It seems to please us, travelers all, to think of the journey this way: the zealator precedes the adept; the novice the sage; the apprentice the journeyman—when we know the mighty tree is present in the seed—and, bless the seed, it may only become a tree or try. A challenge facing the Astrologers’ Folio: how best to identify and present Western Mystery Tradition materials so they serve experienced and beginning student, tree and seed, alike.
If one resides on Lake Titicaca, do we skip the Exodus story about the Red Sea crossing? Is it practical to compare a lake to a sea? What about a Red Sea?
Very few people reside on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Some live on islands. Does it matter? Are we not all adrift on reed islands of our own making, in spirit with the Uru people of Lake Titicaca?
Much is made in these lessons of two states of being holding our attention and energies as incarnated beings: waking and non-waking. In the AF narrative these references, waking and non-waking, are preferred to “conscious and subconscious”. Waking means we are not sleeping. Non-waking means we are sleeping. The simplicity is useful.
Terms like subconscious and unconscious, for decades, have been summoned to refer to the domain of non-waking experience. Without some training we may not be certain what these terms describe. A common inference we wish to eschew, with or without training, is the suggestion that waking awareness is somehow superior to non-waking awareness. The prefix, as ‘sub’ or ‘un’, can lead one to conclude, naively, the non-waking state is ‘below’ something or ‘not’ something at all.
This we know: we deprive ourselves of sleep at our peril. And during our waking hours, as we interact with others and ourselves “…[we are] up against the barrier of a common language…” (Thank you Dylan Thomas, “One Quiet Morning”, 1954)
The experiences we associate with the non-waking state, for AF purposes, are not considered objects of belief. These non-waking experiences are objects of consciousness; undeniable as a category of experience beyond belief.
Skepticism may be considered a high order station of the waking intellect. It may follow that it is ‘silly’ to believe water somehow turned to wine on the third day at the wedding at Cana—long ago. We are not similarly challenged by the story explaining Cain slew Abel. One brother slays another. It happens. This story about rivalry appears so early in the narrative of the Old Testament it may be important simply because it follows so closely behind the Eden story. The Bible is comprised of 66 books. The Cain and Abel story appears in the fourth chapter of the first book. We may infer from its early appearance in the narrative that rivalry, ‘one of us has to go’, is an important theme.
Thinking about waking and non-waking states in this way is instructive.
In the context of the Western Mystery Tradition, the rivalry signaled by the Cain and Abel story is about the following false choice: is there enough space, room, G-d*, provision–for ‘all of us’ or ‘me’? Something has to go! Thus, we toggle between our waking v. non-waking experience as if we are choosing one.
* [Omitting the letter “o” to complete the spelling of “God” was deemed an act of hubris and thereby to be avoided. The humbler abbreviation, “G-d”, for millenia–was the convention.]
Try as we might they are not separable. [Yin-Yang only separate upon death.] We daydream–and we have non-waking dreams so vivid they seem real. To think dialectically for a moment, our individuation is about the synthesis of waking and non-waking states leading to another teachable moment.
“Shut your eyes and see.” James Joyce
We meditate, typically, with eyes closed. Does this matter? We pray, typically, with eyes closed. Maybe the good skeptic in us neither meditates nor prays. All of us sleep, however, typically with eyes closed. For our purposes, the Western Mystery Tradition welcomes the unchallenging believer and the skeptic alike, because they are joined; one holds the other. The famous apostle Thomas was a skeptic.
This graffiti is painted by hand on the Palestinian side of the disturbing and massive twenty-nine foot high gray concrete boundary along Israel’s West Bank. The message draws us in, allowing us to feel connected to the community of the messenger. Does the attraction derive from our waking or non-waking awareness, both or neither? T. S. Eliot explains it this way: “Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.” Is this why a replica of the wall was built in London in 2013?
If the lessons to follow put you to sleep—you are likely succeeding! The beauty and power of rest especially sleep, as an efficient way to internalize important personal material is the answer. Allow what you will to come in—and let it rest.
In a quiet state the discernment you deserve and require for peace of heart will visit you safely. Fluency can be appreciated at every point along its continuum, beginner to savant, because it cannot be possessed. Neither can it be loathed. [The antonym of the verb to loathe is to love. Love is also the antidote.]
Fluency can consume a great deal of time—months leading to years. It is a lifetime’s pursuit to become fluent, actually. Fluency is a process more than a destination. Even the prodigy senses there is more to master.
In the first post we closed with the following reminder:
- Because the journey is unrehearsed,
- And the path, like all design in Nature, is non-linear,
- We learn to Love the Child’s ego
- by Faith, Intuition, and Practice,
- In order to allow the Stranger in.
Says who? A fair question and a rhetorical one!
Paradox: the apparent contradiction informed by statements we hold to be true.
“I experience the ineffable. I must write or speak.”
Can we ever know enough to begin? From the Sufi observation, “G-d is too big to be conceived and small enough to occupy the human heart” [paraphrase Dr. Robert Frager] we infer learning is a mysterious process. It may have more to do with what we discard than what we retain. How to measure what is in the mind or heart? How do we investigate or manage, what we cannot measure?
We do the best we can through speculation, conjecture, and theory leading to testing and refinement much of which, we predict, takes place in a non-waking condition of rest.
To be empirically motivated is to keep what works and discard what works unreliably or not at all. It is difficult to be empirically disciplined! This is why our experiences over time appear to fall into themes. We seem to revisit as if they are new, old experiences. One’s personal history with relationships, authority and money tell us this is so. But we press on!
It is okay to speculate; provided we keep in mind we are not very good at it. The economist could serve as a reminder. To speculate, in a good way, is to stimulate critical thinking as we learn to disclose our assumptions. Speculation, tells us more about where we have been than where we might be headed. It has the capacity to fascinate like a mirror. We speculate, respectfully, with much caution and less authority.
From our first post we draw from Milosz’s suggestion language might be our only homeland. We need to know there are others who speak our language. Let us pray we have not been marooned! To be denied access to a shared language would be a form of shunning on a cosmic scale. Shunning can be horrible so powerful is the need to be acknowledged. Even G-d seems to require it–how else might we appreciate the ontology of creation itself?
The Buddhist reminds us all suffering is illusion arising from the mind’s propensity to seek delight in itself. Sri Aurobindo, dear integral soul, asks us to try and find the bliss in the pain.
The masterwork of the Vedas, so spectacular for their richness and radical inclusivity of sentient experience in this world, celebrates hasya as a special and requisite energetic principle for the trip. Hasya, simply stated—is humor. Its favorite topic, Maya—universe as illusion! “Hasya depends not so much on the occasion, but the presence of energy as Joy in the body.” (Source: http://www.rasas.info/joy_humor_hasya_rasa.htm 11 July 2016).
Is it possible for symbols, metaphors and their associations, to form a syntax of the heart, to soothe, assure and instruct, when we know at a deep level, our humanity, its foibles, wounds and failings, shall never be in doubt or far from view? If we wish to connect the waking and non-waking voices to engage the Self, we must listen with purpose “…in the stillness between two waves [waking and non-waking] of the sea”! (Source: Little Gidding, T. S. Eliot, September 1942).
The subject matter of the Western Mystery Tradition is a rich vein to mine. The AF materials draw upon the experience and source materials available to its editors. How shall we know if we are succeeding? The tailings of human events, as much or more than the feast table, deliver the paradox or the ironic as gems to satisfy the hunger of one’s Spirit. So let the surfeit or the crumbs, as you find them here, serve you!
We could stop here—we shall. In our next post we begin to think about Love as the Still Point of the turning world. We shall also introduce our first zodiacal topic: the Ascendant.
Much to learn. We bid you peace through practice,
If you would consider listening to some music to prepare for a second reading of this lesson we would suggest “Amazing Grace” by Pete Seeger. It is a 6:05 minute rendition to be found on the Singalong Demonstration Concert (Live) at iTunes.
A Reference of symbols, charts and definitions important to Western Mystery Tradition studies is listed as Post No. 900. Enter “900” in the Search box to be directed to this location.
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