(M.J.E. Spirit / Fri., 2 Nov., 2001)

Spirit Dialogues

Explorations of Spirit
by Michael Edwards

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Friday, 2 November, 2001

      Michael: Hallo, Spirit. I'm back again - perhaps unexpectedly.

      Spirit: I'm glad to be with you again. Why do you find that unexpected?

      Michael: I didn't mean your presence - although perhaps that's a bit unexpected, too. But I was just referring to my doing this dialogue: before a couple of hours ago, I hadn't had the slightest notion of doing another one tonight, and even considered it possible I might never done one ever again, or for a very long time, at least.

      Spirit: Why is that?

      Michael: You know why; just go over the previous dialogue for that. I don't want to go through all that again.

      Spirit: So why did you find my presence at least perhaps a bit unexpected?

      Michael: Again, the same. I'm not in tune with Spirit, for the reasons we discussed before. Most of the time I don't believe in your existence, even, these days. Perhaps even now I don't really; although when I do a dialogue, I act as if I do, and go through all the proper motions: praying for your presence, protection from adverse influences, and the like. No, more than going through the motions; I really try to do it all for real - but I don't know if I'm kidding either you, myself, or anyone else.

      Spirit: It's not a matter of kidding anyone. You are doing the right thing. It's not something you should do only if you believe, as if belief were some predefined, static state. Belief can grow with time; and it can wane sometimes, too, because it's a living, evolving, growing thing. It's not a static thing that's the same forever, and never changing. That's where some religious teachers have things wrong - at least, from my perspective.

      Michael: From your perspective. I now call you "Spirit" in these dialogues; I've come about as close as I'm ever likely to to having a dialogue with God - because "Spirit" is a term I often use for God, sometimes preferring it in order to avoid the religious baggage the name "God" carries. So your perspective is about as close to absolute, unchanging truth as I'm ever likely to encounter.

      Spirit: Yes, but that's the whole thing; truth just isn't that absolute, massive, monolithic, unchanging thing set in stone forever. (Perhaps it's no coincidence that the early received truth is portrayed in the Old Testament and in Jewish and Christian tradition as having come literally on stone tablets.) No, truth changes as the individual perceiving it grows - and also as the universe evolves - and also as God evolves, dare I suggest such a radical thing.
      And of course, the other important point is that anyone who receives information from God (such as you are now doing - didn't you just ask for information to come from God? - in your prayer, you used both the terms "God" and "Spirit") - anyone who receives information from God of necessity filters that through their own consciousness, and that does colour it. That's not a bad thing; it's just the way things work. Everyone filters whatever they receive from God (or Spirit, if you prefer) in that way, no matter how exalted their revelation might be. And that goes for the old prophets and religious leaders too, however much later religious authorities may represent it otherwise.


      Michael: Sorry - I'm not quite in the spirit of this, and my thoughts are not focused at all well tonight - or indeed, not well at any time these days.

      Spirit: Just relax, take it easy, and take your time - no-one's timing you, and you can use however much time you need. I know you came here tonight for a reason, and I'm here with you as long as you need, and we can just get round to the things you want to say when you're ready.

      Michael: Some would say having to stop and think is evidence that I'm not really channelling.

      Spirit: Forget what others think. They can go and do their own dialogues if they think there's a better way of doing it. I don't see a very high proportion of the population making any attempt to do this sort of thing, though, by any method. You and I are here to do things the way it works best for us - not to satisfy anyone else's ideas of how it should be done.
      Just take your time, relax, stop and have a break if you feel like it. It's not an exam, like in school.
      So how are you today?

      Michael: In what way? With the problems we were talking about before, or just in general?

      Spirit: In any way you wish to talk about.

      Michael: Well, not too good. My hearing problem is just as bad; in fact, it's rather bad today in particular. No doubt, it casts a shadow on everything I do, including this dialogue. And I'm bloody angry about it, too. I want to talk about nice, inspiring things here - I don't even especially want to talk about health problems - but that comes in and spoils the inspiring things I try to talk about at times.
      However, there was something that brought me here, and I guess I'll get onto that in a minute, and see what we can do. But I sometimes try putting off such discussions in the faint hope that my health will improve and the discussion will be better if we leave it till later.

      Spirit: Things change, though; and what you want to discuss might be forgotten if you leave it till a later time; or, if you still remember (or make notes of it), it may not seem so relevant. It's probably best to do it straight away if it's on your mind now; and if you feel it's spoilt, well no doubt other aspects of it that we miss this time will come up on a later occasion, if it's still of interest to you.

      Michael: There's a wonderful full moon tonight - well, very nearly full. Full moon was yesterday, actually, and the tiniest sliver of the moon's edge is missing tonight. But it was near enough to full to give that magical effect I like so much. There's a period of about 2 days on either side of the full moon where I consider that the moon is full enough to have the distinctive character of a full moon.

      Spirit: The time of the full moon is magical, actually. If only you could see into the astral and higher planes, and you could see how it affects the whole texture of what happens in and around your planet. Perhaps you will be able to one day.
      But all phases of the moon, and all seasons of the year, and all times of the day or night have their own particular magic, their own effects, their own atmosphere and character. But you happen to be receptive to the time of the full moon.

      Michael: I was once so attracted to the phrase "At the time of the full moon" that I once intended to actually make it the title of a story I wanted to write, which would take place over a few days before and after the point of full moon, and about how magical and wonderful events were tied up with the energy of the full moon. But in the end I never did anything about it - partly because I have fallen away from fiction-writing altogether; but in particular because I couldn't think of any story-line that would fit into such a scenario.

      Spirit: Well, no doubt, it's a subtle concept to try to turn into a story, and would take much thought, and much feeling also. If you feel able to get into fiction writing again, I think it would still be worth while keeping in mind, making notes about, and letting it develop over a long period of time.

      Michael: Yes, bit like another I had in mind: "When the Wind Changed". It was inspired by an actual scene I witnessed many years ago: I was with my parents in the car and we were driving down to Sorrento one hot, blistering summer afternoon [a] - the sort Melbourne sometimes has with searing, hot north winds, although my memory is of a heat-stifled stillness rather than an actual perceptible north wind. Quite quickly, clouds blew in from the west and covered the sky, while we were going south along Springvale Rd., I think, and literally within minutes there was a blustery, cold wind and slashing rain coming down at a 45-degree angle, twisting and turning in the wind. (Well, I wonder if in my memory I exaggerate it a bit - but that's the general effect, at least.)

      Spirit: Well, it would make a wonderful background to a story, and of course, being fiction, you wouldn't need to be constrained by the facts of the experience you actually had that day.

      Michael: It was only going to be a few pages long, a kind of sketch. But, once again, I couldn't think of a plausible idea or story-line to base it on. Many years later, I did think of an idea that perhaps could have grown - but by then I was well out of the way of writing stories at all.

      Spirit: Well, you could always go back to it again.

      Michael: I think I've lost the fire of imagination, somehow. Time's gone past, death approaches, depression robs my life of any sense of purpose, and I really don't know about that now. I think we touched on this in the last dialogue, too; I wasn't meaning to go into that again now.

      Spirit: Still, it's an issue you might have to explore further. You needn't worry that I will be put off by your being too gloomy or repetitive, as some might think of it.

      Michael: Sure; I have no problems with coming back to it - but only when I really do have something new to say about it. And I don't at the moment.

      Spirit: Anyway, think about the stories from time to time, at least. Don't rule it out completely. I still maintain that you have much to offer in the areas of writing and composing music that no-one else can do just the same way - as I have said consistently throughout the years you've been doing these dialogues - for of course you realize that the old "Bivalia" and I are, if not precisely the same entity, very much akin, at least. (Not precisely the same only because you appear to be broadening your concept of your Higher Self, as you formerly thought of it, to a more universal concept of Spirit, and developing a holistic view of all life - all things (at least those which are not divisive and unloving) - as a part of God.)
      So what was the idea that belatedly came to you for "When the Wind Changed"?

      Michael: I've partly forgotten it again, although I think I made a few notes of it somewhere. It centred around the idea you and I have developed in these dialogues about how natural phenomena have Spirit in them, but they are also subsets of broader phenomena, sort of like the Venn diagrams of set theory. So you have all these intersecting types of spirit which exist in different forms and on different scales on different levels, rather than all being discrete and separate spirits or entities like individual pebbles, or something. And I think I was going to allude to the spirit of summer, the spirit of rain (maybe not naming them as such), and then see them as parts of broader nature spirits, and so on, and I was going to have characters experience a change of wind in all its vividness, and have a sudden revelation of a new way of looking at the world in its spiritual aspects and change their whole outlook on life. I'm not sure that it ever got any more definite that things like that.

      Spirit: It sounds great. I'm sure, if you actually wrote it, the details would come to you as you needed them.

      Michael: I've developed similar ideas in great detail in these dialogues, so it's possible the story might be a bit lame because I've already expended much of the energy behind those ideas. Still, I'll keep it in mind.

      Spirit: So did you have any ideas, even just at that level of vagueness, concerning "At the Time of the Full Moon"?

      Michael: No - nothing at all. Well, except that I might have had something a bit science-fictiony in mind: you know, about planets and moons and space-travel and such like, which things like the moon could easily fit in with (conceivably the moon of another, Earth-like planet); or else maybe something of a fantasy type, with magical worlds, perhaps alluding to the astral world being treated as an alternative reality which characters can tap into.

      Spirit: Which of course it is in real life, if only people know how to tap into it. Don't ever lose sight of that, my friend, however distant and unlikely it seems to you at present.

      Michael: And I seem to think I had ideas of certain energies or influences being associated with the full moon, coming and going in cycles, and this would somehow transform the life of my characters (I suppose a bit like "When the Wind Changed", although in a different way), and that period of the full moon would have a certain magic to it.
      I'm vague because I really hadn't developed my ideas anything beyond that, much less developed a plot or created characters. But there are science-fiction stories of this type where cycles of celestial bodies have dramatic and life-transforming effects, such as Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall", about an Earth-like planet which has several suns in complex orbits around each other experiences darkness only once every few thousand years, as the orbits of those suns fall into a particular configuration, and they are all on the same side of the planet for a few hours. The people there never know darkness at any other time, so it is totally terrifying when it happens to them. Previous accounts of it happening are just like myths and legends to them. Asimov postulates in the story that the people would go insane from terror, and civilization would break down, and people get killed in the chaos, and when light returned again, society would have to build up everything from scratch all over again.
      A bit naive, in the sense that I have my doubts about whether the darkness would have that drastic an effect; at least, I wouldn't think humans would panic quite that totally, although it's difficult to tell. And an interesting point that I've read somewhere about this story is that you never know for sure whether the people on that planet are human, anyway. Certainly their names are a little unusual, but no mention is made of the people being human colonists of the planet; they just live there, and no details are given about their appearance, physiology, and so on. They may be a non-human race whose psychology is very different from humans, and perhaps they do panic at the advent of a darkness that most have never experienced, and have only heard myths about from thousands of years ago - myths where a similar catastrophe was spoken of. So perhaps the idea of darkness bringing catastrophe is credible, after all.
      But it is one of the seminal works of science-fiction, and in polls of science-fiction enthusiasts, it is repeatedly listed as the number one favourite story of all time. It was far from being Asimov's own favourite of all his own stories, though. And it's nowhere my favourite story, either. I think the idea behind it is brilliant, but the actual working-out of the plot is disappointingly fragmentary, with the story-line jumping from this idea to that. Each idea is interesting and relevant, but seems to be abandoned before its implications are properly worked out.
      And another story whose plot revolves around cycles of heavenly bodies: there was Syzygy by Michael Coney, in which a planet colonized by humans had five moons in differing orbits. It was a planet with much of its area covered by oceans, so the tidal patterns were immensely complex, and of central importance to all life on that planet, as you can imagine. And once every few hundred (thousand? - I forget) years, all the moons came together in the sky as their differing orbits came into phase briefly (hence the "Syzygy" of the book's title), and there were truly massive tides, far beyond even those in Canada's Bay of Fundy, which I believe has the Earth's biggest tides, at 40 feet or something. And the novel was set at a time when this syzygy was almost due, and everyone was anticipating it, and there was quite an apocalyptic feel to the novel as everyone wondered what effects the huge tide would have. And it did have dramatic effects, althoug it's so long since I've read the book that I don't remember what they were. But there was an ecological theme to the book, and I seem to recall those effects were ones that dramatically changed the ecology.
      So, in "At the Time of the Full Moon", I wasn't going to copy any of these ideas; but I did have in mind something that similarly had far-reaching effects which depended on the effects of the full moon. But the far-reaching effects would probably be more in the realm of consciousness or the emotional life of the characters, possibly even a bit spiritual or astral or occult, rather than something social or ecological, and I wanted it to have a life-transforming, uplifting effect, too, rather than the doom which those two stories seem to offer.
      So I guess that's sort of what I had in mind. I like the metaphors and scenarios and settings that science-fiction offers, and they are a real part of my imagination; but there is a realistic, prosaic effect of science-fiction which tends to exclude the spiritual, which I would not always want to emulate in my own writing.

      Spirit: Well, your idea for "At the Time of the Full Moon" sounds rich with potential anyway.
      So was it seeing the moon rise tonight that brought all this to mind?

      Michael: It brought ideas to mind; but some of this just came to mind while I was actually typing this dialogue.
      I think one of the problems I have with writing stories (and it's possibly one of the reasons I fell away from writing fiction, other than a general depression which made it, along with life itself, seem pointless) is that, in order to write a decent story, you need a real plot - and a real plot almost always involves conflict of some sort: one character or group of characters against another, a character against nature, or against the world in some sense, or even against himself in some kind of inner conflict. I have enough difficulty in life myself, and somehow I don't want to centre a story around more difficulty: I have enough difficulty in real life without putting energy into creating fictional conflict. I want to write about uplifting things: fulfilment, spiritual enlightenment - utopia or heaven or paradise in some sense (symbolic, if not literal); but if you have that, there can't be conflict, almost by definition; and without conflict, it's almost impossible to create a story. Everything's nice and peaceful, and no doubt enjoyable for the characters - but it might tend to be boring for readers to read about.
      It's a strange paradox (I don't remember if I've mentioned it before in these dialogues): but what's enjoyable to read about in novels or watch in movies is directly opposite to what's enjoyable in real life. No-one enjoys conflict and difficulty and pain in real life, but they are the very things that make a novel un-put-downable; and everyone enjoys a peaceful, happy life, but a novel which had nothing but that would probably be intolerably dull and boring.

      Spirit: Yes, I see what you mean. I don't think this need rule out your writing fiction, though. It might lead to your writing a different kind of fiction from much other work, though.
      You probably do have to keep the element of conflict and pain, though, and characters struggling for what they want, but don't have. But that paradisiac vision that seems to haunt you can still be at the heart of a novel, and the end towards which it's all leading, and the struggle to realize that can be precisely what the novel is about. Not that you need explicitly talk about it in everything you write; but even in works that appear to be about more ordinary, worldly concerns could still be underpinned by that vision. It would shine through if handled right, even if it didn't hit the reader over the head. (I would probably agree that readers occasionally need to be hit over the head with a broader vision which they so often lose sight of; but I would also agree that they don't need to be hit over the head every time they read a book.)

      Michael: I sort of agree, but just don't quite see how I can realize it in practice. But I still think I've got one or two novels in me, if not quite the whole series I once envisioned.
      I might come back to this a bit later in this session; but I'm in danger of losing the point I wanted to discuss tonight, while it's fresh in mind - to do with the moon. That bit about the problems of fiction-writing I see was a bit of a diversion, although it leads into important areas I want to discuss with you. Everything in my life is all intertwined in the end, it seems to me.

      Spirit: Yes, all of life is, actually, if you can see things broadly enough.

      Michael: Anyway, I did want to discuss tonight's full moon (or just-past-full-moon).

      Spirit: Our last discussion was on Wednesday, 3 October - thirty days ago. It must have been close to the full moon then. That seems a bit more than a coincidence to me. It would be an interesting exercise to make a list of all the dates you write these dialogues (or do anything creative, but the dialogues would be the easiest things to date precisely), and see what phases of the moon they fall on. Statistically, they should be distributed evenly around the whole lunar cycle; but I wonder whether they would in fact depart significantly from that. I won't make a firm prediction as to what would result - but it seems to me you are especially stimulated at the time of the full moon.

      Michael: I've heard people say that it is a general tendency. Apparently people who work with inmates of psychiatric hospitals just take for granted that patients are especially difficult to handle at the time of the full moon, although I've only heard that by hearsay, and haven't heard such people with direct experience comment on it themselves.
      But I have a feeling we touched on this last month; I just got the memory that we had mentioned that this was supposedly the origin of the term "lunatic".

      Spirit: So tell me how you came into contact with the Moon tonight.

      Michael: Come into contact? You make it sound like contacting a living being, perhaps an old friend.

      Spirit: Well, is this not so? You must realize, with your awareness of the moods of the moon, that it has a real energy, a consciousness - that it is alive, if you like, although such descriptions can be a bit simplistic at times.

      Michael: Simplistic? You mean the Moon is more than alive?

      Spirit: No, not necessarily. Just that consciousness pervades the universe in varying degrees and of differing types, and that to call things "living" or "non-living" in a black-and-white fashion oversimplifies the matter. There is no sharp division between life and non-life, and, wherever you arbitrarily choose to set the boundary, you will sooner or later come across entities that don't fall clearly on one side or the other. Superficially, it may appear that the moon is a dead ball of rock, but if you probe into the essence of things, you will find that it definitely has a consciousness and an energy of its own, like all heavenly bodies - like all things, ultimately, in fact - although without a doubt that energy is very different from the energy of those things conventionally called "living".
      For most purposes, I prefer to avoid classifications such as "living" and "non-living", and prefer to take the energy of any entity on its own terms.
      So, when you see the full moon (or the moon in any phase, or the sun, and so on), and you get a familiar feeling, and it brings back all sorts of memories of earlier experiences, you can be sure that you are encountering that energy in a very direct sense - meeting it again, if you like to think of it in such terms. If something has a huge, complex, multi-levelled overlay of intersecting memories and feelings associated with it, which come to mind when you encounter it again, you can be sure that you have had much involvement with that something in the past - whether earlier in this life-time, or in previous stages of existence, or both. This appears to be the case with the moon and you. That's why, of all things in your world, the moon is perhaps the single thing that most often arouses in you half-forgotten memories and great, wonderful longings you can't identify.

      Michael: I can't tell for sure; but what you say feels right, anyway.
      And it occurs to me that cycles are active at present, a bit like the cycles in those two science-fiction stories I mentioned. Well, I suppose they are always active - but certain features of cycles are particularly noticeable to me at present. We've already mentioned the seeming coincidence of these dialogues coinciding with the full moon. And we also discussed the numerology of the dates these dialogues seem to occur on - how there are, in these present months, so many zeros, ones, and twos occurring. Look at the date of this dialogue, in the year/month/day format I use for naming the files: 20011102 - absolutely chock full of them. I'm not a numerologist, and I don't know what it means, and numerologists seem to examine only the date of your birth, not the date of events in your life. But I can't help noticing it, and it seems as if it might mean something, if numerology itself means anything.

      Spirit: There are many cycles in life, most of them ultimately based on the movements of heavenly bodies. (And some people doubt the influence of those bodies, or minimize it?) I can't really go into numerology with you, since I don't see that it's a deep part of your consciousness, although you are open-minded about it - and I converse with you by working through the ideas that are deeply a part of you. But I agree with your suggestion that it may be a bit limited to confine one's attention to the numerology of one's birth, and that it may have application to many other events, too. And, yes, there certainly are a lot of those numbers in these closing months of the year 2001. 1 and 2 are considered very basic numbers, representing a basic masculine/feminine, postive/negative, sun/moon, active/passive, creative/receptive, yang/yin polarity, and so I guess one can expect these to be times of conflict: both personal, as you attest in this and the previous dialogues - and publicly, too. (As if one needed reminding, with the recent terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon [b], and the disturbing signs of a brewing jihad or so-called "holy war" - a stupid oxymoron, if ever there was one: a "holy war"! As if Allah, or God, needed people to kill to defend his name or reputation.)
      Yes, these are difficult times. Perhaps it is a reflection of the constant mixing of all those 1s and 2s in the year, month, and day numbers; and perhaps the zeroes just magnify it all. I don't know; I'm not into numerology, either, and perhaps any numerologist who reads this will smile knowingly and shoot us down in flames (pardon the militaristic imagery - perhaps it's difficult to evade at the present time). But that was my gut feeling about it, just as it came up now in our discussion.
      But perhaps there is slightly comforting news in the fact that 2 is now established as the millennium number, and the more passive, feminine, intuitive, receptive influence of that will come to pervade the entire millennium ahead, and the masculine aggression of the 1 (which can sometimes express itself as a kind of macho bullying attitude) will fade, and become more localized as it come in and out of month and day numbers.
      The day and month numbers which change more frequently have more acute effects which are highly noticeable, but in the end they don't run all that deep. The year numbers are sort of middling on the acute/chronic spectrum; but the decade, century, and millennium numbers progressively change more slowly, act in a less immediately noticeable but more chronic way that runs deeper into the essence of things, and can define the basic aura or mood of whole historical periods or eras or epochs. Perhaps we've had enough "one" essence pervading your planet over the last millennium, and could do with a bit of "two" for the next millennium to balance things up a bit. (And I suppose, although, as we agreed a couple of dialogues back, the millennium begins with 2001 for ordinary historical purposes, from a strict numerological point of view, it presumably does begin with 2000, because in numerology the actual digits are what count.)
      And here endeth the first and last lesson on numerology, which I really don't know anything about.

      Michael: Well, I've heard John C. King and Frank [c] talk about numerology over the years, so I've probably picked up a few ideas, at least (I can't vouch for the accuracy of what you just said, though) - and you picked it up and put it in your explanation.

      Spirit: That's how I work; I always work with what's deep in your mind, not by inserting ideas that are totally foreign to you; that's how God and Spirit work with everyone. (They may introduce new ideas, but always by linking it with what's already in your mind.) That is the way one develops awareness of Spirit - not by studying and learning fixed doctrines that are supposed to be the same for everyone, but aren't. Not that learning can't be useful, if it is carefully selected to suit your needs; but one should not attribute to it things it cannot do.
      So, using the numerology example, this is how that idea would work out. Numerology, as you know, is a highly detailed sphere of knowledge that can take many years to learn fully and feel deeply (as are the Tarot, astrology, and so on). Its advocates sometimes think it would be good for everyone to learn it, because it would sweep away their scepticism with its accuracy, and give them penetrating insight into other people and into their own lives.
      However, I wouldn't necessarily go as far as this. If you encounter it, and it even passingly piques your interest, I would suggest that someone takes a look at it, and tries as hard as possible to be open-minded about it and receptive to any truth it may bring. But if someone does that, and it just doesn't seem credible to them, doesn't resonate with them deep inside, I would not then advocate persisting with it even though it might become boring. If it isn't deep inside, doesn't make sense, doesn't connect with what you already know, then it's best to just leave it alone, and devote your time and energy to other things instead. That knowledge is not fixed and firm like steel, able to affect everyone equally. It is fluid like water, and adapts itself to the situation of any individual who opens himself or herself to it open-mindedly.

      Michael: We've diverged again. We were talking about cycles: of the moon, in the numbers of recent dates, and so on. But it does seem a significant theme. One of my haiku which we discussed before alludes to cycles. And, I'm not sure if we've discussed it here, but in the notes to the haiku, I did discuss the conflicting views of time that different spiritual paths or religions take to time: some have a very cyclic view, and some have a non-cyclic view where the important things happen only once in all time. And I tentatively advocated the view that maybe the real view of time incorporates both cyclic events and non-cyclic events (or singularities, I called them).

      Spirit: I thought that note was quite perceptive actually, and it is the way I see things. (Is that surprising? You seem to write with my voice on such things, even when you are not having a dialogue and explicitly receiving my words.)

      Michael: But there are people with very different spiritual views. Are they speaking with the voice of Spirit, too? In other words, is that how Spirit sees things?

      Spirit: It is, for them. That is the part of Spirit they see, and the part they express; either there is a part of Spirit that holds such views, or perhaps (if it is something obviously unloving or divisive) it's a distortion of a part of what Spirit holds as truth, caused by its being filtered through their own minds (as all spiritual knowledge or belief is filtered).
      It's a difficult question, and it does come down to the inherently subjective nature of spiritual truth: it will come out differently for different people. I know some people vehemently deny that, but I don't see how you can evade it. If they think one view (their own, naturally) can prevail over all others, and be true for everyone, I challenge them to show how that can be so. Naturally, I (that is, the piece of God you can tune into) see some of those other views as wrong, or at least as more limited than the one I am expressing in these dialogues, for example; but those other people, if they think about things, will no doubt say exactly the reverse, and see you and me as narrow and bigoted. We just have to let it be, and follow our own paths as long as they seem useful or at least credible, and until we find something better. And it's okay to just leave things like that, so long as we don't let our ego depend on our own view being the most correct one.
      But, on the cyclic vs. non-cyclic question, yes, what you wrote in the notes to your haiku is pretty well how I see things. If others disagree, fine; they have every right to disagree. If people even disagree with your and my concept of the subjectivity of spiritual truth, of its variability from one person to another or from one time to another, then once again fine. If they want to insist that their view is the only correct one, though, and that it applies to everyone, and that other views are incorrect; well, then, let them prove it - if they can. You and I don't have that problem because we just quietly hold our views, and are not concerned with trying to prove their truth to those who are unreceptive to those ideas.

      Michael: Well, all this is very interesting; but I still haven't got onto the moon tonight.

      Spirit: Please proceed.

      Michael: Because I live away from most people I know, and most things I do, I probably drive a lot more than average. At times I've even been known to drive just because I feel like it, for something to do when I've got nothing better to do. Or sometimes I want to go somewhere a bit out of the way to get something to eat, or some iced coffee (my favourite drink), just for variety. And there is a café in Warrandyte called Lobosco's which has the most sensational iced coffee I've had in years. I often go past there to have one on the way to or from my mother's, or on other occasions when I'm out driving. This has almost become a ritual with overtones that seem to go deeper than it would appear on the surface. (I seem to be developing a few rituals in my life, I've become aware. I might come back to that another time or even later in this session, if there's time.)
      Nearby, there is a road called Harris Gully Rd., which goes through a valley, that being (I suppose) Harris Gully. Warrandyte is still a semi-rural area, I suppose a bit like Belair in the Adelaide hills where I spent the first half of my childhood. It's a very nice area, actually, with the Yarra River and lots of winding roads and trees. There are houses along Harris Gully Rd., but they are sparse, and the sides of the valley are covered with trees. And a few months ago, I happened to drive along there one clear late-winter evening, and I saw the moon rising over the ridge to the right, illuminating the trees in a special way.
      Well, the magic of that was indescribable, and it seemed to stir up all kinds of forgotten memories. I don't know if it's really any different to other moonlit scenes - all moonlit scenes have a certain magic to them for me, but this seemed special somehow, and I can't say why. I suppose it's just something about that hillside and the trees, with other hills beyond that faintly visible when you're at the top of the valley where the road descends from the ridge to the west and into the valley itself - and something about the way the eastern ridge parallels the road, I suppose some hundreds of feet up the hillside.

      Spirit: So what memories did this stir up? This seems a powerful instance of you tuning into the spirit of a place.

      Michael: I once talked about what I called "magic spots", and said Adelaide had a number of them for me. Magic spots are places which, often for no visible reason, seem at an instinctive level to fascinate me, to haunt me, to appear in my dreams, to remind me of what might be lost memories, which seem familiar even the first time I visit them. There were lots of them in my childhood, perhasp fewer now, and it's not so common for me to discover new ones now, although I can still have thoughts triggered when I visit old ones. But Harris Gully Rd., especially in the moonlight, seems to be a magic spot.
      There are one or two others within a few miles of Warrandyte, too, including a very short dead-end road leading off another road with trees surrounding it; a most unlikely one, actually - but this business of magic spots seems to work by pure feeling, pure instinct, and you can't reason about it.

      Spirit: I wouldn't try to. Thank goodness you are still able to be open to things that lie beyond reason and logic.

      Michael: I guess so. I tend to be a logic-dominated person, and often, even against my wishes, tend to shove aside non-logical things as not being credible. But pure logic gives me a very bleak view of life, because it inevitably, like an arrow to its target, leads to a very Dawkins-inspired Selfish-Gene view of life (natural selection, survival of the fittest, the ruthlessness of nature, and so on) [d]. Only those things that lie beyond logic, that (frankly) don't usually seem all that credible to me, give me a sense of wonder, seem to beckon me towards things that can offer hope for the future - even hope beyond death. And those magic spots are just one of those things. I have been known to drive some distance out of my way just to see a magic spot again, to drink in its atmosphere. There's one in Coldstream some 10 miles or so from Healesville I haven't been back to since - but I might go there again one day.

      Spirit: If I might suggest a little exercise to do, perhaps you might like to make a list of these magic spots as they occur to you, and maybe write descriptions of them, letting your imagination go wherever it wants to.

      Michael: Well, I've never been big on exercises of that sort: they seem a bit contrived somehow, and I would be very self-conscious and my writing would be stilted.

      Spirit: Well, work it into one of our dialogues - you're certainly anything but stilted there. I'm willing to talk about these magic spots as much as you like, or to just mostly listen if a monologue seems the best way of talking about it; I think this is something that is of importance to your spiritual world and viewpoint, and that's what we're here to discuss. I'm here just as much to listen as to talk to you.
      I know you want to write your autobiography; work it into that, if you prefer - because, with your outer life being on the whole quite uneventful, I know you intend that autoboiography to have an inner focus. Do that. But I think you should be writing all this inner life of yours; both for your own benefit, and because it might one day appeal to others, might be just what someone else needs to read at some time.

      Michael: I even have fictitious magic spots; and they are of two different types.
      Some are in my dreams: places or locations that appear in my dreams, sometimes repeatedly; and these might either be similar to (but not exactly the same as) real places, or they might be totally imaginary, not in the real world.
      The other variety are just places that have grown in my imagination, but which aren't real (to my knowledge), and don't appear in my dreams either. Possibly some of these are (or were) real, but I've just forgotten them consciously. Others may have been suggested by scenes in novels or other reading I've done, and then maybe gradually modified by my own imagination. And I think yet others are purely my own creation, for no reason I can think of: I didn't deliberately invent them, but they just somehow came into existence over a vague period of time, and developed their own identity.

      Spirit: Write about those, too. I believe it will be good for you to do this. Writing is obviously, for you, a central way of expressing yourself - and everyone needs to do that in one form or another.
      You could write an essay called "Magic Spots" or something, and explore this world in all its detail, what it means to you, why those places (real or imaginary) are magic, and so on. It could then become a chapter (or chapters, plural) in your autobiography, if you go on to write that; or you could weave bits into various chapters, according to how they seem to fit thematically.

      Michael: I can imagine some people seeing this as the apotheosis of self-indulgence and self-absorption (if my dialogues aren't already that).

      Spirit: Let them think what they like. Yes, a lot of people will think that. Either accept it, or don't show them what you write. What does it matter? I think you are getting beyond the kind of thinking that says you mustn't do things just because others don't approve of them. After all, many of those conformist thinkers accept a consensus reality which you don't accept, anyway.
      What's self-indulgence, anyway? Stripped of its judging, moralizing overtones, it's essentially doing something for yourself, which all humans do anyway - they have to, in order to survive and remain sane and healthy. Let's not be too precious about this, and do things for ourselves, but pretend we're not doing it. You have to look after your own health in all its forms: physical, mental, emotional, creatilve, imaginative, spiritual, and so on, if you are to have a chance of being able to benefit others (if those moralizers think that's the main thing you should be concerned with instead of "indulging" yourself).
      If we want to get into moralizing, the measure as I see it is to consider the effects something will have on others. I know there are moral ambiguities where it's not clear whether certain effects are acceptable or not, or whether one evil effect (if some detriment to others is unavoidable) is preferable to another - but, at least as a broad principle, if something doesn't hurt anyone else, then it's okay to do it, no matter how much some think it is "selfish" or "self-indulgent", etc., and it's nobody else's business to criticize it. Clearly your writing is in this harmless category, assuming you don't libel or otherwise abuse other people in what you say, which I can't quite see you doing.
      As we both know, you have emotional and mental health problems: so if you really need a justification for such writing that you can trot out to others to make them or you feel better about it, you can consider it as self-therapy. And it would be no lie, either: I believe it would benefit you in a way that could be considered legitimate therapy, which would probably do you more good than many psychiatrists, for example, would be able to do.

      Michael: Hey, it was just a throw-away remark; I wasn't quite castigating myself that much.

      Spirit: I just said it because, nonetheless, I do at times detect in you a bit of self-criticism about your writing: you wonder (sometimes in these dialogues, sometimes to others) whether it's a bit "up yourself" to be writing like this, or to write your autobiography, and so on. You've admitted that self-consciousness about the autobiography is one reason why you wrote a few chapters a decade or two ago, and have let it slide since.

      Michael: Okay; I suppose I see your point.

      Spirit: We've strayed again; but that's part of what these dialogues are about. We probably shouldn't use the term "strayed", as if there were a set agenda. But there are threads to explore, and perhaps we should try to conclude them. Moonrise - magic spots - writing; that's how we got off the track.

      Michael: I also got distracted because I wondered whether I had mentioned the Coldstream magic spot in an earlier dialogue. I did a search, and it appears not; quite likely it was in a letter or e-mail to my friend Roger in France. I'm not sure if he shares my interest in such ideas, but he seems to be one of very few people I can talk about them with. He rarely comments on them, though, and he rarely talks about his own inner life, although I'd love him to; but I suspect his inner life is really very different from mine, and perhaps he thinks inner things ought to be totally private, whereas I tend to blurt them out, not to just anyone, but to anyone who seems receptive. But he's not judgemental, and seems to accept the expression of all sorts of ideas. Maybe he thinks I'm crackers, but still seems to accept me as a friend.

      Spirit: Accepting someone even if you don't agree with their ideas is one of the tests of a real friendship. I can see why you feel that way about him. I actually feel, though, that he is quite open, but doesn't let on everything that he knows or feels.
      I think what you just send strengthens my idea that you should write about these things. You've written things in these dialogues, other related things in letters or e-mails to this person or that, and they're all scattered in different bits of writing. It would be nice to gather them all and put them into a single, coherent narrative of some sort.

      Michael: Yes, I agree; it's a matter of getting around to it, and there's a huge amount of stuff, probably many thousands of pages. I have to face the fact that it may never get done.

      Spirit: That would be a pity.

      Michael: I would also have to rewrite much of the stuff, provide linking passages, and so on, so it all makes sense. I think that was what my autobiography was going to do. So it's more than just collecting the stuff and putting it together.
      Anyway, you asked me what memories Harris Gully in the moonlight seemed to stir up a few months ago (we haven't even got to tonight yet); and I started to explain by talking about magic spots. I will try to pick it up from there, because I hadn't finished with that.
      As I said, magic spots often seem to remind me of memories I can't identify, and give me a sense of déjà vu - I've been here before, I've seen it before, although in some cases I'm sure I haven't seen it before, or even anything like it. Maybe sometimes I've seen something similar, although in some cases I feel that was pretty unlikely. Who knows why it happens?
      On some occasions, the place reminds me of old memories I can identify, but I can't work out why; and this seems to be one of them. When I lived with my family in the Adelaide hills, in Belair and Stirling, we often drove to Melbourne during school holidays because most of our relatives were in Melbourne, including my mother's brother and his family, and my maternal grandmother. These were probably the relatives we were closest to. (And you must remember I was born in Melbourne, but we moved to Adelaide when I was four or so, because my father was transferred by his firm to Adelaide to manage the branch there.) And so it was natural for us to go to Melbourne for school holidays at least once every year, possibly twice in some years, or even maybe three times. (I don't remember details of this sort.)
      We must have done that all-day drive well over a dozen times (well over two dozen, if you count coming and going separately) between 1958 and 1967, at the beginning of which we moved back to Melbourne to live (when I was nearly 13), and that drive is inextricably woven into the fabric of my childhood, a part of my inner landscape, if I can so term it - the whole world of my imagination. It was nearly 500 miles, so the drive took all day, and we would often get up around 4.00 a.m. to get an early start, sometimes even before the sun rose (depending on the time of the year). And those mornings had a real sense of excitement and anticipation, and it was marvellous to see the sun rise and the hills come to life as we were already on the road. And it was nice to stop somewhere for lunch, perhaps walk around a bit before hitting the road again. And maybe (especially on the way home, when we were travelling westwards) we would see spectacular sunsets too, near the end of the journey. Over the years I got to know Highway 8 (the main road from Adelaide to Melbourne) so well that I knew what was around every corner, and I don't think I ever tired of that drive. (Well, I probably did on some occasions, but I don't think I did on the whole.)
      And what Harris Gully reminded me of was those drives - in particular the early-morning starts. I don't know why. The moonlit Harris Gully was in early evening, with the moon rising over the ridge, and the early morning starts would have involved sunrise, not moonrise. I can't figure it out; but the feeling which links the two seems to be there. Perhaps, with a bit of imagination I can imagine an early evening scene as being an early morning one, and maybe the moon is setting, not rising, and the ridge is to the west, not the east. But that's only a guess; I can't analyze it, and I have the feeling, but the feeling doesn't actually come with that explanation.

      Spirit: This is very interesting. It seems like a cross-linking, perhaps on the astral plane (hence the strong emotional feeling it arouses), of phenomena that are different, but have certain points in common. Maybe it's like a spiritual version of the Chinese Whispers game [e], where a message is passed down a line of people and it changes subtly along the way because of little mistakes people make in repeating the message. Maybe this harks back to memories of a previous life; the strength and inexplainability of these feelings seems to indicate that.
      I can't really explain it at this time, either. Not everything spiritual (for these feelings seem quite spiritual to me, even if they arise out of everyday memories) can be explained, and it doesn't have to be. It is good to be aware of these things, though.

      Michael: I don't think it's any secret that I feel my life is declining in various ways, with my recent tinnitus problems just topping it off. As this happens, I think my early memories are looming larger than before - as if I'm losing hope for the future, so I'm taking refuge in a rosy view of the past.

      Spirit: Well, this can happen. I probably wouldn't want to be too obsessed over it, but I wouldn't try to banish it from your mind, either. I think writing about it would be the best way of dealing with it; perhaps there's unresolved stuff that might come out, and it will all sort itself out.

      Michael: I'm writing about it now, and I don't notice anything coming to light or getting sorted out.

      Spirit: It doesn't always happen immediately; it can take weeks, months, or years. But perhaps a continuous autobiographical account would give a sense of continuity, and a point of view different from these dialogues (although I would never be very distant from it) that might deal with it better. I don't know; but it's worth considering.

      Michael: That's a bit of a lark: Spirit (God, if one prefers) saying it or he "doesn't know" in reply to a question.

      Spirit: It's only weird if you have the "wise old man" image of God - a sort of super-human. But if you have a less anthropomorphic view of God, and think of him (or it) as a kind of spiritual ideal, the source of love, and various other things that can only hint at the wonderfully indescribable, then it's not so strange. God is in large part unknowable in his/its totality to human consciousness at this stage of evolution (I say nothing about the future), and glimpses are all anyone gets. And of course, as you try to filter information from that unknowable but wonderful entity you call God or Spirit, you will often draw blanks.
      I simply can't explain all things, although I know you would like me to be able to. Some people think God knows everything, and then they have to choose to assume one of two alternatives: either he refuses to answer some things, which then makes him appear a bit miserable, especially if the question if vitally important; or else he does answer (so the person thinks), but cannot demonstrate such answers to be true, or even to have been properly given. In short, the idea of a God who can and does give answers out of the blue to people who ask him to doesn't really have a lot of evidence to support it. There is just too much that remains unanswered, in spite of millennia of searching for answers (such as the question of why pain and suffering exist), for it to be credible that God gives answers to such questions. That seems a dead end way of thinking to me, and if you are to progress, you must examine alternative models of God.

      Michael: I've been saying this for years. But those who don't agree probably don't accept what I say.

      Spirit: Don't worry about it. I wouldn't try to say those things except to those who seem receptive. I know you feel a deep need to have receptive people to talk about these things with, and maybe that's one reason you started these dialogues - you could create in me a counsellor who was receptive. (And I don't think either of us see any contradiction between the idea of you creating me (as you did to some extent; everyone creates God in their own image - everyone), and the idea of me being real.) But if I seem inadequate (and your silence for months at a time in these dialogues indicates that sometimes you do find me inadequate), you might like to look for like-minded people, perhaps in some New-Age groups. I know you often feel out of place with many such groups - but there are some people there you would feel a kinship with. On a different tangent, you might like to apply for Mensa membership. I feel you'd meet the testing requirements with no difficulty, and you would find an incredible variety of people who (because of the testing requirements to join Mensa) tend to have active minds and imaginations, some of whom might have something in common with you.

      Michael: That sounds a bit elitist; all the brains get together, leaving the common people out. If we cut out the politically correct bullshit, what you're saying is that I'd find intelligent people whose brains would be a better match for my own brains than would most people in the population at large.
      I don't especially like that kind of thinking, even though I am aware of approximately where I am in the I.Q. scale. And intelligence is not the only thing I value, either; I also value imagination, and a spiritual vision (not necessarily - probably not - associated with formal religion), a healthy emotional life (although I don't have it), and so on. I sometimes think I've got too much intelligence (whatever that is, anyway - it's extraordinarily difficult to define) for my own good, and for my own peace of mind, and I might be happier if I had a more ordinary I.Q. But the way I am, it does make me top-heavy in the logic department, which is a stumbling block for me we've discussed a number of times in these dialogues.

      Spirit: You're probably right; but you're the way you are, and it can't be changed, short of drastic measures such as a lobotomy (which no doctor would ever do for non-medical reasons, even if you wanted it, which I know you don't). You have to use what you've got, and follow directions that are compatible with it.
      And you misinterpreted what I said about Mensa - deliberately, I think, to make a point in a dramatic fashion. Maybe some people join Mensa just so they can show off their braininess by bragging about their membership or the bright people they know - in effect to use it as a status symbol they can clash to let everyone know they're there. (I think you first read that pun in Reader's Digest.) Such people are really trying to compensate for feelings of inferiority, clinging to the only positive attribute they feel they have.
      But if some people do that, it need be of no concern to you; I'm sure Mensa is also a very useful channel for people simply to find others like themselves, like many other associations are. And no-one pretends that one's intelligence is simply one's I.Q. score; Mensa simply use that as a crude measuring tool to try to focus the membership that joins; most organizations have some kind of qualification for entry so that members can join and find others of similar interests and temperament. And you surely are aware that intelligence, not merely being your I.Q., covers a whole range of mental attributes that can cover those other things you value, such as creativity, the spiritual vision, and so on.
      I don't want to go into this further; I just leave you with the suggestion that if you want to search promising places for company more likely than average to give you satisfaction, New-Age groups and Mensa are two possibilities I can think of; I'm sure there would be many others, if you thought about it.
      I find it a little precious for you to raise questions of political correctness about intelligence and I.Q., because I know you are aware that these two suggestions are good ones for you to follow, and I was just bringing those to your attention - not raising debating points about political correctness and elitism. It's up to you whether you follow those suggestions or not; if loneliness becomes too much of a problem, I suggest you give these ideas a try. You worry about your life declining, getting a bit obsessed with the significance of rituals that develop in your life, you wonder if you get too preoccupied with early memories - you've brought all these things up in this dialogue. I think you need someone to talk about these things with; you need to make friends. I think that would help sort things out.

      Michael: Again, another unintended by-way.

      Spirit: Hey, life's full of them - if you really think my thoughts on how you might help improve your life are a mere by-way. Let's just accept that it is for a moment, for the sake of argument.
      If you removed all by-ways from life, what would be left? Seriously - what would be? Who can say what parts of life are essential, and what parts mere by-ways? If you want to pursue that, perhaps the nihilists are right that, in the end, nothing counts, nothing matters; anything can be seen as a distraction from other things you judge to be more important; but what do you do when you work out what the most important thing is? Because it is the most important thing, there is nothing else it can be seen as subservient to, or a distraction from. What's to stop you from saying that even that is not important, if you model your life on a hierarchy of some things being more important than others.
      If you don't want to subscribe to that idea, I don't think there is much future in trying to sort out the by-ways of life from its main business (well, not too seriously - anything's fine for an idle thought or an interesting discussion). That's not to say you shouldn't make choices, and make them carefully - which is to say, deciding to treat some things as more important, and others as less important. It's a choice you make though (or allow others, or life in the abstract, to make for you), and you do that for the purpose of organizing your life, deciding your direction, and so on; and it shouldn't be confused with making in-principle judgements about the inherent importance of things. I think that's best left up to God or Spirit (or whatever), and it seems to me that when humans try to rule on what's most important, they really botch it up, and rarely come up with answers that work well.
      If you put things like truth, love, unity, open-mindedness, creativity, and so on at the top, you probably won't go far wrong; but humans put such things at the top comparatively rarely (oh, they say it - ad nauseam; but I'm talking about the things they live by, not merely say). They far more often put at the top various mundane concerns, or questionable values such as intolerance, power, or exclusiveness, which they often try to make others accept as the most important thing, too. A classic example is people who insist that their religion, with all its dogmas and standards, is the nmost important thing in life, and can't accept that others see things differently. And just look at the values of most politicians, business leaders, and so on. They all presume to tell people what's most important in life.
      It is simply beyond human knowledge what is inherently, universally most important in life, as against what they as individuals should treat as important, and such questions can never be resolved to everyone's satisfaction. They are interesting philosophical points to debate, but I know you've thought about them - perhaps a little too intensely at times - and found that such thoughts tend to lead to a nihilistic view of life. You can always argue for the unimportance of anything in life if you want to.

      Michael: Well, that was certainly a reply to my remark about our following another unintended by-way. I just said that because I was going to resume about the full moon and Harris Gully.

      Spirit: Yes, I know. But if you run out of time (and I think you are starting to think about time), we can always continue another time.

      Michael: Anyway, I was talking about the particular atmosphere the full moon rising over Harris Gully had two or three months ago. Last night (and I have to call it that now, it being well into Saturday, 3 November now) I decided to drive along there at a time when I thought the moon would be just high enough, neither too low nor too high, to give the right effect. I was in the area a bit too early, and I wanted to do this sufficiently that I just drove around to pass time until the moon rose. That's an example of what I meant about rituals assuming an importance perhaps beyond their due, but I wouldn't say to the point of obsession (yet). I've been wanting to see that sight for a few months, but it's been too cloudy for the last couple of full moons. But it was quite clear tonight. (And I saw the moment the moon rose from a high point, but that's quite a different thing.)
      A bit later on, I passed through Harris Gully with the moon at just the right height; but, a bit to my surprise I didn't get the magic effect of before.

      Spirit: If you are trying too self-consciously to relive effects like that, they can vanish a bit at times. The actual feel is less physical and more astral than you may be aware. I think C. S. Lewis (in very different language) suggested this in one of his books (I'm sorry, I don't recall which one); he suggested that an attempt to relive moments like this makes them vanish, whereas the best thing is to just be open, but not cling to them too much, and new moments of wonder will come into your life all the time.
      And he's right; as a child, actually experiencing those moments of wonder you now recall nostalgically, you probably just enjoyed them, but didn't try to endlessly relive them; you probably didn't think it was anything special while you were enjoying it, but simply moved on to the next thing when it was over. To some extent (I don't say fully), one's childhood memories are a partial reconstruction in later years.

      Michael: I guess this may be right; and I did hear some months ago that some psychologists thought that every time we recalled an earlier event, we didn't merely look at a memory stored in the brain and then leave it untouched; we actually (according to this theory, which may not be verified yet), we actually remove the memory, think about it, and perhaps accidentally change it a bit by putting emphasis on certain points or glossing a bit over others, and we then write the new version of the memory back where the original version was, on top of it.
      I find that a bit alarming, in a way. It means our memory is very unreliable (well, I think that's been known for a while), and it seems to lend scientific credibility to the idea that memory can never be reliable. It turns the whole structure of human memory into a constant game of Chinese Whispers [e]. The worst thing about it is that everday experience of how the human mind works seems to support this view of things. Any judge or barrister knows how completely unreliable even the most apparently solid testimony, the most precise memory, can be.

      Spirit: If it's of any comfort, it does not change the akashic records, which keep a true version of eveyrthing that ever happens in the universe. But perhaps that's a bit academic for anyone (most people in incarnation) who can't read the akashic records. This is a skill whose day is yet to come, however. It will come in big, though, when humanity is ready to handle this skill without abusing it.

      Michael: But does your remark about the ability to relive things being limited mean that things can never be experienced again. I know it kind of sounds silly, maybe even a bit infantile; but I do at times ache to relive certain things. Some things I've experienced seem so sweet, and seem so full of significance beyond their face value, that to run through them again would seem wonderful.

      Spirit: Well, it's a commonplace in your world that time never stands still, that things change and never come back again. As I said, more of such experiences is astral that it might appear casually. Much more of life, full-stop, is astral than it appears on the surface - and mental, and so on, all the way up through the planes of existence, right up to the very top of pure Spirit. The physical plane can be approximately visualized as a funny little bit dangling off the lower end of the whole structure consisting of all the planes of existence, and is much less central than those in it tend (quite understandably) to believe.
      Probably you can't ever completely relive something while on Earth; although, if you make enough effort, and have a bit of luck with being in the right mood, and so on, you can sometimes get a reasonable approximation. It's never quite the same, though. That's because only the physical resemblance is there - but, on all the other levels of existence from the astral up, things are completely different, and this is invisible to most people, and controllable by even fewer people who are still in the physical.
      That's on Earth. I can say that, after you reach certain levels of evolution on planes beyond the physical, there is nothing you can't do. And people can relive whatever they choose to, in full, vivid detail. You can effectively take bits of the akashic records and just play them - live them, in fact, like virtual reality - you know, the computer simulations with helmets, gloves, and the works. And the akashic version of that is far better than that.
      However, the ability to do this is perhaps not as important to spiritual growth as you imagine, but it can be done - and people do it sometimes, for a bit of relaxation, or to share old memories or jokes. Occasionally it is also useful for resolving old matters that have not quite reached closure.
      To paraphrase C. S. Lewis again: you have no idea how good it feels to revive a thousand-year-old joke. The Last Battle - I do know the source this time. And, yes, it does feel delicious. But you are much less clinging by then, and, odd thought it may seem, that helps you enjoy it all the more, rather than hindering enjoyment; you enjoy it, then get on with life, and maybe come back to it again some years or millennia later - but it takes its proper place in the scheme of things, and things like this don't seem so overwhelming in their importance as they can seem on Earth, especially if you feel insecure or fearful or unhappy (as everyone is to at least some extent on Earth).

      Michael: Anyway (to return to the point from before), even if what you say about reliving events tending to strip away the feel of them is true, it wasn't the only reason the effect of the moon wasn't the same last night as it was before. Thinking about it, I fairly quickly realized why the effect wasn't there: it was because the moon rose much further north along the eastern horizon, thus changing the angle at which it shone on everything, and this changed the appearance quite completely. I'm aware of the fact that the moon's orbit changes at different times of the year, so it rises or sets further north or south; but I just somehow hadn't thought of it until that moment.
      I guess I did get something of the same effect, but not all that much.

      Spirit: Well, no doubt that has something to do with it, too. You can beat your brains thinking up esoteric answers to deep points, fully backed up with impeccable lines of argument, Q.E.D.; but sometimes the real answer can be embarrassingly practical. A bit like Charlie Brown in the Peanuts comic strip going into psychological analysis of why Linus had drawn a picture of a boy with his hands behind his back: stuff about how it showed suppressed feelings of insecurity, and so on. Linus deflated him thoroughly by saying it was because he didn't know how to draw hands.

      Michael: [LAUGHS.] Yes, I recall that, years ago. It doesn't pay to be too pompous about these things. (Or was it Lucy who did the psychoanalyzing? I forget: it's been a long time, and you obviously took that from my memory.)
      But, even though the effect of the moon last night was different, just any type of full moon is incredibly evocative to me. I don't know why, but it just seem to evoke a whole world of images and feelings somehow. I recall the carnival atmosphere throughout a California summer night, described in Larry Niven's short science-fiction story "Inconstant Moon", caused by an unusually bright full moon; the characters were unaware it as because the sun had gone nova and they would all burn when daylight came. I even have images of Donald Duck comics from childhood where characters are outlined against a full moon rising or setting against the horizon, exaggeratedly large. Some of this is silly stuff, but it has its own feeling, and it has influenced those parts of my inner landscape where the full moon can be found.

      Spirit: It's not silly at all; all sorts of things can have their input into that inner life. But many people forget it, or dismiss it as unimportant. But to be aware of these undercurrents of life is one of the things than can enrich life - and ultimately even contribute to one's growth. Yes, even such things as Donald Duck comics.

      Michael: And, another association, very vivid indeed, in real life this time, and harking back to those interstate car trips we did so often in my childhood. We were driving to Melbourne, and we passed through Ballarat an hour or so after the sun set behind us. It would be another couple of hours before we arrived at my grandmother's place. And I just have the image of a glorious yellow full moon rising ahead of us as we drove east on a beautiful, clear night. It's silly; but things like this do somehow seem significant; and I can be reminded of them to this day by the sight of a rising full moon.
      I'm not sure if that's the same occasion we stopped for fish and chips for an on-the-run dinner in Ballarat; but I have a memory of stopping at a fish-and-chip shop in Ballarat, and eating them in the car as we went on, and it as the most glorious fish and chips I can to this day ever remember having. No doubt it wasn't quite that special, and the impression that it was so good was quite likely created by a combination of ravenous hunger, the food being good-quality, at least, if not out of this world, and the unusual circumstance of eating in the car while we drove on, which is something that can appeal to a childish mind for its novelty.

      Spirit: Well, the reason for the effect of any event can always be analyzed in practical terms; but it doesn't really detract from those memories. I think it would be a mistake to over-analyze, although no doubt it is interesting to explore them.

      Michael: You've set me going. I also remember the time Peter and Paul and I went with Dad for a weekend in an on-site caravan at Second Valley, by the sea an hour's drive or so south of Adelaide. (Mum wasn't there, but I don't remember why.) I have few memories of that weekend now, but I have a quite clear image of getting up early, well before sunrise (as was my wont occasionally in those days, because I wanted to enjoy the moon, the stars, the sunrise, and so on). I explored round, because there were so many intriguing places to explore, and it gradually got light. And I remember this really high patch of ground - a rocky crag or promontary of some kind, I suppose, overlooking both the sea and the flatter ground behind, where the caravan park was, and it was just glorious to watch the sun rising from such a vantage point. I think it was slightly windy and fresh, and the ground on that high point was rough, with grass and shrubs and rocks arond, and the whole effect was wonderfully wild, somehow.
      I can't explain it now, just like before; but such scenes seem almost spiritual when I think back on them now, although that may merely be evidence of how spiritually bankrupt my life has become that I see it in those terms.

      Spirit: Or it may just illustrate that Spirit pervades everything in one way or another, and, at least on some occasions, you are able to perceive it, even though you can't explain it - at the time, or later, in memory. Such things enrich life; I would count myself as lucky that you can experience this perception of things at least sometimes, rather than have doubts about what it implies for the quality of your spiritual life.

      Michael: But, as you can tell from this dialogue, and probably many others, celestial things like the sun, moon, stars, clouds, and so on seem to have been important in mhy life right from childhood onwards. In fact, I have constructed (or maybe discovered) a whole world around them. They have been behind a lot of the stories and music I wanted to write, even though that has come to nothing so far, at least. (Let's not go into that again now, just in case youu feel you need to discourage me from so-called negative thinking; I'm going to have a hot bath and go to bed soon, so I'm only going to wind down now.)

      Spirit: Okay, I don't need to repeat it. You know what I would say to that anyway; it appears earlier in this dialogue.

      Michael: Another piece of trying to relive things. I think I've mentioned the old astronomy book Peter had as a child, and then me. I still have it, although it's very battered and falling to pieces now. It's full of pictures that have that kind of extra meaning, even though, from an objective point of view, they are probably rather ordinary pictures of rural life (probably American rural life, it being an American book) against a backdrop of stars, skies, and other celestial phenomena. I know we've talked about this book before.
      I found a copy on eBay, the Internet auction site, and a little impulsively bid on it and won it, because it was stated to be in near-new condition, and I thought it would be nice to have a better copy. It probably won't be the same, though, as my old battered copy with Peter's name and our Belair address on it in Mum's handwriting - even falling to pieces as it is.
      But I think this sort of thing is getting slightly bigger in my life: thinking about old memories, nostalgia, and so on.

      Spirit: I'm not worried about it at this stage, although, as I said before, we wouldn't want it to grow too much. It is probably quite natural for it to happen more with people who live alone than those who are married or otherwise with a life partner.
      As I said earlier, write about it; I think that will sort it out quite well. Or find someone to share it with; human company (which I know you are having very little of, other than your mother) can do wonders for one's state of mind and sense of proportion about things.
      I can see you're wandering a bit, and starting to think about that bath. We've done well tonight - far better than I know you anticipated, considering your rather poor emotional state these days. I'll let you go now, and of course you can follow all this up, or anything else, further if you want to.

      Michael: Yeah, okay. You're making it easy for me to leave; I sometimes find it a bit hard to end a session, because I always think of a few afterthoughts to add, and of course I can't resist adding them, especially if I think they are clever or funny or insightful or quirky. And you are always willing to follow them up, rather than taking your leave of me.

      Spirit: That's because it's up to you to decide how much time to spend with me, rather than me to decide for you. If you say you must leave, then don't abide by that, but spend another hour writing more (something which has happened quite often), that is your business, not mine. My business is to assist you in your life while respecting your free will. I am your companion and friend rather than your boss or manager. Even "servant" would probably be more accurate than "manager" on one level, although that's not quite right, either. On other levels, I am in charge in a sense, but not in a way that gives me authority to tell you what to do.
      It's difficult to describe the exact nature of our relationship, as it has many different apsects. But, as a general rule, your free-will prevails. Exploring, and learning how to use, free-will is one of the major tasks people are on your planet for at this time.

      Michael: Well, my free will is to end this session very soon now, because my shoulders are aching, I'm a bit cold (although not frigid), and my mind is going woolly, and my fingers are typing wrong keys all the time.
      I guess I enjoy this, on the whole, though. Probably partly out of a real interested in exploring the spiritual view of things; but perhaps partly out of plain writer's ego.
      And, just in case it's of interest, I think changing to "Spirit" from "Bivalia" (with "Higher Self" being an intermediate stopping point) was the right thing to do. I don't think it's likely I'll ever go back to "Bivalia", which never felt quite right anyway. I could probably say R.I.P., Bivalia.

      Spirit: Yes, indeed. He served you well, but you've moved on. And he is not really gone anyway - just changed - because he has been subsumed into your current view of Spirit, with whom you are now having this dialogue, and that view of Spirit seems very much alive still. Nothing truly spiritual ever dies, anyway; it just changes form as the need arises.

      Michael: Anyway, with that, I will say farewell to you now, Spirit.

      Spirit: And good-bye to you for now.


[a] Saturday, 3 November, 2001 - "... driving down to Sorrento one hot, blistering summer afternoon...":
      Our family had a holiday house at Sorrento during my childhood and the earlier part of my adulthood; this incident was probably some time in the 1970s, when I was in my twenties.
      Melbourne is at the northern point of Port Philip Bay, which is almost at the most southerly point of mainland Australia, and the bay is almost completely enclosed by the Bellarine Peninsula on the west and the Mornington Peninsula on the east. The Bellarine Peninsula is short and stumpy, and the Mornington Peninsula is long and tapered, beginning quite thick and getting very long, thin, and pointy near the end as it curves around. Their points come within a few miles of each other at the narrow entrance to the roughly circular bay, which is approximately 50 miles across (depending which diameter you take).
      The very tip of the Mornington Peninsula was army land (and I think it still is, although I believe tourists are now allowed access to much of that area). The town of Portsea is right next to that, and Sorrento is just a few miles further up the Peninsula, at a point where the peninsula is only a mile or two wide. This is where our holiday house was, overlooking the "front beach" (the bay), and it was a drive of about one and a half hours from my parents' place to the Sorrento house.
      The weather change I experienced was while we were still driving southwards through the Melbourne metropolitan area, which stretches some way along the bay, to where you edge into the Mornington peninsula. The entire coastline from Melbourne to Sorrento is probably not all that far from being more or less continuously suburban in character, with perhaps a few breaks where things are in a more "natural" condition. [

[b] Saturday, 3 November, 2001 - "... the recent terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon, and the disturbing signs of a brewing jihad or so-called "holy war"...":
      I'm sure no-one needs reminding of what this reference is about, and probably few will need reminding for many years to come. But just in case my writing lasts long enough for the details of this to fade in a few people's memory, or just in case this is read by a few hermits living in caves, the attacks in question were committed by suicide terrorists hijacking planes and crashing them into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York, completely destroying them and killing approximately 5,000 people, and, an hour or two later, into the Pentagon, seriously damaging part of it and killing a couple of hundred people.
      The attacks have been attributed to a fanatical and fundamentalist Islamic terrorist group based in Afghanistan, most of which is currently ruled by the extremist Islamic faction called the Taliban. Certain western political leaders believe the Taliban is sheltering the terrorist organization, and a coalition of Western nations is currently (as I write this) bombing certain targets in Afghanistan in an attempt to destroy or weaken this terrorist group. In spite of assurances by Western leaders that this campaign is a "war against terrorism", and is not against Islam, some Moslems do not perceive it this way, and there have already been calls for a jihad or holy war against the U.S. and its allies who are participating in this campaign (which also includes my own country of Australia).
      It remains to be seen whether this will turn into a full-blown war between the Western world and the Islamic world - or even (God help us) into World War 3. [

[c] Saturday, 3 November, 2001 - "... I've heard John C. King and Frank talk about numerology over the years...":
      These two men ran the two churches at which I've played the organ. John C. (as he was known by those who knew him personally) was a priest, counsellor, spiritual healer, and clairvoyant, and founder of St. Raphael's Church of Healing (now disbanded, with John C. now deceased for some years), and Frank Bugge is the presiding Archbishop of the Church of Antioch in Australia.
      Both churches were small churches, independent of the mainstream churches, and both inclined towards ideas from Eastern spirituality. Both men believed (and believe, in the case of Frank) in certain ideas associated with the New Age, such as reincarnation, the astral plane, numerology, and many others, although I think both would spurn the label "New Age". (And I have doubts about it myself, although I use it, with misgivings, simply because there is no other generally understood phrase I am aware of that conveys the same meaning.)
      My outlook has diverged quite a bit from that of both men, but their ideas have been of some importance in helping me develop my own viewpoint, which no doubt has absorbed many ideas they taught, although my viewpoint has also no doubt changed some of the ideas rather.
      They were both strong believers in numerology, and, although I have never myself found numerology compelling, and know very little about it, it is quite likely I have absorbed the odd idea here and there from it. [

[d] Saturday, 3 November, 2001 - "... a very Dawkins-inspired Selfish-Gene view of life (natural selection, survival of the fittest, the ruthlessness of nature, and so on)...":
here for more about this book which had a strong influence of very dubious benefit on me, and for more detail on my reaction to it. [Back]

[e] Saturday, 3 November, 2001 - [Chinese Whispers game]:
      In this television-dominated era when parlour games may be much less known now than they used to be, perhaps I'd better explain in a little more detail how this works. (I have a good collection of books on games of various sorts, and even at one time contemplated writing my own collection of my favourite games, so I have the references handy to look up Chinese Whispers.)
      The idea is that you have a number of people sit in a circle, and one person is designated the leader. He whispers a message to the person next to him (or her), and that person whispers it to the next person, and so on around the circle. When the message reaches the last person (sitting next to the leader), it is compared with the original message, and (to the hilarity of the group) is usually found to be quite different from the original message.
      There is a competitive version, and some sources make a distinction between "Rumours" and "Chinese Whispers", with "Rumours" being the competitive version. The players are divided into two equal groups, and each sits in its own circle, and the same message (chosen by an outside person) is given to both leaders. When the message has reached the last person in both teams, both mutated versions are compared with the original message. The team which distorted the message the least is declared the winning team - although it does occur to me that it might sometimes be difficult to determine which of two variants of the message is distorted the least. So the competitive form of the game is probably best regarded as a fun thing to do, rather than a serious competition.
      In these ultra-sensitive, politically correct times when almost any racial, national, or ethnic reference can be deemed offensive by someone or other, I do not know if the name "Chinese Whispers" is still in use. Most of the books of mine which mention the game call it this, but they are a number of years old. [
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