Recently a dear friend emailed me this:
“I think you should write about visions or “dreams,” that have absolutely no possibility of content based on any prior experience. Where do these things come from? I experience them regularly, and I’ll bet that most people do, too.
I can tell you that I had a vivid Technicolor dream of the Virgin, with blaring music and sounds and tongues never before heard or experienced in all of my 61 years. I can also relate a conscious (awake) vision of “strings” in the sky on the horizon that connected the clouds with the trees. I followed the “strings” to the ground that connected me to the earth and to my partner. No drugs or alcohol involved. If these things happen to me, especially the dreams untied to any life experience, then they can happen to others with regularity. Of this, I am sure.”
My friend’s question prompted me to think if I’ve had encounters that met his criteria. One dream experience stands out: participating in what I call the “celestial choir.”
In this dream, which I have had on two occasions, I am part of a universal choir that is singing creation into being. I feel unbounded awe as the music, which is a living entity, moves through us at the same time we are singing it. The sense of communion, the sheer delight, is nothing short of ecstasy.
Gone is the self-consciousness I usually feel when singing in public. I’m the guy who was told by a parishioner after a Sunday service, “Paul, during hymns you might want to turn your microphone off.” Ouch!
In the celestial choir, we are all facing in the same direction, as if singing to something or someone else and that “other” is returning and enhancing our collective, infinitely complex, harmonies. Our voices intertwine, reverberate, and dance in echoes of reflected, unconditional love. Our song transcends words as it touches the very core of being. It is joy, unfettered and complete.
My friend’s question is a great one: Where do these phenomena come from if they are not products of our waking experience?
We tend to think that our five senses communicate to us the world, as it actually exists. But we forget that perception is moderated by unspoken cultural values.
From childhood we are taught that some perceptions are acceptable and others are not. Invisible playmates are not. Fall colors are. Seeing auras is taboo. Taking in TV images is encouraged. Exploring pictures of the imagination are o.k. if they enhance productivity, but are discouraged if they are nothing more than reverie or daydreaming. Slowly but surely we learn what constitutes “right” perception and everything else gets screened out. Sometimes, if we are lucky, that screening process becomes inhibited, allowing us to see what is not “normal.”
Our five senses are also attuned to very narrow bandwidths that leave out much of the universe. Dogs can smell much better than us. Cats can see better in the dark than we can. Hence, they live in a world that is utterly different from ours, but equally real. There may be times when our mundane senses become hypersensitive and we spill over into non-ordinary awareness and perception of other worlds.
We may also possess neglected or dormant perceptual organs beyond the big five. Many can attest to gut feelings – which would indicate there are subtle perceptual centers in the stomach area. Some are able to receive impressions from what is commonly called the “third eye.” Intuition is a very real for many people. I happen to think the heart center is also a critically important organ of perception. Each of these can lead to novel perceptions.
Some of us are less predisposed to discount anomalies of perception. We naturally allow a place for the strange and unusual to co-exist with the mundane. This creates an opening for non-traditional senses to be further developed.
In his book, The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley theorized that our ideas about perception might be upside down. We usually conceive of the brain as an information gathering and processing unit. But its main job may be the reverse: to filter the overwhelming sea of information in the universe, limiting it to only that which is useful for survival. Our brains that we love so much may be the very things that keep us from taking in the wholeness of creation. As Albert Einstein (who many think of as being a REALLY big brain) said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
I’d love to know if you have had similar dreams, visions or waking perceptions that are beyond the five senses – encounters with content that have no connection to prior physical experience. If so, have you been able to sustain them, or have they been fleeting moments of transcendence? How has this impacted your life?
One way to enhance our sensitivity to the sacred nature of being is to promote a different standard for what is “normal” perception. We do that one story at a time.
A SPIRITUAL CONSPIRACY
On the surface of our world right now
There is war, violence, and craziness
And things may seem dark.
But calmly and quietly
At the same time
Something is happening underground.
An inner revolution is taking place
And certain individuals
Are being called to a higher light.
It is a silent revolution
From the inside out
From the ground up.
This is a global co-operation
That has sleeper cells in every nation.
It is a planetary Spiritual Conspiracy.
You won’t likely see us on T.V.
You won’t read about us in the newspaper.
You won’t hear from us on the radio.
We don’t seek glory.
We don’t wear any uniform.
We come in all shapes and sizes, colors and styles.
We are in every country and culture of the world
In cities big and small, mountains and valleys
In farms and villages, tribes and remote islands.
Most of us work anonymously
Seeking not recognition of name
But profound transformation of life.
Working quietly behind the scenes
You could pass by one of us on the street
And not even notice.
We go undercover
Not concerned for who takes the final credit
But simply that the work gets done.
Many of us may seem to have normal jobs.
But behind the external storefront
Is where the deeper work takes a place.
With the individual and collective power
Of our minds and hearts
We spread passion, knowledge, and joy to all.
Some call us the Conscious Army
We co-create a new world.
Our orders come from the Spiritual Intelligence Agency
Instructing us to drop soft, secret love bombs
when no one is looking.
Poems ~ Hugs ~ Music ~ Photography ~ Smiles ~ Kind words
Movies ~ Meditation and prayer ~ Dance ~ Websites
Social activism ~ Blogs ~ Random acts of kindness…
We each express ourselves
In our own unique ways
With our own unique gifts and talents.
“Be the change you want to see in the world”
That is the motto that fills our hearts.
We know this is the path to profound transformation.
We know that quietly and humbly
Individually and collectively
We have the power of all the oceans combined.
At first glance our work is not even visible.
It is slow and meticulous
Like the formation of mountains.
And yet with our combined efforts
Entire tectonic plates
Are being shaped and moved for centuries to come.
Love is the religion we come to share
And you don’t need to be highly educated
Or have exceptional knowledge to understand it.
Love arises from the intelligence of the heart
Embedded in the timeless evolutionary pulse
Of all living beings.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
Nobody else can do it for you.
Yet don’t forget, we are all here supporting you.
We are now recruiting.
Perhaps you will join us
Or already have.
For in this spiritual conspiracy
All are welcome, and all are loved.
The door is always open.
Edited version of Brian Piergrossi’s beautiful essay at www.thebigglow.com
For an awesome book on this spiritual conspiracy, check out Pronoia by Rob Brezsny
So many in our community are plagued by the “skill” of empathy. What if this guy is correct and empathy is actually the key to saving our planet? Doesn’t sound too far fetched to me.
Years ago, I had a small construction company (that’s “small” as in just one employee and me) and we were working in a factory putting in new bathrooms. The ten-inch-thick concrete floor (that’s reallythick) had been sawed up, jackhammered and carted away to install new plumbing lines. We’d covered the plumbing with fresh concrete and were in the process of installing new walls.
Suddenly I realized I had misinterpreted the building codes. We would need to jackhammer the concrete all over again, and move the plumbing.
I was sick. It would be incredibly expensive and I would lose money on the job. Big Money. I had a family to support and this mistake could put me out of business.
I gathered my courage and went to the factory general manager to tell him the bad news. Explaining my mistake, I assured him I would make it right and assume all the added expense.
Now, you have to realize that construction is a rough and tumble world. People will beat you out of every dime they possibly can. To paraphrase Norm from the old TV series, Cheers, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and a contractor has Milk Bone underwear.”
But when I explained the situation to the general manager, he did something I will never forget. He put his arm around my shoulder and said, “Paul, we’re in this together.”
I was flabbergasted. Those few words changed everything.
But what was even more surprising was the love that I suddenly felt for this man. It was palpable. It felt like my heart was about to burst.
That feeling was embarrassing to me. Did it show? You just didn’t express that kind of love to someone in the hardscrabble worlds of manufacturing and construction. It was an intensely spiritual experience in the most unlikely of settings. And it caught me completely by surprise.
Such simple, yet powerful, words: “We’re in this together.” It is a sentiment that is so rare that when it appears, it shatters suffering and opens the heart.
Yet so often we operate from a very different standard. Our mantra springs from the ego that is forever asking, “What’s in it for me?” And this is where so many offerings of the New Age movement fall short.
Take, for instance, the pervasive Law of Attraction. It presents a very compelling proposition that we can have anything we want simply by visualizing it, believing we will receive what we desire, and feeling as if it has already happened. And, of course, what we really want is to become rich!
While this is a very alluring concept, it caters to the ego’s insatiable desire to acquire everything for it’s own service. Yes, we have that power, but it has consequences we might not expect.
A corollary to the Law of Attraction is the idea that we “create our own reality” by the thoughts we entertain. There’s a subtly to this concept that few recognize. When our thoughts are focused on personal desire, we attract a reality that is in accord: selfish, self-centered, uncompassionate and violent.
This Law-of-Attraction-what’s-in-it-for-me philosophy is often presented as the height of spirituality. Jesus, Gandhi and others are viewed as “prosperity teachers.”
But the truth is that spiritual leaders have emphasized time and again something altogether different. It is the idea that we are one. That is the essence of the mystic vision –a world that is intimately connected, rooted in unity.
If we are to create a world worth living in, if we are to find true meaning and purpose, it has to begin with the understanding that underneath all our apparent separation and self-interest is the experience of oneness.
When the general manager put his arm around my shoulder, it was as if I had stumbled into the presence of a master. In that one small moment he demonstrated the power of compassion and showed me the outlines of grace.
We wield that same power of grace very moment of our lives to create our own reality – one that works for everyone. It begins with a simple affirmation that is the foundation of the spirit: “We’re in this together.”
Best-selling author Marianne Williamson is running for the US House of Representatives in California’s 33rd District. (Image: http://marianneforcongress.com)
Marianne Williamson, the best-selling author whose “A Return to Love” spent 39 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in 1992, announced Sunday that she is running as an independent for the US House of Representatives in California’s 33rd District, a seat currently held by 74-year old Democrat Henry Waxman, one of the most powerful members of Congress.
Williamson, who made her candidacy official Sunday afternoon at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, has written extensively about the moral and spiritual underpinnings of US politics in many of her books, including “Healing the Soul of America,” a 2000 best-seller that focuses on transforming spiritual activism into social activism.
The theme of Williamson’s campaign is “Create Anew.”
Williamson writes on her campaign website that Waxman has been a good representative for 38 years and that she does not consider him an opponent. Rather, she sees them both as simply different candidates for the same position. In seeking to encourage “a new consciousness regarding our political discourse,” Williamson hopes to stem the trend toward corporatism that has been so prevalent in recent decades.
“American government has lost its ethical center and its deep commitment to democracy, drifting ever more consistently in a corporatist direction,” Williamson writes. “And no one specific legislative initiative can fix that. I believe that a wave of independent candidates, all committed to a huge course-correction, is necessary to turn our ship around. I feel my campaign, and most importantly my win, can help inspire such a movement.”
In addition to her career as a writer, Williamson works in several other capacities. She is the emeritus chair for The Peace Alliance, an organization dedicated to promoting a culture of peace; facilitator of Sister Giant seminars, designed to promote “a higher level of contribution among those of us who want to increase our efficacy as activist and/or candidate, in order to uplift the tenor of American politics and in so doing help heal the world”; and a teacher of A Course in Miracles, a course of study that assists people in relinquishing a thought system based on fear and embracing one based on love.
Williamson is contesting a seat held by one of the longest-serving members of Congress. Waxman is the ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and served as committee chairman in 2009-10. In 2012, Waxman won a closer-than-usual re-election to his 20th term in the House, 53 to 47 percent, over Bill Bloomfield, an independent and co-founder of the “No Labels” movement. Bloomfield, a successful businessman, spent nearly $6 million of his own money in unsuccessfully challenging Waxman, Bloomberg.com reported in late 2012.
It remains to be seen if Williamson’s name recognition will help her fundraising efforts and just how much money it will take to pose a serious challenge to Waxman, but given her track record of success in other endeavors, the campaign in California’s 33rd District could be one of the more interesting House races in 2014.