(M.J.E. Spirit / Tue., 22 Sep., 1998)

Spirit Dialogues

Explorations of Spirit
by Michael Edwards

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Tuesday, 22 September, 1998

      Michael: Well, Bivalia, here I am again, after a break of a few months that somehow seems much longer.

      Bivalia:[a] It's good to be with you again, Michael.

      Michael: Somehow it seems a very long time since I've seen you, and I think this may be because I seem to have gone through much darkness in recent months. Those wonderful discussions we had within the last few sessions seem like distant memories from sunnier times, and I can't believe they're from this very year, up till a few months ago.
      I suppose it's rather pessimistic thoughts that prompt this session, because there seem to be certain things on my mind, and I seem to need to discuss them with you. But I'm afraid they may not be very cheerful.

      Bivalia: Well, that doesn't matter. I'm here to share all your life, not just the good bits. What I want most is for you to come to me with anything of concern or interest, not just the good bits. Let's see if we can sort it out; or even if we can't, perhaps you can feel better about those things after thrashing them out with me.

      Michael: I haven't quite been in depression, but just a certain greyness that kind of robs life of its meaning, and I have in fact been spending much time reading novels by Dean Koontz, science-fiction-influenced thrillers, or sometimes occult novels. They're interesting and un-put-down-able, which makes them good escapism, but I suppose there's not much of what I consider Spirit in them.

      Bivalia: Well, I wouldn't get hung up too much on that. If what you call Spirit just isn't coming to you now in the way you think appropriate, it may be better to just accept that for the time being, rather than trying to force changes in that. There's no "should" about these matters.

      Michael: I wasn't really saying there is. I don't feel in the least guilty about the seeming lack of spirituality to my recent life, and I'm not developing a guilt trip about this. But I still feel I would like it to be otherwise.

      Bivalia: So do you have any idea why you are feeling this way?

      Michael: I can think of a couple of things. This is going to sound silly, but I think death is casting an increasing shadow over me. Because death is closer now, and my life perhaps more than half over, things that once seemed to have a point don't seem to now. I'm talking about things like composing music, or writing, or computer programming - the general range of things that have interested me over the years.
      I've always tried to be creative, I suppose, in doing such things, and, in spite of my total lack of achievement, at least in an ordinary worldly sense, I think I am really quite achievement-oriented. A hedonistic approach of aiming just to enjoy life, to bask in one pleasure after another, and to be genuinely unconcerned about achievement, really doesn't seem to sit well with me, even though it looks an increasingly sensible approach to life.

      Bivalia: I think it can be a sensible approach to life in some situations, but, like any other approach, it could probably be taken too far.

      Michael: I suppose I'm thinking that when I die, whatever I've achieved, I can't take it with me, my books or my music manuscripts, or whatever I've done. And, what's more, unless I am lucky enough to achieve a degree of fame that will preserve my work to posterity, it is all likely to die when I die myself. It just seems pointless to struggle to achieve things if they are very likely to count for nothing in the end.

      Bivalia: While it is true that, when you die, you cannot take with you physically anything you've owned while in this life, this may not be true of intangible achievements like the things you mentioned. I notice that not one of those goals you've had which you mentioned was the simple acquisition of possessions. There is no reason why you cannot take every note of music or every word of writing with you into the next realm, because they are all there in memory. Even if you lost those memories (which you don't, ever), they are also available in the akashic records. There are techniques for accessing those, which admittedly are not easy techniques to learn in your world; but those techniques are much easier to acquire in the realms above the physical.
      Also, by writing music, even if you did have to leave it behind in this world forever (which you don't), you would be developing skills which will serve you well in whatever realms of life you go to after death to the physical world. To some extent, if you give up on everything in your life, you are delaying whatever you ultimately want to achieve. Perhaps not drastically, but enough that it may become annoying one day. You would simply have to take the time to develop those skills in the next realm. That is admittedly easier than in your world, which is full of distractions of all sorts; but it wouldn't change the fact that you might have wasted several decades of time in which you could have got a head start.
      So following the pursuits to which your heart draws you does not have to seem pointless.

      Michael: Yes, I know all about the kinds of arguments you've just given me; that's nothing new.

      Bivalia: My friend, nothing I tell you in these sessions is truly new to you. You know it all deep at some level.

      Michael: I guess so. What I'm saying is that I just can't feel convinced by all that. It is all based on the premise of the reality of the realm of Spirit, and that is something I don't feel convinced by. I'm trying to open to Spirit, trying to convince myself of its reality (otherwise I wouldn't spend so much time thinking about spiritual matters, or doing sessions with you, or any of the other spiritual things I've done from time to time); but it just hasn't so far convinced me fully, in spite of all that.
      I'm telling it to you in spades, not telling you the kind of thoughts a spiritual person should have.

      Bivalia: Telling it in spades is precisely what a spiritual person should do. It would not bring you closer to Spirit to put on pretences of all the kinds of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes that you thought a spiritual person should have. Anyway, I don't think it would be productive to think too much about what a spiritual person is like, and whether you yourself are a spiritual person. In a very real sense, everyone is, whether they're aware of it or not, whether they are believers or sceptical, cynical atheists. As I think we've both agreed on previous occasions, such distinctions are much less important than they appear on the surface, and much less important than some religious believers will claim.

      Michael: To be quite honest, death scares the hell out of me, for two reasons, I think.

      Bivalia: Tell me.

      Michael: One is the fear that it will be painful, that it will be slow, and preceded by a long and painful illness or disability. I hope euthanasia is easily available by the time my numbers come up, although on recent performance by the Australian Senate, the outlook doesn't look good. Perhaps it may be contrary to what most spiritual people believe (I know it is), but I am a believer in euthanasia, in the right of the individual to choose it if they feel their life is not worth living any longer, and I would like to have the choice available, even if I never actually chose to do that myself.

      Bivalia: Once again, don't worry about what "spiritual people" should believe. If you believe in euthanasia, say so fearlessly and without apology. From where I see Spirit, it is quite flexible about issues such as this, which (as you just pointed out) most people who consciously follow a spiritual path have fixed views on - much more flexible than those people are aware. You often hear people of a certain spiritual persuasion suggest that suicide or mercy-killing is always wrong, and that there are horrible astral regions to which they go and spend some time. I can only say that, from where I see things, this idea carries much less credibility than those believers think.
      Those people may think extreme suffering is no excuse for taking your own life, because their karma requires them to go through that suffering, and it is in a sense ordained by God or their own higher selves.
      To my way of thinking, this is akin to the thinking which religious people commonly had last century, when anaesthesia first came into use, to the effect that it was evil, because God, back in the Garden of Eden, had ordained that pain was to be part of the human lot, and this was an impious and impudent attempt to evade what God had decreed.
      Well, of course practically no-one takes that seriously now, not even the most narrow-minded Bible-believing fundamentalists. Of course, believers in karma could have said last century that anaesthesia was wrong, because it was an attempt to escape pain which was part of the patient's karma. But once again, no believers in the concept of karma would say that now.
      I don't want to get into karma now, but if we assume it is true, the fact of karma would not in any way detract from the inalienable right of any being to take whatever action he deems fit to avoid pain, provided he does not knowingly hurt another being.
      I put the usual arguments about the evil of suicide on about the same level as the arguments about anaesthesia. It is just another technique to avoid pain, and avoiding pain is not in itself evil or wrong. The most I would say is that ill-judged suicide might cause problems in holding up the purposes for which a person came to earth; but I would not consider that the effects of that would be nearly so dire as has often been claimed in your world. In fact, I consider the usual arguments given on this topic to be simply a part of the fear-based spirituality that you (and the planet as a whole) are moving away from now. [b]

      Michael: Anyway, I didn't mean to get onto suicide and euthanasia; I'm not contemplating either at the moment, and I suspect the fear of death would prevent me from doing either unless the conditions of my life really became unbearable. But certainly the possible pain and illness and disability which might precede death are one of my reasons for fearing death. But if things came to that, I suppose I would look forward to death as a welcome release.

      Bivalia: Of course. And it is welcome release to people in situations like that.

      Michael: The other reason for fear is of a more theological or spiritual nature. Put simply, I don't know if there is anything after death, or, if there is, what comes after death. Now I'm not asking you to assure me that there is life after death, and that what comes after is better than what came before. I already know those are your views, but the point is that simply hearing it in words (from anyone at all) will not convince me unless I can somehow achieve an inner awareness of that truth.
      I know this is the kind of argument that might have you saying "Big deal; your quandary about death is no more than what almost every person on the planet has to face".

      Bivalia: Well, that is true, but I wasn't about to say it. The fact that most other people face the same problem doesn't in any way belittle the problems it can cause.

      Michael: I think Phillip Adams has pointed out that humanity is the only species that is cursed with the fore-knowledge of death. [c]

      Bivalia: He's absolutely right, although I think, by using the word "curse" he was implying that there is no way out of the problem. I know it's of little comfort for me to say this, but the way out is for people, and humanity at large, to grow in spiritual awareness, so that they can know death is not the end, that wonderful, glorious things await humanity after death.

      Michael: Meanwhile, the problem seems to be how to find purpose in life when I know all will end in death, where I have no assurance of anything to come after that.

      Bivalia: I think the sessions you do with me are probably the best method available to you at present to deal with that, or, more precisely, to grow in spiritual awareness, which will by definition deal with the death problem. It grows over the time, however, and doesn't solve everything all in one hit.

      Michael: The problem is that I seem to believe, deep down in my heart, that death is the end of everything. The scientific view of life says nothing about life after death, except to say that there is not the slightest shred of evidence for it, and when I hear some scientist say this (like on The Science Show, for instance), I get a cold feeling in my guts, hating that whole outlook, but knowing it is true, and that it pricks the bubble of self-delusion I've built around me in the form of my spiritual life.
      If I say that I have feelings, or an inner awareness, or an intuition, about such things, the scientist would say, "Where's your evidence? People get feelings about all sorts of things, some of them mutually contradictory; but you can't prove this in any way at all." And I think I believe this view, when I hear it expressed eloquently. And I hate it; but that doesn't make its certainty go away.

      Bivalia: I know what you mean. I don't really have any new answers. I could reiterate things I've told you before, to stay with Spirit, with your highest inner feelings, in spite of all this, and I see you are doing that anyway. You obviously like doing sessions with me, in which, more than in anything else, you bring to awareness all those inner spiritual intuitions and longings that the scientists downplay; and I think, going by the fond memories you have of some of the ideas we've discussed, that you do find this a comfort. You would not have that if you totally followed that scientific paradigm of what the universe is like, and how it works.

      Michael: I heard someone on the A.B.C. comment about paradigms. Alan Saunders was talking on The Science Show yesterday, and he described what post-modernism is. It's a certain intellectual view of how one should look at the world; the term is one I've heard much bandied about in recent years, and it has to some extent become linked with political correctness, but I've never quite known exactly what it was. But I did glean a sort of impressions of what it is, and what Alan Saunders said last night more or less confirmed this impression I'd gradually inferred.
      It seems that post-modernism is the view that you cannot lay down one way of looking at the world, such as the scientific one (which Alan Saunders cited as an example). The scientific view, with all its rules or conventions about reasoning, backing up with evidence, and all that, is simply one description of the world amongst many others. He said that, according to post-modernism, the scientific view is simply in the bus-queue along with all the other descriptions of what the world is, and those others could be almost anything at all. Relevantly for our purposes, one of those others could be the kind of spiritual view we have gradually developed over several years in these sessions. Needless to say, scientists tend to reject this view.

      Bivalia: Well, we don't have to agree with them. I would say there's some merit in post-modernism as you just described it. However, I wouldn't quite go to the extreme of saying that anything goes. But the question of deciding what is permissible as a hypothesis is not nearly so clear-cut as the scientists would suggest. So I don't agree with the absolutism of science, nor do I agree with the anything-goes of post-modernism; the view I would take would be somewhere in between. I would say there are criteria for deciding what is a valid view of life, and what is not, but that it is not possible to rigidly define those criteria, and that in fact people would define them differently for themselves.
      Let's see how this might apply to your own situation. I would tell you, for instance, that the spiritual view you have developed, with my help, is completely without foundation according to the scientific paradigm; yet it is something that you prize, which has a sense of wonder to it that gives life at least something of a purpose (which, if you follow it through, will become stronger and stronger), a certain magic even. Would I be right in suggesting that the hard scientific view would give you none of this, and would, if you fully embraced it, leave you feeling very bleak indeed?

      Michael: Absolutely. That doesn't really get rid of the problems, though.

      Bivalia: No, it doesn't. But you will have to be patient about that. Your world does have its limitations, and no amount of sophisticated debate between us will get around that. But it will give you hope for a better future where these problems will become less and less.
      I don't want to go through a whole lot of intellectual arguments to prove the reality of Spirit, because most of them can be refuted by scientists. And I suspect that, with the scientific kind of mind you have, you already know most of the arguments that would be used to refute putative evidence for Spirit.
      I just want to put one idea forward along these lines. According to the scientific view of life, an organism, or a being, as we might put it, is nothing more than a collection of cells evolved to survive in a certain way in the world. Right?

      Michael: Yes, I guess that's how they would see it.

      Bivalia: And the cells are made up of thousands of incredibly complicated chemicals, which are interacting in various ways. Those chemicals are made of atoms which are just exactly like any other atoms of the same elements anywhere else in the universe. There's nothing magical about those atoms, those chemicals; it's the whole complicated pattern of them that makes up a living being.

      Michael: I guess so.

      Bivalia: The human body, according to this reasoning, is nothing more than a giant chemical machine programmed through chromosomes to develop the way it does in the womb, and to survive by doing certain things, and to reproduce.

      Michael: According to the scientific view, life can be nothing more than this. Incredibly intricate and complicated of course.

      Bivalia: True. But that doesn't matter. It's still a finite collection of atoms interacting in ways which are completely accountable for in terms of the laws of physics and chemistry. If it's incredibly complicated, that is a mere matter of degree, and does not affect the fundamentals of it.

      Michael: Yes, that would be so.

      Bivalia: Intelligence is just the sum total of all the interactions within the brain as it goes about controlling the body; it is just like a computer in a sense, programmed in an incredibly complicated way, initially genetically; but the program itself is modified by experience, so that you can learn from things that happen to you.

      Michael: Yes. There are computer programs now that can learn from experience, so we're not talking about something totally unknown in the mechanical or inorganic world.

      Bivalia: Okay. I'm now about to throw a spanner in the works of this nice tidy view of life which seems to account for everything - in principle at least, even if the actual details are not fully known yet.
      What about consciousness? What is it? Where does it come from? According to the scientific view, I mean - we both know it derives from Spirit, and does not originate purely in the physical world.
      If a human being (we'll use that as an example) is nothing more than an incredibly complicated machine, nothing more than atoms moving about and interacting according to scientific laws, where the dickens does consciousness fit into the picture? There would seem to be no reason whatever (according to the scientific view) why that machine, no matter how intricate and complex, should possess that peculiar attribute of consciousness, of self-awareness. I mean, no scientist would suggest those very same atoms and chemicals in any way have consciousness if they just appeared in the ground or in the ocean or in the Sun. And it is a fact that most of the elements in the human body are extremely common in the world at large, and there are a few which are rarer, but are still perfectly ordinary matter. [d] Why on earth do they acquire awareness when they collect together in certain patterns, in the form of living creatures?

      Michael: Oh, I think they would say that consciousness is just the sum total of all the patterns of activity that go on in the brain. It's not the atoms or chemicals themselves, but the total, overall pattern of them.

      Bivalia: Not good enough. It really doesn't explain consciousness. [e] It's a mere article of faith amongst scientists (who would criticize the articles of faith you and I hold) that those atoms somehow acquire consciousness. Where does it come from?

      Michael: Search me. I don't know that all this proves our point of view either.

      Bivalia: I'm not suggesting that it does in a technical sense. It probably can be refuted. I'm sure many scientists are aware of the consciousness argument I just gave, and have ways of dealing with it. But the argument is worth keeping in mind. If it doesn't prove Spirit, at least it seems to suggest that Spirit is a credible hypothesis in that post-modern smorgasbord of paradigms we mentioned earlier. You might like to focus on that whenever you find the materialistic, scientific view of life too oppressive, and too credible. Science doesn't have all the answers, nor the only credible view of life.
      I'm not going to go in for science-bashing of the sort that some mystics or New-Age people go in for. Like you, I have the highest respect for the scientific method, used properly - but only in the areas for which it is suited, namely investigating the physical properties of the universe, and the physical workings of it. Within that area, scientists quite rightly claim that no more reliable method of learning knowledge about the universe has yet been found. But you are stepping outside that area if you try to use it to prove that Spirit doesn't exist.
      In short, it would seem, according to my argument, that if you were just a body, without a spiritual essence of some sort, you would have no awareness or consciousness with which to even ponder the problem. Even if your brain was churning away like a computer, doing all the things it does, it would have no more awareness than a computer does. (If we were to look into things in more depth, we might find that computers do have awareness, even life of a sort, and that everything material does, right down to atoms; but that's another story. I was talking here about awareness as it's commonly understood, which is the way we were using it in the argument just given about consciousness.) [f]

      Michael: Well, I don't suppose it completely banishes my doubts; it's a brave try, though.

      Bivalia: The important thing is that, according to a materialist view of life, consciousness, self-awareness, emotions are a genuine anomaly. There is nothing about the scientific, materialist view of the world that in any way suggests such things. (And you understand, of course, that I'm using the term "materialist" in its philosophical sense of postulating that matter is all that exists, not in the common sense of meaning "devoted to material acquisitions".)

      Michael: Yes, I often do have the feeling of what you just said, that consciousness is a real anomaly in the materialist view. (And, yes, I understand the way you're using the term "materialist".) However, it could be that this consciousness dies with the body though, that it is indissolubly tied to the atoms of the body.

      Bivalia: That could be true; but once we're clear that it is not just those atoms themselves, it appears more credible that it can survive the dissolution of those atoms which you call death. I never claimed this as a technical proof. But it's one of many things you have to hang onto in those dark times when all hope seems to be lost, when it seems overwhelmingly clear that the physical world is all there is.
      Take heart. Your position in life, your view of it, is not nearly as bleak as it feels at times.

      Michael: There's more than the scientific view that seems to convince me that Spirit is not real. What about the plethora of religions and spiritualities that exist around the world? If you look at science, it progresses. Because it is self-correcting, invalid ideas gradually get weeded out, and the sum total of scientific knowledge increases, and becomes a more accurate description of the universe (within those physical constraints we mentioned before as the proper domain of science).
      Things are very different in the area of religion or spirituality. Ideas there are never verified, there are oodles of competing ideas, and none of them ever win out. Ideas may come and go, but the overall situation is as chaotic as it was millennia ago, and there doesn't seem to be any real sense in which spirituality has progressed. The same old ideas are being bandied about as they were millennia ago. Surely, though, if there was a spiritual truth, it would somehow gain ascendancy over the other competing ideas.

      Bivalia: What you've just said is a good reason not to put too much faith in dogma. Someone says God is one god, someone else says he's a Trinity. Someone says reincarnation is true, someone else says there's a final judgement, and you go either up or down for all eternity. So what? Big deal. These are mere dogmas, mere opinions that certain people hold.
      We've talked about this before. I'm not saying that dogmas are always wrong; but in talking about them the way you did, you are trying to apply the scientific model, and find out what the truth is in some absolute sense. And of course the scientific method doesn't work in this area. That is the problem with dogma in general.
      So much of the time, when you consider people who are on a conscious spiritual path, who think about these matters, interaction between them comes down to something like this: A says, "I believe such-and-such" (or "I know such-and-such is true", and B says, "Oh, no, that can't be true; this or that is the truth, and here's why", and he gives various lines of reasoning. And so it goes on, like an endless ping-pong match - back and forth.
      This is so much mind-stuff, and it can be entertaining and interesting. But if it is conducted like a debate, with a serious attempt to work out which view is true, it will get absolutely nowhere. As you said, it hasn't in over two millennia. The most I would say for this is that, if conducted in a very open-minded and flexible way, it can bring to awareness certain ideas which may increase one's spiritual awareness; but it will certainly not resolve matters of spiritual fact in a black-and-white fashion.

      Michael: That's for sure; I've been there and done that.

      Bivalia: You certainly have. But tell me this: what do you believe spiritually?

      Michael: Well, I'm not sure. This is part of my problem: I don't know whether I fully believe in God, afterlife, and so on.

      Bivalia: Well, all right; what are the ideas you most seriously consider possible?

      Michael: Have you got a few days to spare? I certainly don't. I can't give a neat summary of that, because it's rather subtle. Besides, we've already spent hundreds of pages exploring that in considerable detail. Why do you ask the question?

      Bivalia: You gave the right answers. There would be plenty of people who could quite easily answer "What do you believe?" with a neat series of sentences setting out precisely what they regard as true and false, and who would be eager to do so. But you tried to back off from that; you could not easily summarize your outlook without all sorts of qualifications and conditions.
      I was just illustrating the fact that you have already, to a considerable extent, implemented a spiritual outlook which is a genuine alternative to dogma. A person whose spiritual outlook is based largely on dogma says "This is true" or "That is false", and so on. An approach not based on dogma is reluctant to say that, but proposes possibilities with varying degree of certitude or probability.
      I think a good spiritual outlook on life is one that is a way of looking at life, of interpreting it, not a simple series of statements about what is true or not, which cannot be verified anyway. You are not trying to prove this or that dogma, so you don't need to be concerned about the fact that no one dogma can gain ascendancy over another, therefore none of them have credibility. You are not basing your spiritual life on dogma, so if any dogma is invalidated, it rolls off you like water off a duck's back.

      Michael: Hey, that's a bit too much of an easy way out. It may be true that I have a subtle view that consists of many things I feel uncertain about, but which may be true; but there is probably dogma built in. For instance, the fact that I have these sessions with you is based on the dogma that humans have a higher self, a kind of bigger and better version of their own consciousness.

      Bivalia: I don't know whether "dogma" is an appropriate term for that, because that is something you are not certain about, and dogma, by definition, is something you are absolutely certain about, and whose truth you insist upon to others in a more or less authoritarian way. But even if we call it a dogma, for the sake of following your point, I said you had "considerably" got away from dogma, not necessarily "completely".
      No-one has completely got away from it (except perhaps a completely neutral agnostic who has no thoughts on the subject at all). Anyone who had got beyond dogma completely would already have complete cosmic consciousness, and would be in total, fully-aware union with God. If you or anyone else were in that state, you would probably not be wasting your time keeping your awareness solely in the physical world, unless for the fun of it, or for the purpose of helping others who are less aware than yourself. If you had such a high state of consciousness, I think you would be aware of it; you would have to be, because cosmic consciousness, by definition, is awareness of everything, including awareness of your own state of consciousness.
      But if your hypothesis (I won't call it a belief, because it isn't really) about the reality of a higher self is a dogma, it is a very weak one. As far as I can tell, you have a pretty open view on the exact nature of your higher self, and it is open to revision or adjustment in response to new insights, should they come your way. It doesn't seem much of a dogma to me.
      So, in summary, yes, you probably have quite a few dogmas, but the important point is that your whole spiritual view does not revolve around them; and as long as that is so, you are open to weakening or removing other dogmas from your outlook, as you find that they don't serve you or anyone else well.
      I suppose the test is this (and I think I've mentioned this in a previous session): if it could somehow be suddenly proven that some putative dogma is absolutely false, completely without foundation, how much adjustment would your spiritual outlook require as a result of this? Might it even collapse altogether? If it would collapse, or require adjustment to a degree that would be traumatic, you have probably been too dependent on dogmas.

      Michael: Still, it does seem that, because my spiritual view (whether based on dogma or not) is just one of thousands, it surely can't be true, can't have much credibility. At best, I only very occasionally meet people whose outlook seems to share some small part of mine, and it makes me wonder whether I've got it wrong somehow. Surely if it were true more people would have cottoned onto it in a fuller degree, not just a bit here and there I might have in common with a few people. It just makes me feel very alone somehow.

      Bivalia: Yes, it is a problem at times. But we've discussed before how truth is filtered through your own coloured glasses, so to speak, and therefore does not appear the same to everyone. Truth appears differently to different people, not because it isn't really true, but because people are individuals, with their own personalities, their own outlook in life, their own needs, and their own purpose for being in the world. You really shouldn't let that put you off following the path that seems right to you.
      And you must expect your view of the path that seems right to change from time to time, and be willing to go along with it. I don't mean to be like a reed in the wind, following upon a whim any new path that you happen upon; I'm talking about when it seems over a longish period of time to be really something worthwhile.

      Michael: Yes, I guess so. In giving you my rather pessimistic view, I was just telling you how I felt often, not necessarily suggesting that it was a proper rational argument about how things are.

      Bivalia: And you do well to tell me how you feel about things.

      Michael: I suppose I just long at times to find people whose outlook is substantially similar to mine; but perhaps I'm longing for what is of another world, not this.

      Bivalia: Not necessarily; but this problem is one that often afflicts those who follow their own path, and don't automatically follow the masses on a predetermined path (such as a church, or a more-or-less fixed philosophy or system of practice). But following the path that your intuition finds just right will reach the destination quicker in the end than blindly following a predetermined path. The mass paths by definition can't fit an individual's needs as closely as can the right individual path (because they evolved to suit large numbers of people at least tolerably well), and they include many distractions which have to be dealt with.
      To be sure, those distractions may be an essential part of someone else's path; but the point is that a mass path, such as most organized religions, cannot meet everyone's needs fully unless heavily leavened with a willingness to be individualistic by the standards of organized religion. In other words, if you choose to follow one of the established paths, a willingness to be a heretic about issues that really don't feel right for you would be a considerable asset.
      At the risk of sounding dogmatic and bigoted myself, I have to say that following an established path exactly, and being unwilling to ever depart from it, is unlikely to be the fastest path to growth, unless perhaps, by sheer coincidence, that path fits your needs like a glove. This does happen occasionally, and you have probably very occasionally met people who really seem to flourish in every way you might desire, yet who are very orthodox in their chosen religion, and revere their Church's teachings on every subject. But in general it is not the best approach, because people's spiritual needs are very individual.

      Michael: Also, coming back to the idea that I feel lonely on my path, and it even makes me doubt the validity of it, there's something else of a more specific nature. I guess I have less contact with people on something approaching my own path since Ra's channelling group finished a few years ago. I see Ra herself less since she's begun a relationship with a friend, Jim. I don't seem to see Shirley R. (who for years has perhaps been my main contact with other spiritually-inclined people) so much any more. Perhaps all this has its effect on me.
      There are people, especially from one of the main religions, who say that it's very important to belong to a spiritual community of like-minded people, that this is at the very centre of a spiritual life. They often criticize the New Age by saying it doesn't stress this enough, and that their path is mere self-indulgence, that anything that feels good is okay.

      Bivalia: This can be true of some people in that category, but the critics you just cited are usually ill-informed about the New Age, or just don't understand it. There are many New-Age groups around, and you have had contact with one or two of them, so the critics who criticize the New Age for its lack of a sense of spiritual community are just plain wrong. Those communities are just usually less hierarchical and less organized in traditional ways than the mainstream churches.
      It is probably true that those groups do put less emphasis than the traditional religions on the group aspect of spiritual outlook, but I would not see that as a criticism, but just a genuine difference of outlook. To my way of thinking, some churches are too group-oriented, so that individual spiritual experience or intuition is not given its due, because it doesn't conform to what the group believes (or has been indoctrinated into).
      I agree with them that it is very good to be part of a group of like-minded people - but not at the expense of sacrificing the integrity of what your highest feelings tell you is your path. In other words, it would be better not to be in a group at all than to be in one that is sufficiently incompatible that it undermines the path you deeply feel to be right for you. A great deal more can be achieved by a person working alone than those churches give credit for; and of course, if you are alone now, there is always the possibility that you will later find a group sufficiently compatible to work with. Your present condition (whether in a group, suitable or not, or alone) is not a life sentence.

      Michael: Well, I agree with all of what you've said about groups. Shirley R. has got very interested in a process being offered by three ladies, one of whom is her daughter Jo (or Jacinta, as she is presently known). The others are Carole and Wendy, and all three are nice people, warm and loving, and very funny at times.

      Bivalia: Yes, they are, aren't they?

      Michael: They are, but I do have a bit of a problem with what they are doing. It's a quite specific program of consciousness raising, and it seems Carole has it from Spirit that she is the only person in the world who is offering this path to cosmic consciousness. I'm not totally clear, but I also get it (partly from what Shirley has told me, and she understands it better than I do) that this is really the only path to achieving this type of consciousness. This rings warning bells with me.

      Bivalia: Yes, it does a bit with me, too.

      Michael: Not because I think there's anything even slightly wrong with that they're doing, but because of the suggestion (and it's no more than a suggestion) that they are the only people doing this, and that this is the way to achieve God consciousness.
      Perhaps this is one of my dogmas, but I seem to feel quite strongly that one should be a bit sceptical of any path, however good it might seem in itself, which claims, or even suggests, that it is the only one. And in fact, the three ladies, with whom I had a few sessions, suggested I channel you and discuss with you what I did with them. I suppose they expected you would fully confirm that everything is right about what they are doing.

      Bivalia: I have no problems with what they are doing, but don't quite agree with the idea that this is the only, or even main, path.

      Michael: That's what I thought you would say; but I don't think it's what they would have expected.

      Bivalia: I can't help that; I can only tell you the truth about things as I see it. If you show this to them (and I know you have considered showing them some of our sessions), it simply can't be helped if, because I've given a view a bit different from what they expected, they conclude that you were not really channelling me purely, at least on this topic.

      Michael: I don't know if they would reach that conclusion; but it was my feeling they might.

      Bivalia: These things have to be expected; not everyone will agree with your views on any spiritual topic. Don't worry about it; if there is still much else you can share with them, go ahead and enjoy fellowship with them.

      Michael: This was a few months ago that I was doing stuff with them, and I haven't been back since. I don't know if I will go back or not; I have no immediate plans, but I haven't ruled it out. Despite what seem to be quite large differences in outlook, I suppose they have more in common with me spiritually than do most other people or groups. And I do like them.
      We got hung up on the fact that, when asked to voice-channel you, I froze up and couldn't do so. This was perhaps the second step in their program, and because I couldn't seem to do this, they spent endless time with me trying to uncover the block, but didn't seem to think I could go on to any of the other steps until I'd got around this. I thought this was a bit rigid, and really thought it might be better to leave that for the time being, and go on to other parts of the process. I believe contacting one's twin flame was to be the next step.

      Bivalia: It does sound a bit rigid, insisting on a precise order of things. Perhaps they had their reasons; perhaps they feel a need to work in a particular way. However, if anyone were to claim this is the only possible way of working towards the goal, I would have to disagree.

      Michael: They're not claiming that you're lost, that you'll never come home to God (I think they quite often phrase it like that), if you don't follow their program. Apparently there was a critical mass of people needed to reach the new awareness through this process, and once that happened, the whole planet would achieve it, bringing everyone along with it. It's a version of the hundredth monkey effect, that an awareness of something spreads like wildfire once the critical mass has achieved awareness of it. [g] Those who didn't would still achieve the higher state, but do so unconsciously. (I'm not quite sure what that means. It sounds like a contradiction in terms to reach a higher awareness unconsciously, but I suppose it could be by a kind of process of osmosis, rather than conscious, deliberate growth.)
      That critical mass was apparently reached quite recently with this. So it seems all humans are going to achieve this union with their God consciousness (or however they phrase it) one way or another. Apparently it's better and more fulfilling to do it consciously, though.
      I suppose I agree it would be better to achieve this step in full consciousness, by doing the process, which apparently feels indescribably wonderful. But the goal itself seems so remote from me that I would be quite content to achieve it by any means at all, consciously or unconsciously, and not be too fussy about the means.

      Bivalia: The goal is not as remote from you as you seem to think. Well, I suppose if you feel you can't do the process yourself, you'll have to just do it unconsciously, along with humanity as a whole. I wouldn't worry about it too much. Do the process if it seems right, and if you can go along with it. But leave it alone if that seems the right thing to do. I can't really tell you what to do; it's really up to you to decide. I don't think the consequences of going this way or that will be all that drastic.

      Michael: Shirley's really going along with this, and seems to regard all the things Carole and the others say as absolutely true. As both you and I have agreed, I can't quite go along to this full extent, and it does make me feel a bit cut off from Shirley, and I've been telephoning her less often recently. I think this has added to the feeling of spiritual cut-off-ness I mentioned before. I think Ra is probably now my main spiritual contact, and I haven't seen her in person for probably well over a year, but just telephone her occasionally. But we can share stuff like I can with no-one else at all.

      Bivalia: Well, I hope you continue your friendship with her, in that case; she is a lovely person, very open and quite undogmatic, spiritual qualities I know you value highly. But don't be too quick to let things lapse with Shirley; she and you have shared much over the years, and she does care about you, even when you go through times when you seem to be separate.

      Michael: But it can be difficult to talk with her when she relates everything spiritual to this process she's doing, and I can't. I have nothing against the process, but it just isn't the be-all and end-all to me; I suspect no specific process, however good, could be the be-all and end-all to me. Perhaps it's a limitation I have to get over. Maybe when something is the be-all and end-all, I should be able to recognize it as such.

      Bivalia: Maybe; but I wouldn't be too quick to conclude that anything is the be-all and end-all. You want to be sure beyond all possible doubt that something is before deciding to so regard it, in a world that is full of people only too willing to have you believe their own approach is the be-all and end-all, all the way from certain New-Agers to Christian fundamentalists, and cultists of various assorted types. And if you did deem it right to consider something absolute, there you are uncomfortably close to dogma again, although if you walked the tight-rope just right it might be possible to be absolute about something like that without falling into dogma. But it's an area to be very careful about.

      Michael: I can't quite get rid of the feeling that this is just another New-Age fad. I seem to remember that a few years ago, Ascension was the thing; this was finally the culmination of one's spiritual growth, and people's spiritual outlook on everything was related to Ascension. Shirley was very much into that, and I, as usual, dabbled a bit on the sidelines. But Shirley (and many other people, too) have put that into perspective. It was valid, and interesting, and led to growth; but it was not any longer the be-all and end-all.
      I can't help feeling that the process being given by Carole and the others is just another thing like this, and in a year's time it will just seem to be yet another step in one's growth, just one of many ways of achieving growth. Whatever claims are made, I find it impossible to see it as the final climax of things when it is just yet another thing in a long series over the years, one fad after another.

      Bivalia: I would tend to see it that way, too. This seems to be the way spiritual growth works in your world; there does not seem to be the slightest indication that one particular thing is the one and only way of achieving spiritual goals. You should continue to do what you are already doing; go further with this thing if and only if it seems to your intuition the right thing to do.

      Michael: Yes, but the fact that it's just one thing in a long line of spiritual fads that change as quickly as women's hem-lines is one of the things that seems at times to persuade me that it's all just so much moonshine, with no reality to it.

      Bivalia: It may be, and it may not be. I would not be too quick to form a definite opinion one way or the other on whether this, or any other idea that comes and goes like women's hem-lines, has merit or not (except insofar as your experience leads you to conclude one way or the other, for yourself). If and when you do form an opinion, form it carefully and slowly, after much consideration, and after consulting your inner guidance about how to regard it. And always be willing to change it if that should be indicated later on.
      The point is, though, that your spiritual outlook should not be dependent on the world-view associated with any of these trends. (Perhaps the word "fad" is a little unkind.) And, as far as I see it, your outlook is not dependent on any of these things. You are open-minded about them, but you don't tie your whole spiritual outlook to them, and are left fairly unaffected if any of these ideas pass by without leaving a trace behind them (as quite often happens; I don't think there are many people now eagerly waiting for Ashtar's ships to lift them up; [h] I would wonder about people still seriously awaiting the photon belt, now that it's failed to come at least twice that I'm aware of, although there do still seem to be some people who are into the photon belt). [i]
      I think you have a fairly sensible attitude to these things. And, as with the channelling, you have gained things of value from some of these trends, but let them go when they seemed to outgrow their usefulness to you. If it hadn't been for the channelling "fad" (if you want to so term it), you might not have been led to channel your own higher self so productively, in a way that has led to real growth in spiritual outlook, and which you yourself have called the most significant spiritual thing you've ever done.

      Michael: Yes, I don't remember if I said that in one of our sessions, or just in conversation with Shirley or Ra or someone else; but, yes, I have said that, and still regard it as true. Not that I'm certain of that, even; but it's the best thing I've found spiritually so far, better than anything else on offer, to my knowledge.

      Bivalia: Just keep following the methodology you are already following; I can't suggest anything better myself at this stage.

      Michael: Another thing too, relating to spiritual doubts: I suppose, also, I can't quite get rid of the feeling that my spiritual outlook (or any spiritual system of belief or practice) is just an elaborate pretence to cover the ugly reality of death, and emptiness beyond that.

      Bivalia: I suppose it will seem like that at times; I'm sure even I myself seem at times a mere construct of your own mind to cover that ugly reality. I don't mind: construct away in your mind to your heart's content if it helps you. But I think that your spiritual outlook, and your sessions with me, and all the other paraphernalia, will in the end be worthwhile even so, regardless of whether they are a construct of the mind or not. Gradually, I think you will come to see that they are not; but, for as long as they seem that, I suggest you continue with them anyway. If the worst comes to the worst, and the materialist view of life is right, you will probably have enjoyed that materialist view of life, and found the most sense of hope, by pursuing these constructs of the mind as if they were real.
      It's a bit like those characters in C. S. Lewis's The Silver Chair, who came from the wonderful land of Narnia, into the Green Witch's underground lair to rescue an enchanted Prince. The Witch, through her evil magic, had nearly put Eustace, Jill, and Puddleglum under her spell, too, and convinced them that the dark realm of the Witch was all that was real, that Narnia was not real, but just a kids' play-world; and they rallied around the the idea that they would continue to live as Narnians even if there were no Narnia, that their play-world beat the Witch's real world hollow. This actually enabled them to throw off the Witch's attempt to enchant them, so they could make their way back to the reality of Narnia.

      Michael: Yes, I rather like that passage.

      Bivalia: Keep it in mind if the materialist world seems only too real, and Spirit unreal. That is an allegory, if you like, that is relevant to your situation. Live for Spirit and God even if maybe they aren't real; you'll probably find it more fulfilling than living for the materialist view of life, which in the end promises only death and complete annihilation.

      Michael: Perhaps you're right there. There's another thing I've done recently that, in an odd way, has prompted rather introspective thoughts which touch on life and death, and all the deep questions.
      Over the last couple of days, I found my scores of the five Beethoven piano concertos, and looked through them in some detail. They are quite wonderful music, and I have all sorts of memories inextricably intertwined with them. There is such a depth of feeling to them somehow, and they are full of a certain emotional effect I can't quite describe, but which is just somehow a typical Beethoven effect.

      Bivalia: Ah, yes, I know what you mean. If only you knew from first-hand experience of Beethoven's love for humanity and the world which just overflows, it would melt your heart and reduce you to tears. It is not without reason that his improvising had the capacity to reduce audiences to tears. He is a truly great spirit.

      Michael: I can't imagine that happening today in this cynical era.

      Bivalia: Perhaps not; but your world sorely needs another Beethoven to humanize it.

      Michael: We can wish, I suppose.

      Bivalia: Beethoven's music continues to benefit your world enormously even after two centuries. And his love is still with your world, even if his bodily presence is no longer there.

      Michael: Perhaps, as you say, I don't have personal experience of Beethoven's love; but I have a sense of it, not only through his music, but because he put in an appearence in one of my dreams once, and there seemed to be a real sense of his presence and personality, even though upon awakening I could remember very little detail of the dream. But the general effect seemed as if he was a very old and dear friend.

      Bivalia: Dreams - not just any old dreams, but ones with this sense of presence, with this intensity of feeling - often have much to tell us. This could indicate a real relationship you have with Beethoven on the higher realms. Before you dismiss this out of hand as a wish-fulfilment fantasy, I should tell you that you - all humans, in fact - know far many more people of all sorts on the higher levels than they are aware of. The very fact of greatly admiring someone you don't think you know in person is often a clue to great and wonderful friendships that exist on the spiritual level.

      Michael: Perhaps. I hope you are right. Few things would please me more than to know Beethoven, to count him as a dear friend. But I suppose you would understand why I would not want to set too much store by such an idea without having clearer indications that it is so.

      Bivalia: Yes, of course. Don't worry. Real truth is never in the long run threatened by doubts and scepticism; it overcomes them in the end. It is pretenders to truth that are threatened by doubts and honest scepticism, and if anyone proposing an idea seems unduly disturbed by doubts or scepticism, I would take it as an indication to be even more wary about that idea.

      Michael: I agree with that. In the right kind of company, I sometimes call my tendency to scepticism my bullshit detector.

      Bivalia: [LAUGHS.] I take it that I am the right kind of company.

      Michael: I guess you are. I just meant that I am very selective about in front of whom I use words like "bullshit". But I can be straight with you.

      Bivalia: There's something very much amiss if one can't be straight with one's own higher self.

      Michael: Anyway, I was looking at the scores of Beethoven's piano concertos, and numbers 1 and 3 in particular seem to be full of memories, of rather a tender nature actually. Just nostalgic memories of childhood, of our years in Adelaide, because that is where I first got to know these two works.
      My father used to be very fond of number 3, which he sort of nicknamed the "C-moll", which is simply the German for "C minor", the key it is written in, which was printed on the front of the Deutsche Grammophon record cover - in German of course, because the record label is a German one. I can't hear any part of that work without being reminded of all sorts of memories of that time, which is perhaps the 1960s.
      There was also number 1, which I didn't know so well, and I'm not even sure if we had the record back then. But I do remember a time when my father somehow borrowed a copy of the score to let me study, and probably we must have borrowed the record also, because I do seem to remember hearing it while I followed with the score (which was not the orchestral score, but a two-piano arrangement, with the second piano covering the orchestral part). But I feel pretty sure we didn't own the record back then.
      The slow movement is very tender, in A-flat major, and in what I call Beethoven's A-flat-major mood, an especially tender feeling which Beethoven seems to reserve for the key of A-flat major. But the E-major slow movement of the "C-moll" has that feeling, too, so it's not quite exclusive to A-flat major.
      So although I haven't actually heard either of these concertos since I don't know when, I know them quite well, and I can read the score almost like a book and hear the music mentally. And it brought up all sorts of feelings about Dad, and Adelaide, and childhood, and all that. It also brought up the fact that Dad is dead now, that we really didn't get on very well, and all this made these memories all the more poignant, and bittersweet in a way. If things had been otherwise, perhaps Dad and I could have got on better, but it didn't happen, for the most part.
      I reflected that both Granny and Dad are gone. I got on well with Granny, not so well with Dad, but they were both presences in my life, and they seem to leave a gap now they're gone. The family is gradually being eaten away by death, and I found myself thinking life is now (for me) much emptier than it was before.
      I don't know what I want you to say or do about this; I just somehow felt like sharing these feelings with you.

      Bivalia: There is probably not a lot to be said; I can just be there to be with you, and to share these feelings with you.

      Michael: Death still seems like a tragedy to us humans, in spite of all the assurances about life after death, and so on. I've never noticed that Christians, who have an unshakeable faith in the reality of heaven and the reality of God's ineffable love, grieve any less than others who don't have these assurances.

      Bivalia: This is so. I think the sadness of death is quite independent of one's views about life after death. The separation is still painful, even if you feel sure you will meet again. You are quite right about this.
      If it is of any use, I can just repeat that assurance, which is true as far as I can see things, because I know many people myself who have passed over during your life-time, including your father and grandmother. They are with me as I tell you this, having been attracted by the thought-forms created by our discussing them - and they send you their love. Your father in particular would not want you to feel too many regrets about your troubled relationship. Troubles in human relationships come up in your limited world for all sorts of reasons, and it is not always the fault of anyone involved. Although you often quarrelled, bitterly even, there was no lasting malice on either side towards the other, and it would be a mistake to take it too seriously now.
      It is one of those games in life that all humans play at one time or another. It all seems very intense and serious at the time; but in the end the best attitude to take is to see it as a game, and to say, "The game's over now, and I've outgrown the need for that", and not to take it too seriously, and certainly not to indulge in guilt or crippling regrets.
      Your father was very touched by the healing you gave him, both before and after he passed over, and he assures you it helped him immensely. Those books you lent him were very helpful, too, even though he didn't talk about it to anyone at the time.
      He is also very appreciative of the way, as a child, you opened him to the beauty of classical music, particularly Beethoven, simply by following that interest yourself and exposing him to it. Although, especially later on, there were reasons (which we don't need to go into now) why you could not, for the most part, share that interest in any active way, he still thanks you for opening him up to that, and is glad that Beethoven's concertos evoke mostly pleasant memories of him, in spite of the difficulties in your relationship.
      We do have concerts in the higher realms at which music is performed, and your father indicates he would like to go to one with you one day, sort of to relive old times, to enjoy the good memories, retell old jokes, and perhaps to laugh at the less pleasant bits as they are seen in a higher perspective from which they seem less important.

      Michael: Thank you; or please tell him thank you. I will follow that up when the time comes.

      Bivalia: I know that at times you have thought you had so little in common with your father, and even seemed so mutually antagonistic, that you wondered if you had spiritually anything in common, or whether, having spent time in the world as father and son, you would both part ways after that and never meet again spiritually. However, this view of having nothing to keep you together is not true. There is more between you than you are aware of, and I see a high potential for a close and lasting friendship in spirit. Your father agrees with this assessment of things, too.
      I can see the way in which looking at those Beethoven scores seemed to reawaken in you an awareness of a whole part of life that is now dead, and how sad this can be. Perhaps I can tell you that it is not really dead, because nothing worthwhile, nothing in harmony with Spirit, ever truly dies, and those aspects of your life, such as those parts involving your father, which you felt could have been much better than they were, although over for the time being, can be reawakened, and developed in wonderful new ways at a future time, if you and your father so wish.

      Michael: I hope it's as good as you say. But I suppose I'll have to wait and see.
      You know, I've been thinking of visiting Adelaide some time fairly soon, but after I've completed my move from Trumper St. I just kind of feel like seeing old places again, and I also want to visit Bob and Judy D., who are old friends of our family I always like, and always visited in the 1970s when I visited Adelaide on one of my train trips. But I wonder if that will kind of reawaken the poignancy, the bittersweet, of long-dead memories.

      Bivalia: It could, I suppose. There's no way of saying for sure. If so, however, it would indicate things inside you that are still unresolved to some degree, and it would do no harm to look at them again, and perhaps to try to resolve them. This could either be a pleasant experience, or a rather sad one, depending on all sorts of factors. But I think your outlook is sufficiently strong that it would be unlikely to be traumatic. I wouldn't let it put you off.

      Michael: Well, I wasn't suggesting that; I do intend to do it. But the thought occurred to me. I think it could kind of be like a spiritual pilgrimage in a way.

      Bivalia: A spiritual pilgrimage can at times be a very good thing to do.

      Michael: I just like the Adelaide hills, too, quite separately from whatever memories they may hold. I will be able to drive through them, exploring wherever I feel like, something I could not do as a child, being unable to drive.
      A curious thing is that Adelaide seems to have a number of what I call magic spots: particular locations that, for no discernible reason, seem to have a special atmosphere or presence, a kind of spirit, maybe. [j]

      Bivalia: Indeed. Places do have spirits, and certain of these spirits may resonate particularly with you.

      Michael: It is not necessarily scenically beautiful spots, either. Some of them are probably very ordinary, and were ordinary at the time I knew them, but they just have this feeling for some reason, and awaken in me great longings of some unidentifiable sort. These spots have even appeared in my dreams occasionally over the years, and are a definite part of the inner landscape of my dreams.
      It reminds me of a New-Age radio program I heard a few weeks ago. Amongst other things, and in passing, almost, the man being interviewed talked about how, quite apart from the obvious ecological considerations, wilderness and nature and beautiful landscapes are spiritually important to humanity, and we should strive to preserve them as much as possible, for that reason alone.

      Bivalia: This is absolutely true. I think it would be obvious to anyone who reads the pages we have written between us in these sessions, who takes note of the various things we discuss about the spirits of natural things, the whole spiritual view that has developed around this.

      Michael: This man even said we can create our own sacred spots, I suppose a bit like the Aborigines, even though sacred sites are not part of the Western tradition.

      Bivalia: Well, I can only agree, and also note that your spiritual outlook does not have to depend in the least on what you call "Western tradition", which is only one outlook of many. These sacred spots you heard that we can create are like these magic spots you spoke of; they are the natural things you have discussed with me, such as Indian summer, or atolls, or sunsets or distant bird-songs, or any of the other things that seem to you imbued with spirit in some way. We've spent many pages discussing such things.

      Michael: Yes, some of those pages are the ones between you and me that I treasure the most. They represent the closest I have to a spiritual outlook.

      Bivalia: The "closest", indeed! You have a spiritual outlook without any apologies of that sort, one perhaps more sophisticated than that of many who would loudly proclaim their spiritual life.

      Michael: Look, I think we're getting dangerously close to a mutual admiration society.

      Bivalia: Perhaps. Once in a while does not hurt. With you, and with your culture generally, I think the opposite danger is a much stronger one: that of constantly putting yourself down, apologizing for the way you think, considering it inferior, comparing yourself unfavourably to others (who are very likely doing the same with respect to you), and the like. I don't think we need to worry about you getting a swollen head. But I think you need a bit of occasional boosting.

      Michael: About magic spots (I'm not sure I agree that "sacred" is the best name, at least for me), I've noticed over the years that even purely fictitious places in pictures can be magic spots. Does that stymie your interpretation?

      Bivalia: Not at all. What are the fictitious magic spots you have in mind?

      Michael: In a children's astronomy book I had as a child.[k] Well, my brother Peter had it originally, because he was interested in scientific things as a child, but I eventually got many of his books. I still have most of these books, in fact. This astronomy book has many pictures: not photographs, but I suppose just paintings in that style which seem very 1950s-ish, when I suppose such pictures were apt to be used before colour photography came into common use. It would have to be said, I suppose, that the pictures are of little worth artistically, but, especially when you're a child, things like that don't seem to matter.
      The book had many pictures of imagined scenes of planets, which are sometimes out-of-date now with respect to today's increased knowledge about the planets, and there were also many pictures of the night sky as seen from earth, and usually some earthly scenery was included in the pictures; but there were also many short chapters on subjects related to astronomy, although not a core part of it, such as the tides, weather, and the like. Because of this, the book contains many pictures of earthly scenery, which is usually rural, because such phenomena are best seen away from city lights. Sometimes a small country town is depicted. And I suppose the pictures are vaguely an interpretation of 1950s rural America or England.
      Well, if you were to look at these pictures, there would be nothing at all out of the ordinary about them; yet some of them seem to me to be magic spots. (I think that's a term I've coined, and I'm going to continue to use it.)

      Bivalia: It seems a very good term for what you are talking about.

      Michael: I can't explain it, but some of those locations are as much a part of the inner landscape of my mind as some real places. I think I have always found something a bit magical about astronomical things, and things in the sky generally, such as sunsets, clouds, rainbows, and so on. Also, I think a great deal about my childhood was magic, actually, whether real or fictitious.
      So, given your interpretation of why spots are magic (about my perceiving the spirit there, and being in harmony with it), does this mess it up?

      Bivalia: Not at all. It is possible for a person to make something up (a story, a picture, a piece of music - anything at all), and for that act in itself to create the thing on the astral plane or even higher. In most cases, that astral form will have less presence - less spirit, if you like - than a so-called real thing; but it may have a great deal of spirit if the person, or someone else who appreciates the so-called fictitious thing, puts a lot of feeling or energy into it.
      So there is a sense in which those magic spots in the astronomy book do exist in the astral world, although people who have never encountered those pictures, or who have but don't care about them, will be apt to miss them in the astral, unless they happen on them by accident, as it were.

      Michael: Of course, I suppose the fact that these seem to be magic spots says just as much about me as it does about those spots themselves.

      Bivalia: To be sure; but that doesn't detract from what I've just said.

      Michael: I suppose this has turned into a bit of a discussion about magic spots, which seems to me to have the potential to make this one of the best channellings I've done; but somehow I feel as if I haven't really got into the heart of things.

      Bivalia: We can always return to it if you have further thoughts on this that you would like to discuss.

      Michael: Well, I think I've covered most, if not all, of what I wanted to say, and I must get to bed now and get a bit of sleep.

      Bivalia: Well, it's been nice talking with you. And do remember what your father conveys to you through me. I know it's been a bit on your mind since you looked at those Beethoven scores. But things are all right, really and truly. If you decide to visit Adelaide, I will be glad to be with you, and if you like you could even invite your father and grandmother to be with you part of the time, in spirit at least - particularly your father, with whom you share more memories of those places than with your grandmother, and with whom you had a more troubled relationship. That might be very healing to both of you, and it's worth considering.

      Michael: I'll think about that, although I must admit I'm not accustomed to speaking to dead people and asking them to be with me. It seems a bit pathetically sentimental to me, and smacks a bit of desperate attempts to deny the reality of death.

      Bivalia: Perhaps your mental model of such things needs a bit of adjusting.

      Michael: Maybe. You know, this kind of brings up another thought I've had from time to time, including recently. As we've discussed many times, I seem to be constantly plagued by a deep longing for I don't know what, and I have tentatively linked this with God, with Spirit, because this world doesn't seem to contain more than the odd tantalizing suggestion here and there of what I long for. But that longing, at times, seems connected with old memories of childhood, and my memories of childhood seem to centre round the family, because of course that's where I lived at the time. It's almost like a longing for the family of my childhood, even though I know perfectly well I didn't get on the best with them. But there seem to be enough pleasant memories of that to make it seem rather sweet.
      Is there any truth in the idea that fellowship with others, a real closeness I don't seem to have so much now, is somehow bound up with that longing.

      Bivalia: There's no easy, standard answer to that. Yes, I would say it could be very much linked with that. The need to share love, to share experiences, to enjoy good times together, is a very basic human need. It is probably unlikely that most people can be lastingly happy without some fulfilment of those needs. Families at their best certainly can fulfil those needs.
      However, I would not consider it a good strategy to make this the be-all and end-all of satisfying that longing. At best, you might end up with some lovely friendships, great memories, a happy life, but the longings still unfulfilled. I really do agree with C. S. Lewis's idea that those longings are for something that in full purity is not of the physical plane, and that it will probably be fulfilled completely only in other realms. It can be partially fulfilled in this world in all sorts of ways, of which good family relationships are only one way, but Lewis is probably right in saying that the partial fulfilment of the longing simply sharpens it, intensifies it, makes it all the more poignant. But he also points out that the longing itself is so sweet that one would not want to lose it.

      Michael: I'm about the least suitable person to marry and have a family, and I have no intention of doing so; but I have occasionally been tempted to wonder whether doing so would be the answer to that longing.

      Bivalia: I would be very wary of anyone who married and started a family for that reason, and I think anyone who did so would be in for a lot of grief and disappointment. It is uneasily close to regarding your family as a possession, whose purpose is to satisfy certain longings. This is not a good strategy in my view, however good and wholesome the longing itself might be.
      I don't need to warn you too strongly, because I don't for one moment think you would have a family for reasons of this sort; but, since you asked me for my views, this is what I have to say about it.
      The question of the unappeasable longing, as Lewis called it, is a subtle one, and there are no easy answers to it in your world that I know of at present. I do have certain views on the subject that relate to higher planes, but I cannot really tell you them, or do any more than hint at them, because the words don't really exist in your language to describe them.
      Having a family can be spiritually fulfilling if done for the right reasons, but this is a rather different matter from the situation you proposed.

      Michael: I don't seem to have the usual kinds of motivation for having a family, and don't seem to have the kind of love that it would need.

      Bivalia: You know about love, but it expresses itself in different ways. Perhaps it is inhibited a little, because (I don't think we need to mince words over this) of the autism you had as a very young child, which still leaves its marks even to this day. [l] I don't feel it is a role you are called to at present, to marry and have a family. This may change even within this life, but it doesn't look likely, and of course you probably realize it may not happen at all in this life.

      Michael: I have no illusions about that, and no suppressed desire for a family (at least, that I'm aware of), so I am not dismayed at you saying that. But because that longing at times seems bound up with memories of family during my childhood, the question has occurred to me from time to time.
      I think I really will have to go now. This channelling has been about three times longer than I expected it would be, because one subject keeps leading to another. I'm sure I could go on, now that I've got going, but I have to call a halt sooner or later. Now is as good a time as any.

      Bivalia: Yes, we've had a good session tonight, and it is getting late for you. (I won't say what the time is, because I don't think you'll want to be reminded of it when you read this years later.)

      Michael: I'm not so sure it is one of our best sessions though. Quite long, but not best.

      Bivalia: I don't know that it's helpful to judge sessions like that, one better than another. Each one is what you need at the time. After all, you choose the subjects to talk about, not I.

      Michael: Yes, I see what you mean, and I guess you're right in a way. But this is not one of those sessions the very memory of which I will treasure in months or years to come, like half a dozen or so others.

      Bivalia: Well, never mind. I know the sessions to which you refer, which you value so much, and they are on the whole the happier, more inspiring ones, whereas this one has been a bit about more pessimistic subjects, death, the pointlessness of life, and the like. But those things have to be dealt with if they come up in your thoughts, and it is very valuable at times to discuss those with me, and I hope it makes you feel better to do so.

      Michael: I'm not sure; probably not right now. Time will tell.

      Bivalia: Anyway, I know you came to me a little half-heartedly this time, not burning with inspiration like a few times earlier this year, and I wanted to make a suggestion.

      Michael: Go ahead.

      Bivalia: I don't want these sessions to dry up completely, and I don't think you do either; yet you feel this could happen because of the darker time your life seems to be going through at the moment. We need to nurture the more inspiring thoughts that keep you alive spiritually, such as the things discussed in those half-dozen sessions you value.
      You often feel reluctant to come to me unless you have some great thought to share, and 6 or more hours in which to discuss it in a leisurely and detailed fashion.
      I would like you to try an experiment, and have a session with me every day for the next week, regardless of whether you think you have anything to say or not. It doesn't have to be for very long; it could be literally for only one or two sentences, a polite hallo, how are you?, if nothing else will come (or even an impolite one, if you are feeling annoyed at the imposition foisted upon you). I don't want you for a moment to force anything that doesn't want to come.

      Michael: Well, I don't know. I think I see why you suggest it, but I suppose it doesn't wildly excite me. If you could just be with me in the explicit way a person in the flesh is, I suppose that would be very nice, and just as enjoyable as being with a close friend. But typing is quite an effort, you know, and I suppose I need to have a good reason to do it, not just to type inanities.

      Bivalia: I want you to get used to the idea of just being with me, your own higher self, on a day-by-day basis, and not to think of me exclusively the way you might a psychiatrist: you arrange a session when you have something you need to sort out. Doing that is fine, but in addition, it might be a good idea to just cultivate a friendly relationship, where we can just share pleasantries, jokes, whatever. My feeling is that it might be good to give this a try.
      And I'm only talking about a week, as a kind of experiment to grease the wheels a bit. Of course I don't expect you to spend lots of time typing trivialities over many years. But it might get you sufficiently accustomed to being with me on a more casual basis, and then you could give up typing the everyday trivialities, and relegate them just to your private communing with me, and keep the typing for the important things you want to remember later, as you are already doing.

      Michael: Yes, I see what you mean. I can't decently refuse. I can't conceal my low enthusiasm for it compared to the long sessions that really set me on fire (and which I think set you on fire, too), but I'm not actually opposed to it. I guess I'm not just good at small talk.

      Bivalia: Actually, I think you can be very good at it at times. Although our sessions are usually centred on some important thing you want to discuss, some of them are literally peppered with humorous bantering and small talk, which you do completely un-selfconsciously.

      Michael: Well, perhaps you could give me a day's grace. This session has overflowed more than a little into Wednesday the 23rd of September, and I'm visiting my mother after getting some sleep. So would it be good enough to begin on Thursday?

      Bivalia: That would be very nice, thank you. It's not that I value small talk so highly as that, and tend to agree with your way of using it to leaven something more serious, rather than as a thing in itself. I'm encouraging you to change your paradigm of your higher self a little however, to make your higher self a more real part of your everyday experience. This may help do that, and that is why I suggest it.

      Michael: What would you want these mini-sessions to talk about?

      Bivalia: Absolutely anything you like, trivial or momentous, humorous or serious, profound or just plain silly, long or short. The actual content is not the point of the exercise. It's just to help you change the mental model you have of me, in a way I think you would like to change if only you could. I'm suggesting a possible way of achieving that.
      Just treat me as you would a friend or favourite relative you might casually drop in to make a brief visit because you happened to be passing that way. In such a situation you don't rehearse what to say, but it just happens spontaneously without any thought. That's the way I'm suggesting you do this.

      Michael: Okay, fair enough. But I must leave now, because I'm feeling quite stiff and tired, and am losing concentration, and I think I've run down on anything on today's agenda.
      I should actually try gradually to get less nocturnal between now and going to Adelaide, because I somehow think getting up early and enjoying sunrises, dawn flowers, and the like would be a good way to do things.

      Bivalia: Yes, dawn flowers are very nice, very spiritual.

      Michael: Yes, I'm thinking of the Basho haiku I think I've quoted you before: [m]

                              How I long to see
                              among dawn flowers,
                              the face of God.

      With that, I think I will take my leave for now.

      Bivalia: Fare thee well, then, my friend, until Thursday.


[a] Tuesday, 26 March, 2002 - "Bivalia:":
      See the first
note at the end of the dialogue for Monday, 13 June, 1994, for the meaning of the name "Bivalia", and why I adopted it in these dialogues as the name for my Higher Self. [Back]

[b] Friday, 11 May, 2001 - "In fact, I consider the usual arguments given on this topic to be simply a part of the fear-based spirituality that you (and the planet as a whole) are moving away from now.":
      I have to say that I would question this statement, which is often made by people of the more New-Age persuasion. I don't claim to fully follow the New Age, but I do seem to have adopted some of its ideas. This is probably okay, but it is just as well to question them critically and just make sure that I really do go along with them.
      It is easy to make out a case that the world as a whole is becoming more fear-based in its outlook, not less - whether you are talking about spiritual attitudes, or just about general outlook. In the former area, there seems to be a move towards a narrow and bigoted fundamentalism in some major religions such as Islam and Christianity, and such fundamentalism seems to be riddled with fear - and this accounts for quite a few people. In the latter area of general outlook, it strikes me that our lives generally are more full of fear, as we are swamped by headlines about (and sometimes directly ravaged by) crime, family and social breakdown, drug abuse, wars, economic and political hardship, amongst many others.
      On the other side, though, it is easier now than it used to be a few decades ago, at least in nominally Christian countries, to be atheistic or agnostic without incurring a subtle disapproval or feeling that you're not quite legitimate. Alternative cultures and religions belonging to immigrants in Australia, and no doubt some other countries too, get more publicity and acceptance; and even people born in the country can feel freer now to turn to alternative cultures to the mainstream, such as the New Age or Wicca or paganism, for example. (Whatever the faults some may see in these alternative modes of spirituality, it seems obvious to me that fear is less of an element of them than it is of mainstream Christianity, for example, where there is always the fear (implied, if less often baldly stated these days) that you may not be saved if you are not good enough, or your faith is not strong enough.) It would be commoner now, and more acceptable, for someone to say they believed in reincarnation. It is easier now for people, whether inside or outside mainstream churches, to question even the most basic tenets of those churches. This, in my opinion, is a good thing, and a welcome move away from fear.
      It is probably these trends that the New-Age people have in mind when they say the world is moving away from fear-based attitudes, that a new light is coming into the world. Well, maybe to some extent; but it doesn't seem to me to be enough to counterbalance the negative trends I noted above; perhaps I don't read the right things, or move in the right circles. But, because of this, the statement that the world is moving away from fear seems dubious to me, at the least - and possibly even downright wrong. [

[c] Friday, 11 May, 2001 - "I think Phillip Adams has pointed out...":
      Phillip Adams is a well-known newspaper columnist and broadcaster in Australia. Generally regarded as being definitely on the left politically and in social attitudes, he is an outspoken atheist who espouses humanist and rationalist values.
      The statement I attributed to him is probably only a paraphrase, not even approximately accurate in its wording; nevertheless the general effect of the statement I gave is very faithful to what I have heard him say on several occasions.
      I tend to allude to him from time to time, because, although I disagree with his attitude of actively rejecting anything spiritual, he is nevertheless very perceptive when he talks about religion, and I heartily agree with many of the humanist values he advocates. (He's got a great sense of humour, too.) [

[d] Friday, 11 May, 2001 - "And it is a fact that most of the elements in the human body are extremely common in the world at large, and there are a few which are rarer, but are still perfectly ordinary matter.":
      Many years ago I read that if you went to a chemical factory and purchased all the elements or compounds that occur in the human body, in the right quantities, the total cost would be $5.60 (or something of that order). Even allowing for inflation over the maybe 20 years or more since I read that, it kind of cuts us down to size a bit, at least on the physical level.
      Of course, as the dialogue makes clear, what makes living things so special (even just on the physical level, ignoring questions of spirit) is the organization of the body, the hugely complicated and vast information it contains - not merely the amounts of this or that element it contains. And that organization element is something no chemical factory could replicate, or will be able to in the foreseeable future; and if a time came when it could do so, I imagine the cost of doing it would be immense. [

[e] Friday, 11 May, 2001 - "It really doesn't explain consciousness.", and reasoning leading up to this:
      As I reread this, it strikes me that Bivalia didn't quite carry the argument fully to its conclusion, didn't make the essential point of it quite clearly enough, even though undoubtedly the point was clearly in my mind as I wrote the dialogue. The point was not that atoms in living creatures are believed by scientists to somehow behave as if they were conscious once they reach a certain level of complexity. This is undoubtedly true, and one does not need any spiritual concepts to account for this. The real question is whether such living things could possibly be conscious if only the scientific view of life is valid. There is a difference between being conscious and merely mimicking consciousness, even though there might not be any discernible difference whatever between the two to any observer or any scientific instruments if the mimicking were perfect. The point Bivalia was making was that the scientific paradigm would allow sufficiently complexly organized atoms to mimick perfectly any desired degree of conscious, purposeful behaviour, to mimick emotions, feelings, and so on; what was doubtful, if you can't add an extra ingredient of spirit, was whether the being that so perfectly mimics consciousness is actually experiencing consciousness.
      To illustrate: following Moore's law that computers double in power every 18 months or so, some computer scientists believe a computer will be capable of fully imitating all human behaviour by about the year 2029, right down to emotions, personality, and so on. Such a computer may well be as complex in its organization, and as vast in the data it contains, as any human being. Yet, from what we know about computers, there is not the slightest reason to believe that that computer would be anything more than a dead machine that experiences nothing at all, any more than does the laptop I am currently typing this on.
      (There would be nothing to prevent one supposing that Spirit somehow infused such a computer, so that it really was conscious, and not merely imitating consciousness, in exactly the way one might suppose that Spirit now infuses living things with its essence. In fact, it strikes me that there are other passages in these dialogues where Bivalia quite clearly suggests such an idea; but that is quite another matter from the point being made here, and this possibility does not destroy the argument presented here, because it requires additional assumptions, and it is based on the assumption that Spirit is real anyway.) [

[f] Friday, 11 May, 2001 - "... if you were just a body, without a spiritual essence of some sort, you would have no awareness or consciousness with which to even ponder the problem. Even if your brain was churning away like a computer, doing all the things it does, it would have no more awareness than a computer does.":
      Well, this sort of makes the point discussed in footnote
[e]. But I wanted to make the logical sequence of this from the preceding reasoning clearer, which is why I wrote footnote [e].
      The following passage also alludes to the further point I made perhaps a little more clearly at the end of footnote [e], about the possibility of so-called inanimate things possessing real consciousness or spirit. [Back]

[g] Friday, 11 May, 2001 - "It's a version of the hundredth monkey effect, that an awareness of something spreads like wildfire once the critical mass has achieved awareness of it.":
      The hundredth monkey effect is something that New-Age people refer to sometimes, and I believe it was first mentioned by Ken Keyes, Jr., perhaps best-known as the author of The Handbook to Higher Consciousness, who also wrote a book about the hundredth monkey effect. I don't know if there is scientific verification for this, or whether it was a parable written by Keyes, and not even claiming to be factual; but, for what it's worth, the gist of it is this: scientists doing animal research on an island taught a group of monkeys to wash their bananas in a stream before eating them, and those monkeys taught some of the other nearby monkeys. Once a certain critical number of monkeys were washing bananas, suddenly most of the monkeys all over the island were doing the same, even those who had not had any contact with the ones who were doing it earlier.
      This is sometimes used as an analogy to the way raising consciousness works: once enough people have a higher consciousness, the effect will spread and lots of new people will, seemingly spontaneously, reach higher levels of consciousness. I don't know if this is correct, however - it's a nice idea. [

[h] Friday, 11 May, 2001 - "I don't think there are many people now eagerly waiting for Ashtar's ships to lift them up...":
      This is not quite true: I found out on the Internet some time after writing this dialogue that there are still people who believe humans will be lifted off the Earth by Ashtar's ships as part of the Ascension process. However, I knew of people who continued to believe in Ashtar as a being, but who gave up the idea of being lifted up to the ships. See
Ashtar Command and Ascension in the Glossary for more information on this.
      It was Bivalia who suggested that not many people were still waiting for Ashtar's ships to lift them up - not myself. And yet the statement appears to be mistaken, because of a lack of knowledge I myself had when I wrote the dialogue. This might seem to cast doubt on the authenticity of Bivalia as the source of the words, because surely he would be likely to know something like this even if I didn't, seeing things from Spirit as he does.
      No, I think it is an example of what he has once or twice told me anyway: that, although he is a real voice from Spirit, the nature of the channelling process is such that it uses information which is already in my mind, and doesn't magically place new information there. His purpose is not to provide magical answers, but to guide me towards Spirit; he doesn't place spiritual knowledge in my mind, but helps me see things for myself.
      Perhaps it is analogous to the way a good teacher doesn't merely fill a pupil's mind with answers, but helps him learn them for himself, and to understand them fully. That way, the knowledge will be more convincing or compelling, and will stay in the pupil's mind much more easily. Presumably the same is true of spiritual growth. [Back]

[i] Thursday, 26 July, 2001 - "photon belt":
      The photon belt is yet another of the myriad New-Age ideas I have encountered over the years. Like many such ideas, the explanation of, and reasoning in support of, this idea was quite complex and almost unreadable to me, but I gleaned an approximate idea of what it was about.
      Photons are the particles which visible light and other electromagnetic radiation consist of. Photons always move at the speed of light (naturally) and in straight lines, unless there is some force or object which alters their speed or changes their direction. (Moving through a transparent substance such as water would slow down light, and it would also change the direction of their movement, by refraction. A mirror causes a sharp change of direction, by reflection - and so on.)
      The photon belt was described as a huge doughnut-shaped ring of photons out somewhere in space. And by huge, I mean really huge; I can't give even an approximate figure, but we're talking about the thickness of the ring being light-years across, and the diameter of the ring even vaster still. (A light-year is the distance light travels in a vacuum, which is about 186,000 miles per second; when we talk about "the speed of light", this figure is what is meant.)
      Earth was supposed to be moving towards this photon belt, or perhaps the photon belt towards Earth (it makes no difference in outer space). It was said that, at some time within the near future, Earth was supposed to actually meet the photon belt and enter it. (Sometimes a particular year or even date was named for this event, and some of the forecast dates have now been and gone.)
      This entry into the belt would have drastic effects on our planet, although the details varied according to the account you heard or read. Some thought that, to begin with, we'd have 5 days of continuous daylight or 5 days of continuous darkness, depending (I gather) on where you were on the surface of the Earth, and where the planet was in its rotation at the time it entered the photon belt. Some said that electricity and all machinery would fail. I never heard a plausible explanation of why the photon belt would cause such things to happen. But some people believed this, and I believe they took up elaborate measures to store up enough food to last through this crucial period, to see to their warmth, and so on, because if 5 days of darkness ensued, it would get very cold indeed, as you can imagine.
      I knew of one or two people who took this seriously enough that I actually heard them speak of their intention to make all the necessary preparations. And sometimes messages
channelled from the Masters would mention the photon belt, and exhort people to take these precautions. (I have to say that predictions of such drastic events at some definite or near-future time were one of the parts of channelled messages from the Masters that I always found less credible.) It was also supposed that, although the physical changes brought by the photon belt would be relatively brief, the effects on human consciousness would be profound and long-lasting, and, in the end, beneficial, although it was not denied that the effects might appear catastrophic in the short-term, as all our preconceived and harmful beliefs about life were swept away; and many people equated this encounter with the photon belt with Ascension.
      I think December, 1996 was the most recent predicted time for the photon belt to arrive, and, needless to say, no effects whatever have been observed by anyone as a result of this encounter; and I don't know of anyone at all who believes that we did enter the photon belt at that time. I haven't kept up with the photon belt in recent years (and didn't really keep up with it even earlier, so much as merely happen to hear or read about it), and I don't know if the idea is still alive or not.
      I don't give the idea any credence, although I tried to remain open-minded about it at the time people around me thought it was important, in keeping with my general attempt to be open-minded about anything that was said to be spiritually important. The idea just doesn't have any scientific credence whatsoever that I can think of, in spite of the fact that I did read copies of newspaper clippings about the belt that seemed to be quoting qualified scientists as supporting the idea, and citing evidence of the reality of the photon belt. (To this day, I can't explain this discrepancy, because the reports did look quite legitimate.)
      One might rebut claims of lack of scientific credibility by saying that I shouldn't let my spiritual ideas be bound by what science says is real, because in the end science lends no direct support to any spiritual concepts anyway. My reply: it's fair enough not to be limited in my spiritual horizons by what science considers possible; that is, I should be able to believe in ideas which science doesn't support. But, at the very least, the ideas I believe should not grossly offend against plain evidence or common sense; and, in the end, science is a codification of evidence or common sense, or some combination of those. It's one thing for an idea to be part of one's spiritual outlook even if science can't support it, because it's simply outside the areas of knowledge that science is equipped to investigate; but it's quite another thing when your spiritual outlook depends on a supposed fact which it seems that science can investigate, and which science says is plain false, and which claim it can support with reams of evidence. In such a case, I think one's spiritual outlook is skating on very thin ice, unless one has a well-developed ability to believe in something even when it can be shown to be impossible. I don't myself have that ability to any noticeable extent.
      The main problem I have scientifically with the photon belt stems from the fact I mentioned earlier, that light normally moves in straight lines unless some force or object causes it to change direction; yet the photons of which the belt is made are constantly changing direction, because the photons in the belt were supposed to be moving round the ring-like shape of the belt. What is it that is causing them to move in this circular path? After all, this is in outer space, which is a near-vacuum, and there would seem to be nothing to stop the photons just moving in a straight line, like starlight, for example. The whole idea just doesn't make any sense.
      About the only thing I can think of that might make photons move in such a circular path is a truly huge black hole with such a fearsome gravitational field that it might conceivably curve the path of light around to such an extent that it became circular. This would have to be a far huger black hole than any which are currently believed to exist, and if one that big were out there, it would show its existence in many other ways too: by the effect it had on the movements of stars, for example, or by the X-rays emitted as objects such as dust clouds, cosmic dust, stray atoms, and so on fell into it. I just can't believe in any kind of black hole that would cause a belt of photons to move in a huge circle, but have no other observable effects at all. And surely, if that photon belt were really there, scientists would have noticed it; I can't believe that some New-Age writers, teachers, or researchers would have detected it somehow, but that scientists at large have been quite unable to observe it too.
      And (just to hammer the final nail in the coffin), some of the statements I heard or read about the photon belt seemed to indicate that the speaker or writer had not the faintest idea what photons are, anyway. One spiritual teacher whose seminar I actually attended (well, the first day of a weekend, anyway) seemed to speak of photons as if they were physical matter of some kind: people who attended that seminar would never have got the idea (if they didn't know better) that the teacher was simply talking about light, or other electromagnetic radiation; rather, they could easily have got the idea that photons are a strange, mystical substance with all kinds of magical powers.
      And the last straw was when he started talking about (and offering for sale) a "white gold powder" which had apparently been obtained from some disused gold mine in the U.S., the consuming of which in minute quantities would heighten one's consciousness, cure all manner of health problems, and so on; he also said this white gold powder was made of the same stuff as the photon belt. It was all I could do to avoid bursting out into laughter at the ridiculous idea; he obviously had no clue what photons are, so I find it difficult to see how his views on the subject count for anything at all. (It would have been interesting to have a chemist analyze the white gold powder, and find out what it really was; but it seemed a little expensive to purchase some for that purpose, and I didn't care that much anyway.)
      Well, maybe not all advocates of the photon belt get as confused as this about what photons are; but it certainly doesn't help me believe in the idea. And there is nothing in my spiritual outlook, either, that seems to support the idea, nothing which is explained if one postulates the belt's existence. There is no sense in which the belt, or the ideas surrounding it, feels deeply right to me in some intuitive sense. Consequently, I see no reason to give the idea credence on the spiritual level, either. It seems to be yet another of the many fads that the New-Age culture is prone to. I see this as a serious shortcoming, even though there is something about the New-Age spiritual outlook that I resonate with, which feels right somehow. Obviously I just have to pick and choose the bits that seem right, and throw away the chaff, which at times is dismayingly voluminous. It's a bit exasperating at times, although I have nothing in principle against the idea of picking and choosing bits from some source of ideas and beliefs (whether from the New Age, established religions, the Bible, traditional or mythical ideas, or whatever). [Back]

[j] Friday, 11 May, 2001 - "A curious thing is that Adelaide seems to have a number of what I call magic spots":
      I'm using the name of the city rather loosely. I don't mean merely the city of Adelaide, or even just the city and its suburbs, but the whole area I knew when I lived in the Adelaide hills. I sometimes even use the name to signify that whole period of my life. [

[k] Saturday, 6 April, 2002 - "In a children's astronomy book I had as a child.":
      The Golden Book of Astronomy, 1955, revised 1959, by Rose Wyler and Gerald Ames, illustrated by John Polgreen; Golden Press, New York. [

[l] Friday, 14 June, 2002 - "... the autism you had as a very young child, which still leaves its marks even to this day.":
      As a matter of fact, I am not totally sure if I did have autism or not. For anything as early as this in my life, I can only rely on what my parents have told me. To be sure, my mother and/or father have told me this, but I'm not really sure whether it was a formal diagnosis, or merely a doctor informally stating his opinion that I might have been autistic.
      More recently, I have read things about Asperger's Syndrome which makes it appear more likely that I had (and probably still have) this condition rather than autism. Without being expert on either condition, and without doing a lot of research into them, the most I can say about Asperger's is that it appears to be a milder form of autism, and is more likely than autism to be associated with normal or even superior intelligence, whereas autism is more likely to be associated with some degree of mental retardation. But whether the two conditions are related does not appear to be known, and indeed nothing is known about the cause of either condition, nor about how to cure them.
      This appears to be something my Higher Self may have got wrong, obviously due to drawing upon ideas in my own mind to formulate what he wanted to impart to me (which appears, at least for me, to be the way my Higher Self tells me things, rather than by directly drawing upon supernatural knowledge inaccessible to myself). It doesn't affect the argument, in any case: if autism could be cited as a possible reason why I am inhibited in expressing emotions such as love, and it turns out that I have Asperger's instead of autism, it appears from what I've read about Asperger's that the same is true of this condition, too: that it tends to inhibit the expression of emotions. [

[m] Friday, 11 May, 2001 - "... the Basho haiku I think I've quoted you before...":
      I was mistaken: in fact, I had never quoted it before anywhere in my dialogues; I only quoted my own haiku, and briefly mentioned Basho as a haiku writer. [

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