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Meetings with the Christ
In my experience, the Christ is of every racial type, and of Female and Male. The Christ is the essence of all human life, and expresses as every age, from baby to death, so it is with us at every part of our journey through life. In the west we have been exposed to a male dominated view so long we call Christ Him. Remember that Jesus became the Christ at baptism. It was something that overshadowed him and was not him.
Introduction by David Boadella
In the last years of his life Wilhelm Reich wrote his book “The Murder of Christ“ in which he took the image of Jesus as a symbol for the clarity and innocence of the human essence. He saw the murder of Christ as a foundational expression of the wounds we give to ourselves and others when we act without awareness. Earlier Jung had written a book (Aion) on the transpersonal and archetypal aspects of the Christ story.
In my book “Whoever is near to me is near to the fire: impressions of Jesus the Heretic”
(1984), I sought to look at philosophical, psychopolitical, and therapeutic aspects of the message and meaning of Jesus.
In his new article, which is intensely personal, Tony Crisp writes of the transpersonal and existential significance for him of his encounters with the figure of Christ, in imagery, in deep feelings, in states of self-transcendence, and heightened awareness; and how these illuminated his understanding of birth, sexuality, death, and the extraordinary within the ordinary.
Tony Crisp points out that the figure of Christ as a personalisation of the essence of human existence, is nevertheless culturally determined, and that for the Hindu such a vision could be experienced as a meeting with Krishna, or for a Buddhist, as the discovery of his Buddha nature. One does not therefore need to be a Christian to appreciate the richness of experience and expression evoked by Tony Crisp in the account of his experiences, and his inner journey.
Despite the wonderful things I write about here. I wish to stress that I am an ordinary person, who has lived a very ordinary life, working at such things as a photographer, nine years as a kitchen porter, and then many years as a plumber, decorator and handyman.
I had very little education as I was asked to leave school as soon as I reached fifteen. I believe that any education I received has come from reading and from the wonder of learning to be like a keyboard on which something higher than my normal personality could play.
The only reason these experiences came to me was that for nine years I tried to become an open heart. I allowed all of my emotions and physical feelings. I tried to learn not to repress emotions and hold my breath as so many do. As Jung said, “Do not edit what emerges. Do nothing but let things happen.” That is what I tried to learn for those nine years.
Meetings with Christ
In the early Seventies I became involved in a small peer group whose aim was to explore what happened if you stopped editing or controlling what you expressed physically or psychologically. This involved allowing, as far as we were able, any movement our body made without conscious direction, and any sounds, emotions and fantasies that arose unwilled.
The theory behind the practice was that the body tries to rid itself of irritants or poisons through such mechanisms as eyes watering, sneezing, coughing or vomiting. So this self-regulatory process would discharge trauma or stress if we did not constantly control or direct body and mind. We didn’t feel this was a new technique, as there are many historical references to it in different cultures. We also felt, because of its historical mentions, that it might open previously unrealised potential or spiritual experience.
The First Meeting
Our group met weekly, and it was in this environment I experienced my first powerful meeting with Christ. I had been allowing the process for two years, with very satisfying results. A great many childhood events had surfaced leading to insight and integration of previously unconscious experiences or body tensions. For instance, one of the first was that I relived the experience of my tonsil operation as a six year old.
The process often took weeks to work through a particular theme or event. So it was not a surprise when one evening a new theme started that led me to feel I had blood on my hands. However, it was puzzling and slightly disorientating to have such a strong feeling that I had killed someone. The feelings were just as strong and real as any I had met in connection with verifiable events such as that mentioned regarding my tonsils operation as a six-year-old. So I was very curious to see what surfaced at the next meeting.
This started quietly, and at first seemed to have no connection with blood on my hands. Our group-room was quite large, and I stood with plenty of space around me. Unlike most of my previous sessions, I experienced a powerful subjective imagery of standing before large heavy curtains. It was like dreaming while awake. I moved to the curtains and pulled them apart. This revealed the immensity of a clear night sky, filled with brilliant stars. As I looked at this natural splendour, a star fell to earth, leaving me with a sense that something wonderful had happened that I must go in search of. As occurs in dreams, there was a sudden shift, and I was a herder of flocks, a shepherd, looking for the star that had come to earth. Others were searching too, and when we found what we were looking for, I was astonished to discover it was a baby.
I was not in any way asleep, or in a trance. My evaluative rational self was keenly observing all that happened, but not interfering. Nevertheless, profoundly felt imagery and feelings flooded my awareness. I realised I was experiencing the New Testament story of the birth. But this did not seem to interfere with the flow of what poured into my feelings. My whole body felt the wonder of the baby and I fell to my knees before it. I knew as if intuitively, that all the cosmos had somehow come alive as this helpless vulnerable child. I was so overwhelmed, all I could say over and over, between sobbing cries was, ‘A baby’ – ‘A baby.’
The flowing emotions and the opened intuitive sense informed me that what I knelt before in tears was not a particular child. It was every baby ever born. For the first time I had been allowed to experience the enormity of birth, the holiness of every baby.
Suddenly the scene changed again, and I was standing with others by the side of a dusty unpaved road. People were excitedly waiting for someone, and I was curious to see who it was.
It was a man, and as he walked the road he saw me and came toward me.
At this, love so immense touched me that I fell backwards, the contact too painful for me to bear, and the man walked on.
I knew who he was. I also knew, because it was welling up from within me as sure knowledge that he was the man I had killed. It was his blood I had on my hands. It was his death I felt guilty of. But he, in some strange paradoxical way, was myself. He was the cosmic mystery I have been born as. He was the very best of myself I had killed, murdered. He was my youthful sexuality I had suffocated to death, helped by the tenets of a religion that was supposed to be teaching his way, the way of life, the way of recognising one’s cosmic link.
The impact of that meeting was extraordinary. Unable to stop the emotions surfacing, I felt impelled to move to each person in the group rubbing my hands on them. It seemed to me that a magical influence had touched my hands and I wanted everyone around me to receive some of that magic. Even years afterwards, when describing the event, the wonder of it can penetrate me again, and I am overcome by emotion. One time, while sitting telling two women friends the story, I experienced an expanding of awareness, a sense of transcending my usual state of mind, and visible waves of movement ran up my trunk. These were like peristaltic movements of the gut, but they were moving up my trunk, obvious to my two friends and myself. I had never previously experienced anything like it, and have never since. It seemed at the time as if my being had become a conduit for an enormous energy that I did not understand intellectually. How it managed to create a wave like movement over different muscle groups and skin I do not know.
The meeting presented Christ paradoxically as something exterior to me, and at the same time something that was a fundamental and integral part of my own nature. As an exterior influence, Christ touched my awareness and told me I was his disciple, suggesting I could learn from him and co-operate in his doings. In fact many other people have similar meetings to my own. So Christ is not simply my own personal subjective experience. I remember for instance working as a therapist with a woman who was exploring issues to do with her marriage. The subject of Christ or religion had not been mentioned, but the woman, lying on a couch, went quiet during the session. I suddenly felt an unmistakable shift in the room. Without any prompting from me she said with great joy, ‘I feel the presence of Christ. I have sought this all my life but it has never happened before.’ I winessed a similar meeting with at least two other people. One, a man in a group I was leading in Athens came forward with tears in his eyes to tell me he had just met Christ for the first time in his life.
In such meetings one has a distinct impression that Christ is a disembodied influence of great stature, who touches and moves many individuals, and is certainly alive and active in today’s world. A Christian might define the experience I had as a meeting with the living Christ, who was calling me to him. Jung would probably say I came face to face with an archetype, and was being enlarged or healed by its influence. But there are, of course, many other ways of defining it. The philosopher Carl Popper says that our reality has three levels or worlds. World One consists of physical objects, such as a hand, a stone, or a cat. World Two is the many states of mind or awareness we experience. World Three is thoughts, feelings, with their many products, such as stories, ideas, and concepts.
From this point of view of Christ might be a dweller in World Three, and Richard Dawkins has given the name ‘meme’ to World Three objects. Anything that can be transmitted from one mind to another Dawkins calls a meme. He says that memes are alive, because they can propagate themselves, passing from one person to another. Ideas, beliefs, theories, reproducing themselves in other minds, actually create physical structures by forming connections in the brain. Like a virus, it may positively or negatively alter the individual it inhabits. In fact some religious sects treat ideas that might destroy their own possessing memes as if they were virulent bacterial or viral attacks. A meme, idea, or legend, such as that regarding Christ, can outlive the individual and survive for thousands of years, even going through processes of evolutionary change.
The other aspect of this paradoxical meeting, Christ as a fundamental and integral part of myself, is easier to understand. This was recognisable, even in the meeting, as my own potential. It was a potential that had been thwarted or ‘murdered’ in its flowering. But the portrayal of this potential was dramatically shown as transcending the limitations of the body and its senses. Christ as the core of myself, was eternal and unbounded. The experience has been a constant reminder for me not to completely identify with the limitations, sensibility and frailties of my body.
The Second Meeting
I do not have my journals with me as I write this, to check the correct sequence of the meetings that followed in the 25 years since the first. But each of them appears to be more about instruction or education than the first. Though each one was a reminder or reconnection with transcendence. As with the first, the subsequent meetings were not sought, but arose as spontaneous events connected with my own attempted growth toward wholeness.
Because the murder of my own sexual feelings in adolescence, already mentioned, was such an important feature of my own self-acceptance, two of the meetings were a further unfolding of this issue. In the first of these, amidst other feelings and insights, the sense of the enormity of the presence of Christ suddenly arrived. I use the word enormity because the experience is often one of meeting someone or something so huge, so beyond the apparent limitations of human life that I, and others, are often overwhelmed by awe. At other times the awareness of Christ brings with it a feeling of communicating with a knowledge, or base of information, that seems to be all knowing, or all inclusive. Sometimes this means a penetrating insight that strips away one’s own lies and reveals unconscious motivations in a gentle way.
|It was this knowledge aspect I received in the second meeting. This time there was no subjective imagery as there was in the first. But if I put the experience into images to make it clearer, then it was like standing with this all seeing presence, and him/it explaining to me how many of my feelings and fears about sexuality were not based on reality. This communication was not verbal, but a flashing interplay of thoughts and feelings.|
What was pointed out to me in this way was that what we call love is rooted in cosmic and biological facts. Involved in this is a sort of dying or self-giving apparent in what happens between the sperm and ovum. When the sperm penetrates the ovum, they give to each other their most vital treasure, their genes. Each of them dies to what they were, and their blending becomes something new and unique. Christ showed me that this complete giving of themselves was the foundation of human existence and love. If we could allow even a small part of this into our everyday life, then we would begin to experience the love that underpins the phenomenal universe.
Having grown up in a Christian culture that at the time (1937) disseminated a sense of guilt, dirtiness and shame about sex, and in a culture in which open sexual feelings were largely taboo, this was an enormous shift in perspective for me. But the instruction went on. Christ showed/told me, in this lightning fast dialogue, that the very sexual urges I had killed in myself, were the most powerful energies of transcendence open to me. He told me, in a way that let me to experience for myself, that every sexual act, no matter how base, or violent, had in it the actual move toward another person. It was an opening of oneself to another being, however degraded that might be in a situation such as rape. That opening, that need, if allowed and nurtured, can lead toward transcending one’s own personal boundaries, and allowing another being into one’s most intimate and guarded self. It was not a condoning of rape, but a way of showing me that the sex drive has in it the urge toward transcendence, toward going beyond oneself. Beyond this too, I was shown how the sexual drive in both genders, transcends all the boundaries that can keep people apart. Boundaries such as racial differences, skin colour, religious beliefs, political ideology, personal temperament, and even age. I saw that if the flower of sex is allowed to open in us, then we can move toward giving ourselves to our partner and or children, and receiving from them, in a way that makes us more than we were. We might even experience the melting of our personal fears and boundaries to the extent of experiencing a merging or oneness with the person we love. This, in turn, can open us to knowing our existence as an integral and undivided part of the cosmos.
In this meeting with Christ there was also the message that sex is not confined simply to genital contact. Any form of giving or receiving is also a form of sex, if something in the giving or receiving enters a person and bears fruit. Parents give themselves in this way when they feed their children, or work to support them. Teachers can enrich and be enriched in the same way. Because of this, each of us are an integration, or partial integration, of thousands of people, and the cultural or personal gifts they gave us. Also implicit in this message was the view that because what we give to others lives on in them after our death, and is even passed on to others, this forms the basis for our spiritual life, that continues after our own death.
Once these things had been pointed out to me I could not help but see them as facts in everyday life. I could see that sex leads us to reach out to another person, and moves us toward including them in ourselves in some degree. It was obvious that the sexual response in humans does lead to transcending boundaries of class, religion, skin colour and divergent temperament. So what I received in that meeting has had a profound effect on me, leading to changes in the way I see and relate to sexuality.
The second of these meetings connected with sexuality was possibly one of the most profound of any such experiences I have had the privilege to encounter. It began in a question I was asking myself regarding the causality of the traumas that had arisen in my life. I felt at the time that I could trace the sexual distress in my life back to events and relationship issues in connection with my mother. I had seen where my distress arose from, so that was no longer a problem. However, seeing how certain events linked with present-day problems, I wondered what causes lay behind the original events. I suppose it was rather like the question asked in the New Testament – Why was this man born blind?
My question was why have these events occurred in my life? Seeing adult distress causally linked with childhood events, made me wonder if the chain of cause and event ran back beyond my childhood and birth. After all, if causality is operative from the trauma onwards, why not from the trauma backwards? If I remember correctly, this is precisely the line of reasoning expressed in the New Testament. Was it he – the blind man – or his parents who sinned?
As I opened to whatever feelings, imagery or body responses might arise in response to the question, the first level of experience was a gradual intensification of felt pain. At that time it was unclear what was happening. In looking back though I liken it to giving birth. The process working in me was pushing at the boundaries of my ego, pressing against the limitations of what I could allow myself to experience, bursting through and breaking down barriers until what I could allow was bigger than anything I had experienced before. So there was much roaring and crying-out, like a hurt animal. But oddly, there was no pain in my body or emotions. It seemed to be some other subtle part of me that was being stretched.
When this had been achieved I was suddenly aware of, or in the presence of, an extraordinary process in nature. I felt it to be an order of existence, or a being. What I was confronted by was all of these things at once. So I will call it a being, and say that I recognised this being as Christ. This being penetrated the entire time and space of the earth and all life on it, from a dimension that was a part of the fabric of the cosmos. This being in some way gained nourishment from the experienced awareness or sentience of living creatures on earth. Therefore the statement about becoming a part of the body of Christ seemed literally true. One’s personal consciousness could be absorbed into this cosmic entity. However, this absorption was in no way destructive. The personal awareness was not absorbed and lost, but absorbed and preserved as a living consciousness. As this entity was, in terms of human life, eternal, then one gained eternal life. But nothing in the person absorbed that did not harmonise with the cosmic all-embracing connections and sympathies of this being could be allowed in. The very heart of this all-embracing sympathy is what we might call love. But human love is often another name for dependence or self-grasping. But this Christ love was a continual giving up of self in a way that went beyond my understanding. We see some of this in nature in the way some creatures form a symbiotic relationship that transcends their separate existences. We see this in our body in the way the countless cells give their lives to the existence of the whole. When this goes wrong and a self-centred cell starts reproducing, we call it a disease – cancer.
Then, Christ, or this process in nature, if you prefer to think of it as that, fully absorbs the entire memories and experience of the person. It seemed to me that without this there could be no personal survival of death. In fact, standing before the Christ, there seemed nothing in my own life that was fine enough, universal enough, to survive and become a functioning part of cosmic life. It was only this extraordinary being, winnowing through every act of each dying person, trying to find some deed, some seed of universal love and life that can be preserved, or taken as a basis for further growth, that enables us to continue, that allows us existence in the body of eternity. That extraordinary love tries to preserve and further the life of each one of us. Thus the parable of the lost sheep. I think this might also explain why many people who have a near death experience, meet a being of light, under the influence of whom they relive every detail of their life.
I said Christ was a shepherd. But equally I saw Christ as an Ark. The only way I can explain this is to ask you to imagine a being that has been able to develop a symbiotic relationship with all life forms at the level of sentience or consciousness. In our own view of life, such a being is incredibly highly evolved. But also imagine that this being does not have a physical body, existing outside the limitations of time and space as we usually know it.
As I witnessed this being, my mental processes formed images of it in an attempt to make it understandable to my own thinking. The image I saw was of an immense being standing in space by earth, absorbing all human experience. This being was an Ark because, from what was being shown me, even if humanity destroyed itself, all its experience would be preserved and expressed again in another time and place. Nothing of importance would be lost. Even such an apparently small thing as a child’s love for its Grandma would be preserved and allowed to live again.
Something I saw, but did not comprehend, was that Christ not only linked with all human life through an extraordinary form of total acceptance of every type of experience, but also the whole focused openness or surrender of this being was on something beyond anything I was capable of experiencing or understanding.
Continuum of Lives
What then happened, or what I was shown, was personal. I could see that the difficulties in my life, the causes of sexual struggles, had their roots in the past, in the life of a man who was rigidly authoritarian, and had killed love in some of his children. This was done by tearing them away from marriage outside their own religion. They were therefore pushed into loveless relationships. The being of Christ so interacted with human affairs that a birth, and the life that follows, is woven out of such past threads. Thus my own inability to love had arisen as a way of learning what a tragedy life without love is, and what pain it brings. There was a statement made that the present life arises because it expresses the highest common denominator of the past.
There followed scenes that related to one of my sons, explaining events describing connections and relationship we had mutually experienced in the past. This was something I had not been seeking, but that made sense of things happening in his and my life.
Then the whole experience shifted and my awareness was filled with the sense of knowing or meeting the beginning of things. Once more Christ stood before me. Not as it were in a body, but I was overwhelmed by the presence of a great being that appeared to be a part of all things and all time. Christ lifted up my consciousness, causing me to feel as if my awareness also spread over the immensity of time, and from this condition I was shown the beginning of things.
I cannot say I saw this, more that I experienced the condition of the beginning. And this condition was the gathering together of what I understood to be a whole universe that had previously existed. All that had existed had come to such unity that although this beginning was physical, it was also, in its unity, a being. It had awareness.
As I experienced this I felt as if a resolution between science and religion had taken place in me. For here was something like the cosmic egg science suggests preceded the ‘big bang’. But what had been left out, I realised, was this consciousness, this immense being.
In retrospect, it also suggests to me the difficult question of Elohim being many beings and yet one. For all life had here found a unity in one immense being beyond my comprehension. It was, in fact, difficult to grasp because I was overcome by emotion as I witnessed this.
As I opened to this enormous perception, there was a deepening of understanding, in which Christ aided my comprehension. For I realised that the oneness or unity of this being was unbroken. It was everything, and nothing could exist outside of it. Even if it were to create anything, that thing would not have existence outside of the one.
This condition of ‘all-one’ had led to a form of aloneness. This was as near as my human understanding could grasp. Christ in fact said to me – ‘You must understand, this is your perception of it.’
Love is the Greatest Thing
Out of this aloneness, this great consciousness had longed that other beings might exist. But in its present form this was impossible. Then I understood something that tore my heart to pieces, as it still does today when I dwell on the memory of the experience. This being purposefully went about destroying itself so that our present universe – we – might have existence. It was such a wondrous action for it was done in such a way, with such skill, with such love and self-sacrifice, such art and science, that its very death was a magnificent creative act. In other words its death struck into action forces and effects that created the universe in all its variety. This death is what we know as the ‘big bang’.
As I experienced this, I realised that everything that exists is a part of that wondrous being. There is nothing that is not of its love. So that whatever arises in the universe arises out of, and as, THAT. The human sense of God is a realisation of the very substance of our own existence. The awe we might feel is from an intuition of what has been given us as our own being.
And as that great unity of energy and consciousness died, its very last impulse was for those new beings who might arise from its death. The impulse that flashed out we call love. It flashed through the universe permeating its every particle, in a way that we cannot yet perceive, but which is like a touch upon the pulsating chaotic movements of particles and lives.
We are the seeds of that love. We are God. And in our small portion of the universe, we face a particular lesson through the shortness of our bodily lives. We face death. Yet that is the greatest of things. For that is the heart of everything, the very act of love out of which our lives have been formed. If we discover the secret of death, we discover our creator and eternal nature.
Back to My Beginnings
A very different aspect of the Christ was encountered at a time I was experiencing massive emergence into awareness of material connected with my premature birth. I had been born two months premature prior to the time when such baby’s were placed in intensive care. The memories arising showed me how vulnerable I felt, how unprepared to breath or digest, how much I rejected life outside the womb. These experiences led me to feel that my vulnerability caused my mother to feel anxious about me, and not to give me the confident holding and emotional support I needed. This apparently disturbed my grandmother, because she took over caring for me. Unfortunately she died before I was two. So I lost my ‘mother’ at an early age, leading to conflict about where my home was, where my grandmother had gone, and who could I find love with.
I saw, as more and more of this painful material arose, that having lost my love and support externally, having rejected external life at birth, I turned inward for consolation and unconsciously created or found someone or something to get love from within myself.
To quote from an entry in my journal made at that time:
For instance nuns in a convent will not live out their ability to get married or have a child. They may use the figure of Christ as a compensatory symbol for this, in that they marry Christ and their passion is through meditation on his being. In this way people might use a hero/ine figure to compensate for what is missing in their own life. They can live their own unlived soul through the passion of Christ for instance.
A figure such as Christ can represent our own wholeness and complete potential. To compensate for our own unlived areas we might look to this figure and have a taste of what we are not expressing outwardly, through identifying with the hero/ine. Meditations on the figure might produce great feelings of love, pain, wonder, recognition – in fact whatever is missing in everyday relationships. The Christian festivals appear to be a way of living out, via the image of Christ, the passions of life that we might not meet fully in our everyday life. The birth, the struggle, the love, the death, can all be partaken of. We can share the passionate experience of living in this way, even though in our own actual life we might not be able to live such a passionate and eventful existence. And I suppose television does this for many people today.
As I looked at the situation more fully though I saw that in fact nobody lives a completely whole life. No one lives their total potential. So in fact we all relate in some way to the Christ figure who represents, or in some way IS the total potential of human existence. Such a figure is a mighty example of what human life can achieve.
Now I came face to face with Christ. I felt knocked over emotionally by it. It was an experience of meeting the most amazing creature or being one could imagine. I stood in front of a god, something that totally transcended human existence. Gods are often depicted as having some great power of destruction or creativity. They might be like a human being magnified many times, with loves and hates, huge powers, and so on. My experience didn’t show Christ as anything like that. The transcendence was in the manner of Christ’s consciousness. Here was a being with no real power in a worldly sense. This being hadn’t created the world and couldn’t influence world history through power. But this being did have an awareness that was constantly experiencing the totality of human experience. So wide and ancient was the experience of this being, to become conscious of it in any degree is to feel awe, and to be confronted by the littleness of human life.
The insight of how I needed Christ as a compensatory figure has not stopped my relationship with him in other ways. It has not produced an ‘either or’ situation in which my insights lead me to see Christ either as a compensatory figure, or as a divine being. I believe the human psyche is extraordinary enough to encompass both experiences, and still have room for other explanations.
The experiences could be explained as totally compensatory, in the Jungian sense of fulfilling some sort of psychic need or imbalance. They could be explained as extraordinary fantasy arising from fervent religious hopes or beliefs. But this is similar to compensation. They could be seen as expressing psychological or natural truths in emotive symbols. There might even be some suggestion of cultural pressures and norms struggling for some sort of balance in the psyche. They could, of course, as some believe, be the meaningless flotsam and jetsam of the dream state.
Regarding the last theory, based on my own sense of what happens, I believe the dream process is in fact involved. At least, I see the interpretative, image forming process at work. It is the same process the brain uses in interpreting sensory nerve impulses from our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and touch. In doing so it forms an integrated view of the world around us. I also believe that at times awareness can expand beyond our senses and touch things our senses cannot reveal to us of extra or para-sensory impressions. These para, or extra-sensory impressions are treated in just the same way visual impulses are – they are interpreted into images, emotions, ideas, understandable to the receiving personality.
I believe this is true of at least some of the experiences described here. This because before the experience itself, there is usually a sense of massive expansion of my field of awareness and flowering of mental/emotional energy and flow of associations. This is frequently painful at some level of my being, as if I’m being stretched, and previous boundaries burst. Also I have no doubt that what I experience is culturally determined. If I were a Hindu, I would most likely have a meeting with Krishna. Nevertheless, I still believe my awareness met, or touched, or was confronted by, a transcendent force or principle of some sort. It is a principle that can bring major changes in the person’s perspectives, their direction, their health even.
Considering that some research into human awareness suggests that nothing experienced is ultimately external to consciousness, then if I am right in suggesting there is a transcendent principle, the meeting is a meeting with myself. At times a merging of self with what at first feels like an immense otherness, takes place. At such times there is no sense of separation.
As for what might bring about such a meeting, I see this as quite simple. It can come from anything that expands awareness, as long as the person has a capacity to tolerate pain, pleasure, and mental shifts to an unusual degree. One has to become in some way like a responsive keyboard upon which the transcendent in you can play.
For myself this came slowly over years of surrendering my editing and controlling attitudes, as described in the beginning. Even so, during my first meeting the experience was still too painful, so I reeled away from it.
Others I have spoken to arrived at the meeting because of some great tragedy in their life that had torn down their usual boundaries. Great grief, great pain, cuts through the soul to bring the meeting. But great love alone can do it, expanding and introducing, all in the same moment.
For many, the meeting comes when they are near to death. Whatever brings it, it is an enlargement of the self. Except for a few, who swing into ego identification – I am the Christ – the meeting makes one more whole, more complete – even though each meeting might only be a step on the way.
One of my most joyous of these meetings happened in Athens. I had been working on the island of Skyros, and had experienced a great deal of love and warmth there.
When they started to arrive I didn’t know what to say. How do you introduce somebody to God? But I needn’t have worried. He knew them all by name as if they were old friends. They all talked and laughed so warmly it opened my eyes to something about Him I had never known before. It is that God is the light in our life that leads us to make friends, to be interested in each other’s lives in a caring way, to reach out in friendship after an argument, to know what it is like to be married and have children, and care for others. When we allow those parts of our life to grow in us we let God grow. It is all so everyday and matter of fact we overlook how wonderful it is. I have friends who look up at the stars to find meaning in life. But God is right here with me living in my house and saying hello to my friends by their first names.
All these feelings lived in me as I sat with the others in meditation. When I opened my eyes the people in the group were beginning to leave. One woman, sitting on my right, looked at me and said, ‘I had the most wonderful meditation!’ She looked at me as if I ought to know what she was talking about.
The next day, still feeling uplifted by the experience, I travelled to Athens airport to catch my plane back to England. As usual at the airport, there were people everywhere waiting for their flights. Some were sleeping on the floor. Others were sitting in various parts of the building. I found a space sitting on the floor with my back against a wall in the midst of many others doing the same thing. As I sat there thinking back on the events of the previous day, I looked up to see a Greek man walking across the open space in front of me with his small daughter. He was holding her hand, and it looked as if she had only recently learned to walk. Just as they were in front of me, about six or seven metres away, the child looked at me, let go of her father’s hand, and ran to me with arms wide. She ran into my arms to be hugged. I kissed her and she ran back to her father and they walked on. The people each side of me were astonished and asked me if I knew the child. I told them I had never seen her before. But inside myself I felt sure the small girl had seen the love and the light that were living in my house.
I Am a Shape Shifter
For myself, I am a shape shifter, and the following came out of a long search for what is real.
Now a new and really quite upsetting, critical, experience unfolded. These experiences are very real, just like living in a world, a large situation that is deeply felt. In this situation I saw and felt lucidity as a process, or a possibility, sought and developed by people who are basically inadequate in meeting the so-called real demands of life. Because of this, because they seek an alternative to what is difficult for them they attempt to inhabit a sort of existence between worlds. I suppose I have called it living in the cracks of life. Finding an environment that is not threatening and where the usual rules of society and physical life do not apply. In this view I could see lucidity as a sort of drug to be taken to deal with stress. The world that one can inhabit and explore as lucidity was one of a type inhabited by dropouts, hippies and others seeking an alternative way of being – but not in a positive dynamic sense.
I had never looked at it in that light before and seeing, experiencing it, so clearly was something of a shock. I could only say to myself, “Okay. Yes, I can see that as a possibility. I can’t deny that may have some truth in it.”
In what I saw and felt about this, Christ was involved in it in some way. Once again, Christ, or the belief in Christ, was depicted as a drug for those who cannot really cope with life. Somehow it was a doorway, or way out, for people who were not dealing with life adequately. This was of course deepened by Christ being depicted as someone who came to save the derelicts of life, the prostitutes, the lame, and the blind. This was also quite difficult for me to really see clearly – that the Christ was for the dispossessed.
It is coming to my memory of something that had been experienced at a previous time many years ago, in which I saw that the people who were in some way not functioning well had the seeds of transformation in them. For instance, a “healthy” male who is well adjusted and easy with his sexuality, is dynamic in a work scene and achieves success in that realm, will probably not look for change or attempt to find a different relationship with their sexuality or their personality structure. So those who do have problems, and confront them with their own inadequacy, are more likely to seek transformation.
But in what I was experiencing somehow that didn’t play much of a part, and I suppose it was more by way of looking at the situation from another standpoint; the standpoint of being the “normal” person. Perhaps like seeing meditation, lucidity, alternative lifestyles, in that way.
There is a play here on the natural. I mean there is a playing around with an exploration of that subject. It is a look at the masculine world of the penis – I’ve got it, I’m fertile, Ill fuck whatever is about. There is a play on that, and a play on Christ. It is as if one is for the adequate powerful male, and the other is for the dispossessed.
This part of the session, regarding Christ, poses a question that I didn’t find a particular answer for in this part of the experience. The question is about what Christ is in terms of human experience. I suppose my best and most down-to-earth guess or summary of what I have learned is that Christ is an archetypal image surrounding the human attempt to transform, to access inner potential and move towards —being a different type of human being.
I am saying that there is a sort of socially felt threat about pain, about death, about crucifixion. Crucifixion, yes.
The most extraordinary thing happened here. The only way I can describe it is to say that it felt as if I am standing in an open space in a town without any other people about. But what I was standing in was the many images, felt threats, fears, longings that assail human beings. So in one sense I was standing in the middle of a dream, and I was surrounded by the images of the felt threats, fears, hopes, that in fact impact on human consciousness every day. They impact in a way that are for many people torments, perhaps even life-threatening, and that for some may lead to suicide. But as I stood in the middle of these things and they came at me one after the other in the form of images, but images that were deeply felt, I was like a burning flame. I don’t mean that I looked like a flame. I mean that as each image impacted on my consciousness it burnt out. I was naked consciousness, and as each form, as each image attacked my nakedness it was burnt away, perhaps by my recognition of it as simply an emotion, a feeling, an image that in itself was a passing show of things.
I don’t think I have ever before felt such an amazing feeling as that magical sense of being able to stand amidst anything and everything that came towards me and yet remaining as pure, naked awareness. Most of us take our emotions and thoughts as a very personal truth instead of a passing show. Taking the naked awareness approach I could see any opinion I had as a part of the passing show – and if you say what about destructive and murderous thoughts that you might be prey to if you left yourself open? Well, they would be seen in the same light – a passing show that is burnt away by the wonder of emptiness.
This led me on to looking at, or wondering, why, as human beings we should be so dominated by images and imagery. In particular I was thinking about how our culture, and how we as individuals, are so manipulated by the images that are thrust at us day after day week after week, and year after year. The images of the big powerful male, the beautiful female, big tits and perfect teeth, the whole business.
So many things happened here it is difficult to remember them all and to record them in any sort of real sequence. But it seemed to me, and it was an incredibly powerful experience to find my way through, that the influence of the images deeply pervades us. It leads so many women to have breast implants. It leads so many men to attempt to lengthen or increase the size of their penis. It leads to the taking of drugs to enhance sexuality where there should be no sexuality because there’s no feeling or life behind it. It leads to a culture in which millions of human beings are led to want the next gadget, it leads millions of us into a consumer society where we constantly feel the need to get something, to buy something, to be a consumer.
But also, at the end of burning through all the imagery, and the recognition of what an extraordinary thing that was, I stood in the middle of something that I did not at first recognise and so was once more caught up in. What I mean by this is that my nakedness burnt through image after image, emotion after emotion, but suddenly one came that appeared to be real to me and so I was carried along by it, became lost in it. And what I became lost in was the sense of purposelessness that I see as underlying much of our culture, and also one of the big driving forces in being consumers. In imagery this was like looking around and seeing okay, I am this naked consciousness, but so what? Here I stand in the middle of rather grubby and ugly streets and houses. Here I exist in the middle of a culture whose games have no great quality to excite me. Is that all I am? Is there nothing else?
What is important here is that for many of us the meaninglessness, the purposelessness, is as real as bricks and mortar.
I suppose from this level in the experience I want to say to Andrew, a man I had been discussing his dilemma with, “I can see the big struggle in connection with his image that is put out that, to put crudely, is something like you are either a prick or a loser or you are not – you are either a proper man or you are not. And because I’m standing in this place of awareness I have to laugh at this. I laugh not because it isn’t powerful. After all I have just been through the ages of struggle finding my way through just those images. It wasn’t easy. But having come through them I can laugh and say, “Hey, there is more to life than just feeling like you are a loser, or being able to have sex like a horse.”
Here I delved as deeply as I could into the nature of Andrew. I wanted to see where the struggle arose from in him. I wanted to put my finger on the heart of his pain and struggle. Strangely, I couldn’t find any deadly neurosis or terrible inner situation. What I did see was that he was always, like so many of us, a victim of the underlying forces of our society, manipulated by the extraordinary images that are put out and against which we are supposed to measure ourselves. It also came to mind that this is why he is writing his book on the media. In fact the media is very important to him because it is one of the huge factors in his psychological life. It is a potent force in his soul. And because of this he is giving a great deal of attention and energy to it for his own survival. There is something he is trying to understand about it. And as far as I could see what he needs to understand is that he has been put under a spell by the false image of manhood presented in our society.
Another factor that I saw in him was that his father had been, as it were, completely surrendered to his wife and had no will of his own. I didn’t take time to investigate why this was so, but felt that he had somehow been kicked in by his attempt to relate to his woman. And I saw that Andrew had inherited the behaviour patterns of his father, and the patterns lived by his father in his ways of surviving. It was a way of life that depended hugely on established and secure methods of livelihood.
As I emerged from this feeling I needed to say to Andrew, “Andrew, you are a man! There is nothing I can see in your nature that says otherwise.” But I did see that Andrew has worked to move free of the patterns he has inherited from his father, and perhaps from his forebears beyond that. And I did see that Andrew can let go of what he takes to be security. I believe events in his life are giving him that opportunity at the moment.
I moved on to seeing, experiencing, that lucidity opens one’s eyes to many possibilities. I guess it is something like walking about on the insides of people. Another way of saying it is that one gets behind the surface of things, and sees what is going on behind the surface of people, of society, of politics. That is not always comfortable, because in seeing that you also begin to see yourself in a new light, and not always in a complimentary one. Nevertheless it is transforming experience.
The experience of being naked awareness, of burning through image after image, feeling after feeling, viewpoint after viewpoint, left a great impression. Out of it realisations were emerging. The major one was that there is no danger in being awake in ones dreams, but one must beware, or be aware of, the fact that sometimes, as happened with myself in meeting the feeling of pointlessness, one can become possessed by the image, at least for a while. When that happens the image, the emotion, the viewpoint takes on a concrete reality, a supreme sense that there is nothing beyond it. Perhaps a way of describing this is to say that if you could imagine that you are standing in an open space, and by some trick of technology an image of a house is built around you, with walls, furniture, windows, etc. If you can imagine that you discover in imagery that the doors are locked, then you are completely trapped. But you are trapped by nothing but what you take to be real.
Perhaps the central secret of this is that what happens in life and in our dreams is that what we do tend to see as real is created out of our own mind stuff. It is created out of our own emotions, our own fears and hopes. There is no way out of that unless we recognise the material it is made out of it is the energy of consciousness. In fact that is exactly what dreams are, apparently real surroundings, people and animals that we are in the middle of. Yet if they could recognise that they could escape from any awful situation in their dreams – and in their mind, the whole structure of what they felt so real and terrified of would fall apart.
As an example of this here is a lucid dream I had:
Before waking this morning I had an extraordinary lucid experience that involved some imagery. One of the clearest of these images was of me in a maze. The walls of the maze were made of hedges, as the whole thing was outdoors. But I realised, because I was lucid in the experience, that I had purposely created the maze as an experiment.
The point of the experiment was that the maze was complicated enough to make it difficult for me to find my way out. So, confronted by the difficulty of emerging from this dream maze, because of the lucidity, I could understand that this was a dream image, and in doing so I simply realised myself as pure awareness and transcended the maze.
I then experimented again and again with this, moving beyond the imagery into pure awareness. This was such an extraordinary experience and realisation it is difficult to put into words with enough impact to make it real.
What it led me to become clear about was that all dreams involve our personal awareness in an environment or imagery of one sort or another. Usually we feel the dream imagery to be so real, and the feelings we experience because of the imagery to also be real, that in a very concrete sense we are trapped. So if we were in a prison cell in a dream, then there would be no way out of that cell without a key. But realising oneself as pure awareness means there is no prison, there is no entrapment, there are no walls to hold you. The imagery of the dream is then seen as simply that – imagery – stuff of the mind that we have conjured and become identified with and lost or trapped in. Even imagery with positive feelings is a form of trap if we identify with them.
I repeat again, this was an extraordinary experience. And of course it relates to everyday life. The more I look at the experience the more I realise that virtually everybody on our planet is trapped in a prison of their own emotions, thoughts and ideas. To recognise this in any reasonable degree leads to an extraordinary sense of freedom. To see that we live our life trapped in the world of thoughts, of emotions, of sexual drives, of fears or beliefs, is astonishing.
This is so like the ending scenes in the film Matrix, that I am sure whoever wrote the script had a profound awareness of this. The hero of Matrix breaks through the surface appearance of things and enters into the very programming of the apparent world around him. This is what happens when we wake up to what underlies all our experience whether as a physically external world, or as our own dream world.
The point is that whatever we believe we are; whatever we believe the world is; it becomes that because we create it out of our mind stuff. I am not suggesting that the external world is a figment of our imagination. What I am saying is that our feelings about it, our perception of it, is shaped by our own innate nature. Truly, the Buddhist search for Moksha, or freedom/liberation, does arise by recognising that all experiences a play of consciousness.
Here I was playing with the different things that we might believe ourselves to be. “I am a ballerina.” “I am a stud.” “I am a failure.” “I am just a pussy.” These are the things that people believe and unfortunately become. Of course there is no problem in becoming something. It is wonderful to materialise, to create something in the world. The problem is when you believe yourself to be that and get lost in the role.
If you are caught out in these images it is like being possessed by a demon. It diminishes your realisation of who you are. This is I felt, is what my new plans and new ideas for my writing are about.
In my search for meaning as I passed through the images I came to a point of just standing, existing, in an empty space. I laughed as I realised there was no climax to this story. There’s no giant explosion.
I looked back upon what I had experienced and had a strong feeling that people do not want the sort of freedom that I had found. They somehow want a life that binds them to their balls or their tits.
My attention then turned to people that I knew. I asked myself, what about people like Andrew, Sylvia, Frank and Ellen. What I felt just then about freedom was that there is absolutely nothing to find if you to attain that liberation. There is nothing at the end of the journey. I know this is an old theme and troubled me for years around the time I went to Australia and just before. So as I was facing this I had some reservations about what was going on.
This led me into a playful mood where I was talking, as if to a hidden dimension that was playing hide and seek. I was saying, “Hi ya. I can see you.”
The other day, while Andrew was with me and we were walking, a local bitch/dog came up to me. I squatted down as a result, and felt at ease to show Andrew what it really wanted. Slowly it lay down and went over onto its back because it wanted me to rub its breasts. As I felt, one of its powerful urges was to have pups and have its breasts sucked. Now, to deal with that urge, to get some satisfaction, it needs its breasts rubbed.
I mention this because as human beings we tend to hide many of our real needs. We deny ourselves so much that we express our needs in very peculiar ways or in roundabout fashions. The dog was beautiful because it had none of our ridiculous sense of shame or shyness. Her fundamental instinct is to give through her breasts. It is just kindness to rub her breasts.
I am just standing here in the middle of things as far as I can see, and standing in the middle of all the creatures, in the middle of other human beings. What theory have I got about that?
I believe that we do possess a force like that; a force outside of money and politics; outside of capitalism – although obviously we live within the framework of things.
I need to deal with that sense of defeat. I am measuring myself. I am measuring myself against whatever it is that Frank is suffering from. I need to deal with it – a sense of defeat? What is it? It is as if there is nothing around me, nothing to reach for, nothing that has been achieved. My God, what a huge, terrible spell that is. Because there is nothing there, there is nothing worth looking for. Who is putting that out?
I meant by this question, that because I was in this place in behind things, behind the outward events of life, behind the scenes as it were, I felt as if there was something being put into that space to influence people, to give them a sense of pointlessness. I understood that I was in a place that was, or depicted, the ocean of mind that people in our society swim in, or exist in. I guess another way of putting it is that the influences, the ideas, the social pressures we meet, were depicted by this place.
Of course there is nothing there except our own creativity. What people do not realise, and often choose not to realise, is that everything around us comes from our own creativity. I first realised this when I saw how we have shaped the fields, the houses, the animals and plants around us. There is very little in the world not touched by humans and their creativity. But when I look at the impoverished houses of the majority of humans, and see what we are capable of, I wonder why? Why blame it on some source outside of us? Can’t we see that our mind and feelings are creating an awful situation, and often a deadly and criminal one? We say life is without meaning, hoping something else; someone else, even God is blamed. Yet if we look at who actually made the mess of our cities, our lives and our own inner self it is us – you and I. And every time I have met Christ in me it has been an experience that gives me hope for us humans.
I think that if we are going to work with the shadow we have to recognise the nature of things we are working with.
Into A Dream
On the morning of January the sixteenth of two thousand and eleven, I woke from a dream that did not seem to have any great promise in it. But being a Sunday morning I told my dream to Ros and asked her if she would listen while I explored it.
In the dream I had arrived to my home and entered it, although it wasn’t any home I recognised while awake. It was simply two rooms, and I lived alone. The rooms were big and oblong without any entrance hall. So I walked straight into the first room through a door on the right of the room. I cannot remember any details of that room, but it seemed empty of features.
The entrance to the next room had a large doorway at the right, and the room was the same size and shape. I remember going toward it and seeing a curtain of light cotton material was across it. That was new and I wondered how it had got there; and as I reach out to pull it aside someone caught my hand through the curtain and held it before I went in. I immediately knew it was my dead mother’s strong hand gripping mine.
I must have withdrawn my hand, because the second time I went to pull the curtain aside the same thing happened, but with differences. This time I felt my mother catch my hand through the curtain, but I was aware of changes as we held hands. At one point her hand became very large, almost masculine. Then I was in the room and there were my mother and father; mother being very welcoming and my father at the far end of the room and seeming distant.
Also I saw that my mother and father had put a curtain up across were the bed was at the left end of the room. The curtain was partly drawn over the bed area and I thought that I didn’t like being curtained off, but preferred it being light. And that was the end of the dream.
Then I woke up and told the dream to Ros and we explored it.
The first part of the dream I looked at was the rooms. In imagining myself as them, taking on the shape and structure I felt very empty, as if there was no life there, and I was alone. This reminded me of the time I felt I had completed the inner journey and got to the Source, but all I found was an empty room, and that was very difficult. Looking back it lasted for years, until I got used to knowing that I had to live in the present moment, and live without hope.
I hadn’t thought of this dream being anything about death, so I was exploring about my mother and father, imagining myself as them and watching the feelings that arose, and so many things began to happen and realisations or insights pouring up that I cannot remember the sequence, so will simply say what I remember.
I felt that my father was very distant from me, not just physically. And when I questioned this he said, “Do not get near me, I am going somewhere.” I felt that he was in the process of a big change, and so I should leave him to it; but I couldn’t define what the change was.
Then I felt a lot about the curtain and realised that it wasn’t, as I thought, a great barrier between life and death, but a very fine veil which we can even feel each other through – as my mother’s hand was so real and palpable to me. Then I began to really feel my mother’s presence and wept at the strength of it. Somewhere about here I was thinking about the absence of furniture and people in the room, and suddenly I realised this was something I had control over. I saw that I had chosen to shut myself off from other people, and I could change it. Then suddenly the room was full of people sitting around and talking and drinking; also full of wonderful furniture and art. But I realised that was how I imagined it, and who my real invisible friends were. Then the imagined room changed.
I was still holding my mother’s hand and gradually a felt change occurred. I was overwhelmed by the feeling of love and the being of Christ there with me and holding me. He said “I held your hand a long time ago when I made you mine. But Tony I have never let go of you.”
That realisation tore me open and I cried so much and so loudly, knowing the presence was and always had been with me. He said, “I am with you as myself, as a baby, as a youth, as a man, and even as an old man – who people call God.” And I saw him there in all ages, knowing as I felt all this that the wonderful being could meet me at any point. I knew the meaning of what the Roman Catholics do when they choose a baby and it is paraded through the streets. It is that every child that is born is the Christ.
I couldn’t help feeling enormous waves of emotion flowing through as I realised all this. But there was even more to come.
He reminded me that in our culture he is seen in a particular form, but that was because we are from a male dominated past. In other cultures he is known by many names, such as Yahweh and Ashera, Isis and Osiris, Krishna and Radha – the male and female. But while I was in this wonderful state I was shown that He/It could be any form, because He/It was Life itself, and was everything and everywhere.
So much was being passed to me. I was reminded of the time when my uncle died and I was there as a very young teenager at the funeral. As they lowered him into the grave, my auntie Julie and her children burst out in load sounds of pain. I stood there at the graves edge and said very loudly, “What are you crying about. That is not him. He is elsewhere than in that body.” Maybe not those words but the idea, and I was impressed that this was the Christ talking to them as a child, and I was doing his work. And the impression went on to remind me that I had been asked to work – answering peoples queries about their dreams – and that I should still do this as a worker in the vineyard. And that I was a messenger – nothing more, nothing less. That the veil had been passed through and I would continue to be a better messenger in His name.