The Edge of the Butterfly Dream
[The following was originally posted 3/14/06.]
Chuang-Tzu once dreamed he was a butterfly. When he awoke, he no longer knew if he was a butterfly dreaming he was a man, or a man who had dreamed he was a butterfly.
All this talk about dreaming and reality and waking up begs the question, "should or does one even really want to wake up?" It looks good on paper, sounds good, too — but suppose that one wakes up — then what? What does waking up mean? Maybe we like dreaming. Maybe reality sucks. Or is it dreaming that sucks? Now I'm a confused butterfly. Or am I?
This question is on the tip of the hair of the flea on the mouse on the back of the polar bear dreaming on the tip of the iceberg of the reality-based notion of what's currently being called "Intelligent Design." Essentially, for all the heated debates about ID vs. Darwinian Evolution, it currently amounts to little more than Saturday morning's veneer of pomade left from when the flea used it on its thread-bare toupee for its weekly Friday night out at the flea circus. In other and more succinct words, everyone who thinks they're anyone is having a non-discussion about nothing at all.
There is intelligent design behind all universes — unfortunately the debate focuses on whether or not "some big designer Versace-type person up there" is real. Here again the base notion of perception is key. Scientists and Creationists are looking up and out, not within, which is where It All Is, and where the ever-developing Intelligence resides. The "big person" is us — collectively, and, eventually, individually. "Eventually" because we are not living the life of an individualized point of life — yet. As a dreaming collective, and from within it, we are each dreaming about individuality, which is the process toward waking up as an Individual. Individuals, with a Capital "I" are Designers with a Capital "D". These Individuals, who are not Dreaming, are not visible to those who are, and so any discussion about these Individuals will basically always be subject to debate, or moot, as they say in legalese.
How can those not dreaming be less visible or even invisible to those who are dreaming? By the same kind of principle of when we are bodily dreaming and can't see an awake person, even if they are in the same room or sitting next to us. An Awake person could be sitting next to you on a park bench, but you would never notice they are Awake — unless you are also Awake. If you are partially Awake, or drifting in and out of Dreaming, they you might partially notice them, and then forget it. A great many so-called "gutter bums" and "hoboes" and other assorted "street people" are Awake; they are Divine Rulers in their own kingdoms and queendoms and otherdoms. Only when you look them in the eye do you really see them; and then, they see you.
Here, we are using "Awake" vs. "awake" to differentiate between spiritual reality and bodily reality. Bodily dreaming vs. Spiritual Dreaming. Our body has its own reality, most of which is inaccessible to most of us, because it primarily occurs on cellular and molecular levels few of us can consciously access. Although I'm not a theosophist, their literature has a lot of fascinating and even invaluable reports of forays into the otherworlds of perception — although these reports are not always easy to find, nor easy to understand, since Theosophy is an organized society, and like all such things, has rather hypnotic language and difficult concepts that may serve to only further darken the already dim light in the room. But before you think it's safe to go back into the water, back to continue the horrors of PowerPoint Presentations, your viewing pleasures can be fulfilled with graphic presentations of theosophy! And to slightly quote out of context Harold's mother Mrs. Chasen in the incomparable Harold & Maude -- and as only could have been played by Vivien Pickles — "And I hope you have better luck with him than I!"
Theosophists C.W. Leadbeater and Annie Besant engaged in a team effort of such a particular foray into the molecular and atomic worlds of the terrestrial elements. At not such a very long time ago, Occult Chemistry: Clairvoyant Observations of the Chemical Elements (London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1919) was out of print and hard to find. I was fortunate in finding a xeroxed copy. Now it's online.
These two individuals had the ability, as a result of a lifetime's training in meditation and attentive awareness techniques, to see molecular matter from the viewpoint of their own inner awareness. One would describe what was seen while the other would draw a picture. The text is filled with rich descriptions and discussion of vibration and resonance on astral-etheric levels. I was amazed, upon seeing the intricate, almost alchemical-like drawings, of the similarities between the clairvoyant perceptions and, of all things, crop-circle designs.
But I digress. And quite a bit, I see. It's my blog and I'll digress if I want to (humming The Happy Wanderer.) Like a butterfly, I flit in the Meadow of Life from one exotic flower to another, until I come to the edge of the forest. Do I return back to the flowers, or venture into the deep, dark woods?
Most butterflies, if not all, would not go near the forest's edge. The particular flowers they seek probably don't flourish in the very different and unknown geography beyond the flower meadow. Most butterflies would not even be aware of the existence of such a geography.
Every once in a while a butterfly is brought near the forest's edge, perhaps because of a strong and unpredictable, unmanageable wind; or perhaps it flees from a sense of danger. It might be suddenly attracted to something unseen but sensed, drawing it close. And any of these things might even take the butterfly over and beyond the edge of the forest.
This rambling metaphor (which is what it is, in case you haven't guessed by now, knowing the source) is about something I call "the edge" — a psychological or even pre-psychological state of mind. Rarely conscious, more often a state in the underconscious (1), we all have an edge, which could be said to define our experience of living, our interrelationships with the universe and the universes of others, and confines us to those relationships as well. As defined by our beliefs, the edge is a sphere of experiential existence. We rarely go near this edge with conscious intention; we prefer things to stay the same, a relationship should never end, we never lose a job, nobody leaves us, nobody grows up or gets sick and dies, status quo remains infinooty.
But merde happens, all is change, there's always something blowin' in the wind, a hard rain's a-gonna fall. This movement toward novelty — that is, something new and different -- is in the Design — if we don't move (remember, vibration = movement = life) then along come winds and low pressures to make us uncomfortable enough that we move anyway — at first inwardly, and then outwardly. Often, we deny that we are doing the moving, and insist that we're being forced to, or we're having bad luck, or God/The Devil made us do it.
The edge makes us very uncomfortable as well, and it's as if it were some kind of force field. When we can accept and endure it, it is only discomfort, or pain. When we cannot or will not accept the discomfort and pain, we experience them as if we are trapped by suffering. Where there is acceptance of discomfort or pain, there is freedom from the evaluative thoughts that serve to keep us imprisoned. Freedom from these evaluative thoughts (beliefs) allows us to experience our life in all is richness and glory, instead of pinching off little sections here and there, so we end up experiencing bits and pieces of our life, which feels disjointed, unconnected, patternless and meaningless.
The edge could also be seen as there to keep up penned up -- not to keep us safe as much as to keep what's on the other side of the edge safe.
Some people like the feeling of getting close to their edge, such as race car drivers and mountain climbers and socio- and psychopaths.
We cross the edge, or barrier, or fence, of our sphere of existence — or do we? Perhaps our venturing forth into the new and known expands our sphere — rather than erasing an old barrier, it's transmuted as we transition from one inner environment to another.
A possible question could be, then -- would we rather be swept along with the tides of the Great River of Living, with no choice, no sense of co-manifestation? Once we can even ask such a question, we are already hovering near our edge, and then it's no longer a matter of passive acceptance, but an listening to an offer toward active acceptance, or acquiescence.
Acquiescence, however, does not eliminate feelings of anxiety and fear. Active acceptance is a commitment to accept any and all feelings of our life, without judging or labeling them as good or bad, and then to use our hands and legs to take us to where we would like to go. Acquiescence is also a form of surrender — which is not giving in or giving up, but simply to recognize that the Higher Form of Self who is extending a helping hand is a friend; that the Universe is not an enemy; to put down our weapons and take off our armour, to be vulnerable in order to once again experientially know that we are not in just a confined meadow, but waking up in the Real Garden.
(1) Rather than refer to "the unconscious(ness)", I prefer to speak about states of mind that aren't consciously aware as underconscious , where waking dreaming takes place. Waking dreaming is the current state of most people wandering around in the meadow.