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Entering the Silence

I started with images of masses of people. At one point the images were to do with aggressive people, “people who would eat you”. There are people like that. In some parts of the world or the country, it is best not to get out of your car. Don’t open the door to ask the way. It is too dangerous.

Then I seemed to be looking at people from a slight remove, as if the people were on a train, and I was outside it or above it watching them. They were so engrossed in their own experience they didn’t notice me. In fact it was almost like looking at them from an invisible place. I could see they were so engrossed in struggling and competing with each other to exist as animals do, and as many of us do because we are not long emerged from being animals, so there was nothing much else in the world for them. I didn’t feel as if I was trying to criticise them or look down on them, but I certainly didn’t want to get mixed up in their way of life, or get lost in the way they felt about or responded to events. I think, I feel, there are human beings who can step beyond such immersion and look, as it were, over the heads of the crowd immersed in competition and combat, and recognise each other. They can say “Hi” and find out who you are and what you have to offer. They are straightforward human beings who enquire what you are up to in case it has some place in their own life. They can go beyond competition and combat. They can trade, or if not that, they have no problem about giving you directions if you are seeking them.

At this point I became aware of subtle but persistent noise everywhere. It seemed almost to be inside me, but it was the environment, physical as well as psychic. “I just hear so much noise. I feel there is so much psychic noise going on.” I got up and switched the computer off. Its quiet hum was part of the noise. But the noise wasn’t just the sound of the fan in the machine, it was also the electrical impulses and currents all around making a noise. I was surrounded by noisy technology. Noisy in the way it was clattering away with its currents and activities and electronic impulses.

Having switched the computer off I felt a greater ease, a greater quiet around and within myself. I felt as if I was sinking deeper and closer to the primitive having stopped the noise of the technical. I began to feel as if I was touching a primal part of myself, and therefore a primal part of life. I sensed a deep silence. The sort of silence I sometimes experience here in Wales, or outdoors away from traffic when the wind drops and the silence seems to penetrate one. Last week I visited Ireland and was privileged to be allowed to enter some of the ancient burial mounds thousands of years old. Inside them one is exposed to the same sort of deep silence, to the earth, and to the great rocks from which they are built. One is sheltered from the ‘noise’ of technology and introduced to the primitive and ancient. So as I experienced this silence and primitive in myself I remembered the ancient tombs and felt as if I had received a real influence from them. The tombs help us to move beyond the ‘noise’. The noise isn’t bad, but it acts as a shield or a barrier to us more easily touching the deeper spiritual experiences within us. We lose contact with our own spiritual growth and journey.

As I slipped into the experience of this deeper place in myself my breathing slowed and for a while halted. The silence was perfect. I felt myself melted into a life that was blissful and all pervading. This still felt connected with my recent visit to the ancient Irish burial tombs. The silence and the oneness with the underlying life of creatures seemed to be the same. This halted breathing and blissfulness is something I have experienced many times. This time however a new thing dawned. I needed to emerge from the tomb, from the womb, and carry the sense of personal connection with the pervading life into the act of breathing and extroverted existence. I felt ready and capable of doing this, most likely because of past growth and preparation. So still breathing I felt the flaming sense of connection with the rest of life. I was/am myself a radiant flame of the one life. I am a beautiful and alive man. I had usually gone back to the womb to find it, back to not breathing. But if I am to face society, to become a real part of the world, I have to breathe, to carry the wonder out from the tomb/womb.

The wonderful life is in all of us. It is the realisation of universality. However, we may shut it out from consciousness by fighting to maintain our separate identity, by struggling just for our own needs, and fending off others through anger, fear or competition. What had happened to me in the tombs was initiation. I saw that some of the wonderfully common things in life prepare us for this meeting with the universal within oneself. Falling in love and caring for another person starts to erode the protection we surround or own identity with. Being a parent and giving oneself to the needs of children takes us further still beyond the isolation of living only for and in oneself. Being a husband or wife who cares for ones partner stretches the fabric of ones psyche to include more than oneself. Through the sympathies aroused one can also begin to empathise with the feelings of other parents, other lovers, other partners. Their loss, their wonder, their tragedy and joy is felt more fully as ones own. And all of this opens one toward the universal spirit of life within oneself. Though imperfect in all my own endeavours in these areas, I had still been helped by them toward finding the wonder of the All within myself.

The common life of love and caring, of social endeavour in service is the path to the wider life of the spirit. Through them you learn the world of love that transcends ones own small life, and gives you entrance to Life’s love.

Life is vital and wondrous. It is just as vital and wondrous, just as physical and subtle as any human. So from a full life one learns to reach up with desire and suck the tits of life. You touch its mystery, roll and fight with it, sit quietly or roar with animal pain. Life is all of these and more. The beautiful sexuality of a man or woman is part of that mystery which we share with each other. It is a part of the universal life. If we are at odds with it, then in some way we are at odds with life. Loving a person we may fall through the personality at the surface and fall into the deeps of desire and love that lies behind or around the conscious psyche. Therefore sex, if it is not for procreation can be a time of worship.

All these insights into how one touches the universal in oneself all suggested the need we all have of touching that Centre, that universal within us from time to time. Out of our contact with it arises all our real growth as a person. Without the contact our growth would be stunted or in some way misshapen. With the contact we are more fully expressing what our potential is, and what our fundamental qualities are. I saw how my life had led me systematically into greater attunement with the universal in me. I could see how without a sense of ones connection with the central life in us while we are young, we can lack any cohesion with other people around us, any real motivation to be a full part of society from other than ambitious or self-centred motives.

I had an image of young people being offered initiation as one of the ways they mature to social integration. Through initiation they could pledge their efforts toward the welfare of others, toward a healthy social helpfulness and creativity. For adults initiation gradually leads to a healthy connectivity with ones fellows, to a functional relationship with death, and a fuller maturing of oneself.

My own initiation has been the gradual discovery of my own past through delving into my own feelings and particularly reliving/remembering my childhood. In the last few years this has been particularly to do with my birth and my relationship split between my grandmother and my mother. In this session the tomb represented the womb, and the ‘initiation’ was a sort of acknowledgement that I have at last emerged from the womb experiences into a more mature manhood. It is manhood not cut off from my central being.

Out of these experiences I saw, or realised that I need to write about Initiation. My feelings about this in the session were connected mostly with the feeling that society does not understand, respect or support the action of initiation. Without social acknowledgement the initiation is still only a personal thing. This is very personal, but with social acknowledgement it integrates the individual more fully into the world and makes of him a more satisfied and useful member of society. I had a great desire to press for governments to allow use of the ancient tombs such as the ones I visited, for the sake of individual initiation. I had no sense of there having to be a priest. The sincerity and readiness of the initiate is the ‘priest’, or the power that opens the person. What I did feel was necessary was that the person was supported by friends and family, and so the initiation and the entrance into a fuller life which it provides, was witnessed by loving and supportive members of the community connected with the initiate.

I saw that this form of initiation was an important part of a person’s life. In the past the church or national religion dealt with it. But organised religions and their creeds do not at the moment fulfil many people’s needs.

The idea came to me that the phrase ‘thrice born’ means that at first one is born from ones mother. Then if one has the courage and persistence one is born again by reliving ones birth, by descending back into the womb experience and emerging once more with knowledge and healing the scars. Thirdly one is born into society as a more complete and mature person.

At this third birth you are given another name. This is not the birth name given by mother and father. It is not a name you give yourself. It arises out of your relationship with others and the quality of that meeting. It is the name descriptive of ones personal qualities forged by courage and perseverance to re-form oneself. One often has to wait for this name to be known. This in itself is initiation.

As I waited after emerging from the tomb/womb I was given two names. The first was Recorder, as I record the struggles of my tribe and their spiritual endeavour. The second name, given me after some longer time, was Path Maker. This second name I could feel within me is very apt. I understood as I was given it that it does not necessarily mean the making of a path that is fruitful or wonderful. It means I have an explorative spirit, and I cannot help beating my way through terrain that may not have any clear path through it. Perhaps I may open a path that is actually useful to my tribe. Perhaps I do not. It does not matter. What matters is that some of us in the tribe explore. In this way new and useful paths are opened and eventually become highways for many people.

“I am a recorder. I cannot claim a link with my birth name anymore. I am no longer that person who was born. I have been transformed, injured, damaged and repaired beyond recall – and I am the recording that has taken place. I am the life that has lived these times. I am the men and the women who have survived intact, and the reaching out to each other to be acknowledged. I am Recorder. I acknowledge you, and I acknowledge you. And I acknowledge you, even you in the darkness. Even in the darkness you have some love in you that shines out as a light, that I might recognise you and call you unto us. You are my brother. You are my sister. We are children of damaged Life. We are Life that strives to be whole and despairs. How shall we survive?”

“I am Recorder, if I can but stand beyond personal desire for my own fame, my own aggrandisement of self. As recorder I am a priest. Not a priest in a temple. Not a priest who needs some building or creed. I am a priest of life, because I am blessed with the ability to stand naked in the middle of Love. Imperfect as I am, I can still stand here as a witness.”

“I am standing in my own weakness, in the presence of love, naked.

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