(M.J.E. Spirit / Sun., 13 Nov., 1994)

Spirit Dialogues

Explorations of Spirit
by Michael Edwards

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Sunday, 13 November, 1994

      Michael: Hullo, Bivalia.

      Bivalia:[a] Hullo, Michael. I am very well; you don't need to ask, do you?

      Michael: Perhaps not. I didn't know whether to date this session the 13th or the 14th, because, as I start this, it's about midnight, Eastern Standard time, in between those two dates. Actually, Victoria generally thinks it's about 1 a.m., because of so-called "daylight-saving" time, but calling it 1 o'clock doesn't make it so, and Eastern Standard time is at least closer to mean solar time, if not exactly right on the nose.
      Anyway, I settled for the 13th, partly because, even when it passes midnight, I still tend to think of it as the same day until I go to bed, and also because I opened the document slightly before midnight (real time), and had been thinking of doing this session before that. I don't give "daylight-saving" the dignity of even recognizing it as valid.

      Bivalia: You don't like it?

      Michael: No. I totally disapprove of it, because it's false, like so much in our society is false. If people want to have more daylight in the evening, they should start their day earlier and finish earlier, but let's not delude ourselves that we can change the time itself to suit our own timetable. If people want to start work at 8 a.m. instead of 9 a.m., and finish at 4 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. (or whatever), by all means let them do so; but let's be honest and say that's what we're doing, and not have this crap about calling it 9 o'clock instead of 8 o'clock, and so on.

      Bivalia: You obviously feel very strongly about this.

      Michael: I suppose so. It upsets my sense of the rightness of things to see the sun appear to rise at about 5.30 a.m., but set at about 9 p.m., in midsummer, for instance. That makes the middle of the night some time after 1, whereas, by definition, 12 midnight should be the middle of the night, or at least reasonably close to it. It's just illogical.

      Bivalia: You must admit that a great deal of what happens in your world is illogical.

      Michael: That's for sure.

      Bivalia: I sense you sometimes get upset over it.

      Michael: I suppose I do sometimes.

      Bivalia: But you realize, don't you, that if you expect other people to be logical, or even sensible, all the time, you're setting yourself up for much grief, because you can't make people logical or sensible. You might be better off to just let some of this stuff go, and just realize you're not responsible for what others do, and don't take it on emotionally. Although I wouldn't normally advocate a snobbish attitude of regarding the masses as stupid, and looking down your nose at them as if to say "What more could you expect from them?", it could be that a little of this (as long as you don't think like that continuously) might yet be preferable to constantly feeling annoyed yourself.

      Michael: It's when other people's stuff is forced on me that it really galls me. The instances of illogical, stupid, or distasteful behaviour that others choose to do which doesn't affect me I'm perfectly happy to leave alone, and do largely. But some people inflict things on others against their will, and of course some instances are just general practices or standards of society at large that it's almost impossible not to constantly bump into.

      Bivalia: I think you'll just have to try not to take it so badly when it is forced on you, and just hang onto your truth, and don't regard this stuff as the status quo in your own reality, even if it is the status quo in your society. Perhaps you have expectations of society that are never going to be even remotely met (at least for the time being in the present order of society), and you feel hurt when those expectations are not met.

      Michael: Yes, but I can just tell you that living in this society hurts in a thousand ways, sometimes in quite big ways, but also often in little ways which may themselves be trivial individually, but all of which add up to a constant stream of little stabs of pain or anger, occasionally punctuated by a big stab of agonizing pain. You must realize that; and hearing platitudes from you about how I must accept it, and how I should not have such high expectations from society, isn't going to make me feel any better about it. I realize society is not going to change for the better, and I think the only relief I'll get is when I either die in the normal course of events, or ascend, whichever comes first.

      Bivalia: I'm sorry if I sound as if I'm giving you platitudes. I think you're a little annoyed at what I said, and I certainly don't aim to annoy, but only want to help you. But if you can't accept what I say, I suppose what you just said is true, that only those events you described (death or ascension) will give relief. It simply isn't realistic to expect your society to change radically in the near future, with only the possible exception of completely destroying itself.
      Perhaps an interim and at least partial remedy would be to physically move out of society and live in the country, where these things would annoy you less, even though they continue to exist.

      Michael: Don't imagine for one moment that I haven't often thought of that myself; but unfortunately, while you may be able to go anywhere in the entire universe with the merest thought, such a move for me would require resources I simply don't have, such as a car, and much more money than I could hope to muster. To live in the sort of location I would like to live would be simply unthinkable without running a car, and if you think otherwise, you have obviously forgotten what public transport is like in this society. I would probably also have to buy a house, which takes lots of money, because I've been told there's very little rental property in the country, and it would have to be a house, at least some distance from the nearest neighbours; and a flat would be no good, even if available, because it would then be just like where I am now, and just as surrounded by neighbours.
      So, while in principle I agree entirely with your suggestion, the circumstances of my life do not make it even remotely possible.

      Bivalia: It may become possible one day.

      Michael: Perhaps; in fact, I know when it will be possible, but it would not be good form to build plans on that.

      Bivalia: Why is that? If you don't mind my asking.

      Michael: Because the circumstance that will make it possible will be the death of my father. Barring unforeseen mishaps in his affairs, I expect to inherit money - not from him personally, but from his father, who died quite a few years ago, but the inheritance, by the terms of his will, only takes effect upon my father's death. It won't perhaps make me rich, but it will likely be sufficient to allow the proposal you made, and perhaps leave enough to invest to give me a modicum of financial security. But, although I've been aware of this for years, I don't consider it proper or in good taste to plan what to do after the death of a family member.

      Bivalia: I understand your feelings about that.

      Michael: It's made worse by the fact that I don't get on with my father; so you can see the potential problems with guilt about making such plans, as if I'm assuming he'd be more useful to me dead than alive.

      Bivalia: I see; you don't need to spell that out. I certainly don't want to induce you to do something you consider wrong. But if even if you do the right thing and don't make such plans or even think about the issue much, this potential guilt is something you might have to face one day and deal with.

      Michael: I'll deal with it when and if it comes up.
      I think we'd better not continue on this topic. While I agree with you in principle that the issues this raises are things I should be able to talk about (because I believe, as a generality, that one should be able to talk about anything honestly), nevertheless in practice I find that talking about this brings me uncomfortably close to what I said before, about planning in advance what to do after someone dies, and I don't want to do it.
      I think it's nasty and cheap to plan what you might do when someone dies and you inherit money, where it might even look as if you were waiting for them to die. I would hate to be thought by others, or even just to think myself, to be money-grubbing and mercenary, and I hope I'm not like that. I don't think I am, but I suppose I like the things money and only money can get in this society, as much as anyone else does.
      But I cringe when I read those stories in newspapers occasionally about families wrangling over a dead person's money and property, and occasionally having acrimonious court battles over someone's will, as if an inheritance was a right rather than a favour. It's all just so unspeakably sordid and horrid. I would be utterly ashamed of myself if I ever did such a thing myself. This is why I feel uncomfortable talking about this. Even just as far as we've come, I feel uncomfortable, and I would be horrified if my family, especially my father, were to read the discussion we've just had.

      Bivalia: In that case, I suggest you don't show this to them; but I won't press you on the matter if you are not ready to talk about it now.

      Michael: I really think we should just leave it; and if problems come up, perhaps after my father's death, then will be the time to deal with them. At least then it would be proper to deal with problems that have already become real.

      Bivalia: As you wish.

      Michael: In starting this session, I didn't even mean to get onto this admittedly rather troublesome area. It came up because of your suggestion to move to the country. So, you see, you have to accept that it's just not possible, and for reasons I've made clear, it's not possible to think about a future time when it might be possible. So meanwhile I just have to stew in a stinking corrupt world full of false values which I think is just eating me up mentally and spiritually.

      Bivalia: You've very angry, aren't you?

      Michael: I suppose so; and with good reason. I've got 40 years of messed-up life, 40 years of wonderful plans I wanted to follow that if I could have followed them would have yielded much good work in my own areas of talent that would have done other people good as well as given me fulfilment; and because of the miserable circumstances of my life I've just had to let those plans rot, because of all sorts of other distractions that plague me: emotional and psychological problems, the society surrounding me whose aura (so to speak) leaks into me despite my efforts to keep out of the thick of it, even my financial situation. And don't you believe it if anyone guided by spiritual impulses tries to tell you money doesn't count. For instance if I had money I could live somewhere decent which would be more conducive to composing and writing. It's quiet where I am, thanks to quiet neighbours; but because they're so close, I don't dare to listen to music or play the piano too much because it doesn't seem fair to inflict it on others, so my musical life is just rotting away as a consequence, and I can't do a goddamn thing about it.
      So yes, I'm angry, and I have been for many years. My life is wasted, and too much of my life is now gone for me to set any store by grand ideas such as I once had, because those plans would need time, and time is less and less on my side as I get older, especially with the best years already behind me.
      Do you realize that, according to today's criminal sentencing practices, I have effectively lost nearly two life sentences in terms of lost time which could potentially have seen much accomplishment? It's common for murderers sentenced to life imprisonment to be released on parole after 20, or even 15 years, now; and the wasted years of my life (if we ignore the earlier years of childhood) amount to almost twice this. And I haven't even committed a petty burglary or anything, let alone murder, and I don't feel I deserve to have lost all this; but nevertheless I have, and that's what life has done to me, for a number of reasons which have just happened to combine that way to have that effect.
      Perhaps I'm haranguing you too much, kicking the cat, so to speak; but you don't seem to have much to say about this.

      Bivalia: I don't think I can say anything about this that you would be able to accept at this time. I'm just listening to you, giving you my love and understanding. I can see you have a great deal of hurt stored within you over many years, and I agree you have good reason to feel hurt; I'm not going to tell you you shouldn't be angry. If it makes you feel better, you can curse and swear at me, curse and swear at Sananda, curse and swear at God Himself; they, and I, love you none the less for that, and are able to accept your temporary treatment of us in such a way if you feel you need to in order to release some of the anger. I think I can speak for God and Sananda on this in saying that if you even do that to them, they will just return their wonderful love for you and do their best to help you feel better. They long for you to come through this, and long for your fellowship and company, just as I do.
      Meanwhile, I admit the difficulties of your life are a problem not to be whitewashed with spiritual-sounding platitudes, as New-Age believers are sometimes prone to doing. Your difficulties are another variation of the pain problem we've talked about before, this time complicated by the fact that you have much personally at stake in this, which therefore makes it more difficult to think clearly about it; and we both agreed there are no easy answers to it from your three-dimensional perspective.
      I only say to you, once again: hang on to your vision of spirituality, and all this stuff will pass one day, whatever happens to you, however much you lose in your present life. In the long run nothing is lost, at least nothing you value. If you've lost the magic you've spoken of before that seems to embody all that you regard as good and spiritual, then just hang on to the memory of it; even that will suffice until things change and you have more to go on. I don't think I can say anything more about it now than that.

      Michael: How did this come up? Once again, this wasn't something I meant to get onto anyway; and here I've had a real griping session, bitching about this and that.

      Bivalia: There are occasions when the really important things to discuss are the things we didn't intend to go into, and where the things we did intend to discuss are a cover story, so to speak. But still, what did you want to talk about?

      Michael: I had a telephone conversation with Shirley R. last night (Saturday night, the 12th, that is). And I don't remember how it came up, but she ended up telling me some of the stuff T. [b] had said at that weekend a few weeks back. I think her philosophy is being more and more influenced by the sort of things he said, and I found it extremely disturbing. It's so cold and inhuman, quite repulsively austere; not at all my thing.

      Bivalia: Well, what was the essence of T.'s philosophy, in a few words?

      Michael: Oh God, I don't know if I can say. It's so abstruse and obscure I wouldn't even know where to begin. I almost decided not to have this session with you now, because I knew I wanted to discuss this with you but wondered if I could possibly find the words to do so.

      Bivalia: Well, now you're here, have a try.

      Michael: Well, I can't give you an orderly logical description. This totally defies logic, and I dare say it defies human thinking altogether. I will just have to start somewhere randomly, move from one idea randomly to another, just following my nose, and hope that I circle round the essence of it, and get close enough that in the end you get the idea of what I mean.
      I wasn't at the T. weekend, but Shirley was, and so was Ra Lyah; so I can only give it to you second-hand. But T. seems to be on about just being one with everything. I tried asking Shirley what this meant, but she couldn't tell me, beyond such vague things such as "Just be". I asked how you do that, and she said there's nothing to do. Doing is not what it's all about; just be.
      And you can imagine how useful I find that advice. I'm "being" already, and have been "being" for 40 years, and it hasn't got me anywhere. As I see it, one has no choice but to be, barring suicide. Being means to exist, and we all exist, and I don't need a guru to tell me that. (And I certainly don't need to pay $60 or whatever it was for that advice.) When I say just being hasn't got me anywhere, I can imagine Shirley saying that doesn't matter; you don't have to go anywhere.
      I told Shirley that, regardless of all these abstruse matters, the fact is there are things I like in life, and other things I don't like, and I want something that can help me get from the situations I don't like to the ones I do. All she had to say to that was that this very thinking indicated I was still into duality, and that's not what it's all about. Apparently, according to her philosophy, the very concepts of liking or disliking anything are irrelevant. This sort of philosophy boxes me up with clever-sounding words, but totally fails to commend itself to me, totally fails to answer legitimate queries by dismissing them as irrelevant. It has no human understanding, and is cold and alien. I hope I don't become like that myself.
      For goodness' sake, does Shirley think I'm in things - the spiritual path, ascension, and so on - or not? She seems to accept at times that I'm a starseed (as I've been told I am by various Masters), and she sometimes tells me I'm doing well. But here, I'm expressing a view that (according to Shirley) indicates duality, fear of loss, and other things she definitely regards as "not what it's about". I don't know whether Shirley thinks I'm still in it or not; but certainly the things she told me made me feel totally out of things, that I might as well forget all about ascension. If things were as she said, I even wondered if ascension would have the slightest appeal to me even if I could do it.
      There was another bit, it just occurs to me, about entering a void, a complete nothingness. It seems (as best as I remember) as if being absolutely nothing was the ultimate in spiritual awareness. I think it's grotesque, like something out of Sartre or Kafka or some of those other weird writers who seem to totally deny everything. But Shirley seems to go along with all this stuff.
      Apparently another of T.'s ideas is that everything is an illusion. I don't know what this means. If this is so, in that case, what is reality anyway? I don't even see how the question is meaningful or relevant. If the things that happen in my life are, in some fashion, only illusion, they certainly give just as strong an impression as if they were real. It's purely an academic question. Given that things happen that affect me in various ways, I don't even care whether they're real, or whether they're just an illusion in some obscure sense, but such a strong illusion that they seem totally real. I think the whole thing sounds like a great big wank. Even if it's true, I just don't see any use in such an idea, anyway. It doesn't seem to say anything important, doesn't seem to give you useful information or insights of any sort.
      There were other bits too which I forget, equally empty and depressing; but I suppose what I've been able to scrounge from my scraps of memory give you at least the flavour of what I'm struggling to tell you, if not the detail.
      I like Shirley, but I could feel lots of walls come crashing down between us as we talked around these metaphysical problems in circles that offered no release; I felt as if I had been put into a prison, and the walls were slowly closing in, and not even all the power of the universe, of God Himself, could do anything to stop it: the space I was trapped in now the size of a room - closing in - now the size of a car (beginning to look ominous), the size of a cupboard, the size of a suitcase (now starting to get really painful and claustrophobic, squeezing me tighter and tighter), the size of a shoe-box, a matchbox, ultimately closing right in, in, right down to a black hole of zero size, yet forming an infinitely deep hole of nothingness, out of which you could never emerge. Ideas which (figuratively) give me feelings like this do not seem to be real spirituality to me, and it feels deeply wrong somehow, even if I can't put my finger on exactly what it is; and, I don't know what Shirley would think of it, but I don't think alienation from other people is what the spiritual game is all about, and I don't see how a philosophy like the one Shirley is advocating can fail to alienate 99 percent of people, even many who are open-minded about spiritual things.
      This view of life just seems to deny everything. It rejects even spiritual things because they "hold you back". You're expected to do without the Masters even, and do everything yourself. It sounds insufferably lonely to me. I don't think I even want to be that totally self-sufficient. I don't know about Shirley, but I enjoy the company and fellowship of kindred spirits. It's one of the few things that makes life worthwhile. I would rather share my journey with others than do it all myself. I'm already lonely enough as it is; I certainly don't want to pursue a spirituality that is based so much on being alone.

      Bivalia: I see what you mean. If Shirley finds this fulfilling, we must respect that, although it is not clear to me whether she would consider the concept of it being fulfilling even to be relevant; but I agree with your feeling that this is not for everyone. It's one thing to say "This is for me, it works for me", but quite another to suggest "This is the only way for anyone".

      Michael: Well, I don't think Shirley said that, exactly. The whole conversation was so obscure and empty of anything concrete that I find it difficult to recall exactly what she told me; but at least I got the feeling she regarded this as the only way, even if she didn't say so outright. I found the whole thing extremely depressing, and more than a little frightening; and I don't believe in spirituality based on fear.

      Bivalia: I must say I tend to agree with you on this. I think Shirley is obviously onto something she finds worthwhile for herself, in whatever terms that may be, but I think she may have overstated things a bit as they apply to you.

      Michael: You agree with me?

      Bivalia: You sound a bit surprised.

      Michael: I suppose, however cold and forbidding this philosophy is, it is spiritual in a sense, and I half-expected you, being much more in spirit than I am, to agree with it.

      Bivalia: You shouldn't find my position in the least surprising. After all, I am your Higher Self, not just another person. I have a special relationship with you that no-one else in the entire universe has. At the most spiritual levels, you and I are the same being anyway, so it shouldn't be at all surprising if my concept of spirituality is very like yours. You may feel cut off from all spiritual understanding, but you can't deny that the vision you have of how things should be, might be, is spiritual, and it would be distinctly strange if it was wildly at odds with how I see things. It would not be an exaggeration to say that my vision of spirituality is the very source of all the spiritual things you hold dear, different only in that it is a clearer vision than your present one, perhaps even bigger and better than your view of things in your limited world. So, you see, it is not surprising that I share your views on what you have been telling me.

      Michael: When Shirley and I were talking, I thought of that letter I wrote as if from you: the one I did mostly in March and April, but which I finished just a couple of weeks ago and printed. Shirley hasn't read it yet, and Ra Lyah's still got it.

      Bivalia: Yes. I did have a hand in that, you know. It's more than just "as if" from me, as you so modestly put it.

      Michael: Well, whatever about that, that letter, pretending to be my account from the future of what ascended life is like, is pretty well my spiritual testament. It is as definitive a statement as I can presently put into words of all that is most precious to me spiritually, what my idea of spiritual fulfilment would be (as best as I can imagine it with a 3rd-dimensional mind, that is). And it doesn't at all talk about "being" and the other stuff T. was saying. It does talk in places about unity with others, and with the universe, but only in a broader context that gives it meaning. And it talks very much in terms of fulfilling desires I have now which I feel to be basically spiritual; it doesn't try, or pretend, to be so lofty as to be beyond mere desire. It takes the view that desire for the right things is entirely in accordance with the highest spiritual principles; it even says that such desires originate from the Higher Self, and your deep recognition of their spirituality is precisely why you desire them. It even says God Himself desires certain things, such as longing to enjoy fellowship with His creatures who are presently obscured from perceiving Him.
      And everything Shirley told me seemed to be implying that all this was just so much nonsense, that I've completely missed the point of what ascension is all about, and what spiritual things generally are all about. Shirley's philosophy almost made my sense of wonder, the hints of spirituality I've described at various times, seem rather cheap and grubby, my longing for great and wonderful things that hint at the eternal seem just as ephemeral and meaningless as a child's desire for a lolly. Shirley didn't say any of that, but it just gave me that feeling. She seemed to take no account whatsoever of anything that is meaningful to me, even though she does know from previous conversations we've had about some of these things. Obviously they mean nothing to her, for all I could tell from her conversation.
      Shirley obviously thinks the very concept of desiring something is irrelevant, because the very fact of desiring something, however spiritual, means you're admitting you don't have it now, but hope to get it in the future. And that is an example of dualism, which is only a 3rd-dimensional thing. Yet that entire document is really talking about something I hope to accomplish, but which I haven't done right now. Moreover, half a year after I wrote the bulk of that document, I still stand by everything I said there. If the ideas expressed there are not spiritual, because they are based on desire, and duality, then I don't know what is spiritual. I think spirituality in that case can only be a tantalizing mirage.
      This is one of the things that frightened me: the possibility that everything I've ever thought might be spiritual is completely missing the point. If I lose this, I lose all. If I accept what Shirley told me as being what spiritual things really are, then I have lost all. I have not even the slightest inkling of spirituality, and my whole basis for living crumbles into delusion. That's what it would mean for me if someone were to prove to me that Shirley's version of things were true. And I don't need to spell out to you what a disaster that would be for me.

      Bivalia: I see what you mean. You must stick to what you think is true. There is nothing in the universe that says you have to be wrong and Shirley has to be right. It could just as easily be the other way round. I understand why it was so disturbing to hear her say these things, but perhaps you are making a little too much of it. Perhaps in a few days' time it will not seem so important; it will simply be one possible view of things out of many alternatives, any of which might be correct. After all, this view isn't really as new as T. may be appearing to make it sound. You suggested to Shirley it sounded a bit like Zen, and she agreed with that.
      Part of the frightening thing about what you heard from Shirley is that it sounded so omnipotent, as if it were a giant trap from which there were no escape, and it was all so slippery and elusive that there was nothing to grab hold of to get leverage, so to speak, in beginning to understand it.

      Michael: Shirley even said it was not the way to think about it, to have anything by which to grab hold of it; that was another form of dualism. It's as if she were saying (and I'm only paraphrasing it here, not quoting) that there's no actual process by which you can understand these things; you had to just understand it all in one instant, or not at all - but there was no series of steps you could take to understand gradually, no starting point. Good luck to her if she can do it; but I find it all unbelievably obscure and perverse. The whole thing is to me a remarkably good example of mental torture. I think the majority of people by their very nature learn things gradually rather than all in one instant - especially something as big and difficult as this.

      Bivalia: Yes. And if I may ruffle the feathers of a few people who are devoted strongly to one particular view of things, I see in you a valuable asset that is exceedingly rare amongst people generally, even those who are very spiritual in one way or another. And that asset is that your spiritual view is, in a sense, inclusive of all people: you strongly resist any spiritual view that either intentionally or as a by-product leaves anyone out in the cold, that considers people with certain views to be without hope of making it, spiritually speaking.

      Michael: Yes. I have resisted that all my life, even long before I heard about the Masters or ascension or T. or anything like that, and even though most people with spiritual beliefs don't seem to share my view.
      I could never accept Christianity because, in varying degrees of explicitness, it rejects all those who do not accept a particular set of Christian beliefs or doctrines or ways of looking at things. You sometimes meet Christians, even clergymen sometimes, who are sensitive enough about this matter to sense something wrong, and who seem to have a more inclusive view with regard to non-believers, but they are in fact going against the doctrine of the Church they belong to, and this raises contradictions, and you can sometimes perceive in their way of talking a vague awareness of this contradiction. They are, after all, flatly contradicting their claimed authority, the Bible, which makes it quite plain that non-Christians are excluded from God's grace. I've often found Christians to be rather uneasy on this whole subject, putting forward rather spurious and contradictory ideas in this area, trying to reconcile their more open and compassionate views without too explicitly contradicting the Bible.
      And there are strains of New-Age thinking that are a bit like Shirley's view, although not so extreme, that give the outer appearance of being all-inclusive; but when you scratch beneath the surface, so often you find that the believers in this philosophy subtly seem to exclude people who are unable to see things a certain way: the kind of view that says if you don't understand the real nature of karma, or you make mistakes in life, however understandable and even excusable those mistakes might be, you must then simply go on suffering pain in life after life until the insight dawns on you. This is just the order of things, and you never hear from these people even a murmur of protest at the outrageousness of such brutal use of pain as a way of teaching people their spiritual lessons, lessons which are far from obvious, so that you could not by any stretch of the imagination see it as reprehensible not to understand those lessons and therefore deserving of the suffering that karma brings, however terrible it might be. It's just accepted unquestioningly by these believers.
      When discussing such matters with these people, I often feel like shaking them hard, to try to shock them into seeing this obvious point. They are accepting without blinking an eyelid a system or order of things that they themselves would probably be outraged by if a human dictator were to implement it, instead of the Lords of Karma, or Masters, or God, or whomever they attribute this system to. They would probably be outraged, because, very frequently, the sorts of people who believe in karma and other New-Age things are themselves gentle, compassionate people; yet they believe in a system of karma which, when you look at it (as they present it), is of almost unparalleled savagery in its ways of delivering spiritual lessons to people via things such as grief, starvation, crime, torture, illness, disability, and so on. And almost never do they have any sense of outrage that things should be this way. It's a blind spot that has astounded me for many years, and a blind spot which appears in so many people too.
      I mean, I would accept this view if someone, or just experience, could give me strong enough reasons for accepting it as true, regardless of my feelings about it (this hasn't happened yet); but I would still protest against the wrongness of it, the distastefulness of so much suffering being involved in spiritual growth, and still hope that one day a better way can be found. I have never once in my whole life met a person of any kind of faith, Christian, New-Age, or anything else, who explicitly expressed this idea, which has been painfully self-evident to me for as many years as I can remember. I often think atheists, humanists, and the like, are closer to my thoughts on this, more compassionate about suffering; but of course, by definition, they lack a sense of spiritual vision, and of course don't have the problem of trying to reconcile suffering with God, because they don't believe God exists at all.

      Bivalia: Quite so. I quite understand why you feel alienated from most systems of belief or religion or philosophy you've so far encountered. You not only resist examples of spiritual views which seem to exclude others, or which seem to use or at least endorse suffering -

      Michael: Which seems to be just about every spiritual view I've ever encountered, to one degree or another.

      Bivalia: - but you actively try, nearly single-handedly, to construct a view which includes everyone, which tries to arrive at a more acceptable view of suffering and pain. You set yourself a difficult, although admirable task, and, although you interact with the views of other people and find some of them of some help, you really get by with remarkably little help when it comes to the inner details of this view which have little in common with many of the established beliefs within various groups of people. You have a vision that sees everyone as being included, that is not dependent on accepting one particular view of reality, that does not make spiritual growth conditional upon accepting certain specific beliefs, that is tolerant of differences of opinion, tolerant even of outright mistakes people may make in their spiritual belief.
      My dear one, this is a very precious attribute you have, and I urge you not to abandon it. The Masters themselves treasure this quality, yet do not see it in many people. This vision shines throughout that document you wrote, the one cast as a letter from the future we were discussing earlier. I did help you write that document, and I do endorse the views expressed there; and I salute you for your efforts to write it down clearly, endeavouring to make it understandable to other people, and for striving to believe those views which I helped you express in it, and for your efforts to cling to this vision over the years, in spite of, well, not the active opposition of other people, but the implicit opposition that can be perceived in the views of those who do not have such a clear ability as you to see a broader vision than some set system of beliefs or some particular view of life. Even in rejecting ideas which with all sincerity you just cannot see any truth in, you stop short of stating dogmatically "This is wrong", but instead make the milder statement that "Well, I suppose it could be true; one must be open-minded; but for myself I can't see how this could possibly be true - it just doesn't make sense to me, anyway".

      Michael: Well I have to put it that way, because after all I have no evidence in support of my views, and no evidence against the other views. But I do seem to cling to a principle of reasonableness, of considering how reasonable a certain idea or attitude is; and I must say I sometimes find reasonableness to be in rather short supply in some types of belief system.

      Bivalia: Well, never mind. That simply explains why you state things the way you do, and does not in any way detract from its merit, does not detract from the open and undogmatic attitude which motivates the way you express your views. You, my friend, are one of the least dogmatic people I know with regard to spiritual things. It is unfortunate that you have to pay a price for this in the constant uncertainty and doubt you feel about everything spiritual.
      But this openness, combined with an effort to be inclusive of all people, and an effort to take a more sensitive attitude to the admittedly difficult problem of suffering, is not a very common combination of qualities in people generally, with regard to their spiritual life. You can be sure that when it does occur in someone, the Masters take keen notice of it. It stands out like a beacon in these higher realms where the 3rd-dimensional limitations don't swamp everything with density.
      And, laugh if you like, but the Masters count on people like that to do certain types of important work which some of the other people may not be suited to do. They have other important work, but you have yours, and in some cases the other people would be quite unable to do that which you are in a good position to accomplish.
      For instance, people such as yourself are sometimes better able to do rescue work in the lower astral region for certain types of individuals there, than are those who have a more definite and firm belief in some particular set of beliefs, but perhaps accompanied by less ability to consider competing ideas open-mindedly. You may not believe it, but too ready an acceptance of the rightness of pain in the karmic system of things sometimes limits an individual's ability to deal compassionately and understandingly with the pain of those who suffer, whom they may want to help, but simply don't have a sensitive enough understanding of the problem of pain to do so. It's very difficult to help someone in trouble if you have an underlying attitude (however well-hidden) that they really deserve what they've got because that's their karma, and it must be right beyond question. With your keen awareness of all the philosophical and moral problems surrounding pain, you are in a better position than many others to help those who suffer, and in a very real way to ease their pain, if not entirely remove it.
      And, another example: it sometimes turns out that people such as yourself are better able to awaken a sense of spirituality in people for whom that is dormant, than are those who are too strongly devoted to some particular system of belief. Too strong a belief in certain ideas (regardless of whether they are right or wrong) can limit their ability to understand other systems of belief, never mind their ability even to see merit in the other ideas. You have a keener awareness than some others of the degrees of truth that may exist in different traditions or beliefs, as against seeing things in a black-and-white sense as either true or false.
      You may at times think you are wishy-washy because you seem to see sense in certain New-Age or metaphysical ideas but can't for the life of you accept certain other ideas that usually go with them, or because you can't accept certain central doctrines of Christianity, yet firmly side with the Christian view on certain other matters. But we don't see this as wishy-washy; we see it as open-minded, and we delight to see people who can free themselves of dogma to the extent of being able to take this fair-minded approach of considering each item on its merit, instead of feeling the need to either affirm or reject the entire system of belief as a whole, regardless of the varying merits of its parts. You may at times feel you fall between two stools; we regard you as being able to straddle both stools at once. If unfortunately you do always fall between the stools instead of straddling both of them, you do not have to choose one of them and reject the other; instead you should learn how to straddle them both properly, to push the metaphor a bit further.
      I know you are feeling discouraged because of the things Shirley told you, and you even find them quite surreal and nightmarish; but it doesn't undo what I have just said. And it doesn't undo the fact that many of us in the higher realms are very pleased with the steadfast way you cling to your vision, and gently, undogmatically, reject that which does not seem in accordance with it.
      Who knows, Shirley might even agree with much of what I have said here; perhaps you are reading more into what she said than was intended, and making it seem darker and more sinister than it really is. (And if she doesn't agree with the things I have said, that after all is her perception, not the voice of God Himself.) Obviously what she told you is not for everyone, and I feel sure she would totally agree with that: she is where she is at, and you are where you are at. She has her strong points, and you have yours, and you should not think you are inferior to her, or less advanced. It is not for you (or anyone else) to judge the relative merits of people against others. You will notice that I have refrained from that myself, even though I have been telling you things you find very flattering: I've been telling you where your strong points are, but haven't been judging as either better or worse than anyone else.
      Shirley may have stated things in a way that unfortunately rubbed you up the wrong way (which I'm sure she did not intend - these things just happen sometimes); but notice that she didn't actually state you were inferior or less advanced, in any way. You both have important work to do, but hers is not the same as yours, and someone else's is different yet again.
      We should not be too quick to apply the same rules and principles to all individuals. What applies to one may not be suitable for another, and if someone ever makes it seem otherwise, I would suggest first of all that you examine whether you have misinterpreted their words; and if it seems that you haven't, I would take their views with a large grain of salt, and just take a very light attitude to it.

      Michael: Well, I don't want to project too negative an outlook onto Shirley; maybe, like you said, I just misinterpreted what she said; but I must say that what you've said does seem a bit more encouraging to me. I was so troubled by it that a bit earlier on (Sunday evening - it being well into Monday by now) I had to ring Ra Lyah and tell her, and see how she felt about it, and it does seem that her attitude was rather similar to yours. She thought quite strongly I must honour my own vision of truth, regardless of what others think; and now I think about it, I'm sure Shirley would say that too, has said it, in fact, at various times. But somehow what she told me recently really got to me in a bad way.

      Bivalia: Well, I'm glad you shared this with me, and I hope I have been able to help you feel better about it. But Ra Lyah is absolutely right about honouring your truth. As I said, you have a particular vision of truth that is your own, that is not often to be found amongst people generally. You have, by virtue of this, important work to do that few other people can do exactly the same way.
      I might add that a very important aspect of your work is the vision you will be able to share through composing music and writing stories, exploring a territory in these that is uniquely yours, for which the vision of truth you have, however much it seems to disagree with just about everyone you meet, is vital. I urge you to remain true to that, no matter how discouraged and lonely you feel because no-one else seems to understand it or agree with it in various ways. You've done much work with Hilarion on truth over the millennia, and it should hold you in good stead; and I am sure he will help you further on the mere call of his name if you ever feel a bit shaky. And of course the same goes for any other Masters whom you know, whom you may feel drawn to on a particular occasion.
      You don't have the vision you do simply by accident; it is there for very good reasons which you will gradually see more and more clearly. It matters not in the slightest that it seems to go against orthodoxies of various sorts. You suffer various disadvantages because you often seem to be going against the direction of many others in certain respects; but be assured that this difference of direction also gives you advantages over those others, advantages which will help the special work you have taken on. Please remember this always, no matter how bad things may get at times; in fact, remember it especially at such times.
      However bad things may get, you will not lose this vision, if only you do not deliberately reject it. The circumstances of your life alone cannot rob you of this vision, without your deliberate rejection of it. And I mean deliberate, not merely losing sight of it just because the cares of life weigh you down until you forget it. That is only temporary; for that matter, so would a deliberate rejection be merely temporary, but it would have further-reaching ramifications which I don't think either you or I would enjoy. But short of deliberate rejection, your vision is yours for keeps.
      Always remember this, my friend, and call on any Masters you choose if this truth ever seems to become obscured. You have much help from on high, if only you call on it. But you must do that; we cannot force ourselves on you. It's not that we're too miserable or too rule-bound to do it that way; it's just that the universe seems to be so constructed that we can't impinge on you beyond a certain limit until you call on us.

      Michael: Thank you. You know how to sound inspiring, Bivalia. But for all this high-flown talk about the work that is entrusted to me, the fact is that I'm not doing much in life at all, and the circumstances of my life are far from conducive to any decent sort of work. One look at my living conditions would give you an idea of what I mean.

      Bivalia: I can assure you I have had much more than one look at your living conditions, including the bits you would be ashamed to show your mother or a favourite aunt; and I stand by what I say. You do seem to think you can catch me out rather easily; but I've been playing this game for many thousands of years, and I've learnt a thing or two in that time. I don't exactly let the grass grow under my feet.
      Okay, let's talk a bit about the sort of work you do now, and which you might do in the future, but don't yet, or don't do much of yet.
      First of all, when I refer to the work entrusted to you, I am including the sort of work you do out of your body, during your sleep, of which you have no recollection save the scattered fragments of dream memories. This is very valuable work which you do regularly, for which your particular spiritual vision assists in a special way and is not wasted. You do this voluntarily, as such work is never compulsory for anyone, and not all beings do volunteer to do it. You don't do just any old spiritual work; you select those tasks (as we all do) for which your particular vision is particularly helpful, sometimes to the extent that no more than a handful of others could do the job if you were indisposed for any reason.
      (Perhaps I should say we do it, with your subconscious consent, because you and I are one, precisely in this kind of situation; but for the sake of convenience, I will continue to address you as "you", if only to make the grammatical problems of writing clearly a bit more simple. But you could put your foot down and say "No" if you chose, and I would have to abide by that. The only work I can do without your consent is disembodied work which does not involve you as a 3rd-dimensional being in any way at all. Many sorts of rescue work, and other jobs too, are not of this sort, and require the cooperation of a being on all his various levels. It's all bound up with the law of respecting a being's free-will on matters which involve him or her directly.)
      You do a wide range of spiritual work, of which rescue work in the astral is a part. This is the easiest part of your work for me to give you pointers to. Surely some of your dreams convince you of this? Some of those rather disturbing dreams with a sinister feel to them, perhaps. Like the one where someone seemed to be trapped in some sort of pipeline system (but not exactly that), and you were repeatedly going through certain procedures which can't be put into words, to try first of all to get to the people in trouble, then to try to put together elaborate mechanisms or contrivances for rescuing them from an extremely tricky situation, and the whole thing was strung out and out for ages, and there seemed to be these recurring bits in the dream where you were consulting Sananda, and a group of other beings, from time to time. Do you remember that dream, a few weeks ago?

      Michael: Vaguely. I suppose that's the gist of it, although I can't really describe it. The whole thing had the drawn-out feel of a tricky disaster situation, stringing out and out like a suspense novel with one twist after another, and Sananda was in it at recurring intervals.

      Bivalia: This was rescue work, and you were working with a group of beings headed by Sananda. When you get dreams of this sort, fragmented though they are, I don't think it's possible to get much clearer indications of rescue work. That one even spelled itself out quite explicitly, with no need to look for subtle clues beneath the surface. You sure take a lot of convincing.
      And I think there have been a few others too. Let's not get bogged down in too many details, but I will jog your memory slightly. These ones may not be quite so explicit, but don't they have the kind of feel that might indicate that they were either rescue work, or other incidents connected with it?
      What about the whale in one dream, and the desperate fugitive who seemed to be torturing the whale? You told Kuthumi about that one a month or so ago at Ra Lyah's, and he thanked you for your work. Both the whale and the man needed rescuing, but I'm afraid you were less successful with the man than the whale. The man was totally closed off from you, totally engrossed in his dark manic vision. The whale was also panic-stricken, and is not quite out of the woods even yet, either.
      Not your fault; this work can be tricky and comes with no guarantees whatsoever, not even for Sananda. Other beings are helping the man, though, and no doubt you will offer your services generously again if you feel you can be of some help once more.
      What about the man who kidnapped you in a car, perhaps a week or two more recently than the whale dream, pretending to be someone scheduled to pick you up, who took you to this place on a tall grass-covered hill, where there was a tree with some sort of layered platforms high up, stacked up somehow on branches or pillars - and in one or two of these platforms there were two, I think it was, pools of water, one above the other, innocent-looking but unspeakably sinister in some way you couldn't identify - and this man tried to imprison you up in this tree somehow, for unknown reasons? But with a bit of patience and care you managed to climb down or float down or otherwise escape by means that can't quite be put into words. The dream, vague though a verbal description would be, had a totally recognizable atmosphere, and you just knew there was something extremely nasty about that pool of water, and you were absolutely sure you didn't feel like a bathe just now. Even the water itself seemed unnaturally clear, and almost crystalline in a liquid sort of way. Perhaps it was even alive in some sense, maybe?
      These dreams seem nonsensical only because they are scattered memories of events in a completely non-physical realm, which your physical brain tries to visualize in physical terms but can't do so properly. But the emotional feel to these dreams is not nonsensical at all, is it, but very real? You would recognize that pool of water up in the tree if you saw it again, even now, wouldn't you, especially if you could experience it directly and astrally, not translating it into inadequate physical imagery? And you would recognize it not merely because it was any old pool of water up any old tree, but because of its distinctive unmistakable feel or atmosphere. It was not merely sinister, but sinister in a totally individual (although completely indescribable) way that you would easily be able to distinguish from any other variety of sinister atmosphere.
      Where do you think such powerful imagery comes from? Is it just the random meanderings of a tired brain, the emotional rubbish left over from the day, the bowel movements of the mind, to use Phillip Adams' almost elegantly ugly metaphor? You laugh at his jokes about this, and a laugh does you a lot of good too; yet you often notice, with a hint of wonder, that the distinctive atmosphere of dreams is sometimes so subtle and powerful that you could never think it up consciously yourself, say, for purposes of writing a weird science-fiction story, even though you would love to create such scenes for such stories.
      If you, with all the imaginative power at your conscious command, can't (yet) conjure up such imagery, what hope would your poor tired brain in a state of slumber have of doing so, if that were all there was to dreams? And yet your dreams conjure up such powerful and distinctive imagery and feelings with such ease and prodigiousness that it almost awes you. Bowel motions of the brain? What a joke! - but not in the sense Phillip Adams jokes about it. It must be obvious to you by now that dreams come from realms outside, and that you have more than a passing connection with those realms.
      You get the idea. I don't think you should too quickly underestimate the spiritual life you have, the spiritual work you do. You may be unaware of most of it, but it peeks through your awareness every now and then, doesn't it?

      Michael: What can I say? You come out with all this so fast you don't even give me time to think up any doubts.

      Bivalia: Don't. Feel, don't think. You'll never penetrate these matters by thinking alone. Perhaps there are people who think you are stagnating, rotting away, yes? Boy, you have powerful dreams, and a powerful inner life; how little do those people know the truth about your inner life, if they think you're rotting away. And I haven't even begun to mention nicer dreams such as the green planet which we've already discussed previously. You have much more spiritual life than you tend to think.
      Also, when it comes to more overt things like composing and writing, which I said were also amongst the work entrusted to you, I admit your present conditions inhibit that. But it need not necessarily remain so. It would be good if you could get down to that and do something about it, but if it doesn't work out that way, no matter. We in the higher realms understand why these things turn out that way (even though we can't always see it in advance), and I have contingency plans, anyway. Even if you don't compose another note in this present stage in your life, it might mean that that is not planned for this stage of life, but that you are already invisibly preparing for the time when that will be right. Time will tell; it may be that you're not meant to do that now, and would be jumping the gun to force it now. I don't know.
      I know you tend to think of us in the higher dimensions as omniscient, able to predict the future with total accuracy, and the like; but it is not so. Predicting the future is almost as problematical for us as it is for you, even though perhaps we can predict probabilities (not certainties) a little more easily than you because we have a clearer view of the overall scene. So even we don't know what you are going to do about this. I of course have certain powers to decide the course of your life (provided you cooperate willingly), but I also accept guidance from higher beings, and I don't always know what they have in mind, but trust them to know what's best.
      So I can't tell you definitively what plans are afoot for every aspect of your life, and I don't always know the timetable that is planned. It's not that the high-ups bureaucratically withhold the information from me, but rather that there are higher dimensions I have difficulty perceiving, just like you have difficulty perceiving the realm where I am now. The universe has no ceiling, no top; no matter how high you go, there are always further reaches.
      So I regard it as unknown at present exactly what course your present life is going to take; I suppose I have to admit that there is a possibility that it might be less productive than both you and I hope for. But even if so, just by following your vision, letting it develop as it is already doing (and I can be definite at least that that is happening), and remaining true to it, and by doing the other things you are already doing, you are preparing for this creative work, regardless of when the actual time for doing it is to come. We have a long-range perspective on these things, and, while we would be happy to see you doing creative work successfully now, if you don't, it doesn't wreck the plans which are in train for you, but instead present a new situation which I and those I work with have to adapt to, and make the best of.
      And whether you ascend, or die in the ordinary way, at the end of this phase of your life, there is still life for you after that, with further limitless opportunities for you to do those things you missed out on in your present life, for whatever reasons. The whole situation does not look nearly as calamitous to us as it does to you. I think Sananda has already told you this, but I suspect you still don't believe it.

      Michael: That's a very clever answer to the problem of the work I do; but it seems to me to have a hint of buck-passing, getting out of a sticky situation, namely that my life is very likely stagnating, certainly at least not a shadow of what it should be, by saying there are even higher-up beings than you, and therefore you simply don't know the answers to the things whose strings are held by the high-ups.

      Bivalia: Well, I suppose you can think of it that way. It's no skin off my nose; I made it quite plain that I do not know absolutely everything about these matters. I haven't yet united with God in the ultimate sense, and for all I know complete omniscience doesn't come before that stage. At any rate, I'm not there yet.

      Michael: Your explanation gives you a face-saving way of not being able to tell me details about the hidden side of my life.

      Bivalia: I don't need to save face about that. I don't know all those answers, and the ones I do know I can't convey to you for reasons we've discussed before. This isn't like a telephone conversation; it's more like a radio connection where the clarity of reception, and the precise topics on which we can be clear or not, as the case may be, are closely correlated to our preconceived attitudes to the respective topics. There are things you are not ready to receive, and even in those cases where I know the answer, I cannot get it through without being drowned in static. Perhaps, to elaborate the metaphor further, we are speaking different languages, and each of us has only partial knowledge of the other's language, and so there are topics we can't converse about at all, and others we can converse about, but only within certain limits.
      I'm not being obtuse; but I'll just have to ask you to take my word for it, because this is one of the things where my ability to explain it to you is rather limited. Rest assured, this is just for now; the communication lines will improve, and I look forward to it just as much as you do.
      Either you jest, or give way to scepticism, or still have misunderstandings about the nature of our contact - perhaps all of those at different times, or even the same time. I'm not an oracle, but your Higher Self. If you want your fortune read, I suggest you look for a good Tarot-card reader, or astrologer, or some such person. I'm not a magic wand; I'm your main guide in your growth in spiritual awareness. I'm not a book of answers to everything you ever wanted to know about your past history or your projected future course; I'm here to help you find the answers you need now, and to share my love with you and share your journey of discovery. I'm not a tourist guide, but your companion.
      You may wish I were some of these other things, but I can assure you that in the long run the best arrangement will be the one we actually have, and there will come a day when you will be glad of that, and not regret that we didn't take shortcuts that in the long run won't be helpful and might even prove to be time-wasting diversions from the real path.
      And, finally, I certainly don't have to make any excuses about things that are simply outside my province at present, and I certainly don't have any concern about saving face. You joke, surely, with remarks like that?

      Michael: I'm not sure.

      Bivalia: Not that it upsets me either way; don't think I'll be offended whatever you meant by it.

      Michael: Perhaps I'm being a bit sceptical. Earlier, you were speaking very persuasively about the importance of keeping my vision, and about how my work will depend on that, and all the keep-your-chin-up-and-hang-in-there kind of stuff. You can be very inspiring when you choose to be. Why (I'm a little embarrassed to admit), some of those things you said almost seemed to give me that funny feeling that you sometimes get if you're afraid you might be about to cry if you lose control of yourself.

      Bivalia: Inspiring you is one of the things I am here to do, and I can do it better than anyone else because I am your Higher Self and know you better than anyone else. It is not as strange as it may seem that I know the right things to tell you. However, sometimes I think you merely need a good kick in the bum. And if I were instrumental in giving you a good cry also (difficult job though that undoubtedly would be for me), it would not be nearly such a disaster as you think.

      Michael: I'd die.

      Bivalia: The hard shell you have built around you might die; that is all. Think about it.

      Michael: Serapis Bey advised Hans to have a cry the other night.

      Bivalia: See? It's not just some weird idea of mine. Your society has many strange and limiting ideas about crying. Serapis Bey was able to cut right through all that, and, motivated by love, give the advice that each person needed. And I notice he gave you some advice which you haven't yet carried out.

      Michael: I can't do it.

      Bivalia: Can't? Perhaps you mean you don't want to. He simply asked you, each day, to look at your eyes in the mirror and say "I love Michael". Can't you do that, not even if a Master asks you, just for your own benefit? He only wants to help you accept yourself better; it's not a power trip he's trying on you, making you do his will.

      Michael: I know; that's not at all the issue. But I somehow can't bring myself to do it. It seems so soppy and self-indulgent.

      Bivalia: It presses a few too many buttons on you for comfort, doesn't it?

      Michael: If you want to put it that way. In our society generally, that sort of carrying on is not encouraged and has all sorts of connotations.

      Bivalia: Doesn't there come a time when it is advisable to get beyond all that? You give society a lot of power over your feelings if you let such considerations influence you. You are often highly critical, scathingly critical in fact, of your society; nothing in it is too sacred for you to criticize. Why do you let it dominate your attitude on this little thing when you so openly reject many other, more important sacred cows?

      Michael: Well, looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself how much you love yourself (apart from the fact that from me it would be an arrant lie) has all sorts of connotations of conceit and obnoxious self-love (in a slightly different sense to how you would understand self-love); I think the thing is I half-believe society's attitude on this myself. And also, I've always had the nagging wondering if I am a selfish conceited person anyway. I don't exactly think I am (except perhaps a bit occasionally), but just wonder at times, and I don't need to make that even worse.

      Bivalia: We have a little guilt over feelings of conceit or selfishness, do we?

      Michael: If you say so. You're being very hard all of a sudden.

      Bivalia: Not really. I'm simply drawing your attention to things it would be best for you to know about. But I'm not going to push you into doing things you have resistance to. Good Lord, the last thing I want is a battle of egos with you. I have drawn your attention to it, and that is my job, nothing more.

      Michael: You ought to become a Sunday-school teacher, talking like that. Anyway, for your information, yes I am critical of our society in many ways, but yes, it does influence me in certain ways, and I see no inconsistency in that. You can't live in a society for 40 years without picking up all sorts of things from it, despite your best efforts.

      Bivalia: I couldn't agree more. I never said or implied otherwise; nor do I criticize you for taking on stuff from society. For goodness' sake, I'm on your side. Don't take it so seriously; let's just laugh about it. We're not on opposite sides on matters like this.

      Michael: Okay; well, one of the things I picked up is that you don't go round saying "I love myself" while staring into a mirror - I think even a woman who did that would be considered soppy, imbecile, rather - never mind a man; and another thing is that you don't cry for trivial reasons, and especially men don't.

      Bivalia: It is men who are the poorer for that belief, no-one else. It could be a contributing factor to the shorter life-expectancy of men in many societies.

      Michael: It's the men who impose it, much more than women, who I often think are more accepting and tolerant of such things. It's a man who would be most likely to jeer at another man for crying; a woman would more likely be concerned and ask "What's the matter? Can I help?" with genuine compassion.

      Bivalia: It matters not. It is common for limitations that one would be better without to be self-imposed, bolstered by a sense of peer pressure.

      Michael: Well, you are probably aware that I have almost no sense of peer pressure as such. But one of the realities of life is that breaking certain taboos can attract particularly unpleasant treatment or scorn from others, and I don't suppose I like that, don't like humiliation, any more than anyone else. And I can therefore decide that on a particular matter it's not worth the pain to break some particular taboo.

      Bivalia: If that isn't peer pressure, I don't know what is.

      Michael: Well, I don't believe in it in principle, even if sometimes it's easier to go along with it in certain matters. You know what I mean.

      Bivalia: I don't, actually. I don't think you're too clear yourself. I'd be surprised if any more than a small fraction of those who habitually give in to peer pressure, even those who do so much more than you do, go round thinking, "I believe in doing things because others put pressure on me to do it, or make it appear glamorous", or anything of that sort.
      But look, I don't want to antagonize you. Perhaps I'm playing the smart-arse a bit. I'm perfectly aware that you do indeed have much less sense of peer pressure than average in your society; but that doesn't mean it is zero. No-one at all is totally immune to peer pressure. You quite rightly consider peer pressure distasteful, and in your distaste, you are trying to persuade me, and yourself, that you absolutely don't feel it at all; but it's not true. You feel it much less than many people; but in the areas where you feel it, it comes out in the things you feel insecure about yourself.
      Take your school years, for instance, where these things were perhaps a little more transparent than they are now. You flouted peer pressure by spending most of your time in the library composing music and writing stories instead of playing games with the other boys. You got a certain amount of ridicule for this, but stood firm and didn't cave in to the pressure because you were absolutely sure of what you were doing. This is more than many of those jeering boys would have done, many of whom would have caved in even when they knew they were right - and probably despising themselves inwardly even while allowing themselves to be manipulated into doing things they don't want to do. You didn't, with the composing and writing; they were your lifeblood, and you knew you were doing the right thing.
      But when it comes to something like crying, you are more likely to give way to the pressure (the pressure to suppress crying), because it is something you don't feel sure about inside yourself. So you do succumb to peer pressure on this particular thing, and a few others that are perhaps not of great importance.
      Don't be so defensive about it, denying it to me, and all that; you can't fool me about these things anyway. What you are doing (yielding to peer pressure on a few of these things) is quite natural, and I apologize for needling you a bit about it. I'm not totally perfect either, and perhaps I make a mistake every now and then. I like to think my occasional little bits of imperfection, my occasional little mistakes, actually make me more approachable to you.

      Michael: Look, it's all right. I'm not really offended. I've just talked straight, like you have.

      Bivalia: Shake on it. No hard feelings?

      Michael: None.

      Bivalia: You're tougher than you think you are, my friend. You're no delicate little pansy. You've stood up to much pressure of considerable variety, before which many supposedly brave men and women have quailed. And you still haven't knuckled under to the more questionable parts of your society's ethos. I hand it to you.

      Michael: I think this conversation has gone quite weird.

      Bivalia: Why, I do believe you're right. So it has. Isn't that great? What does it matter? I don't think a little weirdness does us the slightest harm. But worrying about weirdness is another form of peer pressure. You are wondering what others would think if they read this section of our conversation. But I can tell you, it would curl your hair if you could be a fly on a wall when so-called ordinary, straight people were having conversations which they thought were private. You would realize there's nothing whatsoever eccentric about what you say or do; and, yes, I include the things you do in private, little habits you have, that you are careful not to mention to me, out of embarrassment, and which I will scrupulously avoid naming for fear of embarrassing you, and because I'm mindful that others will very likely read this at some stage, people you don't want to go into details with. You know the things I mean, though.
      But I can assure you, there's nothing to worry about. I'm aware of those things, but I barely give them any thought, because they are simply not nearly as much an issue as you think they are. Your self-consciousness about your supposed eccentricity is more of an issue than the eccentricity itself, and even then only a little bit of an issue. You're allowed to be self-conscious about certain things. In talking about self-consciousness, peer pressure, and the like, I haven't in the slightest been saying you shouldn't do those things, or if you do, that you should feel bad about them. I don't think you should feel bad about anything you choose to do; just make the right choice though, otherwise you might feel bad. Make the right choices, then feel good about them.
      Lighten up. Don't be so intense about these things. Allow yourself to be as eccentric as you like; you're not hurting anyone, so what does it matter? Just do the things and enjoy them, if that's what you feel like.
      Just think of Prince Charles, who had the misfortune to be eavesdropped on while having intimate telephone conversations, and for his alleged words to be published. He was much ridiculed for some of the things it is alleged he said (if the reports are authentic, and not trumped up, faked), and you had psychiatrists pontificating on his mental condition, and saying the most absurd and pompous things about his instability, his unfitness to be King, and so on.
      The poor man - if one took all this nonsense seriously, one might almost believe half the tripe that was said about him. When by chance you came across a published copy of this conversation, you might have expected the most appalling things to be disclosed. You had the good common sense, and sense of proportion, upon reading the material, to see that what Charles and Camilla said was perfectly normal lighthearted lovers' talk that is quite appropriate for a little bit of fun which you don't expect to be overheard and published, and you quickly saw all the journalistic nonsense for what it was.

      Michael: Yes, you're right. I expected to read dreadful things, because everyone was saying how damaging the material was to Charles' and Camilla's reputations, particularly Charles' (of whom much more was expected). When I read it, there was almost a sense of anticlimax mingled with gladness for Charles that it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. It was the journalists themselves who had done much more to damage Charles' image than Charles' own words; they did this by making insinuations just barely on this side of legality, and by selectively quoting the more colourful bits out of context; but after this, I found that reading what Charles was really supposed to have said, in context, improved his standing in my eyes, not the opposite. At the end of it all, my attitude to him is not dented in the slightest compared to what it was before all this nonsense came up in the first place. I just feel sorry he had to suffer the embarrassment of being dragged through the mud like this by journalists who were motivated by nothing more than the greed for money, or perhaps by political agendas of their own, in some cases.

      Bivalia: Exactly. You see what I mean. The point of it is, why not just take that attitude to the various things about yourself you seem to feel self-conscious about, perhaps even occasionally guilty? Realize that it's nothing: just a little bit of fun, an endearing foible, or whatever. Be as charitable to yourself as you were to Prince Charles.

      Michael: In an odd way, it almost increased my respect for him, convinced me he had a whimsical sense of fun, and didn't go round acting stuffy and dignified all the time, standing on his status as Prince (other than the public occasions when he must do so, of course). And, although perhaps my feelings about this are irrelevant to the main topic of our conversation, I always felt a little bit of attraction to Charles; he's someone I've got time for. He seems to me to be a thinking sensitive person who dares to be different.

      Bivalia: This isn't a school lesson; you're allowed to diverge to talk about incidental things with me whenever, and as often as, you like. That's one of the things I love about you, that you do that, and don't always grimly focus on the main topic that supposedly we should be concentrating on.

      Michael: Yes. And it doesn't bother me in the slightest that he goes in for New-Age stuff, talks to plants, and the like. In fact, it tells me things about him that I rather like.

      Bivalia: Of course. You have an understanding of these things yourself, and are open enough not to scoff at even the bits you do have doubts about. I'll tell you, quietly, just between you and me, I have no qualms about him being the King of Australia either, despite the doubts that exist about that, on at least two different fronts. [c]

      Michael: You mean Charles' own personal situation with regard to his future Kingship, and the Australian Republican issue, which might de-King him for Australia, anyway?

      Bivalia: Yes; those are the two fronts to which I'm referring. Now I'm not getting political there when I say I have no qualms. I'm not going to take sides on the Republican/Monarchist debate, and I have no special feelings about that either way, in any case. I just mean that, if he becomes King, I would not consider him any less suitable than other possible contenders for the job. I'm talking about him individually, not about the politics of the monarchy. I share your view that the whole thing, the Charles-bashing of recent times, is very largely a media beat-up, although perhaps it has to be admitted he was a little, how shall we say it, careless or indiscreet in a few things he did (and you notice how careful I am being to talk about it discreetly myself).
      But aren't we all careless at times, not just Charles? None of us can live on a tightrope all the time, but royalty are expected to; they're never allowed to make human mistakes, but they do nonetheless, because they are human, all the same. You can see the arrant hypocrisy of those who criticize what Charles has done, yet who wouldn't bat an eyelid at anyone else in the whole country doing those same things and worse, and who (the critics) in some cases probably do the same things themselves.
      If a society puts someone on an impossibly high pedestal, quite precariously, against his will, that society cannot complain if their idol occasionally falls off. Least of all should they kick him while he's down; call me naive if you like, but I would dare suggest that the right thing would be to extend him a helping hand to climb up again with dignity, if they must insist that he live on a pedestal at all.
      But I'm not about to turn into a royal watcher. Here I could be straying into dangerous political territory, and it's not really my job to buy into your society's political disputes, and I want to be careful what I say on such matters. It could set a dangerous precedent if I comment too closely on public affairs, and I only do it even to this extent because I can perhaps let my hair down a little with you, whose Higher Self I am.

      Michael: Thank you. I'm glad you feel free to do that; I find you an interesting person to talk with, even about things like this.

      Bivalia: In some matters I'm a bit like the Queen, who one must admit with wonder never puts a foot wrong. I'm like her in that I may have views on certain things, but deem it best to remain silent on them.

      Michael: All the same, you have an interesting slant on these things, rather like my own in fact.

      Bivalia: Of course it's like your own, for reasons we've already discussed. If it were wildly different from your own, I would regard it as good reason to question either your sincerity or mine, or perhaps just wonder if you're nearly as good at channelling me accurately as you think you are.

      Michael: I suppose I'm not doing too badly. It's a pity it just doesn't feel quite real, but rather like a child's imaginary companion who you know is not real.

      Bivalia: Have patience. This isn't the same thing, however much it may appear to be. In due course, your perception of our real relationship will become clearer and clearer; and writing our conversations like this is one of the best ways you can assist that.

      Michael: I must go now. I think we've finished, have we? I hope you have, for now. I know I have, because I keep making mistakes, and I keep having little instant mini-waking dreams even as I sit here typing, where I get these instantaneous mental impressions that have that dreamlike property of being utterly indescribable, or at best only slightly like some concrete thing but also quite unlike it too. And I don't want to start another new page, because that'll mean I'll have to set up a new tab-stop line to accommodate 3-digit page numbers, which is beyond me just now.

      Bivalia: I think I had finished at a convenient stopping-point; and I suspect that even if I haven't, you are simply unable to receive me clearly any longer. You'd better a get a couple of hours' sleep at least before visiting your parents.

      Michael: Yes. Good night, morning, or whatever. I don't know the time even to the nearest hour, or even whether it's a.m. or p.m.; I'll find out from the computer when I quit this document.

      Bivalia: 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]

[b] Monday, 27 August, 2001 - "... some of the stuff T. had said at that weekend...":
      "T." represents the name of a mystical teacher who was at this time giving talks and seminars in the New-Age arena. This was first mentioned (briefly) two dialogues back, on
1 November, 1994.
      These dialogue pages have recently been discovered and publicly listed by the Google search engine, and I thought it best to remove details about certain individuals which may identify them, even though I don't think I've said anything even faintly defamatory or embarrassing about anyone. [Back]

[c] Thursday, 15 March, 2001; Thursday, 26 July, 2001 - "I'll tell you, quietly, just between you and me, I have no qualms about him being the King of Australia either, despite the doubts that exist about that, on at least two different fronts.":
      If there is any specific passage in all the dialogues I've so far written whose purity and authenticity I might question, any passage that may have possibly come from my own everyday mind rather than my Higher Self, it is this. Although the slightly furtive way Bivalia says, "I'll tell you, quietly, just between you and me..." was intended in a jocular sense, I think the fact that I inserted this preamble itself indicates slight doubts I may have semi-consciously had about the authenticity of the statement that followed.
      It's not so much that I have reason to think this statement to be questionable in any way: one's views about whether Prince Charles would make a good King of Australia after his accession to the throne will obviously depend on political considerations such as whether one is a Monarchist or Republican. (I will come clean and say that I am not strongly inclined either way, although I have some inclination to think the present system works just about as well as any constitutional arrangement can, and therefore we might as well leave it as it currently stands.) It is the very political nature of my Higher Self's statement about Charles that gives me at least some doubt about whether the statement is truly from my Higher Self; he appears to be endorsing Prince Charles as suitable for a future King, and is thus taking sides on a political matter. But there's something in me that thinks that Higher Selves are not inclined to take a stand on topical political issues, although I may be quite wrong on that.
      So am I worried by the possibility that my channelling of my Higher Self is possibly flawed? I mean, if my channelling was possibly compromised here, in how many other places might it also be compromised? Should everything in these dialogues be regarded as quite unreliable?
      In fact, I am not nearly as worried by this as you might think. First of all, I do not explicitly claim that the parts of these dialogues attributed to my Higher Self or Bivalia are in fact from him. Possibly they are, and the dialogues are a genuine attempt to find and contact my Higher Self - but I am not willing to claim more than that. You, the reader, must use your own discretion about whether to accept the source of the material as being what it appears to be.
      Secondly, even if I am genuinely channelling my Higher Self, we must accept that channelling (if we can speak of channelling one's own Higher Self, as against some other spirit entity) is inherently imperfect. Any channelling is compromised by one's own mind, even if you can't point to any particular passages that appear compromised. It is an intrinsic limitation of the process that the person receiving the information will at times unknowingly insert information from his or her own mind, and project it onto the Higher Self. If I did so here in this passage about Prince Charles, I will do so again, sooner or later - and again, and again. You must remember this while reading the dialogues, and take the information on its own face value.
      Finally, the information must stand or fall on its own merits, regardless of its source. I would submit that if your decision about whether to accept the information is going to be determined by whether the information is really from my Higher Self, or from somewhere else, then you are using a rather flimsy basis anyway for deciding whether to accept it. In a certain sense it doesn't matter whether the information is from my Higher Self, or whether I'm just making it up with my ordinary mind. All that matters is whether it helps you or not. It has been of some help to myself in refining my spiritual outlook, although I wouldn't describe it (yet) as life-transforming. If you find it helpful to yourself, take it on board, and use it in any way you find helpful - regardless of whether it is really from my Higher Self or not; and if you don't find it convincing or helpful, then reject it - again, regardless of its true source.
      The purpose of these dialogues (and, in my opinion, any channelling of any being) is not to give definitive answers to spiritual or metaphysical questions; this is something that I feel is probably not available in this physical world, for reasons I don't know. Rather, the purpose is to explore ideas, consider possibilities, inspire one, provide spiritual companionship, provide directions to consider following, information that is valid, not in an absolute sense, but relative to the situation one is in at the time of receiving it. My Higher Self (whom I don't call Bivalia any more) has himself said (to paraphrase it) that he is not there to give me answers, but to accompany me and guide me as we explore together, and to help me find out things for myself.
      Another time, he indicated that spiritual insights are like a road map: there is no absolute sense in which some pages in a street directory are true and others false; but, depending on where you are at the time, some will be relevant to your situation and will help you, and others will be useless. I feel strongly, and my Higher Self agrees, that spirituality and religion provide only this kind of truth - information which is true only in the sense that the correct page in a map is true for a person in a particular place (that is, it yields true information that helps you find your way), and not true in an absolute, unchanging way that is relevant for all people in all situations. (Using the street directory analogy, I don't know what would be the corresponding situation to this kind of absolute truth.)

      I don't quite remember what my Higher Self meant by saying that doubts existed "on at least two fronts" about whether Prince Charles would become King of Australia or not. But I would guess he had two things in mind which might prevent that from happening:
      (a) At the time this was written, the media fuss that was going on about Charles gave the impression that his behaviour might prevent him from ever gaining the throne at all, and that succession would skip a generation and pass straight from the current Queen to her grandson, Prince William. There is no official reason whatever to suppose this, though, and it was pure media speculation, fuelled by their love of scandal.
      Also, from time to time, Charles' divorce from his wife, Princess Diana, and his likely desire to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles has been touted as something else that might keep him off the throne. But, on my understanding, neither this, nor the overheard remarks that caused all the media fuss, give any official reason whatsoever why he can't attain the throne in due course.
      (b) There is a push for Australia to become a republic, and if that happened, the British monarch, whoever it was, would cease to be the King or Queen of Australia. The current monarch (as of 2001), Queen Elizabeth II, Charles' mother, is still in good health, although in her seventies, and apparently shows no signs of abdicating the throne in the foreseeable future; so it is likely to be some years yet before Charles is able to ascend the throne.
      The push in Australia towards becoming a republic seemed especially strong at the time this dialogue was originally written, and the likelihood of Australia having Charles as its King appeared more distant than it had done before. Recently, however, the rejection by the Australian electorate of an admittedly politically-loaded referendum on becoming a republic probably set back the Republican cause by several years, although one couldn't conclude that Republicanism is dead. But this certainly increased Australia's chances of having King Charles as its monarch one day.
      And, although I don't care a lot, deep down, what constitutional arrangement Australia has, provided that it works at least as well as the current one, I would feel quite happy about having King Charles as the Australian Head of State if it came about one day. I do not have any reservations about this because of the overheard remarks Charles is supposed to have said, which in my opinion merely show him to be a human being who lets his hair down a bit when he thinks he is speaking or acting in private - which I think is the point Bivalia was intending to make in the dialogue. [

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