Who Will Dream of God and Beauty, If Not Man?
I'll be brief. It takes place in a cathedral or monastery. It was me, Mrs. G., an older man (someone above a priest), and a younger priest, probably in his 30s. Mrs. G. is in the process of being initiated into the mystery of Christianity. The older official is standing in the background. The younger priest places his hands around her head, not quite touching it, and transmits the Force. All around her head, the space becomes like -- I don't quite know how to describe it -- but like golden liquid plasma, as in a science fiction movie, as if the very space is being distorted as a result of the infusion of energy.
Meanwhile, I'm standing a few feet away, and I feel the most intensely blissful energy go into my heart. In fact, it's so intense, that I'm not sure I can stay with it. I know from experience that if I don't relax into it, it will be repelled. Surrender first, bobble about it later. I also remember thinking to myself something along the lines of "Wo. Make mental note. This really is the One True Living God." (This was not the first time, mind you. But these (n)ergetic reflesher coursings are helpful.)
I wouldn't go so far as to say that this type of experience makes me say that all my posts are so much straw. But it does remind me that I must always try to infuse my words with this force -- or, one must allow oneself to be infused by it, is more like it -- otherwise, what's the point? Just more empty shunyada yada yada pneumababble. Just another "religious blog," of which there are already far too many.
Frankly, I try to do this anyway, but occasionally one has these gratuitous experiences that bring one back to the center and origin in the most forceful and dramatic way imaginable. At that point, you've left theory far behind, and need to drop the words. You need to become plastic to the force, not impose your own manmode language upon it.
And yet, you still need words to try to memorialize and convey the experience. But the trick is not just to use words as signifiers for the signified, but to use them as Containers of Spirit, or ♀ of (n), (?!), or (↓). Know what I mean? This is obviously something that great poets routinely do, but it seems that most contemporary poets simply open themselves to lower vertical energies, not to the upper vertical.
Now, back to our wideawake & cutandry world. As you know, Mrs. G. has been going through the RCIA process for the past year. She's now on the last leg of the round trip, leading up to her baptism on Easter Sunday. This weekend was a big one -- something about becoming a member of the elect and being accepted into the community. On Sunday she had to report to the Mothership, the Big Cathedral in downtown LA.
Okay, I know what you're thinking. What about you, Bob? How come you're not going through the program and becoming an honest man? What religion do you profess, anyway, preacher? To which I respond with a vaguely sinister air of defensiveness, let's just say the religion the Almighty and me worked out betwixt us, and leave it at that.
So anyway, I purposely didn't tell her about the dream, because I wanted to wait and see what would happen this weekend, although I was thinking that the dream might have actually been about the baptism, which comes later. But I was wrong.
When she got home on Saturday, I asked her if she had any interesting experiences to relate, and while she did feel the Force, it was in a more generic way. But when she returned on Sunday, bingo. I asked her to describe what happened in great detail. (By the way, just so you know I'm not making this up, I revealed the specifics of the dream to two people on Saturday and Sunday.)
First of all, part of the ritual was presided over by the odious Cardinal Mahoney. In order to prevent him from spoiling the party, she decided to close her eyes and imagine that it was actually Christ speaking. While he was speaking, the sponsors were directed to raise their hands and pray for their coondidates.
I sez, yes, yes, what happened next? She said it was the most overwhelming experience. As she closed her eyes, she felt hands actually touching her head. At first, she was startled, and thought they were the hands of her sponsor, but she peeked out the corner of her eye, and saw that her sponsor's hands were outstretched, not touching her.
So she went back inward, and as the hands touched her head, she knew them to be the hands of Christ. She felt the most powerful force enter her head and go down into her heart. I should probably let her describe it later, because I'm probably getting some of the details wrong. But she did say that it was as if there were a golden light all around her head. And her heart was about to burst. Only then did I reveal my dream to her, and then peel her off the kitchen ceiling.
So, there you are. I've tried to relate this in the most detached way, because I think it's a "wrong movement" to get all excited about these things, which you have to simultaneously remember but also "let go" of. You can't try to repeat them or hold on to them, but instead, must work at being open to the force at all times.
Because you just never know when the signal will suddenly amp up and fry your circuits. As I mentioned in the book, it reminds me of when I was a kid, when I used to listen to the AM radio at night, picking up distant stations from halfway across the country. For whatever reason, the signal would seem to come in a rhythm, strong, weak, strong, weak. But I suppose that's the nature of waves, in that there are crests and troughs.
Hmm. I also wanted to try to find a way to work this in, because it is directly relevant. For "art" can open itself up and become a servant to the lower or higher, thus proving that the vertical surely exists. As Vanderleun writes,
"It is a commonplace that overwhelming mass of our contemporary art that is 'exhibited' has devolved into mere 'exhibitionism.' Vapid, disposable and preening, the works are doomed to be buried in the gaping garbage pits of marketing-driven museums, and crapulous galleries that hold most contemporary American and European art. Still, great souls persist among us and great art, though it is often obscured by poseurs and perverts and pallid imitators of all stripes, can still emerge when talent and skill are wedded to inspiration and belief."
The point is, the artist -- or anyone else, for that matter -- can serve as a channel for forces and energies that have no proper right to exist, or be a vehicle for true (vertical) inspiration and belief. In the case of the works discussed by Vanderleun, think of how the original (↓) entered from the timeless vertical into the horizontal stream of time, and then re-enters us in the now.
In this case, you might say: Word --> Flesh --> transcendent and overpowering love, purity and chastity --> de Zurbarán --> Still Life With Lemons, Oranges and a Rose --> Morten Lauridsen --> O Magnum Mysterium --> Vanderleun --> beautiful essay --> Gagdad --> you folks.
Do you see the point? It all begins with the original (↓), which is precisely why "great art can still arise in our time" (↑), and can in turn nourish the soul, O-->(n). This energy -- which is quite real -- ricochets around the corridors of history, but unless people are open to it, it is as if it does not exist. Somewhere in the book, I mentioned this -- here it is, pp. 209- 210:
"Although the activation of a neural network is a local phenomenon, it resonates with nonlocal dimensions, as can be seen in the creation of great art.... Apparently this is possible because O 'requires' some nonlocal frame of reference or system of symbols in order to realize itself in the world, be it through painting, music, or ecstatic poetry. Evidently, the universe is filled with such 'empty' fields of pure logos awaiting a nervous system sophisticated enough to evoke them. In other words, O, which exists outside time and space, may actually require a time-bound nervous system to manifest locally."
Or, to quote Joseph Chilton Pearce -- who, by the way, was going to write an enthusiastic blurb for me, but I guess forgot, but then again, he's like 90 years old, so I forgive him -- "we must allow our heart and spirit to build the neural machinery necessary to translate and display" what I call O.
I have so much more to say today, but I'd better stop. Lot's of work to do.
And you went into a trance
Your childlike vision became so fine
And we heard the bells within the church
We loved so much
And felt the presence of the youth of eternal summers
In the garden
And as it touched your cheeks so lightly
Born again you were and blushed
And we touched each other lightly
And we felt the presence of the Christ within our hearts
In the garden --Van Morrison, In the Garden