Wednesday, 1 March, 1995
Michael: Well, hallo. I didn't get back to you last night, after
midnight, after all. But it's still the next day, in the early evening.
Bivalia:[a] That's all right.
Michael: I'm afraid a bit more time passed than I thought, and by then I
was feeling a bit too tired to get into any sort of involved discussion; and,
also, by then the idea of channelling you had already come to seem unreal
again. In fact, I'm not even sure I can get into anything lengthy now.
Bivalia: You don't have to if you don't feel like it. But do you want to
give me some sort of idea of what you wanted to talk about, just briefly, if not
in detail? If nothing else, writing it down briefly will act as a reminder of
what it was, for when you do feel like going into more detail, so that you won't
reread this half a year later and find that you intended to go into something
obviously of some importance, but which you didn't get around to, and which (half
a year later, as you reread) you haven't got the slightest memory of.
Michael: Yes, you're right. I'll try and give you at least a brief idea,
which then may or may not lead me into discussing it fully. Otherwise it will
be like something that happened a few years ago when I wrote discussions with
a being I called a Counsellor (which may have been you in disguise).
Bivalia: It was you who was disguising me, not me.
Michael: So what? You said earlier that you and I are the same anyway.
Michael: Anyway, in that writing session with the Counsellor, I said
there that there was something I wanted to discuss with the Counsellor, but I
didn't feel up to it now. It was obviously something quite important (at that
time, at least), but I never did get around to even mentioning what it was,
let alone discussing it properly. I now don't have the faintest memory of
what it was, which annoys me rather. I feel, even now, if I heard it
mentioned, I'd recognize it and say, "Of course - that's what it
was." But that's no use; there's no-one to remind me of what it was, so I
suppose I just have to forget about it.
Bivalia: I suppose it will come up on its own again if it's still important.
Michael: Perhaps; although I don't necessarily believe that important
things will always come up. People sometimes say, if you've forgotten
something and are trying to remember it, "Don't worry; it can't have been
important, or else you'd remember it again." I don't necessarily accept that
reasoning; I think it's perfectly possible to forget something that really is
important and not remember it again, and perhaps it comes back to you only
when it's too late, and much harm as been done as a result of neglecting the
matter, whatever it was.
Bivalia: That cannot be denied. Anyway, what was it you wanted to talk
about with me?
Michael: Oh, I think it will sound a bit silly if I bring it up now. I
often think that things I deliberately bring up with you sound silly, and
often, the only things that really seem meaningful are the things that come up
by accident, as it were - things that come up incidentally which I had had no
intention of bringing up.
Bivalia: Well, if you continue talking, about anything at all, that might
happen again, mightn't it?
Michael: Yes, it might; but until it does, I can't be strongly motivated
by it, because I don't know about it. Meanwhile I am a bit more motivated
about the things I do intend to bring up, because I do know
about them; but I sometimes think discussion about those doesn't go so well.
Bivalia: I wouldn't attach too much importance to that impression. I can't
say I've ever thought that myself. And has anyone who's read these discussions
commented on that distinction to you?
Bivalia: I wouldn't worry about it, then.
Michael: I wish I could make the things I do in advance want to talk
about come up by surprise. But if I already want to talk about them, by
definition I can't let them come up by surprise.
Bivalia: That is so. I suggest you don't worry about it.
Michael: What I wanted to talk about was just more reflections on that
sense of wonder or magic I've mentioned before in various writings, that
indefinable yet sublime longing that can come up from nowhere at a moment's
notice, perhaps suggested by a orangey-red sunset, a yellow full moon low in
the sky, a bird's distant liquid call, a happy memory, or any of a hundred
other seemingly trivial things.
Bivalia: Yes; I remember you mentioning such matters previously.
Michael: Yes. Perhaps it may sound tedious to come back to it
again, but -
Bivalia: Tedious? Not a bit. Considering that I am the very essence of
who you are, you shouldn't be surprised if I share your fascination with this
phenomenon, and that perhaps I have a deeper understanding of your perception of
it than probably anyone else in the entire universe, except perhaps God Himself.
Of course, other people also know this phenomenon, even if in different
terms - that is, if they haven't buried it beyond awareness in their immersion in
the physical world and its affairs - but even so, their perception and
understanding of it is as individual as yours is.
And I know that you feel that no-one else understands your private inner
vision of it, no matter how carefully you try to explain it to them, even if they
do have their own version of it. It's still not the same, because this sense of
wonder, the whole broad vision of it, the wonderful hopes, the magic, of it, is
as individual to each person as is his personality itself. It is true that I
have a deeper understanding of your own private vision than anyone else. This is
so of everyone's higher self, relative to that person's own vision of things.
Michael: But what I have in mind doesn't seem private somehow; it seems
to be what life itself is all about, or what it should be all about
if only we can escape the clutches of all the shit that surrounds us in this
physical world. (Oh, how I long to leave all that behind and get on with the
really important wonderful things!) This wonderful vision seems to be the
sort of thing that everyone should know about, not just me. And yet it's
almost impossible to convey it even to the most receptive and open-minded
people. And I don't say this because of a conceited opinion of the importance
of my own views, but rather the vision itself seems so wonderful that surely
it can't be private to me.
Bivalia: My beloved, I know what you mean. And in a sense, what you say is
perfectly true (and I didn't for one moment think you said it out of egotistical
conceit). You do have a vision of the ultimate, wonderful thing beyond
words, which is what life should be all about, and, never fear, will be what it's
all about, perhaps much sooner than you presently imagine. It is true that you
think you have a unique vision of this that no-one else understands, and you
don't know how to share it with them. But not everyone is ready for your
perspective on it now. Other people may be ready for that general level, but
simply have their own view of it, in terms that are just as meaningful to them,
which might leave you quite cold.
Michael: I think a lot of people do get immersed in what I called the
shit of this world, and sometimes it even gets mixed up with their philosophy
and becomes (in their view) part of what life is, and should be, all about.
Bivalia: What do you mean?
Michael: When I said that, I was thinking of the myriads of people,
including many of the New-Age type of people I know, who have certain beliefs
about karma, and they see wars and crime and disease and disability and
madness and suffering and torture and grief - the whole wearisome, dreary
litany of it all - they see all this, right down to the very worst, most
convoluted horrors this world can offer, as part of the karma of the
individuals involved. They see it as appropriate for those persons.
But it seems to me that, in so viewing it, they are, whether or not they
realize it, saying that all those horrors are not only a part of what life is
all about (amongst other things), but even what life should be all
about (for the time being at any rate). They see all the horrors and
suffering of this world as a proper part of the stuff of life, and this view
of things horrifies me, and has done so for probably a couple of decades. I
see it all as a tragic diversion from the real business of life, which (it
seems to me) is, or should be, something wonderful, which has almost been
irretrievably lost in all the welter of sordidness that is supposedly a part
of karma, and therefore a proper part of life.
Bivalia: My friend, I appreciate what you are saying, and I must say I am
inclined to agree with you, even though it does seem to be a mystery, as Rabbi
Harold Kushner points out in the book of his that you read, why such things can
and do exist and seem to have no immediate remedy.
But rest assured that what you call the proper business of life is as
wonderful as you say, is even more wonderful than the occasional hints of wonder
you get unbidden from time to time which you quite rightly see as glimpses of the
true stuff of life; and rest assured that all that is not nearly as irretrievably
lost as you now think it is. The day will come, perhaps even before the end of
your physical, 3rd-dimensional life, when you will have an awakening, and see all
the shit that now surrounds you as nothing more than a bad dream.
God is working on it, with the help of many beings of Light (you are one of
those helping Him, believe it or not); God does care about all the pain and
suffering and corruption of values; He is on your side, and on the side of all
those who oppose evil and suffering, or who are victimized by it. He will remedy
the things that have gone wrong with life; but, as you correctly surmised, there
are limits to His ability to provide short-term relief, even though the long-term
relief will be more than you can possibly imagine now.
All this will come to an end one day; you will awaken properly to the
wonderful vision of how things should be, and one day will be. You will
feel an incredible lightness, a wonderful sense of relief and strength. The sun
will be rising gloriously; the stuff that oppressed you so much will seem no more
than spectres of the night now behind you. It will all happen so naturally that
you will wonder why it was all such a problem; you will shake it all off as
easily as a snake sloughing off its old skin.
Plenty of others have done this; there is no reason to think you are any
different from them in that respect, although I appreciate why you do feel
different from them, and at a special disadvantage. But even the now-ascended
Masters had plenty of times when they felt exactly as you do now.
Michael: I hope you're right. But all the stuff of this world that I
said seems to be mixed up with people's ideas of karma seems omnipotent now.
It rather depresses me to think that so many spiritually-inclined people think
of it as part of karma, part of one's spiritual lessons, and thus legitimize
it in a way that I see as obscene.
Bivalia: They are human, and people who expound profound-sounding ideas are
not always as omniscient as they seem to be, as they honestly think they are.
Don't be harsh on them; they are trying to find truth the best way they know how
to. We'll all make it to proper truth eventually, whatever path we follow.
Michael: It seems to me that many Christians have got this point a bit
more correct, however mistaken I might believe them to be in other ways. They
don't see evil and suffering as ordained by God, or a proper part of the order
of things. They tend, like me, to see it as something gone wrong, although
I'm not much convinced by their explanations which hang it all on Satan and
But, of course, they don't offer everyone the final hope of escaping it
all and getting on with what life should be all about. They see many people,
perhaps the majority of humanity, who don't accept a certain sort of faith in
Christ, as being ultimately doomed, and destined for hell, as the
fundamentalists bluntly put it. (People in the mainstream churches are less
blunt, and are reluctant to use the word "hell", and even reluctant to discuss
the fate of non-believers at all; but if you press them, essentially they do
believe in a sort of hell, in the sense of eternal separation from God and
from all hope.) Even if we forget all the mediaeval imagery of hell, with
fork-tailed devils with pitchforks and bats' wings, and with all the torments
and flames and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth - even if we forget
that, hell is still seen as an eternal separation from God and from all that
is good, and is the ultimate failure of a person's life.
This view of things is totally unacceptable to me (for goodness' sake, is
God a sadistic monster, or what?!). Perhaps, in the view of Christians
generally, the shit this world is immersed in is not ordained by God, but the
millions-of-times-greater amount of shit the non-believers will be immersed in
after death (hell, that is), for all the rest of eternity, is seen as
ordained by God, in His righteous wrath ("Depart from me, ye cursed, into
flames prepared for the devil and his angels", and all that sort of rot). So
of course, this view of things is infinitely worse than the version in which
karma seems to legitimize the evils of this world, which is bad enough, but at
least not for all eternity.
Perhaps it's the fundamentalists in Christianity who are rather over-fond
of stressing the horrors of hell, and God's wrath, and all that stuff. The
more mainstream Christian churches have what sounds like a more refined,
subtle view of hell, and don't talk about God's wrath, but come up with much
more subtle sophisticated reasons why God must cast off forever certain types
of people; but the end result is much the same, that whole sections of
humanity are left finally without any hope whatsoever. Perhaps it's not a
painful hell in the ordinary sense, but a more refined one that is defined
simply as a separation from God, accompanied by a certain state of mind that
is simply seen as the natural consequence of the way you lived; but it matters
little to me. Either way, it's a pretty horrible fate that certain people are
consigned to, and it seems an unacceptable view of God to attribute this to
Him. But in this more refined sense, I have found that the vast majority of
Christians I've personally met, or whose books I've read, Christians of
various denominations, do believe in this concept of hell in one way or
another, to at least some degree. It's the main reason I'm not a Christian.
I'd prefer to take my chances with karma than with hell, if I had to
choose; but of course when my inner vision of beauty and wonder beckons at odd
moments, I can't see either of these common views of life as in the least
Bivalia: You do well to stick to your inner vision and ignore the sorts of
ideas you've just described, however common they might be amongst certain groups
of believers. They are all human, and are not infallible, however much sound and
fury they might make to the contrary, however many systematic and age-old
teachings they may refer to.
Michael: I accept that easily with Christianity, because, with all due
respect, I don't see Christianity as a whole as the most plausible view of
life, however valid some of its ideas may be. But some of these ideas which
seem to be persistently unacceptable to me come from New-Age sorts of people
(karma, for instance), and their view is one I do put more credence in, even
though it has its own problems for me. But, all the same, I do seem to take
this view more seriously, and therefore I am not so casual about dismissing
ideas they put forward, including karma; but I am emotionally repelled all the
Bivalia: It matters not in the slightest. However respectable you may
consider certain philosophies as a whole, you don't have to hesitate to disagree
with certain portions of them that just don't seem right or acceptable to you.
Your sticking to your inner vision is part of what Sananda was referring to
when, at the Crea workshop, he urged you to stick to the essence of your being,
to keep your own thread of light going ahead (or words to that effect).
Remember, he asked you to keep doing that for him; he said you were a pillar of
strength he relied upon before, and will need to rely on again in the future. He
has called you in this life to help him once again. He said it was even more
important now than it was for him 2,000 years ago. You will be helping Sananda,
as well as yourself, if you are able to keep to your vision, and not give way to
what you hear from other people. It's that wonderful vision that Sananda wants
you for, not just another person who will accept orthodoxies of belief without
really challenging them. I urge you to continue in your inner vision, and will
offer you every help I can to make that as easy for you as I can manage.
Michael: Thank you. The funny thing is, when I used to put my views on
things to people (such as the way karma seems to legitimize suffering, and
perhaps various other things too), they couldn't see my point of view, or
sometimes they might say, "Yes, I understand why you think that", but would go
on to say that nevertheless I didn't have a proper view of things; they
implied that as I grew in understanding I'd come round to their point of view
and see it as more complete or more accurate. But over a couple of decades
that hasn't happened, and I'm just as firm about my view of things as ever;
perhaps even more so.
Bivalia: Well, isn't the message that's coming through obvious? It's plain
from what you say that you aren't meant to compromise your view and adapt to what
the other people tell you. If that was the proper thing to do, probably by now
you would at least be beginning to see something in their point of view. After
all, you're not stupid, you're not immersed in dogma of your own to an extent
that closes your mind to other ideas; if you haven't seen at least a glimmering
of truth in all the other ideas after two decades or so, this obviously isn't for
you. I wouldn't worry about it.
Michael: Well, perhaps I don't so much now. At the Church of Antioch
where I play the organ every few weeks, they all believe in the old view of
karma such as I described before; they have no concept of the Earth ascending,
moving beyond the dictates of karma in the old sense. They strongly believe
in those ideas of karma that seem to me to legitimize evil and suffering,
making them part of the whole grand scheme of the universe, and quite rightly
so in their view. I used to quite hotly debate this with them, and we just
went round in circles; such discussions almost never achieve anything; they
always generate much more heat than light.
I find now that I don't discuss these things with them any more, at least
any more than quite casually if it happens to come up; I simply can't be
bothered. I'll just let them believe what they want to, and stick to what
seems to me to make sense. Oh, I sometimes join in the discussion if I can
think of something to say; but I don't feel so committed to it now, and might
possibly appear to them a bit more withdrawn now than I did a few years ago.
Bivalia: Well, I sense that in saying that you think of it as a retrograde
step. You used to debate the matter with them, enthusiastically if without
conclusive results; now you can't be bothered, as if you've been beaten down by
the ravages of life and just don't have the energy or interest to debate the
matter any more. Well, from my view, I don't see this change quite as
negatively as you do. It's obvious that debating such matters rarely
accomplishes anything, however enjoyable it may be at the time.
Michael: I don't even seem to find it so enjoyable now; rather, it merely
tends to give me a rather heavy, dull feeling. Part of aging, I guess.
Bivalia: That's what I meant; you see this change as a retreat into
passivity, as somehow undesirable. But I don't see it as necessarily being
that. And I would certainly say that anything that gives you a heavy, dull
feeling is unlikely to be the most appropriate thing for you to do.
You have noticed a change in your former tendency to debate your views with
other people - you feel much less inclined now to do this, but you seem to see
that as a backward step. But it can be seen in a more favourable way. Perhaps
it shows you have more confidence in the validity of your view. You don't need
to defend it so strongly now when others oppose it. You don't want to waste
energy uselessly defending an idea, when really it doesn't matter at all whether
or not they choose to accept your ideas, and when, as often happens, you know
what the other people are going to say anyway, before you ask them. When that
happens, such debates are so predictable, on both sides, that they are little
more than a charade. You are so convinced of the reasonableness of your view of
things that you are able to set store by it, and say, "Surely this must be so;
it's the only reasonable way of viewing it", and don't feel that such reasonable
ideas need to be bolstered up so much by having many other people agree with them.
Michael: Well, it's beginning to sound here as if I'm being as dogmatic
as the other people with opposing ideas can sometimes be. I mean, you're
saying in a sense, "Our ideas (that is, the ones both you and I share) are the
only reasonable view; everyone else must be wrong".
Bivalia: Well, not quite. But I must say I do tend to share your view of
things, so I can't pretend to be totally unbiased and totally objective. But if
God is Love (which seems to be one thing almost everyone agrees upon, whatever
their religious background), I can only say that it does seem reasonable to say
that if appalling suffering way out of proportion to what people deserve takes
place, it must be that God can't help it (at least in the short term). I
do say (as you do) that this is only reasonable. Any other view would
have it that God intended, or at least permitted, atrocities that he could have
prevented. Unless we deny God's love, this view is frankly
unreasonable. It is true that most people don't seem to see it that way, but I
can't help that. I suppose I am being a bit dogmatic about that.
But before you lump this attitude together with the myriads of people who
are dogmatic about some particular religious or spiritual view of life, just
consider this: How often do you meet people who are eminently reasonable in
almost everything - humane, open-minded, compassionate, and everything else
desirable - who nevertheless have a set of spiritual beliefs or a religious faith
that includes as a core element ideas that, seen on their own, seem totally
unreasonable, almost frighteningly mediaeval in their primitiveness? How many
people do you know that you would consider civilized, yet who nevertheless
believe God casts away from Him for eternity masses of people for no better
reason than that they are unable to adopt beliefs they are not convinced by? How
many sensitive, compassionate New-Age people have you met who believe it is quite
proper for the Lords of Karma (or God, or one's Higher Self, or whoever) to send
AIDS to certain people, or starvation or torture, because that is what their
spiritual lessons require?
Michael: I see what you mean. A depressingly huge number of people are
like you say. They are decent, civilized, compassionate; yet they attribute
to spiritual powers atrocities they themselves would be shocked by if a human
dictator were to carry them out, no matter for how exalted a reason it was
Wrong is simply wrong, no matter for what reason it is done. Surely if
we humans are shocked by things which simply are unacceptable in the suffering
they cause, surely God or other spiritual powers should do even better than us
there. You can't have one set of rules about right and wrong for us humans
here on Earth, and another contradictory set of rules for the spiritual beings
who supposedly control our destiny. Seen in this light, some of the things
attributed to karma or God's judgement, or whatever, are simply wrong, no
matter what exalted spiritual purpose they serve. As Terry Lane, a former
priest, and now A.B.C. broadcaster, put it (in God: The Interview),
something can't be humanly wrong and immoral, and yet spiritually right at the
same time; it it's wrong, then it's simply plain wrong, and that's all there
is to it.
Bivalia: Exactly; that's what I was getting at. Simply adopting a position
of reasonableness should cause anyone who really thinks it through to severely
question many spiritual beliefs or doctrines that most people, even the most
open-minded and reasonable ones, take for granted, never seeing the anomaly
between their reasonable views in everyday life, and the outrageously harsh and
unreasonable spiritual ideas they've adopted, perhaps without ever really
considering the exact nature of what they've taken on, perhaps through some sort
of spiritual peer pressure.
And if such a reasonable person is convinced by evidence or experience or
intuition that despite everything there are spiritual truths which in the
ordinary way should seem outrageous, one would think they would express outrage
at what they feel forced to accept as true but don't like or approve of. Yet it
rarely happens; the usual pattern is that reasonable people do attribute
outrageous things to God, karma, or whatever, yet somehow accept it, saying it
must be all right if God Himself does it, because he must know better than us.
Amusingly, the behaviour in question is usually still considered forbidden
to humans. God may take vengeance, but humans mustn't; agents of karma may kill
and maim, but humans mustn't; and so on. This really means that those who have
this attitude still think the behaviour in question is really wrong; but they are
attributing wrong behaviour to the highest spiritual powers they believe in.
But in such a position, I would ask: if God does seem to behave in morally
outrageous ways, then from where do we get our moral sense that is outraged by
those things? It just doesn't add up. Everything gets distorted if you see God
as immoral in certain ways, so that we are more moral than God. It would seem
better to realize that maybe we are mistaken in attributing to God
things that, according to all our instincts of decency and fairness, are simply
wrong and immoral. It simply seems to me that, almost by definition, God must be
the source of all that is good, decent, compassionate, and loving. And I think
you are able to see that too. I think you are right to see that as a fundamental
spiritual idea, and to reject anything that makes God seem cruel or arbitrary or
in any way morally inferior to human beings.
If I seem dogmatic about my spiritual views, and if you do (although I
think we're at least dogmatic in a softer, more flexible, and open way, if you
see what I mean) - but if we seem dogmatic, before you equate that with the
dogmatism of certain other people of the kind whose views we've both been
criticizing rather, I would just remember that your views and mine do not have
the harsh anomalies of the sort I've just pointed out, the contradictions between
everyday decency and spiritual barbarism attributed to the spiritual
powers-that-be, at least not to the same grotesque extent.
Michael: I suppose so, although I've never heard anyone put it quite like
that before. Of course the thought first occurred to me many many years ago,
although I don't ever remember hearing anyone else point it out. It seems I
came up with it on my own, gradually over the years.
Bivalia: Guess where it really originated from, all those years ago?
Michael: I suppose you had something to do with it.
Bivalia: Yes, it was yours truly who enabled you to awaken to that idea
gradually. Why do you think it is that you have never been able to embrace any
preset doctrines or religions sufficiently to become a member of a church or
other organization? Surely you have noticed that you tread a lonelier spiritual
path than most people you know, who do seem to be able to embrace a whole set of
beliefs fairly completely?
Michael: Yes, I've noticed, but it seemed merely to be yet another
instance of the general truth that I am different from most other people.
That's been true for as long as I can remember, from babyhood, according to my
mother; so I guess I almost take it for granted.
Bivalia: Perhaps. But you may be sure that there is nothing random about
it, that there are good reasons for it, which one day will become much more
visible to you.
Michael: So I'm not being asked to follow a lonely spiritual path for no
Bivalia: Certainly not. You have much to contribute to the universe one
day that you may not have been able to do if you had become a conventional member
of some church or other group.
Michael: Well, I have been a member of St. Raphael's Church of Healing,
and then the Church of Antioch, which I am still associated with; but since
both of them allowed members complete freedom of belief, that isn't the same.
Most churches do put some sort of pressure on you, either overtly or subtly,
to believe certain things, and some even go so far as to make such belief a
condition of membership, like Jehovah's Witnesses, for example. But I could
never join any organization that operated like that.
Bivalia: Nor do we in spirit want you to do that. If you did, we might
even have to have some sort of conference up here to work out some way of
discouraging you from continuing, because it would damage the work that you have
undertaken to do.
Michael: Well, I have to finish soon, and I didn't even get to the main
substance of what I wanted to talk about; but in summary, despite my seeming
differences in spiritual outlook with almost everyone else, I am doing the
right thing in sticking to my own view because it just seems reasonable and
right, and perhaps even more importantly it is intimately linked with that
sense of magic which I opened the discussion with.
Bivalia: Absolutely. You are absolutely right in your view that the
magical sense of wonder is at the heart of what spirituality is about. It is the
centre of what your heart desires, quite rightly, even though you find it
difficult to analyze with your mind.
Michael: Well, it's a pity I didn't get round to the main thing I
intended to discuss, which was about that sense of wonder, that vision of
great and wonderful things. But I suspect that is such a deep and subtle
matter that probably no one session we have can do justice to it. Perhaps
it'll have to be spread over several sessions. Perhaps this session did build
up to it a little, but then we got diverted into a discussion on the way
things should be if only spiritual things are as reasonable and decent as even
some worldly things are.
And yet that is not entirely irrelevant to my vision. This idea that
surely the spiritual powers should be at the very least as reasonable and
tolerant and understanding as we humans can be at our best is of considerable
importance to my overall spiritual vision; and it rather distresses me that
this reasonableness of outlook (the best way I can describe it) seems to be so
rare in religion and philosophy generally. I honestly cannot think of a
single established spiritual view that as a whole meets these standards of
reasonableness; not Christianity, not Islam, not the usual karmic philosophy
of reincarnation - nothing at all that I have encountered. They all have
their glaring weak points, which, considered calmly, are frankly outrageous.
I can't help thinking that many adherents of various religions would reject
certain of their doctrines as outrageous and unreasonable if they saw them
clearly; but I think the real nature of those doctrines is obscured by the
masses of tradition and mythology that most religions are pervaded with. (And
I'm not saying "mythology" in the derogatory sense of "something untrue and
made up", but in the sense of a body of tradition and history that develops
its own cultural values and its own ethos.)
Bivalia: I know what you mean. And I agree with you that most religions do
have a mythology that tends to be taken by many believers as literal truth. The
ideas involved may have symbolic or allegorical truth to them, but if taken
literally they often do seem unreasonable, but the very mythology has such a
strong flavour and context of its own that when people do take it literally, the
unreasonableness of those literal ideas is obscured from them, so they tend to be
unaware of the anomaly that is so glaringly obvious to you.
Michael: Well, I suppose I have the advantage there of not being so
involved in any such mythologies, of not being devoted to any one particular
religious viewpoint, so perhaps I see them more clearly. I'm simply more
detached and objective perhaps, although it sounds a rather arrogant claim.
There's a price I pay for that detached clarity: a deep spiritual loneliness;
still, I suppose it's the way I work and I have to accept it. But all the
same, it rather disturbs me when believers in some religious or philosophical
system do believe totally unreasonable or primitive ideas quite literally; and
it is something that would put me off being strongly involved in such
religions or organizations to see so many people in them believing those
outrageous ideas; and it's even more strongly off-putting to me when the
literal truth of those outrageous ideas is not only prevalent within the
religion but actually an official teaching of the religious organization.
Perhaps this is one reason I have got involved in the ascension movement
more than I would have expected. It can hardly be called an established,
systematic spiritual view (at least, not yet); but the attitudes of some of
the people involved in it do seem to attribute more reasonable and
compassionate traits to God. They emphasize His love and compassion, they
don't think God condemns people, and, perhaps the ultimate heresy, I have
heard ascension people even share some of my doubts about the darker
ramifications of karma (you know, the stuff about how it appears to justify
suffering, and so on), and some express the view that karma doesn't apply in
the higher dimensions. They portray a God who is more free of attributes I
would consider morally monstrous than almost any other picture of God I can
think of that I've heard of anywhere else, whether Christian or otherwise. I
think all this is part of why I've allowed myself to get more involved with
such people than I would normally do with any group.
Bivalia: Well, I know that, even so, you don't accept everything they
believe, for other quite separate reasons; but at least perhaps they're pointing
in the right direction.
Michael: I guess so. Of course, I might be sounding as if I've looked at
every religion and philosophy and evaluated them all, and found them wanting.
Well, of course I haven't done this. When I say that the picture of God the
ascension movement tends to believe in is more attractive to me than any other
I've encountered, of course I only mean, of those I personally know about. I
don't eliminate the possibility that there may be other views which I might
find even better still; but I don't know about them, and I can only work with
the range of information that I already have.
Michael: I think this is a good point at which to adjourn, but I don't
want to let my original line of thought drop next time (if this writing
doesn't again collapse into total limbo). I don't think my thoughts about
that sense of wonder are tedious, but I am aware they can seem tedious if I
don't manage to express the ideas accurately.
Just to remind us next time, I want to say that I wanted to reflect on
the connections between this, and the fact that has often occurred to me that
when something seems to conjure up that magic, it is often, when you really
get down to it, the idea of the thing that seems full of magic more
than the actual thing itself, which can, when you have it, seem depressingly
ordinary, even unpleasant in some cases.
For instance, deserts are one of those types of landscape that are full
of wonder for me; yet I gripe and grumble about Melbourne's hellish summer
weather. If I think about things realistically, and not romantically, it is
obvious that if I actually visited a desert, instead of daydreamed about one,
I would not merely fail to find the effect of it wonderful; almost certainly I
would hate it, and be tormented by the heat, the flies, the sweat, the body
odour, and probably lots of other things; and I can assure you, things like
sweat, flies, and body odour are very far from having a sense of wonder or
magic to them, for me at least. I would like to go into this anomaly with
you, if you don't mind. It seems important and significant that somehow the
idea of something can fascinate me when almost certainly I wouldn't like the
real thing itself.
And I also wanted to play around a little with the idea that the sense of
wonder seems to suggest some sort of ideal life-style or life-purpose (I can't
think of any other phrase for it), which is nevertheless extraordinarily
difficult to identify when you try to analyze it.
Bivalia: Well, I will put on my thinking cap and do some homework between
now and our next session (whenever that is), and see if I can shed a little light
on such matters.
Michael: Thank you. Such issues are the real substance of what I
intended this session to deal with. But I must go now. I actually
broke off this session a couple of pages back for a few hours without
acknowledging it in the actual text, so it's later than it might appear from
reading this (remember, I started early last night). I can hear the willy
wagtails whistling outside, which means it's high time for me to get a bit of
Bivalia: Happy dreams then, Michael.
Michael: It's just occurred to me, as I looked at a list of files on the
computer of our discussions, each file-name consisting of the date of the
session it covers, that I have been completely silent in these sessions for 3
whole months. Until I resumed recently, the latest session was at the very
end of November, just before the beginning of summer. Now I see that I've
resumed literally on the last day of summer (28 February, the previous short
It's autumn now (2 March); that's the season in which, in certain parts
of the world, Indian summer sometimes occurs, and the idea of Indian summer, a
spell of warm, calm, hazy weather usually in late autumn, with glorious
moonrises and radiant sunsets and hazy sunlight and balmy breezes, both
preceded and followed by stormy weather, is yet another thing that to me is
full of wonder.
I could almost write a symphony about it, full of vivid colour and
atmosphere; and in fact exactly that is one of the plans I've had for many
years, although I haven't been able to develop it much so far. But a symphony
called Indian Summer has a really good feel to it somehow; even the
very title conjures up in my mind a certain wonderful atmosphere.
We don't really have Indian summer here as an identifiable phenomenon,
but very occasionally we do get a couple of rather balmy hazy sort of days,
some of which in 1977, I think it was - June 1977, probably - I remember quite
well. But I think Indian summer is quite a common thing in Canada and the
eastern United States, and other places too.
Once when I was visiting my aunt, Joan I., I played on her piano an
extract of the symphony Indian Summer I had been trying to work out,
just to ask Joan (who is a musician herself) what she thought of it. Perhaps
it's no coincidence that she thought the music had a rather American feel to
it; I think I had in fact been thinking of an American Indian summer, as
against one in some other part of the world (perhaps New England or somewhere
like that in the eastern United States). And the music (which you would need
to hear with a full orchestra, plus a solo piano part, to get the full and
proper effect) is full of a balmy, hazy, languid sort of atmosphere. The
sense of magic often suggested by nature absolutely permeates my thoughts when
I think up musical ideas of this sort.
Bivalia: I can see that. It's difficult to believe that sometimes you
think you are completely dead spiritually. The way I see it, the very opposite
is true. The lyrical way you spoke of Indian summer, and your symphony, just
dropping it unexpectedly into our conversation as you were about to say good-bye,
proves that, if it still needs proving.
Michael: I hope you're right. Of course, writing lyrical, romantic,
hazy, atmospheric nature music is rather out of fashion in today's music
world; you're meant to write music that appeals to contemporary values, which
reflects today's society (yuk!), which has that magical thing called
"relevance" by some composers or commentators. But placed beside glorious
visions such as that which I just described concerning Indian summer, the
politics, fashions, and ideologies of the contemporary music scene are just
piffle by comparison. I feel very little kinship with the majority of today's
composers, with just a few blessed exceptions. Most of the composers who
might be more like soul-mates or kindred spirits are now gone from this world.
I'd better go. The willy wagtails have stopped whistling now. I was
just reminded of that Indian summer business when I noticed that my resumption
of our sessions coincided with the start of autumn.
Bivalia: You're really quite a daydreamer aren't you, coming up with odd
little episodes like that, even as you're about to say good-bye? That's one of
the things I like about you, when you do whimsical things like that. But I'll
let you go now, and say farewell, Michael.
Michael: Good night, or good morning, or whatever it is.