Journey of the Human Spirit

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http://bncdance.com/company/performances/a-journey-of-the-human-spirit/

“Once we find the transcendent experience and open up to a greater flow of spiritual energy and security within, something profound begins to occur. We begin to see ourselves and our behavior from a higher perspective, from a viewpoint of our more energized higher self. Our sense of identity moves past the insecure reactions of our ego self and assumes a witness viewpoint, identified now with all of divine creation and able to see our socially defined self with a new objectivity.” — James Redfield from “The Celestine Vision,” 1997

The developments surrounding my experience of what Jung described as”an eruption of unconscious contents,” while poorly understood by me at the time it occurred, set the stage for an extraordinary journey of the spirit. The beginning seemed to be traumatic at the time, and it struck me without warning or my own intention to undertake such a journey, but it felt almost immediately like I was destined to begin it. When the original episode took place, I have no recollection of actually seeing anything in my immediate conscious state, but images figured prominently in the document, which seemed to come in three sections. Most of what I have deciphered came long after the document appeared, and as I will recount in my subsequent assignment to the base in Massachusetts, an extraordinary mystical experience filled in many of the gaps the document contained from being illegible due to the frantic manner in which it was recorded. I eventually incorporated several excerpts in this version that were, to the best of my knowledge, part of the original configuration, but were unreadable when it was created originally.

Dreamscapes #1

It was in a dream one lonely night that first gave me the clue which told me of a life lived in the past–the existence of one unfulfilled life by some cruel twist of fate; some unaccounted for incident that survived the ravages of time–transmitted into the future by an unknown force or energy that permeated my every waking hour. The document was written in a trance-like state, and upon review of the writing afterwards, I realized it was an account of a journey, but not to a place that appeared on any map. The excerpts seemed almost like a commentary by the entity named in the document as Jonas Rice.

The Beginning, The Foundation, The Entrance.
By JJHIII24

The Beginning

Raging seas, darkness, the gap between appearance and reality, and the finality of the good earth.

Emotion has been the first of the significant elements involved in the purpose. An ocean of emotion reflected in the mirror of existence, observable only in the conscious mind inside, invisible to the world.

Years pass and the masses see only the surface. No exploration for fear of discovery. Torturous hours, lingering for an eternity, serve only to irritate and inflame the water’s rage. Pain is washed ashore and left to keep alive the disturbance, while the tide is out. Travel is the only temporary and eventual escape.

Sensitivity increases the spectrum of its effect. It lures and repels erratically, ever changing. Continuity is destroyed, forgotten and flung beyond recall. Destiny is playing his fiddle, inviting, then demanding compliance with his tunes. The weak fall prey and only the strong survive. The moments tell the story; the thoughts display a reality and truth–unacceptable–yet, escape is impossible. The blind go unaware and the sighted are driven to the edge, clinging to the branches of light that only truth can provide. The search appears endless, yet is known to be finite in a reality which cannot be confirmed.

(Consider all that you have learned here and you will find the Beginning of the Path.)

(It began in the year 1770, with the birth of an ideal, the arrival of the correct moment in time–the beginning of an era. The settlers of the new colonies were more than just pilgrims in a new land; they were pioneers in a new world–newborn babes of a destiny not yet realized in its entirety.)

The Foundation

Blackness, darkness, a void–uncertain. Faith flickers in the distance. Defeat is in the air, polluting while defenses weaken, threatening the footsteps. Motivation building a path, shedding an amber light on the doorway to the surface. Time and endurance, hand in hand, break the chains and grapple furiously, transported momentarily to green pastures and blue skies, with the light of day surging through the bloodstream, providing the sword and armor of power, strength, and humanity.

(You are to go forth from this place and seek the Fortress which holds the hidden purpose for existence. You alone are capable of this deed and at this precise moment of your life, as you would not have been prepared to assume the burden of these tidings were it any sooner.)

(Recall all that you are and you will discover what is contained in the Foundation of the Fortress.)

The Entrance

Oh, the joy, the courage and stability. Pause.

Placid sea.
Love rippling.
Its presence, once recognized
Brings sustenance, completeness.
Fullness and solidity appears
As a finely sculptured entity,
Focused to perfection,
Flawless in its detail,
Unsurpassed by any existing structure.
A FORTRESS among fortresses.
Soon to be seen and understood;
Glorious, yet, not divine.

Set apart, protruding on a level far beyond earthly significance. Relating humanly to encountered sameness and varying differences. Strength to friendly, open souls. Menacing to the fearful, the ignorant, and the superficial. Distant from the souls lacking completeness.

(Despite efforts to avoid the purpose, I am compelled to seek it out. Nothing else matters. An overpowering inner drive pushes me toward the mysterious, unknown end, lured to it like the sirens who once lured the great Ulysses. Even now I sense it coming. Distant footsteps echo in the halls of my inner world. It ceases–then begins–and ceases once more. The event of my life is upon me.)

Beginning, Foundation, Entrance documents–© 1973-1975 by JJHIII24

MYSTICAL3

The spiritual nature of the journey of Jonas has now become the focal point of my investigations. The awakening to transcendent knowledge is a most difficult and deeply personal undertaking requiring a sense of urgency that will prevail in spite of the relentless struggle to survive and maintain our daily lives. The leap from the physical to the metaphysical can be the most difficult leap of all, even realizing the potentially profound consequences of neglecting such a vital aspect of our existence. In order to begin, it was necessary to strive toward achieving a level of awareness I had never even imagined was possible. The pursuit of the achievement of higher levels of consciousness is uncommon in our current culture with its emphasis on materialism and the advanced technologies growing exponentially in the 21st century. Ironically, the advances in technology provide a larger number of people with access to the world of information and global educational opportunities, but promote the tendency to provide only the most popular or immediately beneficial of those possibilities, adversely affecting the dissemination of the more long-term essential aspects of those available–aspects which require more time and effort to become evidently as important.

Ancient Mountain of Memory

“Memory performs the impossible for man; holds together past and present, gives continuity and dignity to human life.” — Mark Van Doren, Liberal Education, 1943

“In a large sense, learning and memory are central to our very identity. They make us who we are.” — Eric Kandel, In Search of Memory, 2006

“Has it ever struck you…that life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going? It’s really all memory…except for each passing moment.” — Tennessee Williams, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, 1963

As I contemplated the landscapes along the highways on my way across the United States in 1975, I began to sense more than just the wider world through which I was passing, and often found myself absorbed by persistent thoughts in my mind, still bubbling from all that I had experienced in the extraordinary hills and valleys of California, and still haunted by the traumatic events in Massachusetts. The world had suddenly become utterly incomprehensible in some ways, and every moment of the journey held another new experience–each equally fascinating from my perspective as a traveler, and oddly troublesome in the degree of uncertainty I felt as I approached the unknown.

desert view

The stark desert scenes along the way through the American West were startling to me in a way that felt both unsettling and wondrous. Traversing the sweeping desert vistas of New Mexico and Arizona, I often felt the urge to pull the car over and just stare at these scenes. As oddly as it seemed, they felt familiar to me. I couldn’t understand the feeling at the time, but somehow knew that it would all start to make sense before long. The stunning and occasionally unnerving dreams that had been pervasive and even intrusive in Massachusetts and California, subsided during this trip, and I slept peacefully most nights in a way that seemed to escape me at all other times.

john home cali2f

My arrival back on the East Coast was triumphant in my mind. I had survived the dark night of the soul, and the threat of death, and journeyed thousands of miles across the USA in a remarkable and healing transitional experience. For a short time, the dreams that had interposed themselves in my psyche faded, and I was able to recuperate, and reclaim some of my previous confidence in going forward to the next stop along the way. Visiting with my family was always restorative and rejuvenating; an oasis in the desert of uncertainty that I always seemed to find myself in those days. As the time for returning to military service approached, I felt compelled to review my writings, and as I did, new images and thoughts started to appear in my nightly dreams. In the excerpt that follows, I begin to sense a connection to the “ancient mountain of memory,” and prepared to go deeper into the abyss:

forest within

The Forest Within

“Away from the routines of the everyday, I find my heart in turmoil, withholding the silent sound of my true voice. I can hear the strains of music that have sparked hidden fires, whose embers refuse to be extinguished, nor can I seem to leave them undisturbed long enough for them to simply run out of fuel. The spirit that embodies these fires haunts me in the tremulous strains of familiar and beloved memory. Held at bay by the thinnest of barriers, my most persistent attempts have failed utterly to relinquish the wisps of flame that languish in the furthest reaches of the forest within. The trees grow even still in splendor that penetrates my visions of centuries past, and through the countless millenniums of ancient memory.

When not persuaded by necessity to avoid them, I walk these woods, through dazed states of mind and melancholy. Occasional streams of sunlight peak through the dense forest canopy to reach my face and my heart. Echoes of ancient music reverberate through the thick layers of trees and against the faces of the great cliffs of stone, which hold the forest to the earth. Every so often, the strains of a familiar pattern of notes catches me unaware, and I am transported momentarily to that place–the clearing at the center of the forest–where I find the living memory itself. Each time, I am undone by the clarity and the durability of these memories, and each time, they penetrate deeper within, and stay hidden longer.”

jonas settler

Jonas Rice lived in colonial America, and was one of the founders of the city of Worcester, Massachusetts. He served as a soldier in the struggle of American independence and made important contributions to that effort. Jonas and I came to be linked when his name appeared in the writings that burst forth from me during what Jung describes as an “eruption of unconscious contents,” that brought forth the original document from that experience. My discovery of his tombstone in the center of Worcester literally took my breath away, and I could not shake the sense that he was a part of me somehow.

In those early days, before I had a clear idea about what was happening to me, I felt as though Jonas was alive in me. As a member of an active continental regiment with the U.S.Army, I felt certain that my role in that organization was part of my destiny. There clearly was a purpose to these events, but it was clear also, that it would take time for me to understand it all.

…..next time….the document itself…

Working To Find A Place To Begin Again

Sunrise-Meditation

Sitting on that hill in California overlooking Monterey Bay was an extraordinary moment–one for which I was also totally unprepared. Life is like that sometimes. We work to find a place for ourselves, searching occasionally in places where we never thought we would find ourselves, and expending efforts that may go on for months at a time. In spite of how diligently and passionately we conduct those efforts, we sometimes find ourselves right back where we started, wondering how it could be that we were so foolish not to see where it was headed. There are no guarantees that diligent efforts will result in achievement of our goals, and even when we are not searching at all, extraordinary moments can occur, for which we have actively searched many times without success.

between worlds

In all my searching, there have been only a handful of extraordinary moments, and each one was worth every effort. But the ones that seem to have meant the most, have been the ones that occurred when I wasn’t looking at all. Recent events have produced some amazing results in my inner world. I have been moved forward and fell backwards; I have been emotionally elated and devastated; I have pushed the boundaries of what I thought was possible, and found myself facing the limits of my endurance. Nothing could have prepared me for the depth and breadth of these experiences, and just as we exhale a sigh of relief when the struggles we face have concluded, so too, must we weep bitterly, when all of our efforts have failed to achieve what we long for so desperately.

keiran oconnor ocean

The only sensible response to such a failure, after we expel all of our most bitter tears, is to begin working to find a place to begin again. We cannot allow setbacks of even this monumental sort to extinguish hope. It isn’t easy to face such personal loss or epic failure, and we should not be surprised when the pain of these experiences knocks us down. If life is to mean anything in the long term, we must persist even in the face of such setbacks. I am still learning this lesson, even many years after my extraordinary year in California. Back then, I was young and foolish, and unschooled in such matters. Even now, as a mature person, with many such experiences, the pain of failure still stings, and the lessons that I thought I had learned I must learn again.

The story will continue…and so will the journey to find a place to begin again…..

Consciousness and the World We Create: Part Two

“Every human being, and every human mind, has roots that extend indefinitely far back through time…the consciousness of the individual is inextricably tied to the consciousness of the whole…Everything in nature is actually connected or implicated with everything else…” – David Darling, philosopher, from his book, “Equations of Eternity

“David Darling has pressed the matter of consciousness into the moment vividly for me, not simply due to his compelling prose, but also because of the immediacy of consciousness and its relationship to the world we inhabit, which often offers us conflicting priorities based on our personal sensitivity to the events which transpire in the temporal portion of our reality. From the simple beauty of the beams of sunlight filtering through the trees in the front yard, all the way through to the urgency of world events, our consciousness encompasses every nuance of our existence in ways that generally escape notice much of the time, but occasionally in ways that feel like a punch in the stomach.”

With this beginning paragraph, which I wrote as part of a series of blog posts about consciousness in the world, I began to address directly how, in my view, our individual subjective experience of consciousness is part of a much larger awareness that includes “the consciousness of the whole.” Due in part to the ineffable nature of our connection to “everything in nature,” as well as to other living souls in our world, it can appear that such connections are an illusion produced by the astonishingly complex human brain, and the closer we come to understanding the processes involved in conscious awareness, the greater the tendency to suppose that it can be reduced to mere physiology.

The so-called, “illusion of consciousness,” seems no more like an illusion in the world of experience to me than the “illusion of the solidity of an object,” in light of our understanding of particle physics. We know now that all matter consists mostly of particles spread very far apart with vast areas of empty space in between. When two objects meet, like a fist thrust rapidly into your stomach, the two never actually make contact on the atomic level, but are rather repelled so completely in that realm that contact is not even possible. However, this underlying scientific explanation does nothing to diminish the “reality” of being struck by a solid object.

atoms

With all that we do know, we still have a limited view of the complete vastness of the universe, and it seems likely to me that there must exist other worlds where the natural rhythms are surely “worlds apart,” from any that we know of here on earth. Within each of us, also, from the deepest recesses of the many possible levels of attainable consciousness, there must exist variations in the depth and wealth of experiential awareness which may be possible, and the question remains equally compelling for me as the idea of space exploration or the possibility of time travel. There can be very little doubt that our central nervous system, and sensory processing in the brain, provide us with the most immediate experience of our temporal existence, but just as we perceive and express our understanding of the external world through our individual objective sensory capacities, so too can we express our individual subjective perceptions of the influences produced by what we may wish to describe as a transcendent source from which our understanding springs in the first place. Admittedly, the profound and utterly real notion of the existence of a transcendent aspect in my personal experiences has given me no particular advantage in expressing it outwardly, and in some ways, has complicated my attempts to do so.

Feelings_and_emotion2

Because we are intellectually aware of the spaces between fluctuating particles of energy at the atomic level also does not take away from the very real consequences of our interactions with other human beings who are also made up of these same particles. As a human being, I am afflicted with a very human frailty, and thus, prone to characteristically human drives, weaknesses, and a host of other tendencies. As a reasonably cognitive spirit in the world, I have worked very hard to achieve an understanding of the experiences of my personal humanity, particularly when it comes to my experiences with my fellow human beings. While I have stumbled many times, and at other times, flat out failed to reach a mutual understanding with each soul I encounter, the starting place has always been at the very heart of me, where I have, for most of my adult life, nurtured the development of a loving and gentle spirit, in order to interact as well as I can with other souls I encounter.

failure

Personal weaknesses, while not something anyone really likes to acknowledge, have caused me some stressful periods throughout my life, and more than a few sleepless nights lately. At times, it has seemed that I simply can’t do anything right. I have become much more aware of these personal aspects in recent years, and strive constantly to improve myself, but in spite of my best efforts, I still occasionally stumble, and it makes me wonder if there might be some higher purpose to it all. A recent encounter with an extraordinary spirit has given me cause to believe in such a purpose. It is rare to encounter such spirits in my experience, but in his three part series, “Conversations with God,” Neale Donald Walsch reports a response from the Creator of all things, which expresses an encouraging view of such experiences in a segment from one such conversation in this way:

“I tell you this: every person who has ever come to you has come to receive a gift from you. In so doing, (they) give a gift to you–the gift of your experiencing and fulfilling who you are…When you see this simple truth, when you understand it, you see the greatest truth of all:

“I have sent you nothing but angels.”

There have been times when I have acted in my own best interests, and in retrospect, I recognized that at least part of what occurred was the result of my own selfish motives, but I believe that for the most part, I have been able to do much good in my life, and strive always to do what feels right to me. I am not completely selfless even now, but I am learning to forgive myself for not being so at every moment. The continuing story of my spiritual path which began in earnest in Massachusetts, now comes into sharper focus as I prepared to return to that place, and at that time, as it is also true today, I simply had to trust in the wisdom that brought me to the time and place where these events unfolded, and which constituted an essential step on my spiritual journey. Then, as now, the pursuit of my understanding of consciousness and its fundamental nature take on an even greater urgency.

Finding Our Quest

quotes-275

Helen A. Toelle-Cunha

“It is by loving, and not by being loved, that one can come nearest the soul of another; yea, that, where two love, it is the loving of each other, that originates and perfects and assures their blessedness. – George MacDonald

As my time in California slowly drew to a conclusion, I was informed that the requirements of my military specialty as a linguist required an additional period of training for all graduates of the language program. There was no way for me to anticipate this requirement prior to arriving in Monterey, since it only became a policy a month or so before I was scheduled to depart. When I realized the next training program would take place in Massachusetts, at the very same station where my adventure began, it felt like more than just a coincidence. I attended a closed briefing a few weeks before I was scheduled to transfer out, and learned that I would be training as a “Cryptologic Traffic Analyst.” It wasn’t clear to me what the term meant at the time, but it didn’t seem to matter. I was required to attend and was looking forward to returning for a second tour in Massachusetts, especially since I would be arriving in the spring and would be spending the summer in New England.

diploma

Once the last few days of my tour in California were upon me, I began to feel a real sense of melancholy. So much had happened to me in those hills, and in spite of often feeling a bit lost and alone during that time, there were just as many remarkable and beautiful experiences to reflect upon. Graduation Day from the language school was an exceptional day. In spite of all my setbacks during the course, I had finished with my class, and had managed to earn a final grade in the top ten percent. I had made a few friends among my classmates who would be following me to Massachusetts, and several who had already taken the additional training who would travel to the overseas assignment in advance of my arrival, who promised to catch up once I got there. Our instructors had a small reception for us and we were able to express our gratitude for all their efforts in their native tongue. One teacher in particular grabbed me at the reception and expressed great satisfaction in my success. In one of our last grammar classes with her, we had learned a particular form of expression–in German it’s the “so…wie,” construction. In the German language, there are many idioms and phrases which do not translate well into English, but this form worked fairly well. A group of us were standing together when the teacher turned and asked me directly if I was glad that school was finally complete, I said, “So froh, wie moglich!” (As happy as possible!) We all laughed and knew that we had learned our lessons well.

volkswagen-fastback-01

In the last few weeks, I was given an option to either take a military flight home to the East Coast, or to drive myself there, since I was of sufficient rank and time in service, so I traded in the old VW bug, and bought a brand new Volkswagen Fastback, a sportier version of the VW which was a dream to drive in comparison to the old one. I decided to take the southern route across the country, driving all the way up to Oregon to visit with a dear friend of mine who always bragged about his hometown there, and then back down to Southern California and turned eastward at a little town called Needles. When I got there, I stopped into town to find a hotel for the night, and noticed an electronics shop that advertised “car stereo installation.” It was going to be a long ride to Binghamton, New York where my co-pilot for the trip lived, so I had a stereo system installed there and bought a handful of 8 track tapes to listen to along the way. We stopped in Flagstaff, Arizona to see the Grand Canyon, and I stopped into the only country outfitter in town and bought myself a new hat.

John5 002

I really hadn’t noticed at first, but the transition from the younger, safari-hat character, to this much different western-movie looking character was fairly startling in retrospect. Since I was on leave for several weeks in between stations, I even felt comfortable growing a beard for the trip, and upon my arrival in Pennsylvania to see my parents and family, it must have been quite a shock to see me this way. Somehow, though, it felt just right to me. The journey across the USA in April of 1975 was an epic flight for a young man in his first new car, bound away from the astonishing beauty of, what was to him, a strange new land, and having narrowly escaped death, creating something akin to a near-death experience within him. This young man had clearly been altered beyond recognition, to others mostly, but also to himself.

The time was quickly approaching to depart from everything I had ever known as a young American lad, prompting me to narrow my focus even more, and to find my quest, it would require giving a great deal more than I could possibly have known at that time.

…next time…. back to Massachusetts…