(M.J.E. Spirit / Mon., 24 Oct., 1994)

Spirit Dialogues

Explorations of Spirit
by Michael Edwards

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      This dialogue reveals crucial details, including the main crux, of the plot of Larry Niven's science-fiction short story "Bordered in Black", found in the Niven collection Inconstant Moon - just in case you haven't read it but intend to. If this is the case, you may prefer to defer reading this dialogue until after you've read it.

Monday, 24 October, 1994

      Michael: Hallo, Bivalia. How are you today?

      Bivalia:[a] I'm very well, thank you. And you?

      Michael: Okay, I guess.

      Bivalia: This opening ritual is becoming a bit of a charade, is it not? I'm always "very well", and you're always "all right" or "Okay, you guess".

      Michael: Yeah, well we discussed this at the beginning of the marathon session a week or so ago, if I remember correctly.

      Bivalia: I do. We can skip the preliminaries in future, if you like, if they bore you repeated time and time again.

      Michael: Well, I like to keep a semblance of politeness and friendliness, even though the "How are you?"'s do seem a bit mechanical. But certainly I don't think we need to make a song and dance of it every time.

      Bivalia: Nor do I. What brings you to me today? It's very soon after our previous session.

      Michael: Oh, well, there's just one or two things I thought of. And this session can't be long either, because I'm visiting my parents today and don't want to be too late this time. So perhaps just 2 or 3 pages.

      Bivalia: As you please.

      Michael: I know how I can get hooked on this, and go on for many pages more than I intended by the sheer momentum of ideas; and if that happens, I don't like to stop it. But if it happens today, we'll have to continue a day or two later.

      Bivalia: That's all right.

      Michael: One thing is, Ra Leah (that's how she spells it now) asked me to ask you about the Blue Planet.

      Bivalia: Did she now? That's interesting. Would you like to tell me how this came up?

      Michael: I was telling her about the previous channelling I did of you, the long one a week or so ago, and I told her a bit about what was discussed in it, and she was absolutely enthralled, really excited. I was quite amazed that she could get so interested in something of mine that really has little bearing on her. But she's one of those rare, delightful people who really take pleasure in the achievements of others; I'm certainly not that type myself, but I treasure people who are like that.

      Bivalia: Well, go easy on yourself. It's only a matter of time; you may be closer to that than you think. And indeed Ra Leah is one to be treasured, isn't she?

      Michael: Yes. Well, anyway, there's a bit where you mentioned how the very titles of pieces of music I planned to write at various times indicated where I was spiritually, regardless of whether I'd actually written the pieces or not. As you remember, many of the pieces had titles relating to nature, and some also related to planets and other heavenly phenomena, and I mentioned these to Ra Leah, saying how "starseed-ish" that seemed. And I mentioned the titles "Solar Eclipse", "Moonrise", "Sunset", "The Blue Planet" and "The Lost World of Vulcan". And for some reason she picked up on "The Blue Planet", and asked about it.

      Bivalia: Do you know why she asked about that?

      Michael: No, she didn't say. But she asked me to ask you about the Blue Planet. And I then told her, remembering belatedly, that the piece, a work for piano and orchestra that I started about 12 or 13 years ago, had been inspired by Larry Niven's short science-fiction story "Bordered in Black". I then said to her, "Sorry about that, but that's what suggested the image, nothing mystical". But I agreed to ask you about it, although it doesn't seem to me that there's anything to ask about.

      Bivalia: Well, let's see what we can do about this.

      Michael: Ra Leah said, well if you tell her to go to hell, that's okay.

      Bivalia: She is a comedian, isn't she? She was joking?

      Michael: Probably. She's got a good sense of humour, the sort of person you can share jokes with. You know, sometimes you meet people you quite like, but somehow they're not the sort of person you can tell jokes to; but she is, and I like that.

      Bivalia: Anyway, we wouldn't be telling her to go to hell, would we, whatever we thought of her question?

      Michael: Of course not; I told her that.

      Bivalia: Now, would you like to tell me what precisely inspired this piece you started, "The Blue Planet"?

      Michael: Well, I read this story, perhaps in the late 1970s, called "Bordered in Black" by Larry Niven, a very well-known science-fiction writer. It's about an expedition to the star Sirius B, which is a white dwarf, but because of some mistake on Niven's part he depicted it as a blue-white giant, like Sirius A really is. Anyway, that's neither here nor there.
      These astronauts, two of them, I think, or maybe three, were in orbit around one of Sirius B's planets. I don't remember what the purpose of the expedition was, without looking up the story again (and I don't know where the book is at present). From hundreds of miles out in space, in orbit about this planet, everything looked normal, except for one continent, which seemed to have a thin black border around it, all the way. They couldn't make out what the border was, so obviously this had to be investigated, as well as other explorations that had to be made.
      They land, but I think on a different island or continent to begin with. I don't remember the exact sequence of events. They land near the sea, which is full, chock-full of this seaweedy stuff which seems to have a ripe cheesy smell about it. This smell pervades the entire planet. The skies of this planet look perpetually stormy, with tier upon tier of clouds lit luridly by the bluish light from Sirius B, the planet's sun, and everything is coloured bluish. There seem to be perpetual thunderstorms going on in the upper atmosphere, with blue lightning flickering all the time, even if there are no storms at ground-level. I don't remember all the details now, but I know Niven conjured up a very vivid, exciting sort of atmosphere to the planet, and a bit sinister, too. There was an uneasy alienness to everything, a rather oppressive sense of the unknown and the unpredictable.
      Essentially, this is the blue planet of my piece. If a scene, real or fictional, appeals to me sufficiently, stirs my imagination or that sense of longing I've so often mentioned before, it's very likely to suggest a certain style of music, and it might induce me to decide to write a piece of music evoking it. And this piece suggested to me a rather fiery sort of harmony, rather like Scriabin (a mystical Russian composer) in style, and with certain chords in E major and B major.
      Like with Scriabin, keys have colours to me, and I often choose keys to compose in because of the colours that fit into a scene I want to depict in music, rather than for purely musical considerations. Anyway, B major is always a blue key to me (my favourite key and my favourite colour), so I had to use it. E major is normally a green colour, but it has blue aspects too.
      I mean, the exact colours are also dependent on the sort of harmony I use, so you can't infallibly tell from the key alone. In this case, the E major is more blue than green, but perhaps with the slightest touch of green, and more dazzling than the B major blue, which is a bit richer. In this case, the B major was not nearly as deep a blue as it normally is (it normally being a rich sea-blue), but was more like a dazzling electric blue in this case, just like the blue Larry Niven described in his story. And for some reason, reading Niven's description of the planet caused exact chords to come to mind, new ones which are not the standard types of chords found in most music, and an exact style of orchestration, so I decided to write the piece.
      I don't know if you have access to fifth-dimensional pianos, Bivalia, but the main chord that came to mind was this. In E major, the notes, starting an octave and a half above the lowest note of the piano, and working up, are E, A#, G#, F#, C#. In B major, the notes are the parallel notes transposed a perfect 4th lower, namely B, E#, D#, C#, G# (beginning with the B just over an octave above the lowest note, and working upwards). I also devised other chords related to these, but these set the pattern.

      Bivalia: I see. I don't need to go to a piano. I'm your Higher Self; I know everything you know about music and a good deal more. I can hear those chords mentally from the notes you quoted. They certainly do have a subtle atmosphere, don't they, and are pregnant with possibilities.

      Michael: Of course, the entire piece would not be made up only of those chords. There would be others of course. But those chords were intended to form a starting point, to define the general style of harmony I would use.
      I started the piece in the early 1980s, and wrote a couple of minutes of music, beginning with string tremolos high up in register, and then the piano entering with sparkling arpeggios based on minor 2nds and major 7ths, quite pungent in effect.
      None of this music uses those chords I quoted, because I intended introducing them in a later part of the music. But I think what I wrote conjured up the atmosphere of the blue planet quite well. It's a pity I lost the thread of it and never finished it.

      Bivalia: There's no law of the universe which says you can't find the thread again.

      Michael: Yeah, I know. But you know how it is.

      Bivalia: Yes.

      Michael: I intended to write it for a composition competition run by the A.B.C. in 1980 or 1981, thereabouts. But of course there was a deadline for that. And I probably wouldn't have won. If I had entered and won, it would have been good. One of the winners, Graeme Koehne, an Adelaide composer, established his reputation with his winning entry, a wonderful orchestral composition called Rain Forest.
      I found some of the pages I'd written just the other day, while looking for something else, although I know there are several more pages of sketches for further passages somewhere else. Maybe I should find them, and consider going on with the piece.

      Bivalia: All in good time. You're already working on a piece with Kuthumi, and have let that slide for a week or two. I would get back to that, and finish that. Do not feel in a hurry to get onto "The Blue Planet" just now.

      Michael: Well, anyway, I suppose that's all there is to say about that piece.

      Bivalia: Well, what was the black border in the story? Did the characters ever find out what it was?

      Michael: Yes, they did.... Well, it's a bit horrible.

      Bivalia: Aren't you going to tell me? I think I can take it. And you will probably show these pages to Ra Leah. She will feel cheated if you don't tell her.

      Michael: Yes, I'll tell you, although it's not relevant. The piece was inspired only by the image of the planet, not in any way by what happened.
      What made up the black border was horrifying beyond belief. The end of the story is not for those with tender stomachs. And I emphasize, this is not what my piece of music was about.
      The black border was simply people, a black-skinned, humanoid race of people. Their only source of food was the seaweedy stuff in the sea, and they crowded the beaches, struggling against each other, trying desperately to get food from the sea, shoving aside their fellows, trampling them underfoot if necessary.
      They had been there for hundreds of years, and had no contraceptives, and nothing to do but eat and reproduce. The interior of the continent was barren (a little way inland, the astronauts found a few skeletons draped with the parched remains of black skin, scorched by the merciless sun). There were far many more people than there was coastline for them, so life was a grim, never-ending competition for food, and they lived more or less in a permanent condition of famine. Natural selection had favoured genes for tallness, because the tall people could reach over their fellows to get to the water more easily. There were layers in the border of black people, with the strongest ones by the water, the weaker ones behind them, and a layer of dying people at the rear.
      The astronauts came back to Earth quite crazy from the trauma of the things they witnessed. Pretty harrowing stuff, it was.

      Bivalia: Indeed.

      Michael: It seemed these people had been planted there centuries earlier by aliens performing some sort of grotesque experiment. The aliens had long since vanished from the scene, but there was nothing to stop these black people breeding and breeding in their hell, century after century. They had no technology, no learning, no clothes even. I don't even know if they still retained the ability to speak or think. Natural selection in those circumstances would not place a premium on intelligence, and it would atrophy over the generations. They had nothing whatsoever, and no way of improving their situation, and for all we know such a situation could go on for ever, and they would just grow taller and taller because of natural selection, until their skeletons were unable to support any greater height.
      It's the sort of thing that makes you wonder if God really exists.

      Bivalia: This is an ongoing problem in your life, isn't it, the absolute incompatibility (as you see it) of a loving God with the pain and suffering that takes place in the world?

      Michael: Yes. But I haven't got time now to go on about this at length; and I have other writings I've done where I have gone into that, such as that letter I wrote (which I still have to do a bit of tidying up on) pretending to be from Bivalia - you - from the future, relating what your ascended life was like.

      Bivalia: Perhaps that letter is not as much pretence as you think.

      Michael: Yes, well, in it I discuss the problem of evil and suffering and say what, as an ascended Master, I am doing about it.

      Bivalia: Indeed, you - I - we - have much to offer in this area one day.

      Michael: But meanwhile, the problem utterly baffles me, and I think it's one of the big things that holds me back from spiritual awareness now. I've read various explanations of how and why God allows suffering, including all the usual karmic kinds of reasoning, and they do not satisfy me - they don't even begin to.
      Do you know the answer to it?

      Bivalia: I don't think we can at present think in terms of an absolute answer. If so, someone in your world would have found it by now. Yes, I feel I have a clearer perspective on it now than you do at present with your physical mind, but communicating that to you is not easy. You have limitations at present on what you can receive from me, and your language has limitations on what it can express clearly, especially in the metaphysical area.
      But all is not without hope. I suggest that you were really onto something in that letter from the future, and if you develop your thinking along the lines you explored in that letter on the questions of suffering, I believe you will get somewhere better than you now are with regard to that question. That is all I can say now, especially now if your available time is limited.
      You have written about 30 pages of that letter, exploring many different areas, and -

      Michael: Yes, I wrote it quite a while ago, too - about March.

      Bivalia: Yes - and I know you want to add a couple more pages about one more topic, and this is why you haven't printed it out yet. Why don't you do that, and have the thing printed out? I know there are a number of people who would like to see it.

      Michael: Yes, I know. Anyway, I strayed. The horrifying bit in the story somehow brought on the deep question of evil and suffering and God. (The story doesn't go into the philosophical aspects.)
      But what do you have to say about the blue planet?

      Bivalia: I think you've said everything there is to say about it.

      Michael: Are you joking? Ra Leah seemed to think there must be more to it.

      Bivalia: I'm sure there is. There's much more to everything in the world. What is perceptible to the senses and to reasoning is but a thin layer on top of the real complexity and subtlety of the universe. There are whole realms of existence that most people never dream of.
      Let's try an indirect approach to this, seeing that I don't seem to have anything direct to say about this. Let me ask you a simple question. What does the phrase "The Green Planet" suggest to you?

      Michael: It suggests another science-fiction story, a novel this time, and it suggests a dream I once had, years ago, and it suggests another piece I wanted to write but never began. There was going to be a series of them, "The Blue Planet", "The Green Planet", "The Red Planet", "The Yellow Planet", "The Grey Planet", and so on. Not all of them were suggested by particular stories; most would simply be my own images. I was rather interested in science-fictionish things at that time, planets and space-travel, and so on.

      Bivalia: Starseeds tend to be. Such things conjure up all sorts of sweet, nostalgic but forgotten memories for them.
      What about the novel you just alluded to?

      Michael: It's Critical Threshold by Brian M. Stableford. It's set on a lush forest-covered planet. It's just perfect for a human colony to be set up; but the problem discovered by a contact ship a century or two later when they land is that the colony, in the middle of the forest, is surrounded by a wall, as if the colonists have been trying to protect themselves from something. Only about 50 people are left, and they seem to be quite out of their minds, quite psychotic, as if they were full of heroin and L.S.D. Other groups have broken away and are wandering around in the forest, sort of like feral humans.
      In the end it turns out there's a species of butterfly which emits pheromones which have some weird effects on the human mind, which the initial investigators who approved colonization had known nothing about.
      Stableford, not an especially well-regarded author, seems to specialize in biological mysteries set on alien planets, and the novels, which can be heavy-going, tend to be full of psychological and sociological analysis and speculation, and philosophical rumination. They can be interesting, but are not especially easy to read.

      Bivalia: What about the dream?

      Michael: I barely remember it. It was suggested by the general atmosphere of the novel, the dense forest filled with luminous green, and all that, but not by the events of the novel. In fact, I don't think I'd even read the novel at the time of the dream; I'd only seen the picture on the front cover, a stunning image of that green forest, with an extraordinarily intense green luminosity, which seemed to embody the spirit of greenness, if you know what I mean. The atmosphere of the dream was not at all like the atmosphere of the novel as a whole, but was filled with wonder, almost ecstasy, and a great sense of mission or purpose, somehow. I would even describe it as spiritual.

      Bivalia: Do you remember any of the events of that dream?

      Michael: Very little, but it had a very distinctive atmosphere.
      I was in a spaceship with a number of other people, on some exploratory mission. I had a great closeness to the other people and we worked well as a team, filled with a high sense of purpose and idealism, a sense of wonder. They sort of felt like a spiritual family, if you know what I mean. I'm talking about something quite different from (and much more wonderful than) the ordinary comradely feeling that often develops between fellow-workers in any field. And it's something better than ordinary family feelings between close relatives, too. But I have no memory whatsoever of any of these people as individuals. I suppose there must have been at least a dozen of us, or maybe more. But there was a sense of fellowship of the sort I've never experienced at all over my whole life, but which I think I have a deep longing for.
      We descended to the surface of this green planet, down through layers and layers of greenery. We went down and down, but it seemed to remain light. We seemed to be descending into this hollow or valley with sides as steep as a cliff, but still utterly overgrown with greenery - trees and plants of all sorts, so that you could nowhere see any ground. This hollow seemed to be dozens of miles deep, and we just went down and down, but it remained luminous. I think shafts of golden sunlight came right through it all, dimmed a little by all the layers of greenery, so that you could see little direct sunlight, but it subtly illuminated everything in a greenish-gold way, so that everything was gold and green, with the green predominating.
      I presume we landed and explored, but I don't seem to remember past this point. But the atmosphere of the dream was just somehow filled with this wonder, and I've always thought I'd like to read science fiction that has this sense of wonder, but I've rarely if ever found any.
      Science-fiction fans often use the phrase "sense of wonder" to describe a certain atmosphere which is commonly supposed to pervade particularly the science fiction of the "Golden Age", which is the 1940s and 1950s. Science fiction changed after that, became more diverse, perhaps more subtle and less stereotyped, but at least some fans perceive it to be less filled with wonder, less filled with the joys of discovery and exploration, and a little too prone to being turgidly and self-consciously "D. and M.", which is an ironic phrase for "deep and meaningful", used in a rather derogatory way.
      So I suspect that "sense of wonder" as used by the older type of science-fiction fans is not quite the same as what I mean by the phrase, which is something a bit more spiritual, I suppose, although there could be points in common. Sometimes the images in science fiction did indeed arouse in me that sense of wonder, but only by serving as a starting point for my own imagination; the stories did not usually themselves contain the sense of wonder I'm talking about, ready-made. The essence of the wonder I felt resided in my own imagination, not in the stories I read.
      There is very little science fiction I know of that comes close to what I perceive as having a sense of wonder, and probably none at all that hits it exactly. But I've often dreamed of writing some myself that does capture that feeling, but haven't actually done so. I suspect I don't have enough scientific knowledge to write good science fiction. I also suspect there may be a conflict between my sense of wonder, which is spiritual in essence (I suspect) and the essential ethos of science fiction, which is all about scientific thinking and investigation, and looking at everything from an orthodox scientific point of view, and not really thinking in mystical terms. This conflict may be the reason why very little science-fiction of this sort has appeared.

      Bivalia: I see. But the dream you had appears to use the imagery of science fiction, but to embody the essence of your own vision of spirituality. The essential meaning of this dream seems to be that sense of wonder which appears to be as persistent a theme in your whole life as your quest for truth.

      Michael: Yes, I think you're right. But where has all this led us?

      Bivalia: I don't know. I think you had better regard this as a journey to be enjoyed for the sights along the way, not as a destination that has to be reached. By just wandering around the world of imagination, we have established a connection between the blue planet Ra Leah asked about, and the sense of wonder which seems to be for you the centre of what spirituality is all about. And it is obvious that the blue and green planets are a part of your whole inner world of dreams and imagination, amongst many other things. These could be areas of the astral plane you are discovering and/or creating, with pure mind power. You will find it interesting to explore all this more consciously one day, once you have ascended and realized yourself more fully.

      Michael: Yes, I will. So is that all?

      Bivalia: I don't think five-and-a-bit pages is doing too badly for when you meant to just spend a couple of pages asking Ra Leah's question. I hope you didn't expect it to lead to all the answers to all the great riddles of life.

      Michael: No. I suppose I just thought it was possible you might come out with something though, because it seemed as if Ra Leah thought there might be some meaning I didn't know about. But we haven't really discussed anything I didn't already know about.

      Bivalia: My friend, I never tell you anything you don't already know about. You and I are really one, and we both know the same things. Perhaps you are yet to come to a realization about certain things, but if there is something like that, I can't channel that to you, because I have to work through your mind. It will not always be so, but that is how we must work for now. This is why I can't simply tell you all about your - my, perhaps I should say - past lives, or stuff like that. Since I am working through your mind, I simply can't get information of that sort through, things you don't yet feel as true in your physical mind.

      Michael: I might ask Sananda about it, one Friday at Ra Leah's channelling sessions.

      Bivalia: By all means do that if you feel it is appropriate. He may have something interesting to say about it. But if we have established that the blue planet, and the green planet too, are connected with the sense of wonder, and your inner landscape, I think that's a thing of some significance, considering how central the sense of wonder and the inner landscape are to your whole life.
      You are very hard on yourself. I think we have accomplished something of interest, and have done well for a mere couple of hours of typing.

      Michael: Two hours, 26 minutes, to be exact. The word-processing program I am using keeps track of the time you spend on a particular document. 27,795 keystrokes. Golly, I wonder how many keystrokes I've done since I first started using computers round about 1988. Must be hundreds of millions. Just as I wonder how many notes I've played on pianos over my life; that must come to literally billions of notes.

      Bivalia: One day you can consult the akashic records and find out.

      Michael: Well, I have a few higher priorities than those particular pieces of data. But in general the ability to recall any ideas I've ever had is one of the things I most look forward to in the ascended state.

      Bivalia: It shall happen, my friend, and you will rise to greater heights than you can even imagine now. None of those ideas you've had, and lost the thread of in this life, and grieved over, will be wasted in the long term. I am mulling over them through the years, in readiness for the right time to continue with them.

      Michael: I hope you're right.

      Bivalia: You see, you are so ambitious, and set such high standards, that perhaps there are many things you are not ready to do yet, and perhaps which the world you live in is not ready for either.

      Michael: Yes, I'm just thinking of the mystic and composer Cyril Scott's book Music: Its Secret Influence. He predicted (in the 1930s, I think he was writing) that there would be a new kind of music, quite different from anything hitherto known, but not yet: the world was not ready for it yet. I would feel very privileged to think I might be one of the composers he was referring to there.

      Bivalia: You are, my friend. Haven't you been aware for years of how out of tune your creativity is with the musical spirit of the time you are living in, not only stylistically but philosophically, and how, although your music is largely in tune with a more romantic concept of music more common 50 to 100 years ago, it nevertheless is not the same, but has something new to add in that direction?

      Michael: Yes, I guess so. I just laugh at those composers and commentators and historians who pompously proclaim that many of the traditions I cherish are played out, exhausted, wrung dry of anything new to say in that idiom. I think that is so short-sighted that it's ridiculous.

      Bivalia: What you wish to express has its roots in the late romantic composers and some of the early moderns, those composers whose music seems to hint at that sense of wonder you treasure so much; but you wish to explore even further the direction started by some of these composers, but not followed to its fullest possible extent.

      Michael: Yes. The music I most love is because it seems to know about this private sense of wonder, not because it follows this or that "ism" or fashion, even though I prefer certain "isms" to others. But the sense of magic and wonder is to me the most important part; all else is secondary.

      Bivalia: Your own words speak the message as clearly as I could put it myself. Believe me, my beloved, you will come into your own one day as a composer and writer, however little success you may have along the way. Just be patient, be prepared to wait, to mark time; but above all, don't lose hope, don't lose that sense of wonder. Tenuous as it may seem, as if you only have the memory of the wonder, not the feeling itself, just hold on to the memory at least, and believe in it, and it will not fail you. The combined oppressiveness of the world you live in, if it were directed at you personally, could not prevail over you in the end if you just hang on to what you believe in.
      Try to keep faith in God, and keep in touch with me, and with the Masters you already have a growing relationship with. If you cannot fully believe in life beyond your world, and in ascension, at least remain open-minded; even that will suffice for now, until you have more to go on.

      Michael: I hope so. You can sure sound inspiring at times, Bivalia.

      Bivalia: That is my job.

      Michael: Thank you, anyway. That said, I think we are now running down. I think I must get ready to go now. I said I couldn't stay long here, and I've already been too long.

      Bivalia: Of course. I will remain with you always, but I bid you farewell as we break this conscious contact.

      Michael: Thank you, and good-bye.


[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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