Sunday, December 09, 2007

Gazing into the Mirror of Eternity

It is only in the poetic imagination which is akin to that of the child and the mystic that we can feel the pure sense of mystery and transcendence which is man's natural element. --Christopher Dawson

So last night was "girls' night out," meaning that it was just me and Future Leader. Leslie and I still can't get over the fact that he landed here with us, and probably never will. To review: we started dating in 1984, married in 1987, and had no desire for children until we both simultaneously decided that we did in late 2002. We hadn't been neutral about children; rather, we specifically didn't want any. Oddly, there was no discussion leading to the change of heart -- rather, we both came to the decision quite suddenly and independently.

Everything was put on hold for a while after my sister-in-law's death in December of 2002. Meanwhile, the biological clock was ticking. At our age, we needed to hasten the process, so we consulted a fertility specialist in late '03, and within about six months Leslie was pregnant. Tristan arrived in April '05.

Yada yada blah blah blah, he's in the process of acquiring speech, and I'm trying to catch him at the precise moment when he has one foot in language -- i.e., the finite -- but still has one foot in eternity. You might say that -- so long as we are not traumatized by inadequate or abusive parenting -- our first three years or so are spent in O, whereas the acquisition of language begins the lifelong process of translating O into (k), or the nonlocal to the local, very much like the collapse of the wave function in quantum physics, if you know what I mean. (And you don't, feel free to read my article on quantum physics and psychoanalysis, which is sitting here in a PDF file on my desktop.)

In Jewish tradition there is the idea that you were with God and living in eternity prior to your birth. Before descending into matter, God places his finger just below your nose, which causes the soul to "forget" its eternal nature -- which is where that little indentation under your nose came from. Think of it as your metaphysical belly button.

Anyway, at one point Tristan and I were sitting on the couch and I was just looking into his eyes, which really do seem to extend into eternity. There was a deep feeling of spiritual delight -- call it ananda, if you like -- and I blurted out Where did you come from?

I guess I didn't expect an answer, but Tristan immediately says "Upstairs!"

First of all, the slackatoreum has no stairs, if that's what you're thinking. I was a little taken aback, so I think I repeated the question, and he then said "upstairs, Daddy, upstairs!"

I don't remember exactly what I said after that, but it was something like, "what happened next?," to which he immediately responded -- illustrating the descent with his hand -- "down, down, down," and something about being with Mommy.

Now, I suppose I never actually thought that I could catch him on the border between time and eternity, the finite and the infinite, so I was unprepared for followup questions. I think I said something like, "why did you come down? Did you hear our prayers?"

To this he responded with a detailed explanation, only it was in what we call "Tristonian," which is his own private language that he's been speaking for a year or more. He's always been very verbal, except that it's only gradually "crystalizing" and making sense -- somewhat like Sean Penn, but without the infantile rage and paranoia. It's like the primordial speech out of which speech emerges. So I was listening very carefully to what he was saying, but I just couldn't make out the details -- the melody, but not the words. Very frustrating. But whatever he was saying, he was very animated and detailed in discussing it.

At some point I asked, "were you with God?," to which he responded "Yes!" However, I don't think that necessarily counts for much, since there's a fifty-fifty chance he would have said the same thing if I'd asked "were you in limbo with Larry King?"

On the other hand, it's pretty weird that he came up with that first response without any prompting. I'll keep working on obtaining the details, but I need to avoid making it some sort of contrived game, otherwise he'll notice my reactions and just keep saying the same thing. I need to catch him at unguarded moments, when he's relaxed and in one of these semi-trance states that children and other seers can slip into.

In the passage "Let me see your countenance (mirror)" (Song of Songs 2:14), there is the metaphor of the soul descending into the body, which blocks its further progress, contains it so that it is hidden, and then discharges it to return to its source. The body is the mirror receiving the light of the soul and reflecting it back in accordance with its own capacity, the heaviness of its coating, the density or smoothness of its "reflecting" surface, and the like. If the body acts as a well-made mirror, it will give forth more light than was originally received. And this is said to be the purpose of the descent of the soul into the body. --Adin Steinsaltz, In the Beginning


ximeze said...

Santa Vaca
What a photo

Robin Starfish said...

god in search of man
o radical amazement
keva kavvanah

at in la said...

having had a child this past april (well not me per se, that would be my wife), i have to say this post ranks up with the best of 'em. beautiful child, bob!


At some point I asked, "were you with God?," to which he responded "Yes!" However, I don't think that necessarily counts for much, since there's a fifty-fifty chance he would have said the same thing if I'd asked "were you in limbo with Larry King?"

...had me burst out laughing.

julie said...

When my brother was born, there were a lot of complications. He spent the first few years of his life in and out of the hospital and near death on an almost daily basis. In early pictures we have of him, he was always like a ghost - almost invisible. He didn't have a whole lot of character or personality, he was just usually sick and very fussy. One day when he was about two or three, he awoke from his nap and it was as as though he was finally there. He was in a state of confusion, and while he knew who he was and where he was, he seemed to have no real memory. He actually says he remembers that day (but he doesn't believe my mom's interpretation). She thinks it took that long for him to be ensouled. He was certainly more interesting after that.

Sounds like a marvelous conversation, Bob - I hope you can have a few more of those, before he has both feet firmly on this side of eternity.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Hey…you yadda yadded over the best part.

Not really…the whole post is the best part.

Had the same “eye” moment too a long time ago but my son was just a few months old. An o’-dark-thirty feeding I’ll never forget. I suddenly could not get over how those perfect eyes began with “just” a couple of atoms rubbing together. Clearly much more to it than that…and they certainly didn’t need to be so perfect. Atoms are normally not that smart.
But that ‘anomaly’ moment at the time unfortunately was not recorded by me properly when it sent the sensor needles off the chart. Now I know better.

Anyway, Bob, keep us posted on details. And if Tristan finds the timeless again, please ask him to tell Him I said, “Hey.”

Oh…maybe you could ask Tristan to try drawing what it was like up there…what He looked like…

walt said...

Where I live there is only one radio station that comes in at night. On Saturday evenings when I go to bed, they are playing Art Bell reruns -- so accounts from "beyond" or "before birth" etc., etc., are nothing new to me. Very common. They put me to sleep.

Tristan's account, on the other hand, woke me right up!

And the photograph of your boy's face, Dad, is beautiful!

Van said...

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but when it triggers a million memories, it's priceless!

Thanks for those two trips down memory lane!

Psst! Any Raccoon parents out there, not ask your toddlers that question?


Gerard said...


Please to send email to

for an illuminating metaphysical chart.

hoarhey said...


Ask Tristan if you would, where I can pick up one of those cool bomber jackets.

Gagdad Bob said...

Hey, tell me about it! The guy's already go more clothes than I've ever had (although, admittedly, I don't have his incontinence problem, so I don't have to change as often).

Anyway, I can't wait for him to grow up, so I can get his hand-me-ups....

Joan of Argghh! said...

Heaven came to Earth,
In a small package...

I think I shall count this post as an Advent meditation.

Webutante said...

Your future leader/bomber patrolman is precious and (slightly) older fathers like Abraham and Zechariah do really good work...

Anonymous said...

unless you become like a child...

this is that state of being which should be strived for...

Anonymous said...

I got T's jacket used, but here's a website that sells the real thing, apparently.

I'm so glad Bob posted about this. It is so interesting to hear your stories and reactions to this sort of thing.

And we really do wonder what in the world he's doing here! He seems so sure of himself, like he knows what he's doing here :)

Mrs. G

hoarhey said...

Many moons ago I was leading a troop of my sisters kids through the woods behind her house. One of her children was a girl about three who had been adopted from India.
At that time I was semi-involved in a little new age hippy-dippy dabbling and one of the things I had been reading about were "auras" and the varying colors etc. corresponding to the different personality traits of people.
Out of the blue, I motioned around my head and down my shoulders and sides with my hands and asked her, "what color is this?" She answered "blue". I then asked her about Mommy, Daddy, etc. and amazingly her colors seemed to correlate with the personality types of the people according to what I had read.

Gecko said...

Tristan chose his parents well as he needed people that were evolved enough to get who he is.
Thanks for another beautiful post. Ditto what Joan said.

Anonymous said...

You're too kind. I know we have him for a reason, but we're often holding the rollercoaster rails with both hands and then trying to make sense of things in the rare calmer moments.

Both Tristan and Bob have helped me truly evolve and change in ways I wouldn't have in a more "serene" life like I thought I'd live as a yoga saddhak.

Julie, that is very touching about your brother. I really feel for you and your parents to have grown up with that potential tragedy as well as whatever day to day difficulties were part of that situation. And spiritually speaking, the Mother talked about souls not entering bodies until a certain point. I am not sure exactly how that worked, but that is really fascinating about your brother seeming to have his soul enter his body only when he put both feet firmly in this world.

at in la: congratulations! You're in for a wild ride. I hope you're younger than we are ;)

Walt, I used to be totally addicted to Art Bell about 12 or so years ago. I'm sure the same guests/stories/topics are recurring to some extent. I loved Father Malachai Martin...the original "exorcist" as Art Bell proclaimed him. He also had Terrence McKenna on quite a bit and did a group prayer for him to recover from brain cancer a couple of times. Bob and I participated in at least one of them where all of his listeners were to pray for him at a certain time on a certain day. I wish it could have prevented his early death.

I hope you don't mind all the brief notes, but I was so touched by all of the posts and so interested in each of your stories about your families, I wanted to comment.

Mrs. G

julie said...

Leslie, thanks for your reply. And ditto what Gecko said - Tristan chose his parents very well. He's a beautiful kid, and I bet that's as true inside as out.

Kaffepaus said...

Very nice post Bob!
Can't wait to look into eyes of a child of my own, even if has to wait a few more years I belive :)

Also really like the idea that God putting his finger under the nose of the child, it's those kind of explanations that goes directly to heart without stopping for "unnecessary" processing at brain...

/Johan, Sweden

Bob F. said...

Your story, esp. the photos, reminded me of Joseph Chilton Pearce's "Magical Child." Don't know if you've ever come across that; if not, might want to give it a look.

Bob F.

Bob F. said...

Your story, esp. the photos, reminded me of Joseph Chilton Pearce's "Magical Child." Don't know if you've ever come across that; if not, might want to give it a look.

Bob F.