and narrow street driving the rain deep into any nook or opening in the well-kept buildings or any man foolish enough to be outside on a day like this.
A young man braved this storm wearing only a short slicker and a knit cap hoping to arrive at his destination before thoroughly soaked. Of course it was not to be and soon he found himself standing before the familiar door and waiting for what seemed an eternity, dripping from every fiber of his being, for the invitation to enter.
Standing in the foyer and creating a small puddle on the floor beneath him he smiled, shook the water from his hair and took off his jacket hanging it on the hook directly across from the door. Before he could squeak out a greeting the old man began speaking.
“Sooo, did you let go of all your attachments?” asked the old man.
“Yes, it wasn’t easy, but, yes.” The young man exclaimed as he removed his sodden shoes and nudged them to the side.
“And nothing! No magic, no nothing!” The boy said in anger as though he had been duped. The perceived failure of the last three days along with the miserable weather had ruined his mood leaving him none too polite with his mentor’s incessant questions.
“Then you didn’t detach.” The old man exclaimed with an air of dismissal.
“I did so!” said the boy stubbornly.
“Did you expect that when you finally detached then you could do magic?”
“Yes, of course!”
“Then you were still attached to the outcome. You probably had the thought that I had ripped you off in some way and that thought instantly took you over and you couldn’t let go of it. That’s another attachment, attachment to your thoughts. You probably felt proud of yourself having been so successful, didn’t you?”
“Yes I was!”
“Pride, expectation, thoughts, beliefs. You just exchanged one set of attachments for another. I said to detach from every thing!”
The boy just stood there, gaping. “But I thought…”
“That’s the problem, you’re still thinking. You actually think that your thoughts are important don’t you?”
“Yes sir. But now I’m beginning to wonder.”
“Stop befriending your thoughts, stop acting as though they have any real contribution to your life whatsoever!” He demanded emphatically. “They’re worthless when it comes to magic. Just let go of everything, even your silly little thoughts!”
“Silly little thoughts?” The boy exclaimed defiantly.
“Do I detect pride? Have you become the thought that your thoughts aren’t silly? Foolish boy!” said the old man as he taunted the young man without mercy.
The boy clenched his hands into fists and could feel the heat of anger crawling up his neck and onto his face. He was starting to lose conscious control of himself and words of fear and threat and rage spit from his mouth, words that he had never heard himself say. This wasn’t him speaking and then it struck him. His expectations, pride, and anger were taking over. They were in control and were beginning to dominate everything. Not only was he attached, but literally joined at the ego.
With great effort he began to relax and to let the fire of his ego slowly extinguish. Finally he found his own voice again. “This is, isn’t as easy as I, I thought.” He stuttered.
“Nothing worth being or having ever is.” Said the old man with a sigh.
“Too much thinking gets in the way of being magic. You want to let other things take you where they will. If you want to get to the place where the magic lies, you need to get outside your thoughts and let the soul move you. This is what world-class dancers, musicians, actors, poets and writers do– during creation they transcend the ego and let their soul guide them. It’s in this space that the magic will find you. Stop trying to control and let that which animates you guide you.
Now go home and wander around in your thoughts for a while. Don’t try to change them, or to not have them, just notice them as they wander through your mind. Notice what happens in your body when they come to visit and what other thoughts enter into the conversation. I want you to be an observer of your thoughts and feelings throughout your day, not a participant. Observe without judging or figuring out, or predicting, or labeling– just watch them. If at any time you notice that you’ve gotten caught up in them, acknowledge them and go back to observing without judging yourself.
Imagine having a mind like that of a baby, a beginners mind if you will, a mind that embraces nothing but the moment. I want you to especially observe your expectations. There is no expected outcome for this exercise. Whatever you do is just fine.
Let go of the expectation that if you were to practice rightly, if you were to achieve ego detachment that you will be a better person. You won’t, you’ll be the same as you’ve always been. This process is not about getting better or being better. This is not about better. Also, there’s no meaning in the exercise, that’s an attachment to ‘meaning’. Just do it, for no reason and take what you get.
Do this for a week, then come back and see me.”
The young man nodded and turned toward the door. For a moment he was devoid of thoughts, then turned and said, “Thank you” with more earnest gratitude than he had ever experienced before. And the old man smiled for he knew that the acknowledgment came not through a thought but from the very soul of the boy himself and for one moment the room lit up brightly.