Wednesday, 29 March, 1995
Michael: Good evening, Bivalia.
Bivalia:[a] Good evening, Michael. How are you tonight?
Michael: All right, I guess. I just thought I'd do a bit of channelling
Michael: It's actually after midnight, but I still count it as Wednesday,
as long as it isn't too far after midnight and I still think of it as
Bivalia: As you please. But it's just like you to be scrupulous in telling
your readers that you're doing that, so as not to mislead them about the date.
Michael: I don't know how long I'll spend here now, but I thought perhaps
my channelling mechanism needs a bit of oiling and greasing if it is not to
Bivalia: It is not as rusty as you may think.
Michael: Well, I've been having a lot of depression in recent months,
which may not help. That seems to have gone largely, but has been replaced by
a certain greyness of feeling which is still not the best.
Bivalia: I observe you have your new computer now; has that helped lift
Michael: That, or anything else, makes no difference at all to that. It
doesn't work that way. What I'm talking about seems quite unresponsive to
actual conditions or events in my life. It comes and goes as it pleases, with
no rhyme or reason.
But that isn't what I intended to talk about now.
Bivalia: What did you want to talk about, if anything in particular?
Michael: I'm not quite sure. I had a few vague ideas, but I don't quite
know how I would actually lead up to them.
Bivalia: You don't have to lead up to them, like excuses to a headmaster.
With me, you can just talk about them in any way you please.
Michael: I could refer to dreams again, as I've done before. Every now
and then I have a dream that seems to haunt me, which I keep thinking about
all day long; and I had one of those last night. But it's difficult to talk
about, because I remember almost no detail, and what I do remember can't even
be described in words. But I had a long, involved dream about the
Indian-Pacific - you know, the train that goes from Sydney to Perth.
Michael: I do seem to dream about it every now and then, and the dreams
can be quite haunting, and somehow seem familiar, as if in the dreams I'm
returning to a realm I've been in before, which is very familiar, but which
I've been absent from for a while. Yet it's somehow different from how the
train is in real life.
Bivalia: There are astral and higher regions you do visit periodically, you
know, my friend. Sometimes you have work to do there, and sometimes you are just
attracted to certain regions and like the beings there, and like to spend time
there. Perhaps certain regions have trains which attract you sometimes.
Michael: Are you saying the Indian-Pacific exists in the astral world, or
even higher, as well as this one?
Bivalia: Of course I am; everything in this world has its counterpart in
the astral world, and in all the higher worlds too. And they are no shadowy
copies; they are in a sense more real than the physical ones. It would not be
far from the truth to say that the physical versions of things in your
3rd-dimensional world are the shadowy copies. Another way of putting it would be
to say that not only do humans have spirits; all physical entities do. Although
I think that's putting the cart before the horse: I would personally prefer to
say that the higher entities have projections into the physical world, of varying
sorts and of varying degrees of evolution.
Michael: So there are trains in the next world too.
Bivalia: In a sense, yes. They may not be exactly the same as trains as
you commonly know them, which is why the dreams you have seem intimately familiar
and yet a little strange at the same time, why the trains in the dreams are like
trains and yet at the same time not like them. You seem a bit surprised that
there might be trains in the higher worlds. But understand that everything in
your physical world can be found in some other worlds too, often in a more
refined or evolved version which is the essence of the physical thing.
Michael: And I have connections with trains in the next world?
Bivalia: I would think that is quite obvious. Why have you been so
fascinated by trains for the greater part of your life? These things are not
accidental. It is because they evoke sweet memories of previous modes of
existence, and perhaps conjure up for you happier memories than many of the
memories of your current life. Is it not true that some of your happiest
memories of your present life are of journeys in interstate trains, lying snugly
in your roomette at night listening to the sound of the train rushing through the
night, the wheels clattering on the rails, clickety-clack, singing a song of
Michael: Yes, you're quite right. That is so. You put it very
romantically and poetically.
Bivalia: I'm just as poetical a soul as you are, my friend. We have much
in common. I wouldn't be your Higher Self if I didn't share all your deepest
thoughts and feelings. It is from me that you derive all your deepest thoughts
and longings, not the other way around.
There are reasons for those happy associations with trains. You have many
connections with trains going back over many thousands of years, just as you have
connections with music and with nature and with computers and many of the other
things that fascinate or intrigue you in various ways.
Michael: I seem to have lost interest in trains in recent years. I
haven't been on any interstate trains since 1980 or 1981, when I went on the
Ghan to Alice Springs, just months before the older train stopped and was
replaced by the new Indian-Pacific-style train. So I don't even know if I
would still enjoy riding in interstate trains or not; but I seem to have lost
interest, and rarely think about trains now. But a dream like that can bring
it all back again. Perhaps I might still enjoy it; I don't know.
Bivalia: Why don't you try it again?
Michael: Money, I suppose. Well, I suppose I could save the money; but
I've gone in other directions, and have new priorities, I guess.
Bivalia: Never mind; perhaps the opportunity may arise one day.
Michael: You seem to think it's a good idea.
Bivalia: If you want to, it's a good idea.
Michael: I don't know. You know, I used to think it was somehow
unspiritual to enjoy riding in trains. It was an unbelievably sensuous
experience, you know. The appearance of the train, the sound of it, the very
smell of it - everything about it - were extraordinarily appealing to me
Bivalia: Does that matter? Does the supposed "unspirituality" of it bother
Michael: No, it doesn't. That isn't the reason I've lost interest; I've
just gone in other directions, I suppose. If I were still inclined to go on
trains, I wouldn't worry about whether or not it was spiritual. But it rather
bothered me at the time.
Bivalia: You've grown spiritually a good deal since then, you know, my
friend. What was a hurdle at the time you can skip lightly over now. It doesn't
matter if it is an unbelievably sensuous experience. I happen to agree with you
that it is. Just enjoy it, if you feel like it.
Michael: Yes, if the mood takes me one day.
Bivalia: Feeling guilty about it achieves nothing, you know - and you
wouldn't fall into the trap of thinking that guilt puts you in better standing
with God, would you?
Michael: No, not now. I rarely experience guilt these days - and
certainly not about something like a train ride. I may have once, but guilt
over a train ride sounds rather ridiculous now.
Bivalia: It does indeed. It would make better sense to enjoy it, if it is
what appeals to you.
Michael: You know, it could even on occasion be rather sexually arousing.
Bivalia: So? That doesn't change my opinion. You seem to be apologizing
for that rather, thinking it will make me change my view. Do you think I don't
know about that? You aren't shocking me or telling me anything new, however much
you may try.
Perhaps one day we might play a game: how much does it take to shock
Bivalia? - and then I'll see if I can shock you. We could have a competition to
see which of us can shock the other the most. I think I could win hands down if
I really put my mind to it.
Michael: Well, in saying that about sexual arousal, I wasn't trying to
shock you, and I'm not really apologizing. Just telling you. I'm not really
bothered by that. I'm not really all that interested in sex, and if sexual
feelings come in certain situations, I just let them if they want to, and if
they vanish at other times, I let that happen also.
Bivalia: You are very fortunate, my friend, to be so unselfconscious about
sex. You are probably aware that there are people who have a great deal of
trouble with sexual feelings and hang-ups of all sorts.
Michael: Well, of course, I don't have sexual relationships of any sort,
and have never had, and probably never will, so that's probably why sex is so
uncomplicated for me. That might well change if I were to have a sexual
Bivalia: I wouldn't count on that. If one day you are moved to have such a
relationship, I think the chances are excellent that your sexual life would be
Michael: I don't think that situation is likely to arise.
Bivalia: It is not for everyone. But let it happen if it wants to. And if
it does, just be aware that often sexual problems arise because people are
focusing too much attention on sex itself, instead of letting it just naturally
be part of a loving relationship.
Michael: Yes, I'm sure you're right. The reason I don't have a sexual
relationship isn't because I'm troubled by guilt or anything like that; I'm
just not all that interested in having a sexual relationship.
Anyway, I didn't mean to get onto that. I was talking about trains, and
the sexual connection there was just a passing remark. Quite apart from that,
trains just have a whole world of memories and longing associated with them.
Bivalia: I know. I know exactly what you mean.
Michael: You know that sense of wonder or magic I've mentioned before
that is often evoked by such things as a beautiful scene or a sunset or a
moonrise or a rainbow or a little clump of toadstools poking up through the
Michael: Well, I may have given the impression it is only natural things
that evoke that. But it is not.
Bivalia: Yes, I am aware that this feeling has a wider scope than just what
you call natural things.
Michael: Well, trains are something that have often evoked that same
feeling, in its own way, of course. There are non-natural things, man-made
things, that can evoke the feeling too, you know.
Bivalia: Of course. The distinction you make between natural and
artificial things may seem self-evident, but it is more arbitrary than you may be
aware of. But never mind; I know what you mean.
Michael: I don't believe I've made too much of the distinction, even if
I've made something of it. But I've often associated music with the magical
feeling, and music after all is a man-made thing, not a natural thing.
But it's strange that trains should also evoke that feeling.
Bivalia: I don't find it in the least strange. All sorts of things can
evoke similar feelings to various people. You'd be surprised at some of the
things that can evoke it for certain people.
Michael: I've often tried to write music evoking the feel of trains, and
even used to try writing music while I was riding in the train. However, that
was some time ago, and I'm not sure the music seems so impressive to me now as
it did at the time. But I think the direction it tried to take was good. If
I could get back into that way of thinking, perhaps I could write some really
good train music. Every now and then, usually after having one of those train
dreams, I get the urge to write train music again, but it usually passes
before I can do anything about it. Writing music is difficult and
time-consuming, and it needs a lot more than a fleeting urge.
But one thing I've always noticed is this. Other composers have written
train music too; there isn't a lot of train music that I know of, but there
are several pieces about trains. And yet my train pieces were totally
different from any of the others. No other composer seems to have thought of
my approach to writing train music. It seems strange to me that no-one else
should have thought of it.
Bivalia: Well, my friend, you have a very individual perception of the feel
of a train. Quite likely there is no-one else in the world who has precisely the
same feelings about trains as you do. It is not as surprising as you think. You
see, you are evoking much more than just the sound and feel of the train; you are
also evoking the memories and associations of a life-time, of more than a
life-time in fact. Even in your younger years you were aware of trying to do
much more than just imitate the rhythm and sound of a train (although that played
its part); you were aware of trying to capture an exact, precise feeling, an
elusive sense of magic.
Michael: Well, I've noticed that most train pieces (such as Honegger's
Pacific 231 or Villa-Lobos's "Little Train of the Caipira") seem to
stress the energy and noise and power of the train, but I seemed to make the
motion of the train fast but quite effortless - just gliding along with a
muted sound. If you ever travel on a modern interstate train, you are struck
by how smooth everything is. When it starts, it can be difficult (if you
don't look out the window) to determine the precise moment at which the train
starts moving. Even when it gets up to speed and the train rocks and sways
quite markedly, there's still a certain smoothness to it. It's difficult to
describe; but I tried putting all of that sort of thing into the music.
Most of the train pieces I know are at least a few decades old; perhaps
trains were really different then, really were raucous, noisy, lumbering
things. I don't know. I was born in 1954 and that would be before my time.
I have no nostalgia about steam engines for instance; they are nothing
more than history to me, and to tell the truth (which would shock most railway
fans), Puffing Billy appeals to me much less than The Overland or the
Indian-Pacific (shock, horror!).
Bivalia: That is your experience of trains and is perfectly valid. It will
inspire much better music than if you tried to adopt the attitude other railway
fans have but which you don't sincerely feel.
Michael: Well, there's no question of me doing that. I don't care a
great deal about the type of locomotive; when you're lying in bed in a
roomette aboard The Overland or the Indian-Pacific, it would be virtually
impossible to tell what sort of locomotive was pulling the train anyway. You
might be able to catch a glimpse of the locomotive out the window when the
train was going round a sharp curve. Other than that, there'd be no way of
telling the difference.
Bivalia: You're quite right. But the sort of people who see magic in steam
locomotives probably would not be very interested in riding in The Overland or
Michael: That's probably so.
Michael: I'm not sure this discussion is getting anywhere.
Bivalia: Does it have to? What is wrong with simply reminiscing? Like a
train journey itself, this time between us is to be enjoyed for its own sake, not
just for where it may lead.
Michael: That reminds me of the time I hopped on The Overland (the train
to Adelaide), and then came back the next night. I suppose it sounds
pointless, but I just felt like having a ride on The Overland.
Bivalia: I don't think it's pointless. It's delightfully free and natural,
just being in the moment. It's good to do what's right for you, and to pay no
attention to whether other people think this is the done thing or not.
Michael: I suppose I could have stayed in Adelaide a while, since there
are people I know in Adelaide, but I don't think at the time I had either the
time or the money to do so. However, I did go and visit Bob and Judy D.
up in the Adelaide hills. They're old family friends from our Belair days,
and I always got on well with them.
I was always childishly enthusiastic about trains even into my teens, and
Judy was somehow able to delight in that and to joke with me about it, and all
that. Probably most people thought I was unbearably juvenile about it, always
talking about trains, especially in the days immediately after I've come off
Bivalia: You might be surprised at how like that a good many people are
whom you would consider sensible and mature. But their enthusiasm is about
something else which doesn't especially catch your attention, so when they talk
about it, you don't think twice about it. You simply pay attention if you are
interested, or ignore it if you aren't.
Michael: Maybe; but it seems different, somehow.
Bivalia: It is only different because you are you, and you experience your
own stuff personally (not surprisingly), whereas you don't experience other
people's stuff, but only observe it second-hand and superficially. Of course
that causes your perceptions to be different in the two instances. But your
behaviour, even at your most childish, as you put it, was much less noticeable
than you thought with almost painful self-consciousness.
Bivalia: You seem doubtful; I was with you though, you know, even back in
the 1960s on a couple of occasions when you behaved in a way that was essentially
harmless but which you still remember with acute embarrassment. But remember you
were only a child of 13 or so at the time. No-one expects magisterial dignity of
a 13-year-old, least of all me. I think people would feel jolly uncomfortable
with a 13-year-old who did show it. (For that matter, I don't expect magisterial
dignity of you even now at 41, but that's another matter.)
I wouldn't worry about your supposedly naive enthusiasm about trains in
earlier years. Perhaps you've overreacted to that more recently and repress your
feelings too much now and sometimes show a grave dignity and propriety. There
are times when that is not appropriate, you know.
Michael: Well, I'm certainly not showing it now, talking so much about
trains now. Anyone would think I were a child all over again now.
Bivalia: Give yourself a break. You only talk about trains about once a
year now, mainly in letters to people like Roger G., or your aunt
and uncle Pauline and Bob in Spain, probably after you've had one of those
dreams. I hardly think that's overkill. As for dignity, propriety, and all that
- I'm glad that you don't show much dignity in our sessions together, God forbid!
Michael: You know, you sometimes seem to show a certain lofty dignity in
these sessions; but then at other times you are delightfully, irrepressibly
funny and impulsive, whimsical, and - to put it bluntly - undignified.
Bivalia: Well, isn't that great? I like to be able to show whatever manner
is suitable for the occasion, and I'm glad you are able to appreciate that.
Michael: Well, I don't know if this is fizzling out like a damp
firecracker or not. I think I just had an urge to talk about trains, you
know, nothing more than that.
Bivalia: I certainly hope you don't ever feel as if you have to have a
lofty goal to accomplish before you come to me. You can come and talk with me
about the price of fish in Timbuktu, if you like.
Michael: Well, I think I've talked with you before about some pretty
Bivalia: I love a bit of eccentricity sometimes.
Michael: Just occasionally, not nearly as often in earlier years, I just
seem to be haunted by the Indian-Pacific, which I haven't travelled on since
1971, when I was 17. The 5th of July, 1971; it departed Sydney at 3.15 p.m.
on that day.
You won't believe it, but I was incredibly nervous on the platform then,
before boarding the train. I can't think why, but for quite a while I didn't
dare approach the train too closely, but I knew I would have to before 3.15.
I just sort of hung about on the platform like a nervous child. It's strange,
isn't it? I was quite scared of the train in a weird way. Perhaps the fame
of the train gave it a certain mystique which intimidated me, although I'd
longed to ride on the train ever since I'd heard of it a year or two before.
(It only started running in January 1970, you know.)
And it's curious that I've been haunted by the train in the years since,
because I seem to remember that in some ways I didn't like the train, and I
can't think why. It is true a couple of trivial things went wrong, but it
shouldn't have been nearly enough to spoil things, yet somehow it soured me a
But I enjoyed other parts. I played the piano which was in the lounge
car of the train, and made friends with an American boy who was one or two
roomettes down from me, and so on.
And yet, when I wrote to my parents in Perth, I didn't so much as mention
the train, but described what I did in Perth. I thought not mentioning the
train would (for a train nut) stick out like a sore thumb to them, but they
never commented on my silence about the train. Was I really soured that much,
or was I just self-conscious about mentioning the train. (I have always been
a bit self-conscious about my interest in trains, a curious mixture of
enthusiasm and self-consciousness.)
I had been quite open all along about the fact that I was doing the trip
to ride in the Indian-Pacific rather than to visit Perth, and I remember that
I fully expected my parents, upon my return home, if not in a letter, to ask
me why I'd said nothing about the train in any of my 4 or 5 letters, and I
didn't know what I was going to tell them; I didn't even really know why I
didn't want to talk about the train, and I had no idea why there was a sense
in which I didn't like it as much as I'd thought I would.
But for all that ambiguity, I think I've been haunted by the
Indian-Pacific ever since. I've never travelled on it again since (although I
have other trains); but I think I've sometimes had a sneaking desire to ride
on the Indian-Pacific again.
Bivalia: Your relationship with the train is obviously a complicated one,
not easily pigeonholed.
Michael: I guess so. To this day, I still don't understand certain
things about it.
Bivalia: You don't have to; but you will be able to understand it one day
if you want to.
Michael: I'm not sure if it matters now.
Bivalia: I think it still does, or you wouldn't be bothering to tell me all
this. You've written 5 pages about trains now, you know. That isn't just casual
chitchat, you know.
Michael: It's just all terribly nostalgic to me, that's why I've said all
this. I don't even know if trains still really interest me; perhaps I'd have
to ride on one and put it to the test before I can tell that. But trains have
been such an important part of my life that they will always be nostalgic to
Michael: Anyway, I was half expecting to cover that in a couple of pages
and then go on to something else more important.
Bivalia: It is merely your judgement that the other thing (whatever it is)
is more important. It is quite clear that trains have for decades been one of
the most important things in your whole life, perhaps even as important as (dare
I say it?) Beethoven. (Sorry, Ludwig, for comparing you to trains, but those are
the facts of life.)
Michael: I'd love to know what Beethoven thinks of that.
Bivalia: Perhaps one day he'll tell you. It's quite probable that he knows
how devoted you were to his music as a child.
Michael: That's a bold claim.
Bivalia: In the higher realms there is nothing unusual about that. When
you feel such a strong connection with someone you never met, as you did with
Beethoven, it is very likely that there were connections in the past with that
individual, and quite possibly still are in the dream state, when you leave your
body and do all sorts of wonderful things. If you actually dream about that
person and have a powerful feeling of their personality, and it seems to fit with
factual historical knowledge of their personality, it is almost certain that such
connections exist. And I seem to remember you had such a dream about Beethoven a
few months ago. You told me about it.
Michael: Yes, that's right. I hope to meet Beethoven one day, and I hope
what you say is correct.
Anyway, after the trains (which I just somehow felt I had to say
something about, after that dream), I hoped to go on to more aspects of that
sense of wonder I've been talking about a lot in the last 3 sessions or so,
but I don't think I've got time now. It's getting late, and I'm beginning to
feel like going to bed. Perhaps in a day or two.
Bivalia: Whenever you like.
Michael: I'm getting yawny; I think this is a good place to adjourn.
Bivalia: So do I. I think you've more or less come to a natural pause
without interrupting any important trains of thought. (I think the word "train"
is running through my mind a bit now.)
Michael: Yeah, I know what you mean. Just out of curiosity, I did a
computer search for the word "train" in this document, and it occurs 89 times
up to the beginning of this sentence. As I did the search, and highlighted
one word "train" after another, the word itself almost began to seem a bit
unreal. There's a curious phenomenon where if you read or say a word many
many times for a few minutes, it begins to seem unreal. It doesn't sound
right, and you'd swear it was misspelled. The meaning of the word seems
somehow unreal, too.
Bivalia: It illustrates the fact that physical reality is not quite as real
as it seems. If it were, a mere trick of the mind like that would make no
Michael: You can draw a spiritual lesson out of the most innocent piece
Bivalia: Of course. That's the way it goes. Everything has a spiritual
dimension to it.
Michael: "Overland" appears 5 times and "Indian-Pacific" 10 times, but
that's not enough to produce that unreal effect. But (to me) those very words
have a mystique about them, somehow. I wonder if my whole attitude to those
trains would differ if their names were changed to something completely
different. I think it might; I think names, especially ones you've known for
nearly a life-time, can make a difference to your attitude to something. I'm
not sure Shakespeare was right in saying that a rose by any other name would
smell just as sweet. Well, it might smell just as good, but just different
Bivalia: Well, I'm not well up on Shakespeare enough to know exactly what
he meant by that, but it seems to me you're right. In actual fact, a name does
create a certain form on the astral level and on higher levels too, and changing
the name would completely change that form. Perhaps that wouldn't change the
physical object or person you attached the name to, but it could easily change
other people's attitudes or feelings about that person or object.
A simple example: you are aware that Indian summer, which you've talked of
before in connection with a symphony you want to write, is also known as
St. Martin's summer in other parts of the world than America. I think it is so
called in England. But you haven't even considered calling your symphony
"St. Martin's Summer", despite the fact that, in general, you prefer English
usage in language to American usage. That other name just doesn't have that
same mystique to you.
Michael: Yes, it does somehow seem important. If we imagine a
hypothetical situation where I finished the symphony, and it was very good,
and a publisher offered to publish it, but insisted that the name be changed
to "St. Martin's Summer" (perhaps it's an English publisher), I would not
accept this condition, and would take my chances on finding another publisher
who would publish it as "Indian Summer". It's absurd and irrational, but I
really think that's what I'd do.
Bivalia: Well, seen in the light of occult knowledge, your stand is not
nearly as silly as it superficially sounds. It is quite likely it would make a
difference to the way people received the music. And if you were still composing
the music when you were forced to change the title, it is very likely it would
adversely affect the way the music was actually composed. When you write music,
you are playing with powerful occult forces, and it has to be done right, and you
would be quite right to insist on the title that seems right. The success of the
music could well depend on it. A well-chosen title actually helps guide the
music in the right direction. And a well-chosen title is almost always the one
that spontaneously occurs to you before you start thinking intellectually what
the best title would be. A title chosen with a lot of intellectual weighing of
pros and cons is much less likely to be the best one, and it could guide the
music in unintended directions.
Michael: Although I suppose if you know how to go about it, you could
change the title and adjust for that and still do the music right.
Bivalia: I suppose so, but you don't need to take on extra problems; even
as it is, composing music is far from easy, and there is already enough
complexity to cope with. Someone (I forget who) said that composing a symphony
is the biggest intellectual feat a human being can achieve. I feel it should
also be said one of the biggest emotional feats, too.
Michael: Well, the yawns are coming faster and wider now, and I think I'd
better hit the sack.
Bivalia: Hit it hard, my friend. Good-night.
Michael: Good-night. If I hurry, I might beat the willy wagtails to bed
- well, they're getting up while I go down, if you see what I mean.