Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Something Wonderful Is Coming

Tonight, I awoke and lay in bed in the darkness with a delicious expectant feeling, as if the happy memories of a thousand lifetimes flirted at the edges of my mind. It was a wonderful, mysterious longing, wholly devoid of any melancholy, full of blissful expectation. Not just a feeling, but an abstract vision within my mind implying space, place and experience.

I closed my eyes and tried to be still, to hold at bay the mundane wakeful thoughts that I knew would chase this apprehension away. It flitted at the edge of my thoughts and emotions before finally being replaced with a curious, questioning calm.

I have experienced this several times before. It was like the unfocused memory of a dream that was far more real than the reality into which I was again awakening. But I knew without doubt that it was not the memory of a pleasant dream. It was, in fact, the opposite: an awakening into some truth about reality that I could only remember as a vague feeling in that state of consciousness that lies towards the end of that short period that lies just between waking and sleeping.

This experience (I can think of no better word for it) was the lingering presence of something hidden within me that holds the answer to everything in this life, or something that makes all our questions irrelevant. If it can be called an answer, it is one without words. And so, even this vague intimation of "the answer", expressed with words, can only yield this unsatisfactory recollection. As soon as I got out of bed and began writing, I could feel the words and myself already getting in the way.

Perhaps, I have tried too hard. Perhaps I should only say:

"My friends, do not let your hearts be troubled and do not despair...

Something wonderful is coming."


  1. I know that feeling, Robert, and it's truly beautiful. Just when you think you're empty, inspiration finds you. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Melissa! See my comment below...

  2. Thanks GG! See my comment below...

  3. It's one of those ineffable experiences. Of course, ineffable means: "Too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words." Which is why I failed despite my best effort. When I read this, it sounds too philosophical. I could write it differently and then I'd sound like a new age hippy. I guess that's why I tried to just make the final comment that "Something wonderful is coming."

    Thanks so much for the comments. Later that night I dreamt I was being attacked by a witch (but the dream wasn't too horrible). Just shows you how complicated life is. LOL

    But the bad dream was just a dream. This experience was a waking one and it had the power of truth. The bad dream was clearly just my subconscious fears (and the fact that I was too hot under the covers).

    Thanks Melissa and Goose Girl. Melissa, I'm sorry I have yet to read your books. Goose Girl, Melissa's books have won awards and she is a great author advocate.

    Melissa, read some of Goose Girl's poetry. It is very, very good:

    Peace all,

  4. Please don't freak out, but what you describe reminds me of what its like to be filled with the divine light of the holy spirit.

    So I don't think you failed at all.

    I rarely discuss my faith with strangers so please don't think I am going to start bringing up god every chance I get. I am a practicing Quaker and Quakers don't preach. More importantly, I am not like that as I respect that everyone has their own deeply personal spiritual practice (even if that practice is "no practice at all").

    But your writing did move me on a nearly spiritual level as it reminded me of what its like to feel that kind of knowing.

    Thank you for the complement about my poems. As you are the only stranger to ever compliment them I find your kind words most touching. Why do I care more that a stranger likes my writing than my close friends? That is a question I am going to think over. As I really didn't think of it till now.

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  6. There are many different terms for ineffable experiences, some referring to specific types of states, some referring to long or short periods of experience, etc. They are useful and necessary for personal and philosophical discussion. Eastern religions talk of samadhi, satori and kensho. In some Christian traditions it would be called a "state of grace" or as you call it, "being filled with the light of the holy spirit." I have no problem at all with your beliefs or your definitions. The problem comes when people try to define, explain and turn it into a system to control others (or their own environment because they are afraid). I understand the temptation to do so, but it destroys the very power and meaning of the experience. Then it becomes simply "religion."

    I called it an apprehension. I was referring to the secondary definition, as in apprehending an experience. Here are the second and third dictionary definitions, which I think apply well:

    2. the faculty or act of apprehending, especially intuitive understanding; perception on a direct and immediate level.
    3. acceptance of or receptivity to information without passing judgment on its validity, often without complete comprehension.

    Both definitions apply, especially number 3. I received it, tried not to judge it (though I did judge it enough to call it blissful and good - though that is less a judgment than a description of my feelings) and didn't comprehend it.

    In the West, we hate not comprehending things. We think "knowing" in the sense of intellectual knowledge is the highest aspiration. It can be a noble thing, but I don't think it's the highest, and Eastern thought usually does not place it at the pinnacle of human experience. There is a different kind of "knowing" that comes without comprehension. That is the type of knowing, even if it starts as merely knowledge, that can transform a person's life, because it affects a person at some deeper level than conscious thought and surface emotion. What that depth is, whether soul or subconscious mind, doesn't matter much. Those are just words for things we don't understand.

    There is a great theorem put forth that, to understand a system, the intellect studying it must be bigger than that system. In the words of John Lilly: "[Kurt] Godel's theory, translated, says that a computer of a given size can model only a smaller computer; it cannot model itself. If it modeled a computer of its own size and complexity, the model would fill it entirely and it couldn't do anything. So I don't think we can understand our own brains fully."

    I agree with Lilly (even though he spent his life trying to understand, but also, trying to gain enlightenment). So, I think whatever happened to me that evening was larger than my capacity for understanding it. And I think that partly defines a "spiritual experience." We are taken beyond our daily selves into something that is far greater than us, and therefore, far greater than our capacity to comprehend.

    As for a stranger's comments about your work meaning more, what I've said above may also apply. A stranger is someone outside/beyond your regular reality, outside your sphere of influence. They enter your sphere as an unknown entity and acknowledge your existence for some unknown reason. If they are acknowledging or praising your work, this seems like a validation by the universe of the value of the work and the work has served its purpose: connecting you with the "outer" world. We are less likely to suspect a stranger's motives (either good or bad) when they comment on our work.

    Thanks for your honesty. I'm totally cool with Quakers. I just don't like Puritans. :)