(M.J.E. Spirit / Mon., 8 Aug., 1994)

Spirit Dialogues

Explorations of Spirit
by Michael Edwards

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Monday, 8 August, 1994

      Michael: Good afternoon, Bivalia.

      Bivalia:[a] And good afternoon to you, Michael. How are you?

      Michael: Bloody cold, if you'll excuse my French.

      Bivalia: I'll excuse it. You don't have to stand on formality with me.

      Michael: I don't know why we call questionable language "French". I wonder what the French call it.

      Bivalia: Perhaps they call it "English".

      Michael: Well, I don't know; but just yesterday, Louise at the Church of Antioch (who is herself French) said that the French call a French letter an "English letter"; but then, she says the French don't like the English much anyway.

      Bivalia: Do you wish to tell me why they don't?

      Michael: No; I don't even know the answer. I assume it's connected with boring things of the sort I would have learned in history lessons at school if I'd paid more attention. Louise thought the antipathy went right back to William the Conqueror, 1066 - about the only history date I still remember from school, it was drummed into me so much. But it's no good expecting someone who once got 4% in a history exam to know much more than that. I always found all those musty old English kings and queens boring, always chopping off each others' heads, and the heads of anyone who dared to speak out of turn. It seems to me now that I spent years studying all that stuff at school; perhaps covering one century per year or something.
      Anyway, all that was really a diversion. It came out only because I said it was "bloody cold", and I asked you to excuse my French.
      It was hailing just a minute ago. I hate the winter, because I'm always eternally cold.

      Bivalia: Don't you use heating of some sort?

      Michael: No: partly because doing so too much would cause my electricity bills to skyrocket; and partly because my place is so cluttered that I'd be afraid of starting a fire.

      Bivalia: I suppose you'll either have to continue like that, or organize yourself better in some way.

      Michael: Well, that's not as easy as you seem to think; but I wasn't intending to go into that now.

      Bivalia: What did you want to go into, then?

      Michael: I don't know. The hail just gave me a thought, that's all. I said before I hate winter because I'm always cold. I hate things like rain and hail for the same reason. But the odd thing is, if it weren't for personal discomfort, I would almost, in a sense, enjoy different types of weather - well, not perhaps walking outdoors during inclement weather, but enjoying watching it anyway. It's difficult to explain, but things like sun, clouds, wind, rain, hail, thunder, lightning, and so on, have a really distinctive atmosphere somehow. Almost an enjoyable atmosphere in a funny way. But you would probably have to be reasonably comfortable to enjoy it.
      It's a fascinating and at times haunting phenomenon. There are particular days, sometimes from years ago, that I remember quite well simply because of things like a thunderstorm, even though they are perfectly ordinary in all other respects I can think of. For instance, I remember one latish afternoon (Saturday or Sunday, I think) where it was a hot sultry summer day, but a thunderstorm came up. I remember playing on the piano a piece by Cliff Forrester called "Weeping Willow" from his Home Scenes, and I went outside and put a monstera plant I had at the time in the rain (because I'd heard they like getting their leaves wet). I think I was also reading some book about space travel or something of the sort. The whole day just seemed to have a certain atmosphere, for some reason. And for some reason I remember those details, although it was probably well over 5 years ago.
      There was another time (I think it was in autumn or winter) I was up most of the night, and I spent most of the day sleeping; but I awoke late afternoon, and went outside, in time to see the sun low in the sky, and the front lawn where I lived at that time, covered in a canopy of tree branches overhead, seemed so green, the air so luminous, and the whole atmosphere was just like a story I'd written, called "Twilight Woods" (which in turn was inspired by a piano piece by William Baines called "Twilight Woods").
      So it's strange how varying atmospheric or weather conditions can arouse such a distinct atmosphere, and even suggest a whole way of life, somehow - I can't explain that; it's almost as if each such scene I witness seems to be part of an entire world of its own. But the feeling suggested by such scenes often seems to be pleasant, and this can happen even with things like rain or storms, which are not usually considered pleasant.
      That's all I had in mind to say. I impulsively started this soon after that thought occurred to me, suggested by watching the hail fall - cursing the miserable weather at the same time as thinking it could be almost enjoyable if it didn't make me feel so lousy.
      I think I'm spent now. I don't really think I had much to say to you otherwise.

      Bivalia: Well, that doesn't matter. I said before you don't need to build up a certain quota of things to say before you have a session with me. You could just come here to say one single thing if you like.

      Michael: Well, it does seem a bit silly somehow.

      Bivalia: I don't see why it should. Whenever you talk with people in what you call "real life", you don't necessarily have only a long and profound conversation with them.

      Michael: Well, no, but that's different. There are practical reasons why you must sometimes talk with other people, and that talking can take many different forms. But I must admit the long and profound types of conversation are usually the ones I enjoy the most.

      Bivalia: You can have those with me any time you please, or you can just have a short chat, or tell me jokes, or anything you like.

      Michael: Yes, I know; thanks.

      Bivalia: Why do you think weather phenomena arouse the kind of enjoyment in you that you were talking about (assuming you can be comfortable)?

      Michael: I don't know. Or, at least, I have certain ideas, but it's difficult to explain. It's related to that sense of magic or wonder I talked about earlier. Do you remember that?

      Bivalia: I do indeed.

      Michael: Well, lots of things can arouse that feeling; but, for me, it often seems to be things to do with nature or the weather. It can come really strongly on those rare occasions when everything about the weather falls into a certain combination, for instance those red evenings when the clouds in the sky are reddish, and all the light seems red, and even the ground and trees and bushes and buildings and everything seem tinged with red; or, on other occasions, you have a yellow-and-grey evening, where there are dark grey clouds, but all the light seems yellowish or orangey, and it makes everything look that way. Similarly, you can have blue-and-grey evenings, and so on.
      Such conditions are very rare, perhaps only once every few years; but they appeal to me immensely, for some reason. And when I notice that conditions have fallen that way, I usually stop whatever I'm doing and go outside for half an hour or so just to enjoy it. There are other things too, in the weather, that have that magical atmosphere - those were just a couple I could remember off the top of my head.
      Such scenes almost give the feeling of something wonderful and exciting and momentous happening, almost like events in a wonderful uplifting story, the sort that is almost too good to be true; but I can't think why, because life is just going on its usual routine. The feeling is there, and I can't account for it, no matter how hard I try. I can't help feeling that my life is not what it should be, and I'm missing out on something utterly wonderful. But, try as I might, I can't think where the feeling is coming from.

      Bivalia: I think the real origin of this is spiritual in nature. You won't ever account for it by juggling the particular circumstances of the moment around in your head. Those natural conditions which give you the feeling, which can be incredibly beautiful, somehow remind you of something spiritual which is very wonderful, which you know about and long for deep inside, and because your knowledge of that is still only deep down, not on the surface, you naturally try to connect the feeling with circumstances you know about on the surface, but of course you can't find the connection. It isn't there, but the spiritual suggestion is too deep and important to go away, so that's why the feeling persists, even though you can't account for it.

      Michael: I guess so; I can't think of any better explanation.

      Bivalia: Well, when I say the surface connections aren't there, I'd better qualify that. Even everyday life has all sorts of subtle connections with the spiritual world; but I meant the connection wasn't there in the obvious and direct sense that you were trying to find. You probably won't (in this world, anyway) ever find a circumstance so wonderful that it in itself gives rise to that sense of wonder in a way you can account for. Even the most wonderful events seem to lack something, in retrospect if not at the time; it always turns out that they don't seem quite enough, somehow. There will always be something about the outward circumstance that doesn't seem to properly account for the feeling of wonder, even while it irresistibly suggests it; but, in this current world, there will always be a missing link, which will be found only once you start looking at the spiritual side of things. And that is where you should really search most of all for that sense of wonder.

      Michael: But I don't find that the straight contemplation of spiritual things often gives rise to that feeling. It does seem to be physical things, things of this world, that do it.

      Bivalia: Well, most people in your world have become submerged in physicality to some extent. It is to be expected that spiritual feelings will be diverted into physical things from time to time. Don't worry about it, and certainly don't feel guilty about it.

      Michael: Well, you're telling me the feeling will only truly be found in spiritual things; but I can't feel it there, but I occasionally get a whiff of it in more ordinary things. It doesn't sound from that as if there's much I can do about it.

      Bivalia: It will come in time. You are moving closer to it all the time; for it to awaken in all fullness will take time - there's no doubt about that.
      But there are probably things you could do to speed it up. Keep in touch with me (whether by writing such as this, or any other means you choose), keep in touch with the Masters, and try to get closer to God too. I know you find it difficult to talk to him, but just think about him from time to time, and see if you can talk to him sometimes. Don't think he's offended by your not talking to him; I think that could be one of the things inhibiting you. It's a bit like someone you might have been avoiding for some reason: the longer you avoid them, the more difficult it is to face up to them, because you feel vaguely guilty for avoiding them, and are wondering if they're hurt by it.
      But God doesn't work like that. He's not offended at all, and he knows perfectly well why you have that problem. His love for you is just as great as is mine, or that of Sananda and the other Masters. He appreciates that many people have trouble relating to him because he seems so awesome and abstract, instead of approachable and human.
      But, if he's not human, it's because he's superhuman, not non-human. He includes all that's best about being human, and a lot more besides. He is as approachable as anyone human, and as much as the Masters are; more so, in fact, if that's not too difficult to imagine, but I know it is. He also understands that some people have had their concept of God warped by limited ideas about him that are prevalent in your culture, and in many other cultures too.
      You could try some form of meditation too. I know you have difficulty with that, so much so that you're really put off the idea of even trying it; but broaden your concept of meditation: it could well be considered to include things that might be compatible with you, which you don't normally associate with meditation. I think it would be very good if you could follow up the idea of using lucid-dreaming techniques you suggested to Sananda recently, which he agreed with. If you have Sananda's help, as he has promised, you surely can't go wrong there. You might like to consider using techniques for things like astral projection or recalling past lives, such as those in various books you have. I think you have your head screwed on sufficiently about spiritual matters to be able to do these things safely.
      Perhaps you might also like to return to composing music; that is something that would awaken that sense of magic and wonder. Anything that awakens your intuition, that inspires a sense of optimism and hope, will be helpful to your spiritual life. Because, of course, when we talk about things connected with this ineffable sense of wonder, we are talking about nothing more nor less than your spiritual life.
      These are all things that might help awaken that spiritual desire that leads to those unidentifiable feelings of wonder you occasionally get, and especially did in childhood. Above all, don't become hard and impenetrable from cynicism or bitterness. Don't give up hope on everything that is good and meaningful to you.

      Michael: I can't help it a lot of the time.

      Bivalia: I'm not telling you never to feel pessimistic or discouraged; of course I realize you can't always prevent that. What I mean is, in spite of whatever feelings you may have, however often, don't completely close your mind to these things. Always try to keep a thread of hope and belief, even if it is only a belief that such things may be real. It is much more important to keep an open mind, and to avoid totally dismissing such things as unreal, than to maintain an intensity of optimism and belief that probably can't be maintained permanently anyway. It's like what Sananda told you the very first time you encountered him: keep the flame burning, keep your thread of truth going, don't become totally swamped in the negativity of the world you live in.
      I don't really think you are in danger here; you've been going all these years without losing the thread, so I don't think it's likely to break now after all this time.

      Michael: I hope you're right.

      Bivalia: Concerning that first time you encountered Sananda (consciously, at any rate), you've got Sananda's answer to the question you asked him typed on a couple of pages. Every time you lose hope or feel pessimistic, it might perhaps be good to once again read what Sananda said.

      Michael: I don't guarantee it'll always guide me the right way. The problem is that, intellectually, I'm almost convinced by the materialist scientific outlook, the sort of views expressed by people like Phillip Adams and Richard Dawkins the biologist; but they seem to accept those views they hold emotionally in addition, in a way I don't think I ever could. And I can tell you, it is not at all pleasant to go year after year intellectually feeling almost compelled to believe such views because the evidence for them seems too strong to resist, yet emotionally rejecting them, being repelled by them.

      Bivalia: I know it's difficult. These things are not easy to change quickly, and I really don't think at the moment I can offer you much more comfort that to say hang on to what you've got anyway (which you're doing already), and try to understand that, from the spiritual point of view, these are not nearly as much of a problem as they seem to be. It will all resolve itself in time, perhaps sooner than you can presently imagine.

      Michael: Dawkins and Adams really puzzle me in a way. Neither of them believe in God in the slightest, and both are hard-line believers that religion and science are opposed, that they cannot complement each other, the way some scientists seem to believe. Yet both seem very human somehow, in the best sense of the word; not at all the cold rational unfeeling people you might suppose.
      I've read a couple of Dawkins' books on genetics and evolution, and I've got to know Adams' views and personality quite well from his current affairs program on the A.B.C., and I firmly believe both of them are sensitive, thinking, caring human beings. A couple of weeks ago I heard Adams interviewing Dawkins on this subject, and I must say I feel drawn to both of them as human beings. In a curious way, I feel they are both, in spite of their beliefs, on the side of the Light, on the spiritual side of life.
      They both seem to have a sense of the numinous, perhaps something akin to the feeling of mine I've called a "sense of wonder", although maybe not exactly the same; but with both of them, they seem to see the numinous purely in terms of the physical sciences; they don't seem to need any hint of the spiritual realm, they don't seem to need any hope of survival after death. I just can't understand it. I almost envy them in a way, but I don't see how I could possibly do it myself.
      If you just read Dawkins' book The Selfish Gene, you can quite definitely pick up the fact that Dawkins senses wonder in the evolutionary matters he's discussing, even if at the same time you find it all rather repulsive the way life (according to Dawkins) is ruthlessly competitive, with even seeming altruism being there for reasons that are ultimately selfish in evolutionary terms. It's really quite strange, but I can't buy it somehow, even though I'm very nearly convinced on an intellectual basis. It's difficult to explain (and I know I use that sentence a lot in writings of this sort).

      Bivalia: Yes, I see what you mean. It would be futile for me to tell you Dawkins and Adams are limited in their views in a way you're not, so you don't need to believe them, to which you would retort (quite rightly, too), "That's all very well for you to say that; but have you examined the evidence supporting the so-called 'limited' point of view? If you had done, you would see that it isn't to be brushed aside that easily by glib spiritual explanations that in the end are so vague that they mean very little anyway."
      Acknowledge your feelings; don't try to pretend you're not nearly convinced by this scientific point of view when you know you are nearly convinced. All the sort of stuff Dawkins talks about is probably quite well-researched, and on its own level (the physical) it is almost certainly true. You'll probably be the loser if you try to base your position on proving that view wrong.
      Just realize that Dawkins is not really saying anything hard and fast about spiritual matters, even if he is at times insinuating them, and remember that he is not expert in the spiritual side of things, so that anything he says cannot be taken as proof about either the truth or falseness of a spiritual view of life. Remember that Dawkins is not claiming to disprove spiritual things directly; he is merely proposing a view of the universe that makes them seem superfluous, which is not the same as disproving their reality.
      Just keep an open mind, and don't let Dawkins (or anyone else with that kind of view) totally close your mind to spiritual things. It's like I said before: keep the spiritual flame burning.
      It doesn't even matter if you feel forced to acknowledge that the hope of anything spiritual being real is almost zero, because the proof for the physical view is just too strong. Realize that even if Dawkins is right on the physical level, that says nothing about realms beyond the physical. Neither he nor you have the complete picture at present, so both of you are forced to reach the most likely conclusions you can, based on the parts of the picture that you can see; but those conclusions are not complete, and may even be quite wrong in parts. You could be taking too seriously a view of things that of necessity is incomplete anyway.
      If you still feel committed to the spiritual view emotionally, that will suffice.

      Michael: Well, I guess so. I think I am emotionally more committed to the spiritual view, because I certainly have no emotional commitment to the other view. I find that other view intellectually quite fascinating, but I feel no moral or emotional commitment to it whatsoever. It doesn't inspire me in anything like the way both Richard Dawkins and Phillip Adams claim it does them.
      I can imagine both of them berating me for wasting my life (the only life I'll ever have, according to them) chasing castles in the air. They would say, if only I could come to terms with death and mortality, and give up the vain hope for life after death, I could then live a more satisfying life, purely in terms of this earthly life, to which I would retort, "If this life is truly is all there is, I find it such an uninspiring prospect that I'm not in the least interested in life on those terms; therefore I have nothing to lose by pinning my hopes on spiritual things, however unlikely they might be to be real."
      Phillip Adams likes saying occasionally that once you accept your own mortality, the prospect of death is a wonderful aphrodisiac for living, something I totally fail to understand. If death is the end, I don't see how it can fail to be anything other than totally depressing and uninspiring. I don't see how it can fail to render this life totally pointless, especially considering the unsatisfactory nature of life in this world.
      I've often said (and believed) that if you could only be totally (not nearly) sure Adams and Dawkins were right, the most rational thing to do would be to commit suicide without delay, to get the whole meaningless charade of life over and done with as soon as possible.

      Bivalia: You may be right; but the thing is, of course, that you can't be totally sure Dawkins and Adams are right. Until you do know for sure, the most rational thing to do is to hold off anything so drastic and irreversible, and wait for more evidence to come in, using the word "evidence" there in its broadest sense to include purely intuitional or spiritual indications of an internal nature.

      Michael: I guess so.
      I think I'm losing interest in writing this, even though I've written a few notes about things I might discuss with you. When you're cold, it's difficult to remain interested in anything at all.

      Bivalia: You don't need to continue now if you don't want to.


      Michael: I left off this without closing the session properly, sort of leaving you dangling in mid-air.

      Bivalia: That's all right; we don't have to stand on ceremony here.

      Michael: Yes, but I prefer to finish properly, and I intended to come back all along. But it underlines what I said just before leaving, that I'm losing interest in doing this. It just doesn't seem real, somehow. I think I find this session less interesting than the previous two, and I don't know why, because I think what I've brought up this time is just as important as the previous things I brought up.

      Bivalia: Never mind. Perhaps the matters were important, but you weren't properly in the mood for discussing them.

      Michael: You're more charitable than I would have the right to expect anyone else to be.

      Bivalia: Well, things would come to a pretty pass indeed if your own Higher Self wasn't charitable to you.

      Michael: But, seriously, I suspect the problem is deeper than not being in the right mood. I suspect that it's just that I got bored with this easily because it is quite literally unreal, that there is no real substance to this whole exercise I'm doing. It's just a sort of mental masturbation, as pointless as playing a chess game with yourself, playing both sides alternately, but, for each move, knowing what the other side is going to do, and anticipating. I think I once tried that, and I can tell you, it isn't a tenth as much fun as really playing another person; it isn't even nearly as good as playing against a computer. I think this business of attempting to talk with you is a bit like that, compared with talking to another person. I'm sorry to say this; it's nothing personal.

      Bivalia: That's all right; I don't take it the wrong way.

      Michael: Thanks; but I'm making a serious point. Perhaps this whole spiritual quest is inherently unreal, anyway, so that things like this writing which are connected with it are inherently content-free.
      It's a bit like talking to the Masters. I don't do that nearly as much as I might, for a similar reason. It really just seems like talking to myself, with the added distortion of making a pretence that doesn't seem real. If you're there, Masters, watching what I write, I'm sorry - I'm not making a criticism of you. But this is a real problem I have, and have had right from the first time I tried calling on the Masters; and it isn't diminishing with time.
      I know, Bivalia, that just a couple of pages back (and I even feel quite phoney using that name "Bivalia"), you gave me advice about dealing with this sort of problem, all the stuff about not giving up hope, keeping the spiritual flame alight, keeping an open mind, and so on, and here I am expressing exactly the opposite of that. But you must understand the problems of lack of belief that give rise to these negative feelings are very real to me, and quite strong.

      Bivalia: I do understand, and at no time while giving my advice did I deny that; nor did I tell you that you must at all times be full of deep belief or faith. In fact, I told you that you would make it in the end even if you had many periods of deep doubt and discouragement, just so long as you don't in some ultimate sense give up hope of ever finding anything better. And even if you did give up, I don't suppose it would cut you out permanently from finding enlightenment; but I suppose it would make life rather more difficult for you for a longer time. But I come back to what I've told you earlier on, that what counts more than the actual day-by-day beliefs you hold is what things you treasure most. If the things you value are those of spirit, that is what counts most of all.
      Now, I don't know if you wanted to discuss any of those things you made notes about; but you don't seem to be in the mood for it at present. I sense that even completing this session now is a bit of a duty to you. Why don't you leave off this now, and go to bed, or read, or do whatever you want to, and perhaps try discussing these matters with me another time? I think you enjoyed writing the first two sessions more, and there's no reason why one day you won't be more in that kind of attitude again, thus enabling us to have a really good talk.

      Michael: Maybe; I think I'm both cold and tired at the moment, and going to bed might be the only way of getting warm, with the electric blanket. I must say I don't understand those New-Age people who refuse to use electric blankets because they think the electrical fields they produce upset their body energies in ways they never seem to be able to define. I think I've met quite a few New-Age people like that, and the more lax ones allow the use of an electric blanket before getting into bed, turning it off as soon as they lie down.
      I have never actually heard any hard evidence that backs up this belief of theirs; but even if it were true, and I were convinced, I think I'd still use it all the same: I think the desire to escape the dreadful cold would override any other arguments at all.

      Bivalia: Well, you must do as you see fit in matters like that. You don't have to automatically do or believe anything simply because other people do it, especially on matters like that where people generally are far from unanimous in their opinions about it.

      Michael: No. I suspect a lot of New-Age ideas are a sort of bandwagon-jumping, the result of a rather subtle kind of peer pressure. New-Age sorts of people may not be conforming to society at large, and may be unconventional relative to that; but I often get the impression that, relative to New-Age culture generally, they're as conformist as many people are in mainstream society. I can't think of anything at all I'm conformist to, simply because I can't think of any subculture that I wholeheartedly accept as being valid. My path seems to be a very lonely one indeed.

      Bivalia: Well, who knows, it may be a more direct path with fewer detours than many of the others. Perhaps one day you will become aware of compensations for the loneliness of your path.

      Michael: I hope so. But I can't for the life of me accept the whole New-Age culture holus-bolus, any more than I can accept the mainstream culture as a whole. There are whole aspects of the New-Age way I just question too much to be able to go along with.
      Take their attitude to music, for example, one that really gets up my nose. People who move in these circles all seem to like the same kind of music, what is commonly called New-Age music, a sort of aimless meandering music which repeats the same chords all the time, and has a sickly sugary-sweet sort of treacly feel to it. It sounds like Chinese Muzak to me. I loathe this sort of music, it really makes my skin crawl with revulsion, and I will go to considerable personal inconvenience in order to avoid hearing it; I have walked out of gatherings sooner than listen to stuff of this sort that was droning on mindlessly. If I happened to be trying to compose something of my own, hearing this slimy pap would be very likely to destroy my chances of composing for hours to come; it could quite conceivably spoil the whole day, or even more than one day, as far as efforts to compose my own music were concerned.
      And yet, every New-Age-oriented sort of event, any meeting or gathering of a mystical nature, seems to be afflicted with this auditory cancer, as if it's just taken for granted that all those attending will like this noise. If this isn't conformism, I don't know what is.
      I find such a situation highly unnatural. Humans, left to their own devices, without coercion, peer pressure, conditioning, or other kinds of manipulation or interference, are incredibly diverse in their likes and dislikes; and this includes music. For all of a large group to like the same thing is, in my opinion, strong evidence of conditioning of some sort, just like youth culture has been conditioned into "liking" rock music almost unanimously. It reminds me of Pavlov's dogs being conditioned to salivate at the ringing of a bell.
      I know the New-Age people have a sort of metaphysical reason for using New-Age music the way they do. It's all to do with creating the right vibrations, itself a spurious concept to me, at least in the form I often hear it spoken of. But as far as I can see, to use music as a kind of general background to other activities, and to make it a regular habit, is just a prostitution of music. By using it so often in this way, you cheapen it, so that you end up taking it for granted, a bit like taking wallpaper for granted; it's just there, surrounding you all the time. I don't see how this can avoid generally blunting one's sensitivity to music, so that ultimately it would weaken one's enjoyment of music in a way that wouldn't happen if you didn't play it constantly all the time, but kept it a bit special, to be savoured at special moments when you especially feel like enjoying music. I know that other musicians sometimes agree with me on this; I don't think I'm alone in this.
      Anyway, I didn't quite mean to say all of that on that topic. I was just giving an example of what I consider to be New-Age conformism, but it happens to be something I feel very strongly about, and at times I find it difficult to resist expressing such views.

      Bivalia: You don't have to apologize; it can be good to express your views on a subject, whether they're conventional or not, or whether they're popular or unpopular.

      Michael: Well, I can tell you, my views don't seem to be very popular with certain people. I can't bring myself to believe that my views are that weird that they should be unpopular, but I think most people in our society (and I'm afraid I include some New-Age people here) have been brainwashed into thinking that the standard thing to do is to play music in the background all the time.
      What really annoys me is when they do it in public places and force others to listen to their noise too. It really shits me (if you'll excuse my saying so) that, while I exercise restraint in things like playing the piano whenever I think I might be annoying other people, I have to go to a lot of trouble to avoid having to listen to other people's music all the time (especially in shops); and I have such a bad feeling nowadays about recorded music in particular (it being the main offender in our society), that these selfish people who inflict this on me have robbed me of any ability to enjoy listening to music myself.
      Even if I could listen to music in such a time and place that it wouldn't affect other people significantly (a situation that doesn't exist in my life), I doubt if I would enjoy it anyway; sound equipment of any sort just has a really bad feeling to it, for me (I can simply look at it and feel real hatred, even if it's turned off), and I believe this would prevent my enjoying listening to music at all.
      But the issue doesn't even arise most of the time, because I'm not in a situation where I could listen to music anyway without affecting other people - unless I have it really soft like Muzak, or like background New-Age music, and I'm not really interested in having it going at these soft background levels. So I just don't listen to music at all, and I may play the piano occasionally, but I try to not do it too often, which precludes serious practising of any sort.

      Bivalia: The way all that poured out without a break, you obviously have a lot of anger stored up about that.

      Michael: I guess you're right; I have every reason to be angry. Auditory privacy of the most basic sort is just a right our society doesn't recognize in the slightest, even when people get quite obsessive about certain other types of privacy. Our society is just totally screwed up, and I'm totally alienated from society at large. With the general level of values in our society I'd feel ashamed of being anything other than alienated from it, even if this does make life difficult in certain respects. If our society collapses under its own decadence and greed (which I think is quite likely in years to come), serve it right. See if I care.
      Anyway, I wasn't meaning to get into all that now. (Actually, I might care if society collapses, not so much because I care about society as such, but because undoubtedly such an event would make life extremely difficult and painful for everyone concerned, including myself. I was sounding off a bit there.)
      But enough of all this. You were right a page or so back; I don't especially feel in the mood to continue this now. I'm feeling a bit disgruntled; I don't know exactly why, because nothing in particular has gone wrong. I don't mean I'm disgruntled in connection with the feelings about the abuse of music I've just mentioned; I was feeling a bit that way even before all that came up. I can't pin it down; but I don't think I'm feeling especially spiritual or noble at the moment. I tried talking with Hilarion the other day, but didn't come up with anything much to say, and the whole thing felt rather unreal, like a childish game of "let's pretend". It feels a bit uncomfortably like those times as a young child when I might pretend I had a special companion or friend of some sort. So maybe it's just not in me to be very spiritual; this world just weighs me down too much, and I'm sick to the back teeth of eternally struggling against its influence.

      Bivalia: Well, go easy on yourself; everyone feels like that at times; it's nothing to worry about. After a good night's sleep, you may well feel better about everything.

      Michael: Maybe, and maybe not. It's one of those things that can't be predicted. I don't accept the usual glib positive-thinking philosophy that says your feelings will be largely controlled by the kind of thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes you hold.
      In fact, I've found from personal experience that the feelings I have (whether positive or negative) are quite impervious to, and unaffected by, the beliefs or expectations I have about a given subject. Similarly, where positive-thinking philosophy often holds that success in doing something is largely dependent on your mental attitude, whether you expect to succeed, are determined to succeed, and so on, I find once again that it is quite unaffected by my beliefs or feelings about it.
      It is quite a commonplace thing for me to have a pessimistic attitude about something I'm doing, only to find (to my considerable surprise) that I can do it quite well, and everything goes just right, in spite of my attitudes; or, conversely, I sometimes find that I'm optimistic and positive about something, but for some reason things just don't go right, and I might completely fail at whatever it was I was trying to do. So none of this lends much support to the conventional positive-thinking philosophy, as far as I'm concerned.
      It may be heresy to say all this, but (for me) it happens to be truth, and I base what I say on what I believe to be true, not on what is the generally accepted idea.
      Well, I think I'll finish up. Sorry to end on a rather gloomy note, but I can't think of anything more inspiring to say.

      Bivalia: You don't have to manufacture a phoney optimism for my benefit. I accept the situation quite well, I suspect much more than you yourself accept it. You seem to be feeling that you must be optimistic and spiritual all the time. As you yourself implied, the influence of the world you're living in probably makes that impossible for most humans.

      Michael: That's the understatement of the year.

      Bivalia: Well, we're sort of leading each other on now; it's already been a couple of pages since we first agreed it might be best to call it quits for today. So I'll let you go now.

      Michael: Okay, thanks for your company, and for putting up with my bitching about everything. Maybe I'll see you another time.

      Bivalia: Good night then, Michael.


[a] Tuesday, 26 March, 2002 - "Bivalia:":
      See the first
note at the end of the dialogue for Monday, 13 June, 1994, for the meaning of the name "Bivalia", and why I adopted it in these dialogues as the name for my Higher Self. [Back]

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