Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bach to the Future: Alternate Realities, Part Two

This subject of alternate realities is a rich one. I had intended to finish Part Two today, but the exigencies of caring for His Majesty have intervened, so I'll just address some of yesterday's thought-provoking comments and finish as much as I can of Part Two. We may well continue this discussion all week.

Dan said that what was intriguing about Bach's idea of alternate realities "was how he would travel and visit the 'other Richard' at some point in the future, to see how his life had turned out." Bach experienced a realm where millions of interconnected lines represented various choices he had made at some point in his life. "Here, a turned-down business deal and the lines split of left and right, here, a relationship gone awry, here," etc.

I am inclined to see this simply as an exercise of Bach's imagination, a sort of exalted Monday morning quarterbacking. It is not a bad thing, as I will attempt to explain.

Occult lore does speak of higher dimensions of time, including a fifth dimension where all the possibilities of a given moment exist. Think of it as a sort of plane that is pierced by the line of time, where only one possibility can be realized. Supposedly there is a sixth dimension as well, which contains not just the possible, but the actualized possibilities of each moment. Finally, there is a seventh dimension, which I identify as the eschaton, or telos, the fulfillment of eternity that is drawing history toward it. It is the omega point, or what I call "O" in my book.

I have in the past posted on what I call "Nocturnal Metahistory," which is a way of talking about the vertical, hidden, "night time" of history, where events are being dreamt in the womb of eternity before manifesting in the daylight of conventional history. History in the latter sense involves the past actions and reactions of human beings. It is history as remembered and recorded, which is only a tiny subset of History in itself.

Now in the neo-Platonic Gagdaddian view, History, the Aeon, is thought of as a sort of rotating, hyper-dimensional object that throws an illusory shadow we experience as history. When eternity breaks into time, it bifurcates into a left side and a right side, or more exactly a day side (the horizontal) and a nocturnal side (the vertical). In reality, History cannot be understood without reference to these horizontal and vertical streams. The horizontal aspect of History is well known to us, consisting of the “stream of time” that historians dip into to retrieve facts, documents and events.

Contemporary historians who focus exclusively on the horizontal have forgotten all about the “vertical,” about the matrix of History where things inwardly incubate before becoming events in time, and where events in time go to be “worked over” in the dream logic of the night (this is what Finnegans Wake is all about). But all historians also unwittingly operate “vertically,” in the sense referred to above. That is, they approach the historical enterprise with a “topdown” view which organizes their search and allows them to “see” what is significant in History (at least to them).

The analogy with an individual person's history is exact. For example, patients come to therapy with a narrative of their past life, chronicling their experiences with parents, their education, their friendships, loves, passions, conflicts, etc. But as a psychologist, I am not so much interested in this horizontal narrative as I am of evidence of influences coming from a vertical dimension called the unconscious. All along, their lives have been shadowed by this unconscious, which has continuously created, shaped, sabotaged, or prevented events in the horizontal. Similarly, a historian is like a dreamer trying to interpret the dream, without knowing it is a dream and that he is one of its dreamers. Is it possible to be in but not of the dream of horizontal history?

The great discovery common to all religions is the existence of a vertical influence operating both personally and collectively, this one coming from a “higher” dimension rather than from the unconscious below. Now, as I have mentioned before, there is something analogous to memory that operates in the vertical. In this sense, just as we are able to remember what has happened to us in the past, it is possible to "remember" our future--not in the horizontal sense, as if we can predict the future--but in the vertical, as in making our future self--our real self--present. This is something that is known to all traditions, called by Plato anamnesis. It might also be called "reading the book of life." This realm consists more of forms without content, but it is possible through imagination to give content to the form.

This, in my opinion, is likely what Bach was doing--"remembering" his true self, but clothing it in the form of imagining an alternate future. You might call it "qualitative" memory, in that it remembers what is of eternal value and is worthy of resurrection, so to speak. We all must search for the being without whom we are not real. Bach saw where his dead self was leading, and instead gave birth to his true self--a variation of being "born again."

Hoyden said "I can relate to being unable to grow in spiritual, or vertical realms, while holding onto beliefs and feelings that are not in harmony with the higher realms." Yes. I believe we should always make choices based on whether they will facilitate a lifestyle compatible with vertical liftoff. That's something I always intuitively did, even before I knew I was on a spiritual path.

JWM says "I can point to several instances in my life where seemingly insignificant decisions resulted in life changing consequences. Every one of those decisions propelled me in a life affirming direction. Those moments often were accompanied by- how do I put it? Transcendental events? That voice that just calls out in your head and says, "Stay here."

Yes, exactly. Vertical recollection. In my book, I use the symbol (?!) for these important experiences. We can ignore them or pay very close attention to them. These moments are dense with another kind of time, where we can feel the potential of the moment. Fortunately, when we are on a wrong path, life will randomly provide these "forks in the road," where we can "repent," turn around (the literal meaning of repent), and reorient ourselves. But the number of these tends to be finite. You have to take advantage of them before the aperture closes again, perhaps for good.

Kahntheroad asks, "How can we tell if a synchronicity is a signal from our higher self rather than a ploy of mind parasites? Does our higher self ever use synchronicities to compel us towards situations with immediate negative consequences with, perhaps long term positive implications? Or are such negative consequences always a result of our own failure of interpretation or execution?"

It is difficult to provide a simple answer to that question, for each case is different. First of all, as you ascend in the vertical, you will notice an increase in synchronicity--meaningful coincidences--because time "thickens" there. Because of the symmetrical relations of the supramental domain, things that are separated in time and space can be copresent, as in a dream. Yes, it is possible to confuse synchronicities with mere coincidences. The difference is that synchronicities are truly meaningful, deep, and personally instructive--some much deeper than others.

Kahntheroad also asked, "Do you think you're being a tad bit hard on the new agers? Before coming across your work I must say that, in addition to studying traditional religions, I also benefited from listening - with a critical ear, of course - to some of these 'gurus.' For example, someone like Wayne Dyer talks about a broader spirituality, personal responsibility and is even able to get away with quoting Jesus on a PBS."

Remember, the purpose of this blog is not to try to change people whose approach to spirituality is working. So if Wayne Dyer works for you, that's fine.

I am personally skeptical of the whole new age chitlin' circuit racket of cheap enlightenment. Have you ever seen some of the nutty ideas and outlandish promises in those magazines? Most of it is just retrograde born-again paganism. I do not believe it is appropriate to speak of these matters lightly to a large and indiscriminate audience, as if it is "spiritual entertainment." I always try to steer people back to actual religions, because they embody uncreated wisdom with unplumbable depth. With the new agers, you tend to hit bottom very quickly. A lot of it is frankly narcissistic--the student flatters the teacher's ego and the teacher gratifies the student's ego, each reinforcing the other in a narcissistic cycle. Real spirituality, like real therapy, is more of an insult, or narcissistic injury. As Jesus said, "I came not to send peace, but a sword."

Also, real teachers tend to send seekers away, not to encourage any and all comers. For example, Sri Aurobindo wrote in a letter, "I do not readily accept disciples, as this path of Yoga is a difficult one and can be followed only if there is a special call." In another letter he balked at the notion of creating a mass movement, noting that he had no interest whatsoever in fame or publicity, in that it would simply interfere with the work he was trying to accomplish. "For serious work it is a poison.... a movement in the case of a work like mine means the founding of a school or a sect or some other damned nonsense. It means that hundreds or thousands of useless people join in and corrupt the work or reduce it to a pompous farce from which the Truth that was coming down recedes into secrecy and silence."


Goesh said...

Well said. Spiritual development and unfoldment should not infringe on others either. Seeking the alternative should not involve trampling the present. Traditional Native Americans in particular are being plagued with wannabes trying to adopt and cannibalize their ways. Some go as far as literally trying to force their way into closed ceremonies. Then too there are a few from the Native communities that sell their beliefs, i.e. charging to participate in a Sundance for instance. It can be a forked path.

Dan Spomer said...

So... you lean to the notion that parallel universes (or the like) do not exist, specifically, "many worlds interpretation?"

I'm not trying to pigenhole or trap... just curious. :)

Gagdad Bob said...

Not many worlds in terms of parallel universes that are created by the act of observing; rather, higher, lower, and perpendicular planes of the one reality, depending on the degree of consciousness, similar to Ken Wilber's formulations. These planes are ontologically real and anterior to our being here, but are only given distinct form by our entering them. They are real but do not "exist" unless we give existence to them.

I don't think there is a parallel world where what you might have been is, in the same sense that your present life is.

dilys said...

Pretty substantial post to be recovering from His Majesty's service!

"a pompous farce from which the Truth that was coming down recedes into secrecy and silence."

That is so finely said, and so sobering. It's about seeking with a light footprint, and not building a tabernacle and moving into it because of the slant of light of an evening.

Robert Johnson (Jungian, Inner Work) used to tell the story of an ancient secluded well, clear, cool, healing water. Then a wall was built, perhaps admission charged. The well began to dry up. Next, water bubbles up in a meadow many leagues distant. A few lost pilgrims wander through. Rumors circulate and the sequence repeats.

I think some of your refocusing on Big Box religion suggests that after chasing this repeating process, we may yet dowse water in those old wells. And find good sturdy buckets, unlike the improvised designs that didn't hold up.

Though presently I am grappling with issues around the Constantine-era counter to the Gnostics that the Truth is not confined to those who have the taste and means and temperament to cultivate a distant meadow, that enough of it to get on with can be opened without corruption to all who sincerely ask, or even ask for the sincerity to ask.