Natural Magic (with Chopsticks)

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One afternoon I got lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant in town that I’d never visited before. Soon after sitting down, I decided that this was going to be the first meal that I finished using nothing but chopsticks (which I’d performed pretty ineptly with in the past).

This wasn’t the easiest dish to try the experiment with, either, as it consisted of long rice noodles, crushed peanuts, shredded lettuce, carrots and cucumbers shaved thin, and small slices of grilled chicken. I began in my typical fumbling manner. I was determined, though, to meet this challenge that I’d playfully set for myself.

Mid-way through the meal I suddenly realized that I’d spent the last several minutes in a kind of right-brained reverie, just daydreaming as I ate. During this period of time I’d had no trouble with the unfamiliar utensils at all, but had just gone along as easily as if I’d been using a spoon and fork. I was amazed to notice that I’d finished off half of the bowl without thinking about it.

Then, once I did become self-conscious about the action once more, it immediately became more difficult. I had to laugh to myself when I thought about the contrast between this and my previous fluid performance, when I’d managed to forget for a while my belief in my own clumsiness and just let my hands act out of their own natural grace.

In Trust in the Unseen, my protagonist (and narrator) Brandon Chane learns to more deeply trust the natural movements of his being and, in so doing, ends up delivering the most inspired musical performance of his life.

I just drifted along, my mind in a free-floating space. My thoughts could not attach themselves to facts, certainties or expectations. I learned to just appreciate my questions without demanding that they produce answers. And I came to discover that the deeper region of knowing carries its own form of certainty. It just isn’t arrived at through deduction.

I suppose you could compare it to the phenomenon that sportsmen remark about sometimes: Just knowing that you’re going to sink a basket, or bowl a strike, before the ball even leaves your hand. It’s as if the essential thing, the miracle, has already manifested. It just needs to play itself out in the field of time.

That’s how it was when we played Broomstick Belladonna’s a couple days later. {…}

On the Heels of Jack Kerouac

Recently, while preparing for a trip out West to California (my first visit to the state), I packed Jack Kerouac’s On the Road to read over the two bus trips and six flights that constituted my overall journey there and back. What better reading material to accompany one on an excursion  cross-country, right?

I had hoped that Kerouac’s lucid and breathless prose would help immerse me in a Zen-like appreciation of the essence of moments, a state of mind that I find conducive to any kind of adventure, whether it’s one that I’m involved with at my computer while composing another strand of my fiction or out there in the wide world.  All is sacred in the world of On the Roadwhether it’s a casual conversation in a diner or a meditation upon the nature of mortality; and that sacred sense is a good thing to carry around with you, I think, as often as you can grasp and hold onto it.

My sister, her husband and my two nieces live in Oakland, and the second paragraph that I had the opportunity to read from the book – the day after arriving there, during a rare quiet moment – began thus: “In Oakland I had a beer among the bums of a saloon” {…}

Many more ‘coincidences’ were to follow over the course of my week-long visit. Passing Alcatraz on one of our drives, I was reminded of a chapter that I’d read mere days before, wherein Kerouac, out of desperation, works for a few weeks as a cop in some barracks and nicknames one of his co-workers “Alcatraz” because of the man’s overly-zealous attitude towards his job. And while hiking in Muir Woods (where I saw the venerable Redwoods for the first time) we took an escalating trail that eventually brought us to a high vantage point. The next day my sister, having done some online research, said, “You know that part in On the Road where he says that he promised himself he wouldn’t leave San Francisco until he’d climbed that mountain? That was the mountain we were on!”

After so many synchronicities, I finally gave myself over to the evident ‘theme’ of this trip and decided to consciously cooperate with it. Over the weekend we paid a visit to the legendary City Lights Bookstore in S.F.

and, the following day, The Beat Museum.

All in all, it was an essential and sacred pilgrimage, one that fired my mind once again  with passion and fascination for the ways in which ideas can become absorbed by the culture to such an extent that they become living myths. “That store {City Lights} will thrive for so long as its doors stay open,” I observed at one point. “That’s the power of myth.”

This particular myth was founded upon the poetic sensibilities of “first thought, best thought”, of letting Wild Mind run free and unfettered by social conventions or personal insecurities. This was a profound influence for me throughout The Edge of the Known series. In What Casts the Shadow? I paid homage to Kerouac’s exuberant cadences in passages like this one:

I was aching for the sensation of movement. Nothing fires the creative imagination quite like the spectacle of new environs emerging and then vanishing behind: the constant plunge towards the novel moment. Whoever could decipher the pulse of life out there and set it down would be the true poet. It’s not a matter of trying to see the future, of attempting to fix in place what must always be in flux. To the visionary, there is no future to foresee. There is a now of infinite possibilities, and the trick is to be awake for it.

We were just brimming with too much raw energy, enthusiasm and reckless spontaneity to be still any longer. We’d given birth to our songs; and now those songs needed to breathe under wider skies. All my being was focused upon arriving onstage, in some strange town, and letting the Genie out of the bottle. New landscapes, shattered taboos, confrontations with proscribed limits and morality and law… goddamn it, the status quo had always been just too suffocating for me; and now I saw a way to forge my own raw life on my own terms.

Rearranging the Belief Furniture of the Mind

When I’m working at examining and changing my personal beliefs, it helps me a lot if I can conjure up some sort of imaginative image, a symbol to stand in for a particular idea that I’m trying to isolate and confront. Ideas can oftentimes feel intangible. If a certain concept takes the form of (say) a dilapidated nightstand, though, then this piece can be moved, trashed, smashed or burned within the theater of my own inner mind. Such visualization makes the act of manipulating the belief behind the image much more visceral.

Flushing Mental Debris

I recently had a dream that dramatized this process. I was swimming in a long, oval-shaped pond whose waters felt deep and ancient. I was trying to reach the sunnier side, but my progress was confounded by scattered debris floating around in the water. This rubbish mostly took the form of furniture.

At one point I was caught in backwards-moving current that had also begun to pull at the furniture so that the pieces aligned behind one another in a snaky procession towards a whirlpool. I had the visceral sensation of the entire pond being akin to a giant washing machine. At first I feared that I’d be sucked down the ‘drain’.

Distancing Ourselves from Our Beliefs

But I managed to float nearby it while the debris, one by one, was sucked down. I am not my beliefs. That was the underlying message of this dream motif. They belong to me; I do not belong to them. In some ways I associate the waters with my subconscious, and my state of being ‘impervious’ to the pull of the undertow with the freedom that each of us have to distance ourselves from our own beliefs. They do not have to own us. They are ours to nurture or discard.

Once I reached this realization, within the dream, I was able to utter the mental command of “Enough!” and slough off the inertia of these ideas that, I had felt, could pull me under. Armed with the knowledge of my own freedom, I was easily able to swim to the sunnier side of the lake. There, beneath the warm rays, was a new house that was mine. I was able to rest, and then begin a project that was of great importance to me.

Not Being Ruled by Our Ideas

In the novel Trust in the Unseen, Brandon Chane (my protagonist) begins to trust his own insights and intuitions to the point where he’s able to achieve some autonomy apart from his mentor Saul. Until this point he’d been obliged to accept Saul’s guidance as best he could. Now, however, he finds that he can take what he has learned and translate it into his own personal terms; he can own it as earned knowledge.

{…} In time, as the miles raced beneath and behind our wheels, my angst began to subside, to be more fully replaced by a sense of victory – or satisfaction, at least. I’d proved to myself that I was able to act from someplace other than my familiar ‘default’ position. And I began to question how many other assumptions, equally erroneous beliefs, I might be carrying around with me like dusty dead debris in my mind. Saul’s artistry was to lift the stones and expose such skulking creatures. Might I not be capable of the same sort of excavation on my own?

After we stopped at a salad buffet for our first healthy meal thus far on this road trip, and returned (highly caffeinated) to change positions in the van once more, I settled in the back seat with my notebook. While Carlos got us back onto I-80 E and pushed us into Illinois, I began writing down bits of my own internal dialogue whenever I could catch it. If I noticed my imagination tugging me towards feelings of gloom and despair, I tried to identify what I’d been thinking beforehand. I isolated the unspoken assumptions, let them roll around in my head for a while, questioned them. I could feel how my thoughts and emotions were linked. Black moods and rage-filled episodes didn’t just “come over me”. They had always been generated somehow by my own internal monologue.

I felt the kind of excitement that often accompanies the discovery of an unforeseen new way forward. Was this the trail back to the sources of all my misery, frustration and overall dearth of hope? {…}

This is the journey that each of us inevitably have to take if we hope to get on top of our own thoughts and feelings and not be ruled by them. Books and lectures and teachers can only take us so far. At some point we’ll have to interpret it all in our own terms, and realize that, though we may have invested ourselves in our own beliefs, those beliefs don’t constitute who we are – any more than we are defined by the furniture in our physical environment.

Life as a Power Struggle: The Vampire Myth

The Vampire Myth seems to me a natural outgrowth of many of the beliefs that our culture has formed itself around. Collectively, we long ago parted ways with the kind of mystic / shamanic thinking that insists that our energy is forever replenished by a source outside of the physical world.

The (Perceived) Struggle for Energy and Resources

Our popular science depicts a world of finite energy and resources, and envisions human minds and bodies that are born with certain “reserves” that then steadily deteriorate until the point of our deaths.

Given such deeply-ingrained philosophy and conditioning, it’s only natural that we would then perceive life itself as a power struggle, a competition for limited resources. And this is a primary cause of wars and other conflicts in this world.

If there’s no such thing as a Source then we (seemingly) have to derive energy from others somehow. Such beliefs encourage us to behave, essentially, like psychic vampires.

Reflections in Literature

It’s been ages since the initial publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but that novel introduced us to a character whose grip on the collective psyche is as strong now as it ever was. Only a handful of fictional icons – Conan of Cimmeria, Tarzan of the apes, Dorothy of Kansas, James Bond, Alice of Wonderland – have attained the kind of immortal status enjoyed by Count Dracula.

I’ve often speculated about the reasons why the myth of the vampire, as Stoker formalized it, endured for so long and through so many permutations.

I think we all recognize a part of ourselves in the vampire.

A False Sense of Estrangement

The vampire myth illustrates the darker aspects of our estrangement from Source; it mirrors the natural consequences of believing that the world is the source of our life rather than our consciousness being the source of the world.

Our cultural values and convictions teach us to ‘feed on’ each other in so many ways.

In a world where human beings realize that they create their own reality, vampires and demons cannot exist. Their prominence in myth, folklore, movies, novels, comics and television is indicative of some of the deep-seated beliefs that we hold about our world and about human nature.

Without understanding the power of creation, without feeling a connection to source, we’ll continue to recognize a part of ourselves in the vampire. Thus Count Dracula continues to be slain and yet he always returns.

The Road Back to True Source

A core theme that runs throughout the entire Edge of the Known series is the realization that we create our own reality. The story is told from the point of view of a young man who has, thus far, “lived by the sword” and seems likely to meet his demise in the same way.

His soul-guide and mentor, Saul, slowly teaches Brandon to trace his life experiences – both his successes and defeats, his joys and sufferings – back to their true origins within him.

This is the road that leads away from a psychic-vampire stance before the world and towards the recognition of our true power. The sources of abundance lie within us, not “out there” where we must try to grasp them at someone else’s expense.

The Notion of Spiritual Home

Many spiritual teachings speak of “coming Home”. Oftentimes people think of Home as the place that souls ‘come from’ when they incarnate in this physical world; and they long for it as the place to which it will return when this life is ‘over’.

I do believe that we all know, at heart, where we belong; what our (self-chosen) destiny is, and what directions we need to move in the fulfill it.

And this sense of belonging encompasses a lot of things: Why we came here; what our real gifts are; the recognition of people who we’ve known, and have shared the journey with before; the reason for – and meaning of – our suffering, etc.

There can be sadness born of knowing this ‘promised land’ that we might think of as our spiritual home, and fear born of knowing – or intuiting, at least – how far we may have to travel to return to it.

The All-Knowing Center of Being

There’s a living, conscious and very wise place inside each of us that preserves the essence of our real nature so that it’s never lost, no matter how far afield we may run with our illusions, faulty beliefs, reactions and destructive behavior.

This is our essence, and it lends emotional weight to the idea of spiritual home to those of us who sense its presence within.

It’s that quiet but steady voice that’s there with us after a bout of crying, or a confrontation with deep fear – a run-in with mortality and/or grief, when all is strangely clear and perfectly in place. These spaces merely wait for us to feel the pain within our missteps and then turn around and walk back towards home.

This is the root of what I call sanity. The structures of this world may all resonate with it to some extent or another. Nothing is really corrupt, because everything is a reflection of our process of becoming.

A Personal Journey Without End

But these structures – whether they’re political, religious, scientific, ethical, etc. – cannot point the way home for any individual. This is always a personal quest; and in the end, ultimately, “sanity” means “having come home”.

Throughout The Edge of the Known saga, Brandon’s spiritual mentor Saul challenges his notions of ‘completion’, of the idea of perfection that lies at the heart of his thoughts of ‘spiritual home’. When are we ever finished? he asks. When comes that elusive ‘payoff moment’ when our growth and unfolding is all said and done?

I once wrote in a poem that I dedicated to me teen-aged self, “If you’d really known what the journey meant then I doubt you could’ve made the first steps.”

Ignorance spared me, in that sense. With the ‘blinders’ – the artificial divisions that our minds create between ‘past’ and ‘future’ in the Eternal Now – in place, I didn’t need the courage to shoulder decades of healing and spiritual striving. I only ever needed enough courage for ‘today’.

In the Eternal Now, that is all that is required of us; and our spiritual home is wherever we may be, at any point along our endless and most indescribably sacred path.

Stories of Heroism and Our Inner Greatness

Many superheroes have enjoyed a surge of popularity in the world of film. There’s a reason why movies like this are so popular. They fill the same inner need that has often been satisfied by pulp magazines, comic books, graphic novels and epic fantasies. These stories of heroism mirror our own (oft-times unacknowledged) inner greatness.

Heroic epics dramatize the aspects of our own personal reality and identity that we’ve learned not to believe in.

The superhero typically has a meek and unassuming alter-ego because he or she is living out our unacknowledged reality. Our ‘secret identity’ is that of the hero.

The Suppression of Human Heroism

There’s little place for real heroism within a world-view that is painted by scientific concepts like accidental creation and dead matter or in the idea that consciousness and life itself are meaningless accidents.

Our culture, by and large, has a lot of its priorities in the wrong places; it keeps our energies consumed in petty frustrations and toils so that we remain fairly oblivious to the larger entities and movements of life.

When we’re faced with dramatic upheavals of one kind or another we have an opportunity to feel our inner heroism and wisdom, our primal kinship with nature, and our deeper bonds with each other.

Why is Story so Crucial?

Everything that we human beings use to structure our lives – to give life form, and orient ourselves – is a story: A mythology. Science is a myth, replete with its own invented language to convey it; Christianity too.

To me, the way in which a story inspires us is a much more crucial issue than the question of whether or not it is “true”. Many of our civilization’s most popular stories have inspired depression, fear, confusion, apathy, low expectations and an overall sense of diminished hopes.

We invented these stories, and we can re-invent or discard them. We can invent new ones that honor our capacity for heroism and our inner greatness.

Heroism on Micro and Macro Levels

There are probably few experiences so empowering as the realization that one’s life story can be completely re-written. This can also apply to a culture and even to the world entire.

In this physical life we encounter the limitations that we believe in. Many parts of the modern world are in crisis now because they’re seeing the mass-scale reflection of what many of us believe life is worth.

By and large, humanity has accepted the idea that it is a flawed and accidental creation; and so how are we to believe ourselves capable of greatness?

We are seeing the world picture that we have been describing to ourselves for generations through our most “cherished” myths.

If our life experience expands or contracts according to the stories that we cling to about it then the Great Quest becomes a matter of choosing those stories with greater care. We must choose our beliefs wisely, because we’ll meet with them in the world.

Can we will learn to trust ourselves enough to create our own myths, to reinvent the Gods?

Stepping Into Heroism

In the books that comprise The Edge of the Known saga, my protagonist, Brandon Chane, is on a quest to rediscover his personal heroism. He just doesn’t realize it, at the onset. He is driven by an inner need, the powerful soul intent, to find his voice and to use it to function as a communicator not only within his personal world but also the wider community.

That voice has long been stifled by the abuse of his upbringing, the hostility of his surrounding environment and his own limiting beliefs, which have convinced him that there is no real place for him in the world. Confronting these beliefs, with the help of his mystic mentor Saul, becomes the essence of his heroic quest.

This is a journey that many of us must move through if we’re to make our best possible contribution to the troubles that beset our embattled world.

Patience Along the Inner Way


Patience is crucial along the inner way not only because this inner reality requires time to manifest in physical terms but also because the very essence of patience is an expression of trust in the process.

Without it, our ego selves are too easily tempted to want to grab the reins and try to ‘make it all happen’. What the conscious mind is responsible for is becoming aware of its own contents, of knowing the picture that it is painting on the inside. The manifestation of that picture in terms of the life that we experience remains in the hands of the deeper portions of ourselves.

The Role of the Will

As my fictional medicine man Saul Mason puts it, in Trust in the Unseen , “You insist on seeing around the bend, even though you have no idea how a shift in belief may alter the picture of your whole world.”

One of the biggest influences on my overall thought, philosophy and daily ‘spiritual practice’, for lack of a better term, is the body of Seth Material written/channeled by Jane Roberts. ‘Seth’ reminds us, again and again, that we create our personal reality through our thoughts, feelings and beliefs.

But he also mentions, many times, that we are not aware of the unconscious mechanisms through which our inner reality materializes into the world that we know.

Trust and Letting Go

What this means is that we’re responsible for what we project, but that becoming attached to any ideas of the particular ways in which our conscious objectives must be accomplished will be self-defeating.

Our patience, then, expresses itself in a delicate dance that involves stating our intentions clearly and then letting go of the outcome.

When we’re working with our own beliefs, we act in trust that as they change, so will our outward experience. But that latter part of the process is achieved unconsciously. Patience becomes difficult to practice when we have too-rigid ideas of the ways in which the new results will materialize.

Easing Our Minds

The only way to really set the mind at ease during this process is for it to become more aware of itself. When we come to know our inner lives more thoroughly then we realize that we are never “doing it all alone”, that our breakthroughs are not accomplished merely through effort of will.

Knowing that the inner self is responsive to our conscious thought, we need only be aware of the messages that we’re giving it. We remain aware of the picture of ourselves and the nature of reality that we give it, pruning out those beliefs that are ‘marring’ the picture away from the image we want.

Then we can leave the nitty gritty of manifestation in the hands of the inner portions of our being.

It’s a Declaration of Belief

Patience and trust go hand in hand along the inner way, then. Or, patience becomes less of a struggle the more we become aware that this inner self is always working on our behalf.

If it doesn’t seem to, it is only because we’re not aware, in one area or another, of our actual beliefs. We’re giving the inner self directives without really paying attention to what we’re telling it.

As we learn to draw clear correlations between our outer world experiences and the inner beliefs that gave birth to them, it grounds us in a sense of our own power. From this place, patience and trust come a lot more easily.

The Path of Shamanic Initiation

Shamanic initiation often begins with some circumstance that essentially signifies an inability on the part of a would-be shaman to ‘lead a normal life’ – whatever that might mean in the context of the society that s/he lives in.

Sometimes this ‘inability’ manifests as a severe illness; then, the process of initiation would involve self-healing of the malady, a regaining of equilibrium. This can also happen through grappling with what Western minds would term mental illnesses.

Separation and Turning Inward

The identification with the animal world, also, which is such a distinctive motif in shamanic lore,  relates to the ways in which a prospective medicine man separates from the human community during the time of initiation.

Animal consciousness brings us into the heart of nature – and, in the process, draws us away from the belief systems and customs of the culture that we’ve thus far been living in.

The vision must be reached in this way, through separation from the human community for a time, because the healing that the shaman is eventually able to offer involves those aspects of consciousness that the community lacks, and longs for.

Refusing the Initiatory Moment

Some are unwilling to embark upon the path of shamanism in the first place, even though their souls clamor for it – a motif that’s also echoed in Joseph Campbell’s exploration of The Hero’s Journey: the refusal of the Call.

In Fire Thief Reborn (the fourth volume in The Edge of the Known series), narrator Brandon Chane describes his own personal experience with this initiatory moment. He is not aware, at the time, that this is what he is in fact undergoing.

He had believed that he could simply renounce music and lead something akin to a “normal life”, not realizing (or refusing to acknowledge) his own innate need for contact with the spirit world and to serve as a kind of mediator between that world and the one that most of us call “the real”.

This denial has created a troubling circumstance for him: He seems to have attained all the things that he thought would confer normal human happiness, and yet his spirit is restless and dissatisfied.

And as the music began to vibrate over the grass and through the heads of all of us, I was reminded again of the peculiar pain that accompanies the too-full moment. It is that aching inside that you can’t quite reach and massage with your mental fingers; the sense that your poignant love of the world, fragile though it seems, is too big to be contained within your breast.

It has to spill over, like flood waters surmounting the tops of sluice gates, so you siphon it through your songs or poems or stories, knowing that this release is only momentary. And not only that, but the very vehicle that you’ve chosen to express it then turns around and whets the sharp edge of your sensitivity so that you seem to need that release again, more than ever. 

Those Who Are Born For It…

Typically, the shamanic vocation could not be faked. Nor can one simply deny it. A shaman’s reputation rests upon his or her ability to heal, to ‘do good works’; to provide evidence of power and spiritual discernment.  The above passage describes a moment in which Brandon is beginning to realize that his attempted ‘refusal’ has failed him. In order to find the true happiness and spiritual equilibrium that has thus far eluded him, he must step into his own power more fully: Accept, and respond to, his Call.

The Inner World of the Unconscious: Source of ‘Miracles’

The abundance that may come into our lives, and the seeming miracles and unforeseen solutions, have their source in the inner world of the unconscious.

About five years ago I had a dream that explored the reality of miracles. A family had made a deal with the mafia, and because of this they had to convert a certain ramshackle warehouse space into a restaurant by Christmas morning.

The place was still a complete mess; the appointed time was fast approaching, and they’d already received threats.

As they were walking home on a snowy Christmas eve the mother says, without much hope, “We have to be open for business in the morning.”

When they got to the warehouse, Santa Claus landed on the roof in his sleigh, and I realized (as the silent onlooker in the dream drama) that he and his elves had arrived to convert the space overnight.

Support from the Inner World

I was reminded at once of the “thousand unseen helping hands” that mythologist Joseph Campbell talked about; the supernatural aid that shows up so often in the old myths and fairy tales.

The world that we know arises (or manifests) from the same place. I use the present tense because its creation is not finished: it is happening in this moment. This contradicts most of the popular religious and scientific stories regarding our origins.

Most of us have been touched by the miracles of this source at least a few times in our lives, but such incidents often go unrecognized because we learn not to be aware of them. We’re taught to believe in a mechanical universe – one without inner meaning or significance – and when we accept that view of reality we start disbelieving in miracles.

Dream Reminders

The two ideas cannot coexist. Every night our dreams appeal to us, trying to remind us of the magic and wonder that is the real source of our being. They try to get us to trust that inner unconscious source.

This takes some doing, as it goes against the grain of virtually all of the other assumptions about reality that we’re confronted with from a very young age. This is part of what makes inner work an ongoing process: So many old and limiting beliefs have to be dissolved in order to create space in our minds for new revelations and insights.

Ultimately, the inner world, accessible through our dreams, intuitions and even our waking fantasies, can show us how to seed our hopes and desires upon our inner landscape so that these things can come to fruition in our outer lives. We can be in communication with the inner source of abundance.

It is a part of us and we are a part of it.

In the novel Trust in the Unseen, narrator Brandon Chane at one point reveals how he and his bandmates were inspired with that particular title (which they bequeathed upon their second record):

Well, all the shared enthusiasm that’d been stirred up at the rehearsal spilled over into new conversations, which eventually resulted in a final title change for our mini-album. Tommy initiated the process, speculating about all the coincidences in our lives that are really too uncanny to even be called coincidences.

Then I voiced an idea that Saul had put forth to me, one that I’d now struggled for a couple of years to try and accept: Our experiences don’t actually come to us from the world at all but are really woven from within us. Consciousness comes first, in all things. The world as it is perceived is essentially a mirror for the inner state of the perceiver.

Messages from the Unconscious (Our Inner Radio Tower)

The messages that we receive from our unconscious can be trusted and followed because they arise from a place within us that is much more far-seeing than our waking minds.

I once dreamed that my son and I were exploring a big city, maybe Philadelphia or New York. We were somehow on a high vantage point, because I was looking at even the tallest towers and buildings from above. I wanted to send a message to a woman who was somewhere out there in that vast sea of lights.

I held a long, thick cord of iron. I had the idea that I could wrap it around the statue that’s atop the tallest building to secure it, drape it down from there, and thereby transform the structure into a radio tower – much like those old radio kits where you could get reception using nothing more than copper wire coiled around a cardboard tube. I hoped in this way to be able to send my message.

Communications Between the Inner and Outer Worlds

Shortly after I had this dream I was reading from one of Jane Robert’s ‘Seth’ books, The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events, about the (really unfathomable) network of connections that the unconscious inner self sits at the heart of.

These myriad exchanges (the likes of which would boggle our rational minds) keep us so perfectly poised as we are in space and time – a feat that involves miraculous communications and cooperation between even the very atoms and molecules.

Basically, the unconscious portion of the self is aware of all of the movements of the manifest world, from massive historic world events to the deaths and births of the slightest cells. It is attuned to every part of physical reality, and also serves as a bridge between that reality and the underlying, inner source of everything.

Messages with Practical Applications

I must have been somehow presciently aware of this material, because a few months back, in the heart of a difficult and seemingly-never-ending winter, I decided that the movements of the world in this age, and my own place in the midst of it all, was beyond anything that I could logically grapple with.

I was often in a state of fear, abetted by many factors, The picture of the modern world looked precarious and hopeless.

I began giving my concerns over to my unconscious inner self every night before I went to bed. I’d just acknowledge, “this is beyond me” – ‘me’ being my surface-attuned ego self, my conscious identity – and ask for guidance.

I was intuiting what I would later read about in Jane Roberts’ book: That the inner wellspring from which my dreams spring is not unconscious but actually supremely consciousaware of the larger entities of life and the world situation in a way that my reasoning mind could never hope to keep up with. I decided to put my trust in that, as fully as possible.

Dream Guidance

One of the first dreams that I received after beginning this “ritual” took place in the house I grew up in. I was looking out the window in the stairwell room. There was a lizard climbing up the glass.

I don’t remember the actual name of this species, but (and I’m relating this in the “real life world of facts”, now) it possesses a defense mechanism whereby, when a predator is near, it puffs itself up to appear twice its normal size and fans its head-crest out. It puts on a fearsome display – which is all show, as it has no venom and its bite is harmless.

The lizard in my dream carried out a similar charade of mock-ferociousness, at one point expanding to the extent that it covered the entire window.

Even while I was dreaming I got the point of this motif: My unconscious self was assuring me that my fears were a bunch of hot air, blown out of all proportion, and should be seen as such.

This deepened my sense that I was on the right path with this, putting my faith in the messages from within and having the humility to admit that sometimes my waking brain can’t grapple with all of the factors that are in play beneath the surface of any given event, whether it’s personal or worldly.

Mind and Matter: No Separation

Many of our most detrimental misconceptions about human nature stem from the erroneous belief that mind and matter are separate.

This belief, which is shared by millions (maybe billions) of people, and has long been a central tenet of modern science, creates a profound sense of separation within us. It makes us feel alienated from our surroundings and from our own inner life.

A belief in natural selection, for example, carries with it a boatload of other unsavory ideas: That nature is unfeeling; that life carries no underlying purpose but to merely continue; that our only source of worth lies in our ability to propagate, etc.

But natural selection only seems to make sense and bear out if you believe that the physical world came before consciousness. If you see the world of matter as a product of the mind then such a theory has no stone to stand on.

Beliefs Beget Reality

A scientist may argue that such a conception of reality can never be proven. But the scientific method itself cannot prove that anything exists at all, or behaves as it appears to, outside our perception of it. It must rely upon, as its basis, the testimony of the five senses.

And if one dares to explore perceptions beyond this testimony of the physical senses, and trust them, then one must enter into the realm of dreams and intuition, so-called “extra-sensory” perception… A realm that science has largely dismissed as frivolous.

This is the arena of belief rather than fact – belief that many people out there have found to be corroborated by the vividness of their own inner experience. That consciousness comes first in all things is a notion that may never be conclusively proven in a lab – though some of the developments in quantum physics have come close.

The Impact of a Belief in Separation

And in the end, perhaps it’s more fruitful to examine the effect of a belief rather than whether it can be conclusively proven as ‘true’. The belief that mind and matter are separate – indeed, that matter came first and consciousness was just a sort of accidental afterthought – has created immense suffering and limitation within our modern world.

It strips the world around us, the world that we are innately a part of, of its luminous magic. It makes us strangers to ourselves, reducing the sacred sense of self (which every child carries) to the level of soulless mechanisms. It paints a picture of a universe that can never have meaning or significance beyond that which we give it, out of baseless fantasy, to comfort ourselves.

Such beliefs hardly encourage any human being to realize his or her gifts and potentials, to believe in life and its possibilities, to treat the Earth as the sacred gestalt of consciousness that it is. And the inevitable outcomes of these beliefs lay all around us in broken fragments.

There seems to be little point in exploring and moving through our own subjective experience at all, if we’ve accepted the idea that we’re just a walking jumble of mechanisms and involuntary processes, accidentally formed from chance collisions of matter.

As my protagonist Brandon Chane hears it from his mentor Saul in Trust in the Unseen:

“So you know why the idea of self-exploration feels threatening? Because you don’t see the value of it. Because you still don’t believe that your life is mirroring your own inner condition. So examining your own thoughts and feelings seems beside the point. But it is, in fact, the essence of the point.”

Mankind is ready for more expansive stories, stories that revolve around the miracle of the mind and soul rather than the notion of a meaningless universe of dead matter.