Blog 46 – Earth’s Dreaming: The Higher Earth

(First of the Seven Sisters — Morro Bay, California)

Earth’s Dreaming: The Higher Earth

These writings concerning America, the Original People, and Earth, now continue to unfold more toward Earth-Presence — for the great mysteries of the Original People definitely concern their being as the ongoing uniting with Earth. However, the way we presently experience Earth is much more earth than Earth. I fear, because of my inadequacies, that whenever these writings speak of Earth, it is heard quite literally as what is before and all around us and beneath our feet, the place on which we live. But, this is what I mean by “earth”, a kind of narrowed and formed experience of the presence of unformed but highly alive Earth. Earth is not imprisoned earth, and earth is the view from our imprisonment.

Satprem, the author of “Mother or Mutation of Death”, provides a detailed and profoundly moving reflection on the work of Mother, the partner of Sri Aurobindo. Aurobindo had developed the imagination of the ‘Supramental’ – that is, what is “beyond” the mental, and the Mother, from within matter, where she finally arrived after many, many years of excruciatingly painful/joyful meditative experimentation, found the Reality. She did this by diving down into the cells of the body, discovering that Body is Matter is Spirit is Love is Earth.

There is no place of “viewpoint” there, nothing “transcendent” or, we might say it is all-transcendent there, becoming the cells. Free of conceptualizing and thus also in a suspension of language, Mother later found very, very few words to even approach saying what happened. She spoke of matter as far “denser” and “harder” than the earth we know — like a diamond, she said, but it is also malleable, plastic, everywhere at once, and there is no longer a within/without; it is pure freedom from the ‘prison’ of the “crust” of the dying-away body that surrounds the true fluidity and plasticity of the cells, the core of bodily being and where earth ceases and Earth begins.

The true body and Earth can be imagined as somewhat like a tree, whose center of sap is movable, the very matter of the tree, while, that malleability becomes the dying bark of a world and of an earth that does not yet know Her true being as Earth, though certainly lives it deep within. We take the ‘bark’ of the body as body, and even insert that way of thinking into the very Life of body, unable to see that our dead thinking has transformed Life into something dead. When, for example, body cells are looked at under the microscope. Here, an unconscious and profound contradiction take place: we see something living being treated as an “object over there” to be observed, not unlike we treat Earth as earth, an object over there to inspire us, to be used by us without offering the needed return of reverence. Matter is all-giving.

Bringing Mother to our conversing perhaps helps to open a beginning imagining and experiencing Earth as She truly exists as a spiritual being rather than our concepts of earth as if separate from anything of spirit.

Matter understood by physics, the study of the physical realm, and a word which means ‘being born’, clearly misses the mark by misusing the word and hearing it as “already here, done and finished”, ready now for our probing. We probe by installing a theory of matter that substitutes explanation for immediacy and intimacy. This substitute for presence with the mystery of matter results in the destructiveness of the atomic bomb, the hydrogen bomb, the supercollider, and quantum theory, Chernoble, Fukushima, further removing us from Earth.

Then, another, more available imagination of the true. Satprem, almost in passing, speaks of the “Higher Earth.” What could he be alluding to? Something like Earth reaching for the Heavens, as the Heavens reach toward Earth, the very essence of the act of Divine Desire, both, out of which ongoing creating happens always. This way of speaking is “mythical” description in the true meaning of Myth as “something that never happened but is always happening” – and thus we can perhaps begin, not to utter about Earth, but hear Her speaking. Here, then is another imagination of Earth as always receptively creating.

Ongoing creating expresses as Earth’s dreaming – an imagination of what happens in the mythical embrace of Heaven with Earth and Earth with Heaven, perhaps even something like the Divine kiss where the two Unite in dreaming.

Here is an instance of being bodily present and noticing such a dreaming embrace always happening. A couple of days ago, I drove with a friend from Atascadero, California, over to Morro Bay, about a thirty-five-minute drive. Almost the moment we left the place of Earth’s dream we were unknowingly with, the dream where the place of Atascadero now stands, the presence of The Silence, became tangible, an actual substance, thick, permeable, mobile, immediately bodily sensed, and only then coming to recognition. If the recognition can be held off, the immediate body-sensing expands and expands, something like a spiraling sphere, not straight-lined. We shall have to begin speaking of ‘the body’, rather than ‘my body’ – and, not as a concept. Have you ever experienced, even for a second, noticing you as body, without the interference of “my”? The enfolding Silence quietly here, permeated, surrounded and embraced body.

We had not crossed into some new territory, there was no boundary. Rather, it is more like suddenly folding into and being enfolded by a different creating of Earth’s dream than the dream we were not conscious within when in Atascadero, a different dream place than here. This dream of Earth as thick, heart-opening Silence lasted all the way to the ocean.

Right at the shore, there is a huge, huge, huge stone – said to be the “plug” of an ancient volcano. One side of the stone sinks into the water’s deep waves of rhythmic back and forth, one-two, one-two, one-two musical movement. The Silence, the rhythmic unheard vibrations of the waves, the totality of the ocean, could be felt as vibrating as Silence through the stone, creating the continuance of the whole of the ocean, tangibly, for that distance where first felt and intangibly forever on. To speak of this presence as a stone, however, bespeaks a forgetfulness of what was said above. To look at the ‘rock’ ‘over there’, is not unlike objectifying the cells of the body under the microscope. The mind conceptualizes ‘stone’, but the heart bodily resonances the Silence.

The volcanic “plug” as it is geologically named, the very core of the ancient volcano, is not unlike the flow of the sap at the core of the tree spoken of earlier. Not having developed the capacities to enter matter as Earth dreaming, the subtle trailing of this dream-place nonetheless spread palpably and infinitely as the rhythmic Silence dream occurring, as if, matter, here, all Ocean water-rhythm and volcano makes the vast dream of this Silence, a dream space that can be felt until another Earth dream enfolds us.

We are folding into and out of Earth dreaming all the time. All of Nature is Earth’s multiple, really infinite, dreaming. Dreaming here does not indicate something downward and unconscious as we take dreams to be, upon which Jung establishes a whole interpretive discipline. Earth dreaming is her ever-emerging Beauty, creating landscapes, seas mountains plains, lakes, nature, plants, creatures. To attack one of them attacks them all in a murderous act focused on some pathological hatred of Earth. To be with them, even to carefully take something needed in reverence and returning a heart-prayer – then, this taking becomes a taking-in, an inexplicable sharing of Her dreaming.








Blog 45 – Earth Receptivity


Earth Receptivity

I apologize for the span of time between this entry and the last one. The person who set up my website ran into major difficulties which shut down the site for a number of days. That is not the only reason, however. I now find that I cannot write until something to write begins to appear. If it does not, going over things I’ve written before doesn’t work very well unless they are fully re-imagined. Some of the delay occurred because an inner shift is occurring that I could not immediately relate to this work, and I had to wait until the connections could be felt.

The last entry offered a contemplative Spiritual-Earth practice of making a connection with the Ancestors – a way of opening to the power of receptivity, according to these times and our circumstances, something like the Original People do in connecting with the Ancestors through the Sweat Lodge. Note the word LIKE, not AS.

The practice opens up the very tangible and palpable sensing of being surrounded, particularly in the region from the head to the heart, by presences of Light. The experience is immediate and bodily. We sense, though it is a subtle sensing, the presence of the community of the Ancestors – and their concern for the Earth and the world. Over time, this awareness deepens and develops…and another unfolding will announce itself.

As with all “spiritual” practices – practice does not mean – do something until you ‘master’ it. And, it certainly does not mean “sample” and then on to the next thing. Nor is it a “mental” exercise. The practice takes you into the body, right from the start, with the kind of breathing indicated. Then, the senses are relaxed and experienced as the “inner side” of the body as it is constantly being created, rather than the “concept-body” that we know about, the knowing- about that now counts as the truth of being bodily, which it is not.

“Practices” in spiritual psychology – and in particular those concerned with awakening to the Spiritual-Earth, involve and develop the capacity of “concentration without effort”, to paraphrase Valentin Tomberg, the author of Meditations on the Tarot. It is a practice of noticing within radical receptivity.

Because we are working within the Way of Wisdom, rather than any typical spiritual “Way”, and Wisdom is already fully present, it is a matter of receiving what is already present. Wisdom, though, cannot be experienced within our usual modes of daily consciousness, so we are entering a different mode of consciousness with practices like the one offered in the last entry.

When, for example, a pottery bowl is made, the Original people find exactly the right place where the living clay is present; they ask the clay for permission to make the bowl, and the actual making of the bowl is a very refined receptivity. The bowl particularizes the receptivity of Earth – in multiple images with multiple pots, and happens, comes into physical/soul existence, through the receptivity of the human body of Earth, engaged in a creative act of receptivity. We know nothing of receptivity because the mind puts it immediately into the category of the opposite of activity. And the body, too, is understood as teeming with the activity of life, and we miss the primordial receptivity of the human body.

Here, with the so-called physical body, we feel the resonance of the greatest mystery of all – what is matter? Physics gives us a theory of matter, one that removes us from Her presence. The Original people lived matter-as-spirit-as-love. It was not a perfect existence, but it was living within the Wholeness of Earth and the depths of the body, right down into the cells of the body. It is so simple it comes close to not being able to understand. It can be felt.

A little excursion into matter-as spirit-as love.

One person who felt and lived, exquisitely so, what is spoken above was called Mother (Mirra Alfassa), the partner of Sri Aurobindo, and these two people were perhaps the two most significant “mystics” in modern India. For many, many years she engaged in a meditation of diving deep into the body – ever deeper, as deep as the level of the cells. And she got there – within the very substance of the cells. It took a lot –– releasing the many cultural and civilizational forms of religion that live within every soul, all of which separate matter from spirit. Then, she also had to experience, by simply noticing, deep within the cells of the body, and just through this noticing, release any illnesses. She found that illnesses, even the slightest ones, were the ‘non-love’ within the body keeping the body from revealing itself as spirit. And, they disappeared, just by cellular noticing. She also had to release any “traumas” that imprinted in the body. This work took years and years – just to get to the point of going into the cells, and the last five years of her life were devoted to discovering the “new species of human being”.

Further, as this was done, because she had gone beyond any sense of individualism, she was not ‘observing the cells from some ‘higher’ consciousness. That is, her meditative work was wholly and completely the fullness of receptivity.

The experience was excruciatingly simultaneously painful and joyful. We might think of it as a kind of receptive crucifixion. A feminine crucifixion. She did not think of it this way, so know that this is just a way of trying to imagine what she experienced.  

Briefly, what she discovered – well, it could hardly be called “nirvana”. As she went deeper into the body, this, “her” body, was inseparable from other bodies, so she also took on their ailments, fears, diseases. And, when deeply in the body there was no separation between her body and the Earth and what was going on anywhere on earth. The Mother discovering The Mother. Mother Earth. Of the experience of being within the cells she says:

Ah, this was very interesting! It was very interesting because I could see it all change. Something would happen to somebody and it would all change… Each minute the attendants, those who served Mother changed, said certain things…..when the slightest thing changed in their consciousness, it would all start changing. It was sort of a perpetual consciousness, day and night…… no more barriers.

And, of Earth she says:

Yes, the world under construction, the future world under construction. … I lived in this all the time, all the time, all the time, night and day….. it (the body) lived in the soul’s perceptions – the soul’s perceptions translated into images. …… And they were physical, material images of the earth, not “visions” – the real earth. We perhaps do not know how beautiful the earth is.

From within the cells, these words, of course, are completely unavailable, and she could barely find words later, few, few words to describe the indescribable.

This excursion into the astounding meditative work of the Mother feels necessary here because you will find, when practices are recommended, that I always say that the practices must be done bodily. I don’t mean we will, or can, or should, attempt anything like what Mother was doing. But, I do not want the practices to be understood as doing something with the mind, or doing something that is “spiritual” in any of the senses we typically think of spiritual.

And, this excursion into the possible future of the embodied human being links smoothly, closely, beautifully, with the way the Original people lived/live. We must live in the question of what it was like to live with the Earth as new each moment – that, in fact, is the perhaps the most exquisite way of saying what living within the Spiritual Earth concerns. And we have to completely re-imagine so-called “tribal life”, which, by us, in our degradation, is understood as something primitive, when perhaps it means experiencing, in the immediacy of body, what others experience.

Quotations from Mother or The Mutation of Death By Satprem. The Institute of Evolutionary Research, 1976.













Blog 44 – The Ancestors


The Ancestors

From Sweat Lodge to Contemplative Sweat Lodge 

Thank you, everyone, for your patience during this interim of moving from New Mexico to California.

The writing will begin now to pivot — into the doing, the art and craft and spiritual doing of the work — of living, in our time and modes of consciousness, the kind of soul life lived still by the Original people of this land. We cannot live as they lived/live. But, we do not, within present modes of awareness, participate in earth-life; rather we exist within a kind of simulacrum, a representation of living here rather than being here body, soul, spirit, and Earth.

This entry concerns how we are never here alone, and the manner in which the Original people maintain being here and “here” includes the spirits and the Ancestors.

The Ancestors –This term does not refer to our individual predecessors – mother, father, grandparents, great grandparents, all the way back. This linear way of imagining the ancestors is incorrect, or highly limited. We need to ‘peel away’ the assumption of linearity of relating – that is, the imagination that relating involves “You and Me” and its many variations, and that we are the way we are because of what happened to us in the past, due primarily to our relationship to our parents, which had to do with their parents which had to do in turn with their parents.

Because we have no relation with the ancestors-as-spirits completely embracing us, here, just waiting to be of help when approached in the proper manner, relations with our ancestors, which are understood linearly rather than spatially, are pathologized relationships.

Perhaps it is not the relationships which are pathological but rather the completely materialistic way of conceiving of relationships with those who came before us – that is, having no sense that they are here, together with ALL the ancestors, but, instead, living the conception that only their influence upon us is here.

And, perhaps, because our imaginations are so poorly formed, as are our memories, only very, difficult and very intense happenings are strong enough to be bodily remembered. If we can develop contemplative capacities, we also release narrow notions of the Ancestors.

From Sweat Lodge to Contemplative Sweat Lodge

The sweat lodge is an archetypal image of the Earth, with Sky above, Earth below (the middle realm), and the Underworld. The sweat lodge is NOT a symbolic representation of the Spiritual Earth, but rather a CONDENSATION of the spiritual earth. The ceremonies within the sweat lodge, then, become the EXPANSION OF CONSCIOUSNESS into the Wholeness of Spiritual Earth.

A sweat begins by heating stones outside the sweat lodge until they are red hot – these stones are called the grandfathers. The stones are taken inside to a prepared place in the center – a slight depression in the Earth embraced by a circle of stones; this impression in the Earth is called the grandmothers.

The stones(grandfathers) and the depression in the earth(grandmothers) are a unity (see the picture), and they unite as the smoke ascending/descending (sometimes a peace pipe is smoked). The people within the sweat lodge fan the fire and the smoke moves upwards to meet the sky(the realm of the Thunderbird) and then the Sky ( The realm of the spirits as here-present and of the stars where we came from, and the realm of the Father).

The rising and descending smoke unites the people, THE EARTH, the realm of the grandfathers and the grandmothers, – AND all the Sky presences and the Underworld presences at the place of the Spiritual-Earth, the Whole invisible interior of the Sweat Lodge. This Whole invisible realm, which surrounds us and is our fullness of experiencing Holy Earth, is the realm of the Ancestors. The ancestors are the “Sky People”, where the Original People came from – for example, sometimes mythically imagined as the Pleaides, and the dead.

Thus, relating when earth matters means the Wholeness of the Spiritual Earth and includes the invisible presences of Earth, not just “a you and a me”, and perhaps the immediate linear ancestors.

Entering the Contemplative Sweat Lodge

What was done as sensuous ritual by the Original people, something of that sort can be done contemplatively in our time. While some people do sweat lodge-like ceremonies, doing such ceremonies does not develop new capacities that are needed to live with Spiritual-Earth sensitivity and presence in this time and world. What is experienced in the sweat lodge cannot be called upon at any moment in ongoing life in the kind of world we live in, not unless one lives on the fringes and lives as best as possible, the way the Original people lived.

The Contemplation

Take a deep breath – on the out-breath when you come to what seems to be the end of the out-breath, push more air out – all that you possibly can. DO NOT TRY TO TAKE AN IN-BREATH as you will choke – not seriously, but you won’t be able to just take an in-breath. Instead, just wait and you will notice that air becomes to come in. Let it come in – there will be a point at which you will then be able to breath normally.

Do this deep breathing three times.

Comment: When air begins to come in – we are able to notice that we are being breathed – the Sweet Air enlivens us and when we notice that happens, really notice, it is a first awakening to our Sweet Nature, to Spiritual Earth, something more than us is doing the breathing; we are typically unconscious of this happening and ego consciousness ‘owns’ the breathing – as if we are breathing. Awakening to being breathed is entering Spiritual-Earth ancestor space.

After entering breathing this way three times, then, with eyes closed, begin, one by one, to relax the senses. Notice the feeling of your eyes – place your attention behind the eyes and you will notice relaxing occurring – and you will notice that “seeing” can be felt within the whole of the “inner” darkness. The felt experience of seeing now occurs throughout the inner space, as if everywhere.

Then do this with hearing. Relax your hearing by relaxing hearing-attention, as if “deep within the inner ears” rather than hearing being centered at sound coming into the ears.

Then relax the sense of touch by noticing one place of touch such as the surface of the hands/fingers and letting that relax and the sense of touch is still felt, now all through the inner space you are within. Stay within this ‘inner’ space for a while. (There are actually twelve senses and each can be relaxed in this manner.)

When sensing is  experienced in this manner, we are within the presence of the spirit-beings of the senses – who are, every moment, creating our senses AS the manner in which the Whole of the spiritual worlds is expressed as the sensible Earth.

Then, we are going to go deeper into this soul-sensory space, by going into The Silence. We do this by pouring attention into this soul-sensory place we are within in the relaxing of the senses. Pour your whole attention, every bit of it, into the place of relaxed sensing with a kind of force of bodily will.

It is as if a wave of the great Silence washes over the soul-sensory place and permeates it completely. This soul-sensory space expands to the intimate soul-sensory place of The Silence, intimate without being my “me”. Notice now the difference in the qualities of where you are now within, the qualities of The Silence. (Notice, I speak of “The Silence” – for this is a living presence, the Living Being of pure RECEPTIVITY, the Being of Earth.)

Then, we are going to go into the Force, the creating-Force that the spiritual presences of the senses are themselves ‘constructed’ of – the Force of Love.

We do this by, from within the great Silence of the creating soul-sensory place, gesturing with our lips, silently, the word “Heart”. What happens: another wave of velvety darkness that is alive, washes over and within the great Silence-sensory-space and we feel completely INTIMATELY within this Infinite space of unity of “Father Sky and Mother Earth” AND there is the sense of this space as inhabited  There are probably not particular visual images of WHO the beings creating this space  ARE — they are THE ANCESTORS. Their presence is felt, centered in the radiating heart.

The contemplation is now finished. Now go outside for a short walk and notice that you feel completely embraced by the space around you – it is particularly strong in the region from the head to the heart. The ANCESTORS ARE ALWAYS WITH AND WITHIN EARTH AND WITH AND WITHIN US. It is as if they are all around us – the space around us feels as if filled with radiating lights.

We are never alone. The Ancestors are the source for living in the world differently, as the ‘spacious-here’. They are the source of change in the world.








Blog 43 – Body Writing


This entry completes an interim of the theme of the series, The Soul of America: New Beginnings. The theme returns next week.

We listen with our eyes when we read. When we write, we speak with our hands. That makes all writing sign language, a gesture of the body. Typewriting puts a motor to our gestures, and the computer typewriter electrifies the hand, making us forgetful of the body of writing. Let’s try to remember.

The great mystery of writing is how the soul can find its way through the mechanics of writing to rise up from the page to speak that which no single word alone can, what the series, taken as a series, does not say. How is it that the commonality of words continually say uncommon things when no un-commonality is to be discovered among them?

Where do our words come from? Even if it is so that we have learned them, where do those we employ at a given moment come from? Certainly, they are not stored in our brains as in a file cabinet; the speed of a computer cannot match the manner with which words arrive one after another, all together. Words are with us everywhere, available for speaking sentiments, speeches, gossip, news – and occasionally, rarely, beauty. The true writer somehow plays upon the happy accident of the arrival of beauty, making it into a skill. The word,”accident” may be no more than a cover for our ignorance, glossing over a highly mysterious process. The way into the happy accident may remain forever a mystery – but learning to follow it – that is a matter of education.

Whoever can follow falling into beauty begins the search for those rare sentences which outlast all utility, leap across time, outlast fashion and fad to make something permanent.

A deep desire exists to steward such sentences into the world , sentences which outlive the maker and awaken the soul of the reader, leaving behind the hand that made them, the mouth that spoke what the fingers form and electricity dulls. Such sentences become true charms, magical marks that ward off insecurity; they let us know that speech does last longer than granite. Anyone attempting to write writes from this desire to make something which escapes from possession – whether or not that comes about in actuality. The electronic word does not condone freeing the Word, and, rather, focuses, intently, on feeding on them. The only way of halting the feeding is through awareness accompanying writing coupled with reading-awareness.

To relegate writing to desire is just the beginning of the task. It is too easy to slip into platitudes about genius, talent, inspiration, or the muses. One would not speak so lightly about physics or mathematics. True writing is rare, like a bolt of lightening in the blue sky or snow in the Sahara. It is a kind of oddity, and for that reason, of great psychological interest. It may in fact be like a psychological anomaly — we all have a little bit of it somewhere within us, though few are those who act it out. And, like psychological oddballs, we are a bit afraid to look very closely at the soul of writing, for fear that we might become even more infected. We would rather hear the marvelous stories of perverted geniuses, tormented by day, writing and drinking late into the night, taunted by characters of imagination who keep them to the pen and the bottle. Yes, we would like to know about them, but certainly not to imitate them.

Who wants to enter the torment of writing? Or writing as torment? It is as tightly held a secret as the tortures of love. Not a love manual can be found that tells it like it is – that love is supposed to be torturous, and no less so are the torments of writing. Desire never sheds the garments of pain; ecstasy is the shallow side of the story. So, to begin with, I suspect that one has to be a kind of pervert to want to write. One has to be able to enjoy suffering. What redeems the work from pure perversion is some knowledge of the inner life of such torture, and where and how it can go wrong and recognize the mysterious times of it going right.

When I look at what the great psychologists have had to say concerning writing and speech, it is Freud rather than Jung who is the more interesting. It is not surprising then, to find that Freud was more the writer, a kind of master of the detective story; Jung, more the prophetic, wise old mystic that makes us want to be visionaries rather than writers, seers rather than makers.

If you recall, the basic metaphor of all of Freud’s work is libido – a wonderful word, untranslatable either as desire or sex. It is connected with the words ‘lips’ which places one in the locality of both speech and receptive sexual organs at the same time. It is a word also connected with the word library. Recall, also, that very early on Jung substitutes the word ‘psychic energy’ for libido, and this seems to me to be an abstraction; one that perhaps covers more ground, but at the expense of the body of desire, the incarnation of imagination in gesture and speech.

At the same time, Freud has an extraordinary proclivity for rationalistic explanations; Jung is more the phenomenologist, able to stay with exactly what appears. Thus, in this exploration of writing, we shall have to try to be as bodily as Freud, as imagistic as Jung.

Words ooze out of us like pee or excrement. Or, should I say sounds, for words are really something else. A writer is really a craftsman of sounds, remaining quite close to the poop and the pee, and feels much the same urgency, an urgency which must be fashioned into an art. The connection between sound and excretion makes for good bodily fantasy. We come out of the womb peeing, shitting, cooing and babbling. The possibility of speech presents itself from the beginning; the creative writer is able to stay close to those beginnings. That is to say, writing emanates from the bowels, the depths, not from the head, and much of writing must concern re-establishing the connection to the purity of bodily will.

It is the physicality of language that we are after, that is its beginning and end. Babbling may be its purest expression. It shows itself in writing as rhythm and pace, intonation, and overtone – all that communicates ahead of any understanding.

Writing involves the art of communicating clearly that which cannot be understood, which nevertheless acts like it can, and therefore is. The successful fiction of any writing, including so-called “non-fiction”, which is itself a fiction, involves the communication of gesture as if it could be understood, conveying all of our sacred bodily grunts under the guise of understanding. Language without physicality has no soul. However conceptually well-connected, pure understanding remains lifeless.

The most primary dimension of the body of writing is not what is said, but the way one says it. It is a matter of tact, of being tactual and tactile in acceptable ways, and therefore saying the unacceptable; for the depth of desire is always publicly unacceptable. Freud said that it was tactless for the child to say that he wanted sexual pleasure from mom, but it has just the right touch to say that one wants to be like dad when one grows up. The unfriendly editors accompany us in all writing. We are required to write and rewrite until the guardians are satisfied and we do not lose our own satisfaction in the process.

With writing, style comes first, and without thinking, and as the civilizing of desire, ecstasy composing itself. The desire is never wrong, but the formulation may be off base by being too base. The inner editors do not wish to shut the door on desire, merely to help us learn the art of acceptable disguise. A good deal of effort must be put into learning to distinguish the difference between denying desire and denying certain formulations of desire. That involves getting to know the inner editors who are never against desire and merely try to tell us to say it another way.

Freud is helpful in acquainting us with our editors. Mommy does not let the child play with its stools, but finger-paints are perfectly all right, and so are rolls of clay and lumps of wet sand. It’s a matter of getting the message across without its deepest meaning being clearly recognized, and doing this in the clearest way possible. If the meaning is too clear, losing the body, it will be sent back for a rewrite. A lessor editor will send it back if the formulation is unclear.

The problem of writing is how to be soul-aware and social at the same time. It’s really a matter of noticing the bureaucrats of the mind, of which there are many. We must remember, they are not there to stop the desire, but its formulation must satisfy them all. There is the moral editor, the family editor, the society editor, the public relations editor. How to get through all of these?

First, it seems to me, that becoming a writer requires that one be an avid reader, and the avid reader is one who reads moving ones lips, one who reads with juicy libido. Such “libidoship” provides a large stock of formulations on which to draw. If there are no formulations, no signs to draw up, the desire will bump around in the dark without any formula with which it might try to be satisfied.

The first formulation is likely to be refused – and now comes the pain. Pure desire does not get through, and what was supposed to be pleasure turns into torment. Not only are there many inner editors, each of them is sly, devious, inconsistent, divided, throwing writing into total confusion, while they sit back and laugh.

The struggle serves but one purpose – to sharpen the pen into the sword, which can finally make a mark, which is not a final victory. In fact to, at last, come upon an acceptable sentence is, in one way, to be sentenced — imprisoned in the notion that because the revision worked this time, similar sorts of revisions will work from now on. That is, our success proves to be our failure – there is no final victory. Anxiety increases — can it be done again and with consistency? Repeating while remaining originating indicates the mark of the writer as distinguished from the dabbler. Being repetitive in an original way takes up residence within anxiety coupled with calm.

One who writes consistently makes some alteration in the difficulties thus far presented. And the joy of writing comes from beginning to sense these alterations. The inner editorial staff gives way to a wide though discriminating sense of taste; the writer senses the value of writing by tasting it. The guardians also open the gate when writing is no longer for the world but for the word-as-world. That is, writing is not to tell the world something, but rather offering, just by the speaking, repair. The destructive urges within desire constitute the basis for creative activities; but so do the urges to love constitute that same basis.

The urges for destructiveness do not differ much from the urges for love – when our demons are taken away, so are the angels. It is only when the two come to be felt as extraordinarily similar that we give up the fantasy that dark impulses may be satanic. Relinquishing such a fantasy cannot happen without repeatedly practicing putting the gesture of words into writing, not as an attempt to freeze the darkness, but to allow its equality with the light.

One who writes starts becoming a writer when an inchoate desire to become the word begins to arise, promising an end to the crazed dynamic of the love triangle of writer, word, and world.The triangular jealousy of writer, word and world becomes a soul-mating between word and world when the writer finds the Word, which is at the same time to find the world. The point of writing, of its struggles, pains, hurts, is to lose ourselves as Word, to wholly give our breath to the sentence so that it might have soul; that it might be a freed sentence, not a prison-sentence by acting as if it belonged to someone. Such is the wish expressed by those who say “I want to become a writer”. It is a kind of death wish, sufficiently disguised so as not to betray its meaning. The sentence says “I want to become a writer’, not “I want to be one who writes. ” It does not even say “I want to become one who uses words.” The secret desire of the writer is to become the Word. The gesture rather than the completion keeps one writing.

I think I am ready to learn how to write. Think with words, not with ideas.
                                                                                                        -Susan Sontag




Thank you, everyone, for your extreme patience in waiting for this move from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Atascadero, California to take place. It was an arduous journey, but thanks to the glorious help of Judelon and Tim LaSalle, it is done, and settling nears.

This interim moment of the blog provides a space to say something about the act of reading and the necessity in this media-time, this mediated time we are in, of developing soul-reading-awareness.

I’ve noticed that when the blog is published, nearly all the “likes” and comments come in within one, at the most two days and then stop. I suspect this quickness indicates that reading occurs rapidly – a way of skim-reading encouraged by Facebook as well as all digital media. The art of reading is endangered. This week’s entry remembers the depth of reading.

There are several traditions of soul reading, the aim of which is to move away from reading only for information and concepts and instead letting the words become living speaking that impress into the life of the soul.

There is the monastic tradition of Lexio Divina. While this form of reading was confined to sacred texts in the monastic tradition, we can learn much from it. In this tradition, reading constitutes a supreme act of listening. The words of a text cannot be glossed over, read only for their informational content. Language itself consists of two simultaneous forms happening at the same time. La Lingua, and La Parole, is the way the French linguists speak of these two simultaneous forms. La Lingua concerns the grammatical structure of the language and its content. La Parole concerns the living word. In the tradition of Lexio Divina, the attempt in reading is to hear the living word, as if someone were speaking; and, in fact, someone does speak through the writing ….. the author, the tradition, maybe even the spiritual beings of the word. To approach this level of reading, it is helpful to read some of the writing aloud. Feel the texture, the qualities of the words. Slow down your reading. Slow down your reading. Slow down your reading. The soul moves slowly; it loves to move this way, making images of what the words are saying. When you read, try to be in the imagination of being read-to.

Remember what it was like to hear stories when you were a child. Approach any writing as if it were a story. Become interested in the words…not just hearing through the words into the concepts. Read with your whole body, not just with your eyes.

There is the other great tradition of reading that comes from the medieval world, also centered in the spiritual tradition, the reading of Sacred Texts. However, Dante extended this tradition into all writing and reading. Every text can be simultaneously read at four levels: the literal level, the moral level, the allegorical level and the anagogical level.

Without going into these levels in detail, notice that the first level is the literal level. This is the words as they present themselves. You have to start at this level. You have to get what is said. Thus, always read a text through for an initial understanding – but while doing so, the other levels also take their place and are simultaneously speaking.

Example of the four levels:

If a biblical text says: “Israel went out of Egypt”

The literal level — the Jewish people left Egypt

The moral level — This phrase refers to the conversion of a soul from a sinful life.

The allegorical level — The text is an allegory speaking of redemption through Christian conversion.

The anagogical level — Anagogical means “mystical”. The text at this level speaks of the movement of a life from temporal to eternal states of being.

It is not necessary, nor recommended, that you ‘analyze’ the levels of a text. It is important to try to hear the polyphony of language; to hear many things being said in a text, and try to take them all in, though all are not taken in through the literal reading going on. Soul and sprit participate and are the true guides of what literally speaks. The literal level is thus important, but most people get completely stuck, caught at the literal level.

Soul Reading is a particular kind of reading in which, through the literal level one tries to hear, or to live in the listening question: What is being said to the soul and by the soul in this speaking – and,  What and how does the soul hear? Unanswerable questions but living experiences, easily felt happening.

In order to read in this way, it is necessary to pause a lot in your reading. In the pauses, let what you just read sink down from the region of the head into the region of the heart. Then, listen within and try to be aware of the response you are hearing from within region of the heart; the response will not be content but heart-feeling. Try, though, to hear, in an inner way, the soul’s repeating of what was read and understood mentally when you read the text.

The soul does not speak English – or any other language; so the soul “hears” images, hears imaginally. If alert, you may re-hear, not in words, but in the many images that come pouring in – probably too fast to get hold of, or too distracting to keeping concentration on the reading. It is unnecessary to hold such images, though some might hold you, and how that happens has importance, for such images will stay and work with and on you. It is only necessary, though, to read with image-awareness as you simultaneously ‘believe’ you understand what is being said in the writing. It is more you are being-under-stood – presences “stand under”, “stand in and for” your reading. Sometimes they are listening – and when they do, we find ourselves deeply moved, changed. After reading, ask yourself – What stays with you now of what you read? Not necessarily an intellectual content… rather, how are you moved, and if you are not, then either the writing was not originating and creating, but was secondary; or, you read only with the intellect.

A third imagination of soul reading comes from the practice of hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is the philosophy …and the art of interpretation. Interpretation here, however, does not mean saying what you think something means…making an interpretation. The word “hermeneutics” is based in and says that reading concerns the art devised and living in the soul as the gift of Hermes, the the god of boundaries and the crossing of boundaries. He is also the god of communing, of healing, and many other qualities, such as ‘telling’ you where you are – the ‘herm’, a standing stone in the middle of nowhere when one is traveling, marking the crossroads where you are and where you are going…herme..neutics. The word means a “carrying across”. Hermes is the messenger, moving “between” the gods and the mortals and the underworld and the mortals. Soul reading moves into the between, feeling the many regions in the text occupied by the souls –of the past and the dead, and the regions occupied by the spirits, and the regions occupied by the humans. Hear a text in this way, as a kind of message from the spirit/soul worlds, clothed in the language of the human world.

The main work of soul reading is to refrain from restricting our reading and the discussion of our reading to: a) “This is what I got out of the reading.” b) “ This is what the author means.” c) “Lets discuss the reading together”, d) “I agree or disagree”. Refrain from asking questions as questions move the reading to confinement with the intellect only. Reading listens.

Try instead to re-say what the reading says, speaking now from the viewpoint of the soul. If, for example, a text says: “The soul resonates” — what does the soul hear in these words? How can you say what you hear the soul saying in these words? Take a text as a mystery — as something to enter into more and more deeply, not as something to master and take the living blood out of so you can take the informational knowledge and pack it away somewhere. At the same time, respect, respect, respect the literal level of any text. If you do not “get” the literal level, the soul/spirit level of hearing will always, always, always be wrong, off, artistically bad.

Imagine a text as someone, a soul being, or a spirit, speaking to you.

All writing cannot be lived into in these ways. Secondary writing – writing that consists of putting together thoughts that have already been thought – “thoughting” rather than creating-thinking – thinking happening as if for the first time — cannot be heard as soul/spirit speaking. Most writing these days consists of a “talking about” rather than “the within emerging” and taking the reader to where it emerges from – that is, the bulk of what passes as writing seldom opens to the soul/spirit dimensions because these dimensions are not present.

Since most writing is not soul/spirit presence, readers have become used to reading with non-presence, and indeed, are educated to read in this manner. Thus, when writing of some depth and awakening is encountered, it will be read as ‘non-presence’, for we are used to reading in this manner. Such non-presence exemplifies what now comes over digital devices, so here, special caution, special awareness, must be present, for skimming over the top of soul/spirit writing harms not only the reader, the writing too suffers, for soul and spirit intent has been curtailed.