Friday, 5 May, 1995
Michael: Good evening, Bivalia.
Bivalia:[a] Good evening, Michael. How are you tonight?
Bivalia: You're honest, aren't you? No polite answers of "Fine" or even
"Great" just for the sake of politeness.
Michael: I see no point in that with my Higher Self, where honesty is the
key word. If I'm not at least mostly honest, the whole exercise is a waste of
Bivalia: I couldn't agree with you more.
Michael: With other people, I sometimes give a polite answer, when it
seems they don't really want to know, but are just casting about for something
to start a conversation; but even then I can only go so far, and I never say
"Great" or "Fine", but merely "All right" or "Okay", and even then with a
certain lack of enthusiasm. They can probably guess it's just an act.
Bivalia: Do you ever say "Great" where you really are feeling great, so
that on such occasions you would be speaking honestly?
Michael: I never feel great, so I can't really answer that.
Bivalia: I'm sorry to hear that.
Michael: I'm sure you knew all along that's true.
Bivalia: Yes, you are right; but I am still sorry that it is so.
Michael: I suppose you're feeling great all the time.
Bivalia: Most of the time. But I have a broader perspective than you do,
and although your troubles are mine, because you are really just a part of me, it
hurts me much less than it hurts you, because with my wider view of things, those
troubles form a smaller proportion of my totality of awareness than they do
yours. Your awareness is gradually growing, though, faster and faster as time
goes by, and it will be sooner than you realize that your position will be like
mine, and indeed the artificial barrier between us will dissolve and we will be
precisely the same, no higher and lower selves. Won't that be great?
Michael: Yes, I suppose it will; but I will miss being able to have
discussions with you, the one person who understands me better than anyone
Bivalia: You won't miss it as much as you may think. Once you (or any
being) are fully aware of yourself, your whole outlook changes. You are able to
enjoy your own awareness in a way that is even better. In fact conversations
such as we have are simply one dimension of the multi-dimensional nature of such
awareness. The full awareness is vastly more satisfying than such limited
fellowship such as we have in these writings, or in your own thoughts.
Michael: Perhaps. But isn't there the special enjoyment of communing
with other beings, even if it's one's Higher Self (who from an earthly point
of view almost seems like another being), which self-communion couldn't quite
Bivalia: Yes, of course. However, by the time you and I are totally
unified into the one being we really are anyway, you'll be in a position in the
universe to find other company that is wholly congenial, which is outside your
reach for now. So your need for fellowship will not be denied at any stage of
Michael: I feel that what I call New-Age people tend to neglect that
aspect. They are interested in higher awareness, the spiritual quest, and all
that, but they emphasize doing it on your own (or at least some do - perhaps I
shouldn't attribute this to all of them). Some people say fellowship with
others of like mind, channelling, and other ways of interacting with others
are fine for a while, but they are really just a substitute, something to lead
up to doing all that with yourself when you have a high enough consciousness.
They regard the spiritual quest as essentially a thing you do on your own, and
say you don't need anyone else, not even the Masters.
Bivalia: Yes, some do say that.
Michael: But I feel that's not quite right. I mean, it is in a sense:
there is a deep sense perhaps where it's between you, your Higher Self, and
God, and you don't have to depend absolutely on anyone else. But there's
another sense in which I deeply feel that fellowship with like-minded people
is a real part of spirituality, that it has a deep sense of rightness to it,
that it's not merely a temporary step along the way until you have truly found
your feet, preparatory to doing it yourself.
Bivalia: Yes. You will be glad to hear that I agree with you. I agree
that some people tend to downplay that a little. Don't take it too much to
heart; those people are human, and can make mistakes or have a limited viewpoint.
Michael: I hope they're wrong about that. Whenever I hear people talk
like that, it makes me think the spiritual path sounds insufferably lonely.
But of course they would probably think the fact I regard it as lonely is a
part of my limited outlook.
Bivalia: That is their way of interpreting it; there are other ways too,
which may be just as correct in their own terms of reference.
Michael: They say it's not lonely, but instead is quite wonderful, very
Bivalia: Well, that may be right too. Look, in a sense you're both right.
There are different ways of growing spiritually; you can do it more with other
people, or less with them, whatever suits you. And for those to whom doing it
alone is suited, who want to do it that way, it is not as lonely as it may seem;
but of course there are other ways of doing it too. And of course, you can be
alone sometimes and with others at other times. It's not "either-or". The
further you go along the path, the wider your choices as to how to proceed. If
anything it's in the earlier stages that your choices are more limited by
circumstances, personality, and the like. And you're getting beyond those early
stages. In fact, you probably even now have many options available than you are
aware of now.
Michael: If I'm not aware of them, that's only theoretical, and doesn't
count for much.
Bivalia: Perhaps. And perhaps it's time for you to look for those other
options; perhaps that's one reason why circumstances have induced you to channel
me at this time of your life, to look for those wider options. But I wouldn't
want you to get hung up on the idea of doing it alone, if it bothers you that
much. Even those who feel doing it alone is the essence of spiritual growth only
do so when they are ready.
Michael: It's almost the opposite of Christianity, of orthodox belief in
Western society, where community with fellow believers is very important.
Perhaps it's not a complete substitute for fellowship with Christ, but it's
still very important all the same. I've even heard Christians say that your
faith is empty if you are not part of a community of believers, that you are
not really living it, and it's nothing more than ideas in your head.
Bivalia: Well, yes that is a very different point of view; but some of
those people might be in danger of falling into the opposite error of being too
dependent on other people, or (even worse) on organizations. You see the extreme
of that in groups which say you're damned if you don't follow the teachings of
the organization to the letter, and there's to be no debate of the matter, no
questioning of any sort.
Michael: Yes, that's so. I wasn't advocating that opposite point of
view. But of course not all Christians by any means go that far; but I do
think most have a definite sense of fellowship with other believers, which to
an extent seems to me quite a good thing. I would probably be interested in
being part of such a group if I could find one I felt a kinship with; but I
don't know of one. None of the Christian churches or groups or communities I
know of seem right; I suppose I just don't agree with Christianity at a pretty
fundamental level. But I don't even know of any other type of belief or
spirituality in which there are communities I feel a kinship with; to tell the
truth, I don't even feel that with the sort of New-Age ascension groups and
people I've been mixing with a bit over the last year and a half. I mean, I
might feel a kinship with certain individuals there, but I was talking about
the group as a whole, where I don't really feel any special kinship.
Bivalia: I know. It's the same thing we've talked about before, what seems
to be the essential loneliness of your path. It does appear you are following a
path that few are following.
Michael: But I can't help that. I can't make another path seem right for
me, just because more people are on it, when in reality it doesn't seem right.
Bivalia: Of course not. We're not asking you to do that, and wouldn't want
you to. It may sound lame, but I suppose all I can say is, stick with it: your
day will come. You have a wonderful vision, however muddied it may be by the
circumstances of your present life, and you will see it come to pass.
Some of those other people who are on more heavily trodden paths may find
they have to do a bit of backtracking one day, and they might then have hard
times. I'm not saying you're right in all respects, and everyone else is wrong,
but you are at least avoiding some of the mistakes that many others are making
(such as the sort of path which is dependent on following outside religious
authorities, for example). And I'm not criticizing other people when I say they
may have to do some backtracking one day; everyone has to at times, and you
probably did the same backtracking that many today are doing, but you did it in
some previous life-time.
In spiritual matters, it is not of much account whether a path is followed
by many people or only a few. Either kind of path could have truth in it; it
must simply be evaluated on its own merits, and according to the experience of
the person doing the evaluating.
Michael: I guess so. I wasn't saying I was thinking of changing my
outlook; I don't think I could, anyway. If a certain path doesn't seem right,
I couldn't follow it, anyway. I mean, perhaps I could go through the motions,
put on an act, but who would I be fooling? I might be clever enough to fool
other humans, but would I be fooling myself, or you, or God? I hardly think
so. Spiritual matters seem to me to be one area where appearances don't
count, so forcing myself to follow some path doesn't make any sense to me.
Bivalia: It doesn't. Atheism would make better sense than that, because at
least there you aren't wasting your time and energy on things that are
meaningless to you.
Michael: So, because of the loneliness of my path, I seem to be without a
community of like-minded people, which makes life difficult at times. I
really do find life a grey and lonely sort of business at times.
Bivalia: Well, I'm sorry that that is so; but you might be surprised, if
you could peer into the innermost souls of many people around you, who seem to be
happily involved in activities (religious or otherwise), who seem to have a rich
set of relationships with other people, with various groups, to find how
desperately lonely and empty many of them feel. It is perfectly possible, and
only too common in your society, to be horribly lonely and tormented even whilst
in the thick of involvement with this and that. I can assure you that that is as
terrible a prison to them as your loneliness is to you, perhaps even worse in
Sometimes, the loneliness doesn't merely coexist in their lives with their
involvement; sometimes the involvement is the cause of it: it can be a millstone
around their necks because they don't feel committed to it deep inside, but they
feel obliged in a hundred different ways to continue being involved, or simply
continue because they wouldn't know what else to do with their time. But they
don't always show it. Some people are better than you at putting on an act, and
seem to feel negative feelings should be hidden from others, and they may even
appear quite cheerful outwardly at the same time as they feel grey and dismal
Michael: Yes, I must say that on the rare occasions when I have been
involved in a group in some way, I have occasionally met people who seem
outwardly cheerful and friendly enough in a fashion, but who just somehow seem
a bit grey to me, in a way I can't identify, but which I just somehow feel.
Bivalia: That's your intuition working, and very likely some of those
people may be in the position I just described. They certainly don't need to
appear outwardly depressed or anything, but there's something about their inner
state you pick up indirectly, even though you may not be able to pin down why you
think what way.
Michael: I got that feeling with certain people who used to come to St.
Raphael's Church when I was the organist there, and they seemed friendly
enough, but I just somehow didn't want to talk with them if I could avoid it.
Bivalia: I see that you see what I mean.
Michael: I felt a bit uncharitable not wanting to talk with them, but I'm
afraid that's just how I felt. Talking with other people I feel little in
common with is not my strong point, so perhaps I excused myself for not
pulling my weight there, given that especially in a church everyone who comes
should be welcomed and treated warmly. But my own emotional state at times is
rather insecure, and I suppose I don't much like subjecting it to the effects
of certain people who might have a depressing effect on me. Why, I often feel
the need for help myself, emotionally speaking, never mind offering help to
others. It would be a case of the blind leading the blind.
Bivalia: Well, never mind. Perhaps you might at times like to try being a
bit more outgoing with such people, but that is not a skill everyone has in equal
measure, and it's obviously not your strong suit. I wouldn't feel too bad about
it. If you feel strained about talking with such people too much, it might well
show, and might not have the beneficial effect on them that you might hope for.
Hardly anyone, except perhaps the most exploitative kind of people, really feel
comfortable when someone is helping them, but they can sense that the helpers are
doing it because of a sense of duty rather than because of a genuine desire to be
kind or friendly or helpful. Doing good deeds out of a sense of obligation
doesn't do quite as much good in the world as many imagine.
As for your feeling that you can't really be all that much help to people
you meet because you think your need for help (in an emotional sense) may be
greater. It may be true that you are in greater need of moral support than some
of the people you meet, but it's worth remembering that it's not a case of a
linear scale of need for help, where A needs help more than B, so B can offer A
help, but A can't help B in any way, because B is better off. Regardless of the
relative positions of A and B, both might be in a position to help each other
enormously, perhaps in quite different but mutually complementing ways.
Michael: Well, I'll remember that next time I find myself interacting
with other people; but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it to transform
Bivalia: Don't worry; I'm not holding my breath.
Michael: Well, I've spent over three pages talking about nothing very
much in particular. I'm not even sure what I wanted to talk about, but just
somehow felt like a session, although it was with only lukewarm enthusiasm. I
do have a few things on my agenda, continuing themes I've brought up before,
but I don't somehow feel like going into anything complicated at the moment.
Bivalia: That's all right; you don't have to go into something complicated
every time. Just a bit of chitchat by the fireside is fine with me.
Michael: You must be joking if you think I have a fireside. I don't even
have any sort of heating even in the depths of winter.
Bivalia: I was not talking physically. But spiritually, I think we have
quite a nice little fireside, and it is getting warmer all the time. We are
developing quite a nice cosy little relationship, don't you think?
Michael: Yes, and you seem to be going all cute and twee for some reason.
Bivalia: I think I am allowed to do that once in a while, just as you are.
Michael: I suppose I wouldn't dispute that.
Michael: Well, I left things off there for a while, but I'm back. But I
suspect this session is fizzling out, after going nowhere very much.
Bivalia: That's quite all right. You are allowed to fizzle out every now
and then; in fact, you are allowed to do it every time, if you like, but I think
you prefer not to fizzle out too often.
Michael: I think I'm still feeling a bit grey with life, even if not
quite as black as before, and that may be reflected in the quality of
channelling. Even this channelling seems almost pointless, not quite real
somehow. I'm not even sure I believe you exist, or that anything spiritual
exists. But I hope it does, and I suppose I'm trying to cultivate it just on
the off-chance that there is something to it; but I often have a sinking
feeling of certainty that it doesn't, that I'm deluding myself and not quite
Bivalia: I'm sorry you feel that way, and I can only urge you not to give
up completely, even if you do sometimes or even often, temporarily. I don't
suppose I can offer any easy answer to that.
The state of your world makes it obvious that easy answers are not (at this
present time, at least) to be found to many problems. That doesn't mean that we
in spirit don't care, but simply that things are not always easy even for us to
cope with; but we in spirit are helping your planet all we can, and we think
things may get better in the reasonably near future, possibly (unfortunately)
after a relatively brief turn for the worse which could cause a great deal of
suffering over a period of some years or decades. We hope to avoid that, but
that largely depends on the course humanity as a whole takes over the next couple
of decades, which could well be crucial to the future of civilization on your
If humanity does the right things, the best of your civilization will
survive for a long time to come, potentially forever; if humanity doesn't do the
right things, substantial or even total destruction of everything humanity has
achieved on your planet could take place, which would sadden us as much as you.
But even there, you can at least be assured (if it's of any comfort) that in
levels higher than the physical, everything good that has been achieved on your
planet will still be preserved, no matter how bad the destruction on the physical
level; but it would then be some years, at least, before those things could be
reconstructed on the physical level. Needless to say, it would be better all
round if such destruction could be avoided, but that largely rests in the hands
of humanity as a whole, in the next couple of decades. I can make no definite
predictions on that.
But before I went onto that, the point I was making is that at present
there is no easy solution to the ills of your earth, or else someone would have
already long since fixed them as soon as they began to show. I'm sorry, but
that's how it seems to be. We hope such a hard truth doesn't have to be true for
much longer, and long for a time just as much as I know you do for a time when
suffering, difficulty and pain can be abolished forever from the entire universe.
Michael: It is a rather grim prospect you describe there.
Bivalia: I know. I don't like it any more than you do. But it has to be
faced. But I pointed out the fact that some problems can't be fixed easily at
the present time, and some can't be fixed at all (for the present), in answer to
your reference to your grey feelings about life, which seem at least partially
bound up with your spiritual uncertainty, your fears that everything spiritual
may be a delusion; I detect that you feel I should somehow offer some relief from
that, but it's not as easy as that. I can help (if you let me), but it takes
time. You must see that if Higher Selves generally could solve spiritual doubts
with a snap of the fingers, such doubts would be totally unknown in your world,
because everyone's Higher Self would solve the problem for them.
Michael: But there are people with no doubts, or very few at
least, who do feel a great sense of the reality of spirit and of their
Bivalia: Yes, that is so, although the number who are really like that is
probably considerably smaller than the number who appear that way to
others. Perhaps those fortunate people are like that because of some genetic
quirk in their personality, or something of that sort. I know it sounds almost
absurd to attribute spiritual qualities to things like genes, and I know you both
resent so much in your life being dependent on mere physical things like that,
and yet believe (with a sinking feeling) that it is probably so, that it is
horribly true that such things play such a determining role; but to deny this
would seem to me to be denying reality, and that doesn't seem to me to achieve
very much. Unfortunately, purely physical things do count in your world,
sometimes for a great deal.
You can take this further. Imagine a person who is doing great things in
life, things which relate to some spiritual life and which do good things for the
world and for themselves and those they love. Maybe he (or she, of course) is a
great writer or artist or composer, hoping to inspire people with his work, or
perhaps he is a scientist or some sort of leader in public life who hopes to use
his power to oppose corruption; or perhaps he's a more ordinary person who is
just doing good things in their own locality, and being like a ray of sunshine in
that corner of the world.
Imagine such a person is hit by a drunk driver, or has a diving accident,
both things which are notorious for causing horrible injuries. Or perhaps they
have a stroke, or catch some horrible disease. Now the person is a quadriplegic,
unable to move anything other than their eyeballs. If they're unlucky enough,
perhaps they can't move anything at all; it's too terrible to contemplate, but
there are people who have suffered this fate.
Their plans, wonderful as they are, are blown to pieces, and they rot for
decades in a nursing home, wearing nappies and dribbling at the mouth, developing
bed-sores, their muscles wasting away, unable to do more than grunt, needing to
be spoon-fed at meal-times, even needing a nurse to wipe their bottoms after
using the toilet (that is, if they don't do it gradually all day into their
nappies). How humiliating, how frustrating it all must be. It seems wrong that
such wonderful plans, so spiritual in impulse, should be shot to pieces by such a
physical thing as the accident or disease which happened to them. The very
physicality of it all is utterly horrifying, somehow.
I'm describing an extreme case just to point things up all the more. It
seems so unfair that such a thing should happen, that matter should prevail over
mind, as it does thousands of times every year in your world. It seems a loss to
the universe as well as to the person himself, and everyone he is close to; it is
an affront to the whole world of spirit, and to God Himself.
I don't know what answer I (or the Higher Selves of such people) could
offer. They could try to philosophize about it as best they could, rather like I
do about your less intense problems; but really nothing solves the problem.
Nothing would solve it except for the quadriplegia to be undone; and that, in
most cases, is not possible. It has to be faced that the rest of that life,
however long that might be, is going to be spent in that condition. Denying
reality, however distasteful, does not seem to achieve anything, with the
possible exception that a person in the extreme state I described, who has (or
can develop) the ability to astrally project might find it worthwhile to deny the
terrible reality (for fear their mind can't cope with the terrible truth, and the
terrible prospect of living like that for decades), and live entirely in the
Michael: Golly, you really are trying to depress me, aren't you? I don't
like this sort of conversation much.
Bivalia: No, I wasn't trying to depress you, and I don't like all that
stuff either; but it's there, whether we like it or not, whether God Himself
likes it or not.
Perhaps I've overdone things a bit; but the point is, bad things do happen
in your world (occasionally as bad as I described), and there's no really
satisfying answer, except to undo the harm, which is not always possible.
Philosophers and mystics and theologians try to give answers, but I wonder how
much they really satisfy the people afflicted with severe trouble or pain. I
suspect such answers are more likely to satisfy certain people who don't have
any unusual degree of trouble, just the usual amount, who are trying to explain
the trouble other people have, not their own trouble.
Most of the answers given by the mystics and theologians seem somehow to be
justifying the pain, sometimes even directly attributing it to God, who is doing
it to test the person's faith, or to push them into turning to spiritual things
rather than being exclusively concerned with the things of this world, or to
punish them for their sins, or whatever. Some of the more eastern-influenced
mystics say it is the result of karma, and that it is the consequence of previous
deeds you've done, perhaps in a past life.
The problem with all of these answers is that they attribute terrible
atrocities to God or one's Higher Self, or other spiritual beings or powers; and
I would doubt if this is a very satisfactory view of the world of spirit; it
would certainly cause difficulty for a person who sees spirit as the essential
source of all that is good, which your fleeting moments of wonder or magic would
seem to point to.
Other views see the terrible misfortunes of your world simply as the
outcome of free will, which God cannot or will not interfere with. But this view
creates problems too. Is God that incompetent that he can't create a world which
is not so easily prey to trouble of all sorts, both human-caused and not? If
this is the price of free will, is free will obtained at too high a price? Could
not God have allowed a degree of free will, but not to an absolute degree,
perhaps to a lesser degree than now exists? It's not as absurd an idea as it may
sound on the surface. I mean free will as it now stands (in your world, at
least) is not absolute anyway - it is limited by all sorts of things ranging from
the laws of physics and chemistry, personal limitations, the actions of other
people, and so on - so we're only talking about a difference of degree when we
talk about limiting free will further to reduce suffering; we're not talking
about a fundamental difference in the very way the universe operates. So you see
that the free-will way of explaining suffering has its problems, too.
Michael: I know. I know all these things you say, and agree that all
those things are problems. I have given up trying to explain suffering, and
think it probably can't be explained. Rabbi Harold Kushner's book When Bad
Things Happen to Good People (which I have discussed with you I think
twice before) perhaps goes a bit further than many other explanations, and
(from a Jewish perspective) follows a somewhat similar line of not trying to
explain it (beyond a certain level), but suggesting that God is on your side
and will help you if you let him. I suppose Kushner's explanation is probably
the best that can be done. Actually I think Kushner hasn't got it quite right
in quite a few details, but perhaps he is at least pointing in the right
direction, if nothing more, which is more than I can say for all the other
explanations. Perhaps we can hope for the tragedies to be undone in the
after-life, to be somehow made up for, for you to get another go at doing the
things you would have done in this life-time, but Kushner refrains from
speculating on that, because he says we don't know whether that is possible or
Bivalia: Well, I can tell you that the way I see things is that it
definitely is possible, and happens, and that it's more wonderful than you can
imagine; but I concede the point that you must either take that on faith, or
reject it, or perhaps just wait until after death to see if it's so. If you
can't believe it positively, I hope you will, throughout your life, at least be
open-minded to the possibility. If you do that, it will make it easier for you
at some future time to be receptive to learning new truth in the inner sense that
you know is right.
Michael: Well, we got onto a heavy topic there, which I wasn't really
intending to. In these sessions we often get onto distant topics in the
middle of something else, and I don't want to stop that; but I do sometimes
(when the new topic is finished) feel a desire to backtrack and finish the
thing we originally started on, but sometimes it can be difficult to work out
which track we were originally on, which is still unfinished. But I think we
went astray when I said life was still grey and I still felt spiritual
uncertainty. I was going to go on to say why my spiritual life doesn't seem
to look very good, looking into the future.
Michael: Well, for one thing, Ra's channellings have finished,
permanently, it seems. She's fallen in love with a man who lives rather
distant (well, out of the range of public transport, anyway) and is moving in
with him, so that rules out my visiting them (if he would agree to that, that
is). And it looks like her landlord wants to renovate the place where she
lived, so she's moving out entirely, not simply subletting like she thought at
one stage. And that little group on Friday evenings was my only contact with
anything spiritual, in this line at least. (There is the Church of Antioch,
but despite rather similar views on some things, their whole approach doesn't
seem right to me, and I see little future for me in that spirituality, which
seems a rather hard and cold view of the universe.)
Bivalia: Well, I'm sure there are other groups around of similar people.
I'm sure some of the people you know from Ra's group would know of such groups,
and may be thinking of joining them.
Michael: Well, of course I've thought of that, but there are a couple of
objections. Most of the places where such groups meet are in outer suburbs
with no public transport nearby, which itself rules me out, unless I cadge
lifts from people regularly. It's easier for me if people offer lifts, but I
don't feel all that comfortable about begging them regularly.
Bivalia: I'm sure some people wouldn't mind in the least; you may be
worrying unnecessarily about that.
Michael: Well, I think very few of the people I know even live near me;
the only one I know is Elanarah, and she's not one of the more regular
attenders, for family reasons that needn't concern us.
Bivalia: Well I'm sure if you want to go, something can be worked out.
Michael: There's another objection, much more serious (from my point of
view). The first thing could be overcome by getting a bike (my present one is
rather old and almost unusable now), going part of the way by train, and
riding the last few miles, even though that would be a bit of a pain.
Bivalia: What is your other objection then? Well, I know, but I want to
let you explain it in your own way.
Michael: You read me like a book.
Bivalia: Well, I'd be a pretty useless Higher Self if I didn't. That's my
Michael: The other objection is music - New-Age music. At almost all such
meetings, the horrible stuff is played, usually on radio-cassettes, which seem
to be the standard piece of New-Age equipment, things which in themselves I
rather hate. The music is playing before the meeting, after it, and in the
interval if there is one, and sometimes even during the talking, if it's
intended to be like a meditation. I can't stomach it, and really don't want
to attend such meetings on any regular basis. I've told you before how I feel
about this, and I'm sure you know what I mean.
Even if it's not playing during the actual meeting (which is presumably
one of the main reasons for attending), if you have to either put up with the
horrible noise at the other times, or walk out of the room, it spoils things
somehow, either way. Besides, one of the other reasons for going to such
meetings, which may be almost as important as the meeting itself, or maybe
even fully as important, is the opportunity to talk with other people before
and after - precisely the time the so-called music is playing. (I don't think
it's worthy of the name "music" - auditory cancer might be a more appropriate
Bivalia: I presume Ra did not play such music at her meetings.
Michael: Well, not like this. Sometimes it was playing when I arrived,
but she turned it off. I actually suspect (but don't know for sure) that she
did that for my benefit, and that otherwise she might have had the background
music, too. I never asked her not to play it when I was present, but I think
she somehow found out anyway that I didn't like it, and was considerate enough
not to have it whilst I was there; and if she didn't find out accidentally,
she read about it in some of these sessions where I discussed it before.
Bivalia: I see; so you think it at least possible her meetings would have
had much more music if it weren't for you.
Michael: Maybe. The point is that not having it is strongly atypical of
New-Age events generally, and I was lucky enough to have things the way I did
at Ra's, and would be very unlikely to find things that way at any other group.
Bivalia: You might have to ask if they don't mind having the music on while
Michael: Well, that's difficult; it might appear rude when you're a guest
in someone else's home.
Bivalia: I think with people who are interested in spiritual things you can
relate a little more straightforwardly than with people at large, and be more
honest and communicative about your real desires, not so concerned with putting
on a polite front.
Michael: Well, perhaps; but it's difficult all the same.
Bivalia: Being self-assertive can be difficult at times, but you might have
to learn to do it.
Michael: Well, hang on, that's not all. I might make the request (and
feel uncomfortable about it), but if the person in charge of things thought
the music appropriate, and/or thought everyone else wanted it (which may not
be the same thing), then they might ignore my request.
Bivalia: That is a possibility.
Michael: That would make me feel embarrassed, and if I'm trying to get
into a new group, I think it would pour ice on the whole thing 5 minutes into
the first gathering, before I've even got started.
Bivalia: I see what you mean; it could be a problem.
Michael: For God's sake, all you seem to be saying tonight is that this
is a problem, that is a problem. I'm already only too aware of that; I don't
need to be told that.
Bivalia: You seem to be a bit touchy all of a sudden; perhaps music,
especially unwanted music, is a sensitive topic to you.
Michael: Yes, it is. No secret about that; I don't need to be told that,
either: everyone who knows me more than superficially knows my feelings about
that in some detail; I make no secret of that.
Michael: This is the thing I most dislike about the New-Age arena in
general. They're all in favour of expressing your individuality, being
yourself, and so on; yet in musical tastes, and ways of using music, they're
as alike as sheep, it seems to me. I consider it every bit as conformist as
teenagers bopping to the latest pop hits, or like any other member of a
subculture deliberately conforming to the image of that culture as against the
substance; it is one of the least attractive facets of human nature in my
opinion. It seems to me that, free from this conformity, human tastes in
music, or in anything else, are just incredibly diverse, not uniform, even
within a certain group.
Bivalia: I think you are right. But the conformity factor is nevertheless
there in most human groups, and must be taken account of. Could you learn to
accept the music, if not enjoy it?
Michael: I think you know the answer to that; but I will go through the
motions of answering. No, I don't think I could, and if I could, I don't want
to, and don't intend to.
Bivalia: Look, I'm not meaning to play the Inquisitor with you; if it's of
any comfort, I understand your point of view and in fact agree with it. But the
facts of the situation are what they are, rightly or wrongly, and if, just maybe,
we're to work out a constructive solution to this, we have to discuss it, ask
questions about it, and so on.
Michael: Well, I'm not sure there's much more to say about it, no real
way of solving it, and I'm not sure I want to continue this session much
longer, as I'm getting a bit cold, and just losing enthusiasm for this
conversation; but let's continue a little longer anyway.
You may think I'm simply digging my heels in like a recalcitrant child,
but it's more important to me than appears on the surface. Quite apart from
the fact that unwanted music just generally is an unpleasant distraction, and
totally spoils the general atmosphere of any place, which might otherwise be
very pleasant, and quite apart from the fact that I don't need it to blot out
my own thoughts, even if some people do, there's also this.
I am a composer, at least potentially if not very active for the time
being, and to compose music means you must spend much time thinking about
musical ideas, ruminating on them, mentally trying them out in various ways,
quite apart from trying them on the piano. For all that, you need quiet. It
needn't be absolute, and ordinary background noises don't matter; but where
you are must be absolutely free of music of any kind, no matter how soft, even
if only barely audible in the distance. (Percy Grainger said he could compose
with radios playing loudly, but I think that's highly exceptional, not at all
the usual way of things, and Percy Grainger was a very unusual human being.
In general, I think what I say is binding, certainly for me, and I think most
The slightest music anywhere completely kills any musical thoughts, and
if the music goes on for long enough and I can't get away from it, the effects
may last hours after it does stop (or I thankfully escape). You may be able
to stop it physically (or escape), but you can't turn it off in your brain
instantly; it takes time to wear off. That time can range from minutes to
days, depending on a whole lot of variables such as the duration, loudness,
style of music, your own mood, and so on. This is why I sometimes describe
music as mental rape, especially in places or at times where it is inflicted
on people against their will.
And when a tune runs round in your head against your will for hours or
even days, the person who has inflicted it on you is effectively invading your
privacy, even controlling your mind in a fashion. (And the fact of a tune
running round your head needn't mean it's a tune you like - you may absolutely
loathe it, such as some of the horrible little jingles the A.B.C. play ad
nauseam on the radio these days.) I think there ought to be laws to
people from this against their will; and I'm sure it's not just me: the
phenomenon of a tune running round in circles in your mind is a very
Now I know you might be thinking that this is not vitally important, even
if it is unpleasant, because (to come back to the topic) I'm not likely to be
composing at New-Age groups anyway, and therefore the music shouldn't matter.
Well, it's not as simple as that (life rarely is simple in my experience, not
once you scratch beneath the surface). I may not be composing at the time,
but in general, even when I'm not composing, I feel that my mind must still be
free a good proportion of the time to think musical ideas when it wants to. I
very much doubt if a composer could write much good music if he confined his
musical thinking to his actual composing sessions; I think it is almost
certain that he thinks musical thoughts most of the time (not necessarily in
an organized, left-brain kind of way, but perhaps quite ruminatively, in an
intuitive right-brain way; and perhaps only intermittently, in between other
activities or even during them), and the composing sessions are simply the
times when he pulls these various thoughts together and puts them on paper.
What I'm saying is that the ability to think your own musical thoughts a
high proportion of the time is not merely an optional extra for a composer, a
luxury; it is absolutely essential. Considering how difficult it is to escape
recorded music these days (99% of it of appalling quality), I'm not at all
surprised that there are fewer truly great composers alive now than even 40
years ago. They're all either dead or very old men now and gradually dying
off, and very few of the younger ones are of their calibre in my opinion. A
few might be, but that's all. Modern culture is diluting or corrupting the
talent many of them might have.
In a way, I would regard reasonable quietness as the usual background to
my life as the soil in which my musical ideas grow; if it is invaded too often
by unwanted music, it has a similar effect on me as Agent Orange would have on
a luxuriant forest. That is the main reason I strenuously avoid most music I
would encounter (if I didn't do the avoiding), even at great personal
inconvenience at times. And even so, it is unavoidable a distressingly
frequent number of times, and it takes its toll even so, even given that I am
exposed to it much less than almost everyone in our society.
Bivalia: I see what you mean. You make a persuasive case.
Michael: Of course I do. I haven't developed such ideas over several
years to no purpose. I'm not silly; if I didn't have a good case, I would
have seen the flaws in it by now. But because composers are not common, and
society doesn't care about them unless they make lots of money, no-one gives a
stuff about such points of view, however valid they may be. I have been
abused, and even nearly physically assaulted, for turning off intrusive radios
or expressing distaste for music playing in certain situations, in all cases
being essentially public situations where it was being inflicted against my
will, not where I was a guest in someone's home, where objecting can be
difficult. Our society's attitude to music stinks, in my opinion, and our
society just wallows in its own cultural shit. It's no wonder things are the
way they are with our values and culture.
Bivalia: I think that brooks no disagreement, although I don't want to
disagree anyway. But what about the New-Age music it is almost impossible to
completely avoid if you want to join New-Age groups?
Michael: Well, that's the problem. New-Age music doesn't have quite as
bad an effect on me as pop music, but it's pretty bad all the same. I have a
certain, shall we call it an allergy, to it, and if I heard it even once a
week it would take its toll on my composing. Some of those New-Age chants
that people actually sing to recordings of in gatherings (supposedly to "raise
the vibrations") can make you feel like you've heard them hundreds of times
even after just one hearing of a mere 2 or 3 minutes (which seems like 20 or
30 minutes at the time, not 2 or 3); it can continue to run through your head
for days afterwards. I just don't need it. I don't think much of a spiritual
philosophy that rapes my mind like this.
I consider that exposing myself to this sort of music for the sake of
belonging to some group would be at the cost of my composing life, and I'm not
prepared to pay that price. If New-Age music is really as central to New-Age
philosophy as it appears to be, then perhaps that is a sign that it is
not my path, as what I'm saying about composing is pretty central to me. It
might be that music (if kept free of the sort of corruption I've been talking
about) is, for me, a window into the spiritual, and it seems rather
counterproductive for one's spiritual life to close those windows instead of
open them as it should. And there's no doubt that New-Age music would have
that effect on me if I were to hear it regularly. That sense of wonder I've
talked of at various times which you get an occasional glimpse of seems to me
to be a little bit of the spiritual come into ordinary life, and I want to
encourage it, not kill it stone-dead.
I'm sure you get the drift of what I'm saying.
Bivalia: I do indeed; how could I not?
Michael: It would appear that further groups are not a very likely
prospect for me. I could perhaps go to one or two and sound them out, maybe
even ask them how they feel about the use of music; but unless I'm very lucky
and things fall the right way, it doesn't seem to have much potential.
Bivalia: Well, if so, you should remember that your spiritual growth is not
dependent on these groups. They are a help, and presumably they do help some
people; but they are not the be-all and end-all. Perhaps that's one sense in
which you can see merit in the idea of relying only on yourself; if things go
against you and everything outside yourself lets you down, at least you don't
need to let yourself down.
Michael: Maybe, but that's probably a very difficult way of doing things.
Bivalia: It's much easier than doggedly using methods that don't work for
you, regardless of how they might help others. There's no point in banging your
head against a brick wall. If something doesn't work, get out of it and try
Michael: I think the chances are, let's say, 90% that that's how it'll
come out with any other groups. Basically I'm out of things, I suppose. And
experience has already shown me that without the benefit of regular attendance
at Ra's channelling of the Masters, it's much more difficult to maintain any
sort of relationship with them. I talk to them much much less now, and they
feel much less real. Even you feel much less real, and I've written this
session with less feeling of conviction than I've done most of the previous
ones. I would even consider it possible that these sessions altogether might
gradually fizzle out into nothing, just as did the sessions I had years ago
with the various parts of my personality. I had no organized spiritual life
or activities then, but I did have the feedback of a friend called V. who
was what you might call a New-Age sort of person, with that philosophical
outlook. You know, the one I rode in the paddy wagon with after being accused
of car theft. But for various reasons that would take too long to go into
now, that friendship gradually dissolved, and I've had no contact with him for
several years now, and unlikely to renew contact either.
Bivalia: Well, I don't know. Or perhaps you're getting rather cold and
eager to finish fairly soon, and perhaps aren't fully receptive to ideas I might
have. But I can't seem to get anything very constructive into your mind now, for
you to type out. Just try the groups once or twice, anyway. Things may work out
better than you think. Keep in contact with the people you already know, even if
only by phone. That's something anyway; I'm sure they wouldn't mind. They
probably want someone to talk with, as well.
Michael: I don't know if I was leading up to anything else or not. I'd
have to reread this entire session to check on that, and I don't feel like
that now. I think I'll leave it for now, if you don't mind.
Bivalia: Not at all. Considering how less real things feel, I suppose I'm
lucky to get 11 pages out of you. Thank you for spending time with me, Michael.
And I'll say good night.
Michael: Yeah. Good night.