Sunday, October 4, 2009
What We Do on Saturday Afternoons: More Visionary Glimpses Beyond the Veil
This is a tale of perception, initially glimpsed in an altered state. It doesn’t matter much which one; meditation, entheogen, dream vision or garden variety epiphany, the point is that all of these various means give us a portal from which to view life from a different angle. This particular day the experience was triggered by a technique called holotropic breath work which joins a simple breathing technique with provocative music. It was developed by the visionary pioneer, Stanislav Grof sometime in the early 70’s while he was director of the famed Esalen institute. Like all such attempts at chronicling living experience, words can only give a shallow hint to the wonder of the actual moment but I’m giving it a try in the hopes that it will encourage others to pursue these dimensions.
Anyway………..As the journey began, I was wandering down a dirt path surrounded by thick jungle type growth. A fellow appeared in front of me appareled as a South American native might have been before the invasion of Columbus; bare chested, shells around his neck, one bright red feather in his long hair. He turned to me as he quickly backsteped the path, mischievously crooked his finger and beckoned me to follow.
He led me into a clearing that was ablaze with a huge celebratory bonfire, encircled by others of our tribe. There was much singing and dancing and it was there that I made some sort of experiential leap from my consciousness into that of the guide. We became fused as one and instantly I understood that the guide was within. Quickly, with some kind of swirling motion the entire tribe was born aloft and we began flying across the breadth of the globe in a fleet of cosmic canoe-like crafts. We veered in and out of local scenes and some how drab situations became charged with living color as we passed through, the populace immediately brightened. “What was that” I inquired of my guide. “Oh, that’s HOPE” was his reply. I was awestruck and wept profusely at the beauty of this inner world. “What is this? What are we doing”, I stammered as the marvelous excursion continued. “Ah, this is what we do on Saturday afternoons” was his impish response (the voice of the guide was shifting into something more like the Irish brogue of Father O’Brien at this point :>). I went on and on blabbering out my appreciation of having a glimpse into these wonders. “You come here all the time”, he said, “You just don’t usually remember it.”
It was around this point that we came to the scene that I would like to make the main focus of this piece. Off in the distance, something ominous was approaching. Dark clouds were on the horizon and I instinctively knew we were coming up to some type of major battle. Remembering a rule I’ve made for myself in altered states I announced, “I’m not going to kill anything, I’m not going to stab anything, I even refuse to make any belligerent like motions, I’m just not going to do that”. The guide was reassuring, “It’s going to be ok, don’t worry, you’ll see, it’s going to be all right”. “I just want you to know upfront”, I continued, “I’m not participating in anything war like”. As the scene approached, I continued my remonstrance and sure enough as we came over the hill there was a dreadful battle occurring in the valley. However, and this is the KEY POINT, when I viewed the battlefield it became for me something like a scene acted out in an opera. Deadly weapons were turned into harmless theatrical props bandied about by playful actors on a stage.
“Can you do this?” was my guide’s inquiry. He was bringing home the point that our experience is created by our own perceptions, intentions and expectations. The same scene has many levels of possible experience, just as dreams or waking experiences have many levels of interpretation. The exact same stimuli can evoke in one person a sense of heaven and in another the horrors of hell. How this happens is a major concept too large to tackle in this little blog but my suggestion is that we begin to examine two aspects of our world view; #1 what in our personal history predisposes us to encounter new experiences from a certain mindset, #2 in which direction do we ultimately want to steer our lives. If we make the commitment to know the truth of where we are coming from (hint-this has a lot to do with our fears) we can more freely choose to head toward the light.